These days, everything lives in the cloud, and rightly so. A more mobile workforce, modern technology, and the rising cost of running your server have all come together to make it such that companies have to move everything they can to a cloud service such as Microsoft Azure. How do you get the benefits of Microsoft Azure if you decide to make the move?
Traditionally, cloud migration was focused on documents and data, although more companies are now starting to run cloud-native applications for many purposes. Cloud-native applications are often cross-platform and as easy to use on mobile as on desktop.
However, as cloud technology matures, more and more functions are being moved. Even companies with on-premises infrastructure are finding uses for cloud technology to manage workloads, increase reliability and security, and standardize environments.
Modern cloud solutions provide not just storage and automated backup but app development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and even access to a quantum computer.
Benefits of Microsoft Azure and Moving to the Cloud
Moving to the cloud provides many benefits.
Benefit 1: Reduced Upfront Hardware Costs
Companies no longer have to buy (and upgrade) servers until and unless they reach a size at which it becomes cost-effective. Moving more things to the Microsoft Azure cloud service also reduces the computing power needed on the client side, allowing companies to purchase cheaper laptops. If you use virtual desktops, you can use thin clients and use BYOD more.
Benefit 2: Access to Cloud-Native, Platform-Agnostic Apps
These apps allow employees (and even customers) to do things from anywhere, on any device. Azure cloud services will enable you to have the same access from mobile or desktop and use the same functions regardless of where they are. This can include cloud-based virtual desktops which can run on any device and give your employees the same environment wherever they might be.
Benefit 3: Improved Security, Especially for BYOD
A virtual desktop allows employees to use their hardware without the company’s data and their data ever coming into contact. This means IT does not have to monitor personal data on personal devices, something many employees are understandably uncomfortable with.
The Azure cloud platform substantially reduces the incidence of so-called “shadow IT,” where users start installing their preferred tools.
Benefit 4: Improved Reliability
When you manage your servers, this is not your core business. You have a small team to do it, but it’s hard to secure 24/7 availability. When you use the Azure stack, everything is being managed by professionals.
Because you are paying for space on a larger server you get more physical and hardware redundancy. If one server goes down or becomes inaccessible, you can typically access things from another.
Using a large cloud provider with servers in multiple locations helps with this.
Benefit 5: Accessibility from Anywhere
If you have employees who work from home full or part-time and/or who travel, they can more easily access everything they need from wherever they are. If somebody is presenting, they only have to worry about the conference center’s internet.
Benefit 6: Scalability
You can always buy more storage if you need to. You can also often add apps or services to your Azure platform plan as you discover you need them. In contrast, if you realize you have overbought, you can quickly reduce your subscription instead of being stuck with the hardware you will never use.
Benefit 7: Automated Backups
Cloud services typically back up your data regularly and in multiple physical locations. This protects your data from system failures and natural disasters.
Benefit 8: Reduced Downtime in the Event of a Problem
If your office loses power or everyone has to evacuate due to a hurricane or wildfire, the cloud provider will provide a server you can use that is not impacted. This reduces downtime and ensures business continuity.
Benefit 9: Continuous Innovation
The Azure cloud environment will keep updating hardware and software so that you are never left behind the times or struggling with legacy systems. At the same time, you get the money together for a significant capital investment such as a new server, new desktops, or redevelopment of a custom app.
Benefit 10: Improved Analytics
Good cloud providers also offer data analytics tools native to the cloud and thus have access to more cloud computing power and potentially up-to-date AI. This allows you to gain deeper insights.
This may include how your company uses software, your sales team’s performance, and your business process performance.
Cons of Microsoft Azure and Moving to the Cloud
One downside to moving to the cloud is that good internet is required. Some companies keep mission-critical things in a hybrid environment, with local copies that can be used until connectivity returns.
Another is that you need to understand how your cloud environment operates. IT and employees will need training in adequately handling the system, especially for more advanced tools such as app development.
However, it is not true that using a cloud service reduces your control over your data or introduces significant security risks. Any risks are more than offset by the enhanced security of the cloud and by the fact that cloud security systems are designed with compliance in mind. Major cloud companies know that you have compliance needs and offer systems that meet HIPAA and other standards.
What are the Benefits of Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing service which offers solutions for on-premises, hybrid and fully cloud setups. It has no upfront commitment.
Microsoft Azure products include:
- Windows and Linux virtual desktops can be hosted on a “public” server or your dedicated host
- App development servicesSQLQuantum hardware
- AI and machine learning include automated content moderation, facial recognition, and data science
- Analytics services can handle large quantities of data, telemetry from the Internet of Things devices, etc.
