What does Cloud Computing & Azure mean to our Customers?
When discussing custom software solutions with customers the question of whether or not they should consider the cloud is a common inquiry. Sometimes there is a clear cut answer, but typically a discussion takes places that revolve around the following topics:
Predictable Costs & No Upfront Hardware Costs
While I talked about this in my prior blog, most customers really like the idea of knowing upfront what their costs will be so they can budget accordingly. With cloud business applications, customers do not need to go out and buy computers, firewalls, routers, operating system licenses and database servers. The upfront purchase of these items can be tens of thousands of dollars and the hardware must be configured, maintained and upgraded to keep up with technology.
While the predictable costs and no upfront hardware purchases are a great cloud benefit, most people get stuck on security. While having your data on your hardware and knowing all the network details can be a hard argument to counter, going to the cloud does not mean you are more vulnerable. Choosing the right type of cloud (private vs. public) for the right application ensures that your most sensitive data is safe. While Tribridge recommends only private clouds for regulated, financial and sensitive data, we recommend public clouds such as Microsoft Azure for other needs. Integrating solutions between on-premise, public and private clouds (which is referred to as a hybrid solution) ensures both security and application flexibility while keeping costs down.
Disaster Recovery Planning
Whether your system is on premise or in a traditional data center, disaster planning is necessary. We plan accordingly with our customers as to how much downtime is too much and what our course of action is when it occurs. Some customers have a quick action plan to launch a new deployment and others opt for a fully redundant system in a second data center.
Can I Run the System On-Premise as a Safeguard?
Some customers want their fallback plan to entail reverting to a solution hosted on their hardware. This can be achieved, but it is something we like to plan for at the beginning of the project. There are features that can be coded for so that they will work on/off premises with the flip of a switch and other features are very Azure specific.
Deploying to Azure is fast and easy. With the platform-as-a-service approach there is no configuration of the servers. The configuration is built into the code package being deployed. This means that in as little as five to ten minutes a whole environment can be brought up for testing. Azure websites can be updated in minutes and offer a quick testing ground. Some large companies have deployment cycles that can take days to weeks and end users are not always excited about waiting so long for critical updates.
Can I Do One Application in the Cloud OR Do I Need to Do Everything at Once?
Going to the cloud does not mean moving all your applications to the cloud. If we are deploying a new solution and it seems like a good candidate then we might start with that application. Often, customers who are adding functionality or upgrading an existing system will consider the cloud at the same time. As stated earlier, the right type of cloud should be chosen for the right application. Based on the type of data and complexity of the solution, a plan will need to be developed about what data resides where. With some creative planning and engineering, moving to the cloud can be quite painless and the customers desired benefits can be reached.
The cloud is evolving and new features are coming out quickly. These features are coming out faster than our customers can sometimes consume them and it is driving innovation of their applications. Trying to do all this yourself is becoming too much for already overtasked IT departments. Most customers want value out of their applications and spending time setting up infrastructure is not always time well spent. Adding new features quickly and reliably helps customers keep ahead of their competition.
With that said, cloud will mean different things to different people. We have found that it is best to start off the conversation with “what do you think the cloud is, and how are you looking to benefit from it?” From there we can discuss the options that match your needs.
If your company is considering a move to the cloud, Tribridge is fully qualified to help you make the decision. For additional information, view a recording of our recent webinar Realize the Promise of the Cloud with Office 365 & Azure or contact us to learn more about what we have to offer.