Azure Cloud Services

chris-strongAs one might expect, as an IT Consulting and Managed Services provider, we tend to get a lot of questions from our customers about new technologies and developments in the IT industry that may have an impact on their business in a profound way. As a result, we spend a lot of time thinking about what the next frontier of IT will be, and how it may change or enhance the way everyone runs IT within their business. Sometimes there are large, tectonic shifts with a new product category or platform, while other times the individual new elements are smaller in scope and have a less ground-breaking impact overall. Even these smaller elements, however, can at times coalesce into major transformations.

One of the more frequent conversations that I encounter within organizations lately surrounds the advancements in Cloud technologies, both how far they’ve come along and where they’re going over the next several years. The questions often vary in scope and how much anxiety is behind them. Aside from the foundational technical aspects of the Cloud, a common theme revolves around three key elements for most IT directors – trust, value, and cost. Cloud platforms, Microsoft’s Azure in particular, offer incredible capabilities and capacities, that much is clear just looking over the vast amount of infrastructure and services offerings that are available when diving into the platform. However, it’s the underlying value proposition, the overall reliability, and long-term feasibility of a hosted platform like Microsoft Azure that still drives a lot of consternation.

In Virteva’s experience, we’ve seen a great deal of improvement and maturation come to Microsoft Azure over the past couple of years. At first, it seemed like just about everything was in “preview” mode (and Infrastructure as a Service itself took some time to come to fruition) and there wasn’t a very clear story around the supportability of the infrastructure you could use, and how much control you could have over it. Through the past 3 years in particular, Microsoft has progressed and matured Azure extremely quickly to the point that I now have no major qualms about openly recommending Azure’s platform to many of our customers when they are looking to drive down costs, enable rapid scalability, and relieve themselves of the burden of hardware procurement, maintenance, and replacement. Frequently, I’ll run into an organization that has struggles around how they’d like to drive consistency with versioning in their Windows Server, SQL Server, and messaging platforms. And beyond that, would like to ensure that they don’t encounter the same problem again 3 years later when they can’t react quickly to keep themselves up to date. They also frequently want to remove the hassle of maintaining and dealing with an expensive SAN to house all the associated storage. All of these struggles can very easily be overcome by utilizing Microsoft Azure IaaS and SaaS.

IT admins generally, from my experience, love to focus on the future state of their environment and all the great possibilities that exist within their expertise level – if only they didn’t have to deal with all the reactive issues that arise daily. Being unable to relieve themselves of the constant barrage of low-level incidents and routine maintenance tasks never lets them pause to strategize the next step. Utilizing Azure creates the potential to alleviate a reasonable portion of that day-to-day reactive grind and free up resources to look ahead.

We’ve seen a lot of amazing outcomes using Virteva’s Professional Services Consultants to move either a portion of our customers’ environment or, in some cases, their entire datacenter environment up to Azure. Standing up the appropriate IaaS and PaaS pieces to form a logical, well-structured, and highly functional environment has enabled our customers the freedom to allow their in-house IT staff to focus on the big-picture envisioning they are best at, while Virteva monitors and maintains their Azure platform. This combination has driven a lot of positive feedback from our customers and they’ve noted consistently that they no longer feel anywhere near as hamstrung by reactive issues like stressing over when the next hard drive failure might occur.

Cloud platforms like Microsoft’s Azure are a significant conduit in the future of IT. Virteva’s Professional and Managed services serve as the catalyst that can help drive organizations leverage the Cloud successfully and get out of it every bit of value possible. I remain very optimistic about all the amazing new Cloud services and capabilities that are on the horizon, and eager to continue helping businesses leverage the Microsoft Azure to achieve truly great outcomes.

Chris Strong, Virteva Sales Engineer