Back in the olden days, before cloud computing was a thing, the only option for storing your business data and applications was on a secure server on your premises; meaning that you had to ensure that this physical piece of equipment was in a safe place in case the unthinkable happened such as vandalism, theft or at the very worst arson.
Your server and all your other bits of IT equipment such as PCs and printers also needed someone to look after them, and that someone generally had to be onsite; if not full-time then for at least two or three days a week. But what if something happened when they weren’t there or they were off sick or on holiday? Cross your fingers and hope for the best!
As technology evolved in the 2000's it became obvious that there were issues regarding scalability, high maintenance cost and the risks involved with physical and virtual security and so organisations were forced to look for a better alternative… and as if by magic, up popped Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service specifically created for building, testing, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of data centres; or in simple terms, it’s flexible to your needs.
Azure has been with us since February 2010, making it one of the first cloud services to come to the market, and it gives businesses the option to go full cloud from day one, or to follow a hybrid approach allowing for a gradual switch from on-premise to the cloud.
While we’ve already touched on the issues of scalability, high maintenance costs and the security risks associated with the on-premises system it’s time to go into a few more details – just in case you’re in any doubt about why you should be using Azure.
As already mentioned, one of the great things about Azure is scalable; that is, you only pay for what you need. So for example if you have an eCommerce website that has spikes in business, like at Christmas or Valentine’s Day, then what you pay for Azure is based on these specific increases in traffic to your site; it’s the same with many aspects of the platform, if you need more you just scale up and then scale down again when you need to.
Paying for new infrastructure is always a large investment of capital expenditure, but with Azure this is no longer an issue. Instead of replacing your servers every five years you essentially rent from Microsoft for a smaller monthly cost making it an operating expenditure similar to Office 365. It’s all very well having your own server onsite, but you also need to take into account associated costs such as heating, cooling and powering your server – with Azure, Microsoft does it all for you.
There still seems to be a bit of a misconception that putting your data into the Cloud is not a good idea. If you have your own onsite server than the only thing protecting it is not much; a lock on the server room door, and maybe CCTV. With Azure you are protected by the “spy-movie environment” of Microsoft’s data centres, so regardless of whether it’s in London, Cardiff, Dublin or Timbuktu (we might have fibbed about that last one) your data could not be more secure. Access to these data centres is controlled through two-tier authentication, including proxy card access readers and hand geometry bio-metric readers. Microsoft also has a global incident response team that works around the clock to deal with any cyber threats.
Back up and disaster recovery
Backing up your data to the Cloud is both cost-effective and smart because you get 99 years of retention, and you don’t have to worry about the old school system of taking tapes or hard drives offsite. In the unlikely chance that an incident should occur, Azure’s disaster recovery product, Site Recovery, enables you to either recover your data at a secondary site or straight into the Cloud; although it won’t actually be you doing this, that’s a job for your managed service provider (MSP) – giving you the confidence that what needs to happen in the background is happening.
Microsoft makes every effort to ensure that the data in its Cloud is protected. Azure is built around the privacy and security demands of business needs to ensure that the data you have in its Cloud is protected. And what’s more, Microsoft has the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings compared with any other Cloud service provider. If you work in sectors such as legal and finance then you can be confident that your data is being stored to be compliant with your specific industry regulations.
Azure is flexible in that it allows you to do a hybrid deployment. This way you are able to take advantage of your on-premise resources as well as the benefits of the Cloud.
To talk to an Azure specialist, please call us on: 0333 241 9301 or click the 'Let's Talk' link below.