Have you wanted to move some or all of your organization's infrastructure to a cloud service provider (CSP) such as Microsoft Azure, but have reservations? These could include security, compliance, and/or costs — areas you would not want to have surprises. This is why it is important to consider how you will get you there in a way that is both secure and optimized for cost and performance. To help you navigate this process, we put together some key points to consider in your cloud migration strategy.
Perhaps you are considering an Azure cloud migration project because of a looming and costly on-premises network refresh. Or you may have pressures from evolving demands around compliance, agility, and mobility. In all cases, you need more time to focus on core business strategy and less on managing the technology for your business operations.
You are not alone! Over the past several years, demand for cloud infrastructure services has grown and is projected to continue. In a recent study by MarketsandMarkets Research, the global cloud market is projected to grow from $73 billion in 2019 to $166.6 billion by 2024, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.0%. One of the key players influencing the global cloud market is Azure, Microsoft's public cloud. They have earned their market position by developing one of the most comprehensive set of cloud service offerings available. Now more than ever, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are looking to Azure for its security, compliance, affordability, and scalability features. If your business is ready or thinking about an Azure cloud migration, here are a few helpful things to understand before you make the move.
Costs for Cloud Services
If you are familiar with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, such as Microsoft Office 365, you are familiar with its per-user subscription model. In contrast, Azure's Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) bill on consumption. Similarly to how you might pay for utility bills, Azure uses a pay-as-you go model for the quantity of each service you use, billed monthly. There are many services, each with its own unit of measurement. Here are a few example services and how they are billed:
- Virtual servers: Billed by type and the number of hours they are powered on.
- Storage: Billed by type and GB used.
- VPN service: Billed by the hour.
- Data transit: There are several types, billed by the GB. This tends to be a small dollar amount, but difficult to predict.
The challenge can be in the complexity of the details that make up that bill. This is where partnering with a cloud-focused managed service provider (MSP) to guide this process is key. A qualified partner will know where and how to save costs during deployment and ongoing maintenance/storage. They bring the value of knowing how and where to save costs during implementation and management of your cloud solution.
Conduct a migration assessment before an Azure Cloud Migration.
We know that avoiding surprises should be one of the goals for any migration. To do that, we recommend a thorough assessment of your existing environment. You don't want to risk spiraling consumption costs and unproductive time chasing down line item details. By having an assessment done by an experienced and cloud-focused MSP, you have an opportunity to revise your existing environment to align with current and future business needs. You may end up finding that existing solutions were holding back business progression. A cloud migration assessment will provide a much smoother Azure cloud migration and give you a cost estimate to budget your consumption against.
Benefits of Cloud Services
AZURE HAS ULTIMATE SECURITY
As shown in the image above, with traditional on-premises server rooms or co-located data centers, you are wholly responsible for achieving a compliant and secure computing environment. Once deployed in Azure, your underlying infrastructure is protected by Microsoft’s defense in depth security approach. Your assets (core networking, apps, and business data) now exist in Azure, protected by a team of over 3,500 global cybersecurity experts. Your assets are built upon a highly available infrastructure, 24x7x365 monitoring, and financially backed Service Level Agreements (SLA) when properly deployed. Azure includes real-time cybersecurity intelligence that provides actionable insights to detect threats faster.
AZURE IMPROVES DATA COMPLIANCE
You may be navigating the changing landscape of compliance regulations for your organization. This is a very common issue. In fact, Microsoft recently found that, 47% of executives surveyed stated that they aren’t sure which data compliance standards they need to meet! To sort this challenge, Microsoft has a Compliance Score feature that helps you understand your organization’s compliance posture. This feature provides continuous assessments, recommended actions, and built-in security control mapping. All baseline compliance scores come from four major frameworks: HIPAA, FISMA, NIST, and FFEIC. You chose the one that covers your organization and Microsoft will help show you what is left to do.
Not only does Microsoft help your company stay compliant, they also maintain their compliance. Microsoft is regularly assessed by third-party auditors in over 90 global compliance offerings. This comprehensive set of regulations helps your organization comply with national, regional, and industry-specific requirements governing the collection and use of data.
Seek an IT partner with Azure cloud migration experience.
You are busy running a business so it’s important to work with a MSP that can properly manage an Azure cloud migration for you and re-evaluate your existing solutions. You may be asking what "proper" management should look like. If you are a small to medium-sized business outsourcing most or all of your IT management to a partner, here are a few check points to consider:
- Look for Azure migration partners who have attained Gold level Microsoft Partnership. This designation is awarded only to MSPs with proven and on-going ability to deliver and support successful cloud integrations to an increasing number of satisfied clients.
- Your MSP will help manage your Azure consumption or build it into a fixed-priced service, depending on your business needs.
- As applications are added or removed, or other changes are made to your account, your MSP should monitor and adjust the fixed price billing.
- As part of your quarterly business review, or QBR, your MSP should outline the where and why on any billing adjustments.
- You may be an organization that needs to manage and make changes to applications running in Azure on your own. In this situation, you would need to manage consumption as well.
In any situation, a cloud-focused MSP will help you understand where your dollars are being consumed. This will help to optimize your spending while managing your budget. Additionally, Azure can be more cost-effective than an on-premises solution, but only when actively managed and optimized.
If your organization is considering an Azure cloud migration, get in touch with us. We can design a personalized cloud migration strategy for your Azure environment that will fit your business needs and migrate you there safely and cost-effectively. You can get the conversation started with a cloud migration assessment to ensure your move to Azure is started on the right track.
Adrian Wells is a Solutions Architect with over 20 years of IT experience ranging from network administration, programming, IT management, and system design. Adrian joined Systems Engineering in 2008 and has designed and led projects throughout New England.