Microsoft’s Azure cloud has emerged as a leader in the public cloud market. It provides the agility, scalability, security and cost-efficiency today’s enterprises need. In this 2-part blog, Corey Roberts, Daymark’s Director of Cloud and Managed Services, answers the common questions clients have before, during and after an Azure deployment.
Q. What are you seeing as primary drivers for moving to Azure?
A. The three leading drivers that we are seeing today are flexibility, capabilities, and lower cost. Although it is important to note that we don’t always find customers achieve all three at the same time. Moving to the cloud involves some give and take between these three goals.
Q. Which workloads are the first/easiest to migrate?
A. There has not been a single workload that stands out as the easiest to migrate. The workloads we see customers migrate vary. This is often due to the customer’s current business objectives, who we are working with in an organization, the customer’s corporate culture and industry. The cloud is very flexible and feature rich, which enables organizations to shape it to their unique requirements and goals.
Q. How do you choose which workloads to move to Azure?
A. We take a broad assessment across the complete IT environment and then work with the IT staff to understand their challenges. Adoption of the cloud can be slowed or blocked by individuals in IT with limited or no exposure to cloud platforms. Once we select a workload, architect and deploy a solution using Azure to address a key pain point, they quickly begin to see the benefits. The customer becomes familiar with the platform, the learning curve is shortened, and they become believers, eager to learn how they can expand Azure benefits.
Q. Is there a most common use case?
A. If I were to narrow this down to a common theme across our customers I would say “moving workloads out of region” is becoming a very popular use case for the cloud. We see this primarily with disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity. Customers are modifying their DR strategy to utilize Azure for offsite recovery and failover. This allows them to only pay for resources when needed for testing or recovery. This is quite different than past strategies that involved prepaying for the ability to reserve IT infrastructure with a disaster recovery service provider
Q. What are some of the key migration challenges? How are they solved?
A. There are typically two challenges that surface when migrating a customer’s workloads to Azure. The first is the volume of data that the customer needs to transfer to the cloud. When the data set is in excess of what the customer’s Internet connectivity can support we need to look at alternatives to replication. Microsoft is currently piloting a new service that ships a storage device to the customer with 100TB of capacity to enable them to copy their data on to it and then ship it directly to Microsoft for import into their Azure tenant.
The second challenge I often see is customers moving workloads to the cloud without rearchitecting the application. Frequently applications deployed on premises are over provisioned with resources as a result of having a large amount of CPU, memory and storage available to them. In the cloud these resources cost money when they are consumed. We work with our clients to reevaluate the server configuration and resource allocation for applications they wish to migrate. Often we are able to significantly reduce the monthly cloud spend by right-sizing the servers and applications deployed to Azure.
Q. What are the biggest cultural obstacles that must be overcome?
A. There are still many senior leaders in enterprise IT that are reluctant to utilize cloud resources, especially Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Many customers are using, and are comfortable with, various forms of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. However it’s the infrastructure and platform offerings where we still see some resistance. Customers lack an understanding of security best practices, management and cost containment. This reluctance by management is fading, but is still one of the largest cultural obstacles we face.
The second cultural obstacle, which happens less frequently, is when there is a Do it Yourself (DIY) mentality within enterprise IT. These are the IT engineers that feel they can do a better job themselves building out resources for business applications. On top of that there can be a fear of losing control when workloads move to the cloud. It’s a significant shift for engineers to relinquish infrastructure and platform control to a service provider.
Q. How are security and compliance concerns addressed?
A. Customers’ concerns around security and compliance are becoming easier to address due to all the effort providers like Microsoft put into certifying that their environment meets all the major regulations and security practices. Microsoft has obtained nearly 50 certifications from organizations around the world that provide proof they operate a highly-secure, first-class cloud service.
In part-2 of this blog, Corey discusses why customers choose Azure over other clouds, top customer benefits, and the value of a managed service provider.