5 POINTS TO CONSIDER BEFORE MIGRATING TO AZURE

Are you considering migrating some or all of your workload to a cloud-based service? Heard about ‘Azure’ but not sure what it entails or if it’s right for you? Perhaps you’re concerned that a service migration will be difficult to achieve, or you’re uneasy about no longer being in control of your data or infrastructure?

If you’ve reached a crossroads with your business and are still unsure what the right path is, read our top 5 things you need to think about when deciding whether the cloud is right for you:

  1. Improved Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR)
    Both business continuity and disaster recovery are easier to plan and deploy in a cloud-based service such as Azure. Instead of having to scale up you can scale out and make use of Azure’s services to make BCDR easier to put in place. A significant advantage of Azure is the ability to have your data backed-up and your systems mirrored in multiple data centres, which was previously beyond the reach many businesses. On the flip side, if you’ve moved all of your data and/or systems to the cloud, you’ll need to take precautions to make sure that you stay connected to the internet and your cloud service provider at all times, otherwise you may find yourself high and dry.
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  3. Highly scalable and flexible…
    It used to be that if you needed more storage space, you’d have to physically install more hardware. Azure offers nearly infinite scalability, virtually unlimited capacity, strong performance and quick provision times. Alas, this convenience has a downside; as was highlighted in a presentation we saw at the ‘IT in the Park’ conference, the ease with which servers and virtual machines can be spun-up by members of your team can rapidly lead to uncontrolled growth and sprawl of your systems in the cloud, and hence costs (see also point 5 below).  It is therefore imperative that you implement controls to prevent this, whether you are working to ITIL practices, or following a DevOps approach.
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  5. Security and compliance
    Security is a key concern of any business and, with a seemingly never-ending stream of horror stories in the press, many are nervous of committing to the cloud. However, whether it’s network and system security, data and key security, monitoring, response, compliance or privacy, Azure meets the needs of any security conscious company. In addition to the Azure Security Centre, which allows you to quickly assess the security of your Azure system, Microsoft has implemented measures including rigorous virus scans on code written for Azure and strict access controls (both physical and digital) to cloud servers. As with any system, the weak point is the users, so you should still take as many precautions as possible, such as enforcing a strong password policy or multi-factor authentication and maintaining appropriate restrictions on data access within your organisation.  If you’re dealing with data that has specific national security restrictions, you’ll also need to consider where the data centre is located and who outside your organisation can access the data. The incoming GDPR regulations have huge implications for data privacy and pose a real headache to businesses dealing with EU citizens’ data.  However, Microsoft are aiming to make monitoring and demonstrating your compliance easier with their Compliance Manager.
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  7. Reduced hardware cost
    A cloud-based service such as Azure means your workload is moved off-premise, reducing the amount of hardware required onsite and cutting the associated support costs such as maintenance, climate control, electricity, back-ups and on-site security required for the hardware. Moving to Azure isn’t the only way to achieve this benefit, however; there is also the option of using a co-location (“co-lo”) centre, where you either host your own hardware or rent it from a provider. This means that your infrastructure is hosted in a purpose-built facility, reducing your on-premise footprint and costs, while allowing you to retain control of your data and hardware.
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  9. Pay-as-you-use service
    You only pay for what you use in Azure – what you use is wrapped in a metered cost and if you don’t use it, you can remove it. However, with the remote nature of the cloud, a degree of “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” can creep in, and your costs can spiral if you don’t monitor your usage and shut down machines or licences that aren’t being used.

 

For some companies, moving entirely to the cloud may not be an option due to data restrictions or concerns over security. Businesses using ERP software in a manufacturing environment may also find that a cloud-based solution doesn’t meet their needs. In these instances, a hybrid system combining both on-premise and cloud solutions might be most appropriate.  In fact, at AgileCadence, one of our key areas of focus is defining the standards for on-premise/hybrid/co-lo installations, through our partnership with Dell.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. What’s right for one company won’t work for another. Make sure your decision is based on the best interests for your business. If you want advice or to talk through concerns, the team at AgileCadence are market leaders in providing tailored, business focused solutions for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and Microsoft Dynamics AX users. We’ve worked with a wide range of client requirements, across a variety of industries and with our industry expertise we can advise you on the various options and guide you to the solution that will work best for your business.