Today, it’s no longer a question whether small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) should move to the Cloud, but rather how to properly perform the migration and where to migrate the appropriate on-premise infrastructure with its associated applications.
The “how” is more of a methodical process that needs to be followed to analyze the current on-premise servers and to understand the applications that they are running. We will cover this topic in a future blog. The “where” is what we will cover today to provide you with some ways on how Microsoft’s Azure cloud can benefit your SMB.
What vexes SMBs most in the selection process is which Cloud provider (Azure, AWS, Google, IBM, etc.) is the right fit and will yield the most benefit for the investment. Microsoft Azure is the top contender when it comes to providing the scalability, security, and redundancy to a growing business’s IT infrastructure.
These Azure-based cloud solutions can be from a single server to a farm of servers running in multiple regions and dynamically scaling up to performance requirements at a specific moment of time. There is no need to spend additional capital in hardware - servers, memory and storage – every time the business grows or their web-based applications become more popular with their clients.
Here are 3 areas of Microsoft Azure cloud where we have found an immediate and positive impact to a SMB’s overall business, and the expenditure on their IT infrastructure, including the stability and security of hosted applications.
1. Scalability & Redundancy
Microsoft Azure allows you to quickly scale up or down necessary resources in a client’s Azure subscription without having to invest in spare or additional resource capacity, which makes it perfect for a small business in growth mode. If you have growing data needs or require new functionality, you can select what you need from Azure’s menu, deploy it quickly and limit ramp-up and downtime.
When using Azure App Service the process of scaling can become even more automated, depending on the number of visitors to a website; for example, during conference registration when an association or nonprofit experiences heavier than usual traffic to the website. A web-based application or website built under App Service can auto-scale vertically (additional resources to a single server) or horizontally (add additional load balanced servers) to handle extra traffic during heavier times of the year without having to invest in additional resources throughout the year.
Pay for the extra resources when your hosting infrastructure needs it, instead of having to pay for it the entire year. This is a very valuable capability for businesses that experience website traffic spikes only a couple of times during the year. This is easier on the business’s wallet and easier for the NOC and managed services teams to monitor and adjust accordingly.
As with scalability, which helps improve performance, businesses also want to make sure that their sites are running 24/7 with minimal downtime. This is where Azure excels with its redundancy options. Using multiple Azure Regions (36 datacenters around the globe) and Azure Traffic Manager to handle the necessary traffic routing and automatic failover options, cloud architects can build robust client hosting solutions in Azure’s Cloud for the websites and applications that need to operate at peak performance and continuous uptime.
Azure’s scalability and redundancy options provide the infrastructure stability and agility needed to capitalize on new opportunities that can take your business to the next level.
2. Security & Compliance
Breaches and hacks are making headlines and are occurring on a more regular basis at enterprises like Equifax, Best Buy, and Target. Security is no less of a concern for SMBs seeking to protect their customer’s data and intellectual property, whether it is a trade association, NGO, or government contractor.
These daily threats coming from different vectors make it ever so important to have the proper tools to monitor and detect your cloud environment continuously. Azure provides a robust solution through its Azure Security Center to help prevent, detect, and respond to threats with visibility and control over the security of your critical Azure resources. The Azure Security Center allows NOC teams to verify that the proper security controls are set up and configured correctly. It also helps the team quickly identify any resources that require immediate attention.
In addition to security, compliance plays an important role when businesses select a Cloud service. This is true specifically for credit unions and health-related organizations, or any SMB that is audited by a governing body, due to the sensitive nature of their business. Again, this is where Azure is the leader with its comprehensive compliance coverage. It holds more certifications than any other Cloud service provider. Read more about these certifications at the Azure Trust Center.
Azure has the most trusted cloud for US government agencies and their partners, like government contractors and other government-affiliated organizations. These Microsoft Azure Government cloud services are delivered in government-only Azure Regions that are approved to provide extra security and compliance needed to handle government information.
No small business can match Microsoft’s investment in security measures over the last few years. What an SMB can do, however, is tap into these robust security measures by using the Microsoft Azure cloud.
3. Disaster Recovery
A vital element of any SMB is its ability to recover as quickly as possible when disaster strikes. A good example are the severe weather conditions, like the hurricanes, floods, and fires that seem to be striking us with greater regularity. What do you do to protect your IT infrastructure that might remain on-premises?
In the past, setting up the proper disaster recover solutions have been time intensive and costly projects. Today, with the Azure Site Recovery service (ASR), cloud consultants can easily ensure that on-premise servers and data are available when something drastic happens.
If you’re still on the fence about which Cloud service is right for your business, ATS can help. We are ranked among the top Microsoft Partners with a Gold competency in the Azure Cloud Platform. ATS is an approved Tier 1 Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) with solutions in Microsoft’s Azure Public Cloud and Microsoft’s Cloud for U.S. Government. The ATS team has unique expertise when it comes to assessing an SMB’s cloud readiness and determining the best fit to meet your current and future needs, whether that’s Microsoft Azure, private cloud services or a hybrid approach like Azure Stack.
Reach out to us today if you have questions about Microsoft Azure or your existing infrastructure. We’re here to help businesses just like yours.