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4 lies you believe about Azure

Infrastructure-as-a-service.  Cloud-sourcing your datacenter.  You’ve heard enough, right?  Over the last few months you’ve been inundated with Azure information.  By now you’re undoubtedly aware that Azure lets you build infrastructure in the cloud, providing you a way to (potentially) reduce your overhead by cloud-sourcing your datacenter.  You’ve also probably heard us pontificate on the value of PaaS, or Platform-as-a-Service.  IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) lets you use Azure as your datacenter, hosting your virtual machines in the cloud.  PaaS evolves how you’re using technology, removing the need to have physical web servers, TFS machines (OK, that’s SaaS, or Software-as-a-Service), build controllers, SQL servers, etc.  In fact, you can even leverage Azure File Services to replace or supplement the typical on premise file-sharing structures.  There are lots of great reasons to move to Azure.  There may also be reasons not to leverage Azure’s wide variety of offerings, but many of the reasons you may hear are at best misunderstandings, and at worst, outright lies.

With the varied reasons for keeping resources on premise, let’s make sure you have all of the facts straight.

Here are a few misconceptions about Azure:

1) Azure isn’t secure.

This is a common view.  You likely have concerns about the security around data and its accessibility.  However, Azure has addressed and is addressing PII compliance.  Azure compliance includes:

  • ISO 27001 compliancy
  • SOC 1 & 2
  • FedRAMP
  • U.S. Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)
  • Australian Government Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP)
  • Singapore Multi-Tier Cloud Security (MTCS)
  • Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11

But that doesn’t mean your data is bullet-proof in Azure.  From a data center perspective, Azure is good to go.  While it is a secure and compliant infrastructure, you have the responsibility to make sure your applications are secure as well.  Consider this – with an on premise data center you have 2 pillars to ensure you are secure and compliant – your applications and the data center.  With Azure, you will only have to focus on one pillar – your applications. Azure takes care of the data center pillar.

2) I have Hyper-V already,  so I have a scalable infrastructure for my servers.

Hyper-V is scalable.  This is the beauty of using virtualization technologies.  However, scaling a virtual machine in Azure is much easier (and potentially more cost-effective) than scaling an on premise virtual machine.  If you are allocating physical servers in your data center, then you already see that scaling a physical machine is costly. Replacing hardware is expensive.  If you are using virtual technologies like Hyper-V, then your limitations are related to the CPU, disk space, and the physical memory on the server.  These limitations may not be excessive if you’ve thrown monetary resources into the physical machine. That also means, however, that you’ve put extra funds into resources that aren’t currently being used – likely you are not using all the memory, disk, or CPU on the Hyper-V server.  Azure allows you to scale machines as you need so you are only paying for what you use.

3) Moving to Azure IaaS can be a fairly challenging process.

This certainly can be true – if you aren’t using Hyper-V.  But if you have Hyper-V images, you can easily move these images into Azure.  To learn more, check out Courtenay Bernier’s Infrastructure Blog.

4) Azure is about infrastructure (and getting your on premise data center into the cloud).

This is where the bulk of the misconceptions lie.  IaaS is a powerful aspect of Azure, but truly agile companies are skipping IaaS and moving straight to Azure PaaS.  That’s because companies that put a lot of resources into hardware and operations aren’t spending those resources on the products that are actually generating revenue for them.  PaaS enables software development organizations to focus their resources on the products they are creating by abstracting away hardware and server management.  For example – moving your website to PaaS means you don’t have to manage IIS anymore, and you can more easily scale the website as demand requires. No more needing to manually spin up load-balancers and multiple heads!  PaaS allows you to move away from SQL servers and DBA’s by handling many, if not most, of the DBA and server admin functions, allowing you to focus on the development of more efficient applications.

Now that I’ve dismissed a few of the most common misconceptions, there are some reasons to use Azure which you may not have considered.

Let’s look at some reasons to use Azure:

1) It’s really easy to create a test environment.

Whether you’re trying out the latest Microsoft operating system, evaluating the impact of an OS patch, or you need a lab environment for some such reason, Azure VM’s are easy, relatively cheap, and quick to deploy.

2) Automatic scalability is a couple of clicks away.

Need more CPU’s?  Want your Azure website to automatically grow or shrink based on demand?  It’s easy to do in Azure!  Just a couple of clicks and your website will be set to grow automatically.

3) Open Source is supported.

Launch a website using WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal.  Linux, MySQL, and loads of other open source technologies and applications are available for you to use.

4) Third Party Authentication.

Azure Mobile Services (unfortunately named because it’s not just about mobile services) makes using third party authentication easy.  Use OAuth to easily incorporate authentication with your Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.

5) Support for the main mobile platforms.

iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8 are just a few of the client libraries available.  This large and diverse collection of libraries makes it easier for developers to focus their energies on developing an app while not having to build out a bunch of infrastructure first.

6) Azure can be a disaster recovery site for you.

You can enable Azure as a disaster recovery site, meaning you can replicate your Hyper-V machines running on your site into Azure, and then make them available for disaster recovery!  In fact, Microsoft has acquired InMage to allow Azure Disaster Recovery to support just about any major enterprise technology including Linux and VMWare.

I could keep going and the list continues to grow! Let’s just say that there are a lot more reasons to start looking at Azure than there are to NOT look at it.

At Northwest Cadence, we can help you define an Azure strategy for integrating Azure services into your business.  Whether it’s building a plant to support a DevOps strategy, design a disaster recovery plan, or assist with re-architecting your application to support Azure’s PaaS, we are here to help!

Contact clientservices@nwcadence.com for more information.

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