- Hybrid and multi-cloud services
- Identity and role management
- Integration with other applications and services you are already using
- Live and on-demand streaming
- High-quality security services including Microsoft Defender for your IoT devices, Microsoft Sentinel security analytics, Azure Firewall Manager, etc.
- Archive storage and automatic backups
- Web content delivery and application development
In other words, Azure is not just a cloud storage facility but can help you in several ways.
Provisioning virtual desktops allow your workers to see the same environment regardless of the device they use to connect. Because the virtual desktop is sandboxed, it can be run on personal devices without security risk.
This is thus ideal for the hybrid office where somebody might be using a desktop provided by you in the office, their computer at home, and a lightweight laptop when on the road. The experience will be the same wherever you are.
Azure’s app development services include AI, app modernization and building, building and operating live games, and highly secure app development and operation. Their AI services come with varied user interfaces which allow anyone to create automation, including through zero-code interfaces.
This means you don’t have to go to IT for this stuff…especially as your IT may not be trained in AI development, which is a specialist field. You may thus avoid the expense of an AI consultant and still get the benefits of machine learning for analyzing data, automating business processes, and personalizing your website.
Azure Cloud Services to Meet All of Your Needs
There are over 200 Azure products which range from anomaly detection to batch job scheduling to databases. It’s a full-service enterprise environment.
Azure charges no upfront fee and has no contracts. Instead, you have a customized Azure plan depending on which products you need and use and will get a quote accordingly.
And a massive advantage of Azure is that because it is a Microsoft product, it has the same easy-to-use interface you and your employees are used to from other Microsoft apps. There is no difference to the end user between a locally hosted Windows desktop and an Azure virtual machine.
Azure is committed to continuous innovation, but you don’t have to worry about updating “breaking” stuff as they are always thoroughly tested before deployment.
Azure is also a complete ecosystem, a platform you never have to leave, although it integrates with leading solutions. Hybrid cloud solutions make everything seamless. Users cannot tell the difference between accessing something stored on their local device and running an app operating on the cloud server in another state.
How To Know What Azure Products You Need?
One downside to Azure is the potential choice fatigue from many products and applications available within the ecosystem. Which of their database offerings is right for you? What about their analytics services…do you need Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Synapse Analytics, Data Lake Analytics, or any combination of them?
You need to start by assessing and auditing both what you already use and what you would like to have. Azure has enough options that you will almost certainly be able to find what you need, but it’s also easy to end up paying for a service and then discovering it is unhelpful or worse, only gets in your way.
You should audit which products you are regularly using. Ensure you have the essential services to support critical functions and enhanced data security. Using VPN products in conjunction with the cloud is a good idea to block man-in-the-middle attacks.
Because this is so complex, it’s a good idea to hire a Microsoft Azure consultant to help you navigate the system and choose the right products for you and your business. A consultant can help you choose between similar products, see things you did not know you needed, and avoid the “candy store” situation where you add a bunch of things to your plan that looks cool but are not necessary for your use case.
How to Get Started with Microsoft Azure
Once you have established your goals using Microsoft Azure, you need to request a custom quote, which will be based on the services you need and the amount of storage you plan on purchasing.
Microsoft has migration specialists that can help you get all of your data onto the cloud, as well as a variety of free resources and tools to help you. Again, it’s worth hiring a consultant to help with the migration. This often proves cheaper than using your internal IT staff and having other things be neglected while the migration is in progress.
Also, consultants can complete the migration faster simply because they have already done it many times. At the same time, there is a very real risk of your staff being utterly unfamiliar with the process and confused by the provided instructions.
However, to get its full potential, you need help. Some of that help can come from Azure’s tools. If this is your first time using Azure or you have a complicated use case, then you should talk to a consultant, such as IncWorx to get the needed assistance.
Unlock All of the Benefits of Microsoft Azure Cloud
We have experienced Microsoft Azure consultants who are intimately familiar with all aspects of Azure and what it can achieve for you.
Let’s discuss your needs, select the right products for your plan, and then migrate and deploy Azure seamlessly, with minimal to no downtime and without IT having to work long hours (which can increase mistakes).
We can also provide managed services to support your Azure environment, whether it’s routine tech support, reassessing your plan, or creating a better workflow.
The Microsoft Azure service is a good choice if you are looking for a cloud solution, especially if you and your employees are already highly familiar with Microsoft products. Reach out to our team to learn how we can help you migrate to the Azure ecosystem and get the best out of it.