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Microsoft Azure – 7 things to know

Microsoft has set its sights on Amazon and Google and is making no secret of its business plan to dominate the business cloud market.  Have a Windows server? A desktop or laptop running Windows? Microsoft wants your data, your operations, your business on its cloud.

That cloud is called Microsoft Azure.  It was launched in 2010.  Now, in 2016, we believe it is ready for serious consideration by most businesses.

Here are 7 things you should know about Microsoft Azure.

1. It is increasingly ready for primetime.

We have been testing Azure for years. We always test from the perspective of our SMB clients and what fits their operations. Even 2 years ago, we found it necessary to work with smaller cloud providers or internal infrastructure in order to get the level of uptime, security, and network flexibility our clients needed.  Today, that is no longer the case, and we are seeing Azure as a fit for an increasing number of organizations and business use cases.

2. It is growing rapidly.

Microsoft’s business model rests on the cloud and subscription services.  Office 365, monthly software subscriptions, Azure… this is Microsoft’s focus. They are pouring billions (over $15b to date) into Azure.  They are opening goliath sized datacenters around the world, improving the core technologies, establishing groundbreaking partnerships, and customizing their software to be tuned for Azure.

3. Security is a significant focus.

Azure meets (and is certified in) an impressive range of security qualifications – more than any other cloud service provider. From HIPAA to SOC 3, CJIS to ISO 27001, FERPA to NIST.

4. Microsoft recently announced a partnership with Citrix.

Citrix and Microsoft are partnering to more effectively publish applications and desktops (engineers: Microsoft has even given Citrix exclusive ability for Windows 10 VDI on Azure). Translation: It is becoming cheaper, faster, and more reasonable to host all your servers, applications, and even desktops on Azure and access them anywhere, anytime. 

5. ROI needs to be calculated carefully.

Azure (as any cloud service) represents a recurring cost for business.  Rather than investing $10,000 in a server replacement project ever 5 years, spend $600 per month to consume the service as you need.  In this scenario, it’s easy to see how much more expensive Azure appears (60 months * $600 per month = $36,000, as opposed to the $10,000 local server cost).  However, those calculations change when factoring in power consumption, offsite backups, business continuity costs, downtime costs, and the like.  Full cost comparisons are required to properly evaluate the cost differences. 

6. There are multiple uses cases for Azure.

It isn’t all-or-nothing. An organization typically starts by moving individual services: email to Office 365, backups to the cloud (benefitting from full business continuity) and the like.  Hybrid infrastructures (some local services, some in the cloud) can be highly effective.  Azure should be considered for Disaster Recovery, application hosting, web hosting, full environment hosting, and even desktop hosting.

7. You can leverage additional resources by working with a Cloud Solution Provider.

Microsoft established the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program to enable companies like Mainstay to provide additional value to clients, and to help clients move to the cloud in an effective way.  Mainstay is a Tier 1 Cloud Solution Provider and is able to provide additional Azure management and consulting services at no extra cost to our clients as a result.

 A conversation is easy. Interested in learning more about migrating to Azure? Mainstay can help you evaluate or migrate, and we’d love to talk today!