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Tag Archive:Azure


Why A Hybrid Cloud Model Might Be for You

With cloud solutions, there’s been some hype about leaving on-premises solutions behind. While that may work for some businesses, we’ve found that for other clients, there’s a great alternative: a hybrid solution.

It would be easy to say it’s a best-of-both-worlds approach. Instead, a hybrid approach is about maximizing cloud and on-premises solutions specific to your applications and needs, helping your operations run more securely and smoothly. So, how does a hybrid solution work?

A hybrid cloud combines some combination of public cloud providers, like Azure, with private cloud solutions using on-premises servers.

Public clouds use shared infrastructure for all users, maintained by the provider.

Users looking to house general data, files, and non-sensitive materials can move these objects into a shared cloud. This is also a good solution for users trying to shed maintenance costs or quickly scale use up or down based on immediate need.

Public cloud storage gives the provider control over your data, so it’s an imperfect solution if you have large amounts of data you need to protect.

Private clouds are portions of servers partitioned to single entities or users.

This is a strong option for those with compliance requirements, regulatory requirements or security concerns. Users can have dedicated services, restrict access, and secure their networks. On-premises servers and cloud servers can also be configured to communicate on a private network.

You can keep your on-premises servers while also gaining the power, accessibility, and flexibility of a cloud solution. If you need to scale up, you can. If there is ever a need for disaster recovery, you have it.

So, what’s the value of a hybrid solution?

Cost and computing power! A mix of both can strike a balance between performance and cost that aligns to your business requirements.

Some applications that don’t need the security of a private cloud benefit from the cheaper cost and flexibility of public cloud. Other applications need the consistent power and security of a private solution.

A private cloud can be your base of operations and security, with the public cloud available for increased demand, short-term changes, and the unexpected.

Whether you’re looking to increase your security, emergency preparedness, flexibility or to decrease overall costs, there is often room for both clouds in your hybrid solution!

If you’re interested in learning more or setting up an assessment, please contact me: neal.zimmerman@dorsetconnects.com.





Microsoft Azure: The smart person’s guide

By James Sanders

The rise of cloud computing provides businesses the ability to quickly provision computing resources without the costly and laborious task of building data centers, and without the costs of running servers with under or un-utilized capacity due to variable workloads.

Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, launched in February 2010. In addition to traditional cloud offerings such as virtual machines, object storage, and content delivery networks (CDNs), Azure offers services that leverage proprietary Microsoft technologies. For example, RemoteApp allows for the deployment of Windows programs using a virtual machine, with clients on Windows, OS X, Android, or iOS using the program through a remote desktop connection. Azure also offers cloud-hosted versions of common enterprise Microsoft solutions, such as Active Directory and SQL Server.

This easily digestible introduction to Microsoft’s cloud platform will be updated periodically to keep IT leaders in the loop on new Azure services and ways in which they can be leveraged.

Executive summary

  • What is it? Microsoft Azure is a collection of various cloud computing services, including remotely hosted and managed versions of proprietary Microsoft technologies, and open technologies, such as various Linux distributions deployable inside a virtual machine.
  • Why does it matter? Azure lacks upfront costs or an appreciable time delay in resource provisioning — capacity is available on demand. With a usage-based billing formula, Azure is a compelling option for enterprises transitioning from on-premises Windows servers to the cloud.
  • Who does this affect? Azure can be utilized at any scale, from a garage startup to a Fortune 500 company. Because of the ease of transition, organizations with an existing Windows Server deployment may find Azure to be best suited to their needs.
  • When is this happening? Azure launched in February 2010, with additional services and regional data centers being added continually since launch.
  • How do I get it? New users receive a $200 service credit good for 30 days when signing up for Microsoft Azure; the credit can be applied toward any Microsoft-provided service. Additional discounts and credits are available for startups, nonprofits, and universities.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a platform of interoperable cloud computing services, including open-source, standards-based technologies and proprietary Microsoft solutions. Instead of building an on-premises server installation, or leasing physical servers from traditional data centers, Azure’s billing structure is based on resource consumption, not reserved capacity. Pricing varies between different types of services, storage types, and the physical location from which your Azure instances are hosted.

For example, Storage pricing varies based on redundancy and distribution options. In the Central US region, locally redundant storage (LRS), with 3 copies in one data center, starts at $0.024 per GB. Zone redundant storage (ZRS), with 3 copies distributed across different data centers, starts at $0.03 per GB. Geographically redundant storage (GRS), with 3 copies in one data center and 3 copies in a second geographically distant data center, starts at $0.048 per GB. Read-Access GRS, which allows for read access at the second data center, starts at $0.061 per GB.

In addition to the aforementioned storage, virtual machine, CDN, and Windows-related services, Azure also offers a variety of other services. Azure IoT Suite offers various options for connecting and monitoring devices, as well as providing telemetry and analytics services. Redis Cache is a managed version of the popular open-source Redis data structure server; DocumentDB is a hosted NoSQL database for specific use cases; and Search is an OData-based managed search service. Azure Media Services offers cloud-based video playing, indexing, transcoding, and content protection services.

Why does Microsoft Azure matter?

Azure, like other cloud service providers, offers the ability to instantly provision computing resources on demand. Compared to the laborious task of planning and building an on-site data center, along with the requisite hardware upgrades, maintenance costs, server cooling requirements, electricity costs, and use of floorspace — particularly for offices with associated real estate costs — the savings can add up very quickly.

