Gain a Competitive Advantage with Azure

by
Jonathan Smith
and

On a high level, almost everyone knows that Azure contributes to optimal hardware utilization and energy savings. Azure requires no in-house team and eliminates redundancies, but it also offers reliability, security, manageability, and ultimately, cost savings.  

Azure is Microsoft’s answer to cloud computing, delivering all computing needs, from servers and storage to databases, software, and business intelligence over the Internet or cloud.  

What’s more, Azure implementation helps companies reduce IT infrastructure spending. Smithfield Foods, for example, was able to slash data center costs by 60%, which is fairly achievable for most companies across the board.  

So, let’s look at some of the advantages of Azure implementation and how it can improve your operations.  

Reliability

Reliability and Service Availability

The biggest fear of many businesses, including data centers, is reliability. If your services are unreliable, customers will find a different provider. Reliability risks come in many forms, and these are similar to the issues affecting cost.  

For example, individual equipment can fail and not only cost your business money on repairs but also affect the reliability of your service. To ensure your service is always available and you do not lose all your data, redundant systems have to be in place where personnel swap out faulty equipment quickly and efficiently to minimize downtime. Your business must have a disaster recovery plan in place in case of multiple types of disasters.  

However, all this anxiety can be avoided by moving systems to Azure. With Azure, you are guaranteed a 99.9995% service level agreement (SLA) of uptime. Your company would not be able to match that SLA without paying significantly more.

Security

Reliability is not just about maintaining access to your business services; it is also about protecting your business and your customers, especially in terms of protecting their data. While the physical security of data centers is critical, there are many other types of threats a company’s data could face. Cyberattacks are increasing at a rapid pace. If a data breach or cyberattack occurs, customer confidence decreases.  

A major threat to businesses is a hack causing the revelation of connection strings, API keys, certificates, and other sensitive information stored in a source code. Azure Key Vault protects your source code and sensitive data by only containing Azure URLs in the source code. If an attacker attempts to access the source code, sensitive information is protected, and a security breach does not occur.  

Overall, Azure has invested $1 billion (about $3 per person in the US) in security, security infrastructure, and 3,500 dedicated security experts.

Management

COVID rapidly increased the number of people working from home. When using a local data center or local server, physical access is required many times to accomplish specific tasks. This can be a challenge, especially today when much of your workforce is working from home. Azure only requires an internet connection to build, maintain, and modify business services, making managing a remote workforce much easier.  

Automation

Another feature of Azure that further supports workforce management is automation offering the benefit of time and cost savings. Azure will automatically upgrade software. It can run split upgrades on a backup service enabling  changes without experiencing any downtime or taking down the whole system or site.  

Scalability

Azure also allows businesses to scale up when there is an increase in demand and to scale back when productivity is back to a normal operating level. During a busy season like back to school or a holiday, a website or application may need to accommodate more customers. Azure can automate additional hardware services to increase CPU, such as handling a seasonal increase in customer traffic. When these expanded services are no longer needed, they can be automatically scaled back down.  

A recent example happened this past June, when one of Allata’s clients, was unsure how many users would hit their application when hosting a live video streaming event. The immediate increase in customer traffic was met with simple rules established in Azure. As soon as the web servers crossed a 70% threshold on CPU or memory, Azure automatically scaled out in resources by creating another webserver to help balance the traffic. This is an excellent example of how Azure helps companies easily meet customer demand.  

The Ultimate Advantage: Cost Savings

In the past, companies were required to buy expensive equipment to run their servers. They also had to have warranty coverage on the equipment and upgrades to stay competitive. This all amounted to substantial upfront costs. Despite all this, companies had no way of guaranteeing they had the right equipment for the long haul. Furthermore, there were other indirect costs such as security, equipment maintenance, and the risk of natural disasters.  

Today, moving to the cloud has emerged as one of the best ways for a company to optimize its costs. Azure supports this need in myriad ways:

  1. Azure eliminates up-front costs for expensive equipment. Instead, you are essentially renting equipment to run your services. Servers are immediately available and upgradeable, and you do not have to pay for a warranty.  
  1. With this immediate access at your fingertips, you can start up projects faster and pivot quickly when new business requirements are introduced. Reducing time-to-market is imperative to beat the competition, and the Azure pricing model gives you an advantage.
  1. Last but not least, while disasters can and do happen, often wreaking havoc on your local servers and your business, a devastating impact can be avoided. If a natural disaster like a hurricane affects Azure’s primary data centers, all information and services are re-routed to a redundant server running the same systems. You can configure your infrastructure to be replicated on other servers, and you will not lose money from having to rebuild your infrastructure from scratch.

Companies do not often factor in cost savings directly when deciding to migrate to Azure. However, there are multiple advantageous indirect costs saved after implementing Azure and observing the increased reliability of their updated system as detailed for your thorough examination.

Now is the time to consider moving to the cloud, either wholly or by implementing a hybrid model. The cost savings alone will be well worth it. Allata has many talented engineers implementing Azure solutions for clients from various industries. The future of business is in the cloud, and Allata can take you there with Azure. Contact us today to learn more.

Jonathan Smith

Jon Smith is a Lead Manager at Allata with a diverse background in software development and infrastructure spanning 15 years. Before joining Allata, Jon primarily worked in the Department of Defense and higher education. As cloud computing matures, Jon concentrates on helping clients build solutions by taking advantage of all the benefits of cloud computing.

As a life-long Trekkie, Jon takes inspiration from Star Trek on technology to improve the quality of life for everyone. In his free time, Jon spends time with his family, plays guitar, and is an avid reader.

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