The benefits of Azure extend beyond cost control, however. The laborious task of administering certain technologies such as Windows Server, Active Directory, and SharePoint can be greatly eased with the combination of Azure and Office 365. This frees up IT staff to work on new projects, rather than spending time on general system upkeep.

Who does Microsoft Azure affect?

Organizations with an existing deployment of Microsoft technologies, particularly Windows Server and Active Directory, will find Azure to be a compelling upgrade. As Windows Server 2008 has reached the end of mainstream support, planning for a migration to cloud-hosted Azure services may be preferable to investments in new server hardware and Windows Server licenses.

As with any cloud service, the cost benefit is more real for cash-strapped startup organizations that lack the capital for provisioning hardware and associated costs of a traditional on-premises deployment, or leasing dedicated servers in a traditional data center. Because the billing structure of Azure is based on resources used, turning to the cloud allows the IT backbone of a given company to scale with corporate growth.

When is Microsoft Azure happening?

The Azure platform was announced in October 2008, and reached general commercial availability in February 2010. Originally called Windows Azure, it was renamed to Microsoft Azure in July 2014.

Under Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Azure has expanded to include support for a variety of Linux distributions available in virtual machines on the Azure platform. Presently, CentOS, CoreOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and Ubuntu are supported in the Azure platform. Additionally, Azure supports Docker images.

How do I get Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft’s BizSpark program offers $10,000 per month of Azure service credits for users of BizSpark Plus for one year for a total of $120,000. Eligibility is dependent on collaboration with a startup accelerator, with Microsoft partnering with over 150 startup accelerators in 47 countries.

For other organizations, BizSpark is available to privately-held companies less than five years old that earn less than $1 million annually. The standard tier provides up to $750 per month ($150 per month for up to five developers) for three years for a total of $27,000.

Microsoft has also pledged to donate $1 billion in cloud services to universities and nonprofit organizations over the next three years. Eligible organizations can register for free access at Microsoft Philanthropies.

For individual developers, new registrants receive a $200 platform credit applicable toward any Azure service, excluding third-party offerings in the Azure Marketplace. Certified Microsoft Partners, such as Dorset Connects, can help your business evaluate Azure and make the best determination for your organization.



Three Ways the Cloud Protects Your Data

Organizations today are dependent on their need to access a lot of data. More and more, that critical information is moving to the cloud.

Here are three ways that moving to the cloud ensures that you’ll have access to your important files when you need them.

Your Information is ALWAYS Available to You

Moving your data to the cloud ensures that your employees always have access to the information they need when they need it. Whether your company offers flexible work locations for remote workers, or your sales team is on the road and needs access to close a deal, when you move to the cloud, the information is available – at any time and from any device. It saves time and improves your team’s overall productivity.

Your Data is Incredibly Safe

While most people understand the benefits of being able to access their data via the cloud, the most common question we get about the process has to do with data security. At Dorset Connects, we take multiple steps to ensure that your data is completely secure.

In addition to encrypting your data during transfers and employing a multi-factor authentication process, we take another critical step in securing your data by educating your staff. How your team protects your data is frequently overlooked, but integral to an effective data security strategy.

By working with your employees to ensure everyone understands the necessity of the data security measures, everyone becomes a valuable member of the team we have assembled to keep your data safe.

Your Data is Available Even During a Disaster

One of the biggest benefits of moving to the cloud is that regardless of server failures, natural disasters or power outages, you will always have the ability to store and retrieve your most valuable asset: your data. This ensures that you can continue to do business even if you can’t get to the office.

 One client, a regional restaurant chain, used to host their email internally. They faced constant power failures that caused the whole company to lose email access days at a time. Employees would have to resort to using personal email to communicate, causing major disruption to business.

By moving to the cloud, this client was finally able to maintain constant access to their emails, and thereby avoid the hassle that their frequent email outages caused, allowing them to maintain business as usual.

Making the move to the cloud can be a big decision. What it ultimately means to your business is peace of mind, improved employee productivity, and enhanced business agility. Just imagine the ways your organization could evolve if you partnered with an expert company like Dorset Connects to give your employees access at any time, from anywhere, on any device.

Learn more by joining our live breakfast event: Cloud in My Coffee. Register here.


The impossible task of rapid Disaster Recovery – and how Microsoft Azure can help

The impossible task of rapid Disaster Recovery – and how Microsoft Azure can help

Hurricane Joaquin is bearing down on the East coast and may, or may not, cause serious issues for residents and business ranging from the Carolinas to Massachusetts. While I hate to be reactionary, it is times like this that make me want to shout from the rooftops the importance of having a Disaster Recovery solution in place for your organization.

dr-planDisaster recovery means different things to different people. For some businesses, they may be fine for a week or two without their PCs and access to their business applications. For others, a building or power loss could cripple their business within a day. How would a disaster impact your company?

As the old adage states: “fortune favors the prepared”. Microsoft Azure provides a safe and reliable disaster recovery solution through its Azure Site Recovery service. If your network is running virtualization for its servers through either Microsoft Hyper-V or a supported version of VMWare, then it is easy and relatively inexpensive to replicate these systems to the Azure cloud. Replication can then be configured to update the cloud “mirror” as often as every thirty seconds, ensuring that the replicated systems have the most current copy of your data.

In the event of a catastrophe, businesses have the assurance that their data is safe in the Azure cloud and can turn on the replicated systems to have an operational datacenter in the cloud and be back up and running in a matter of hours instead of weeks.

If disaster recovery is not on your radar, then look at the Storm Trackers being shown on every local news channel to see just how close disaster can be. When you are ready to start planning, contact Dorset Connects and we can help get your business onto the high ground!