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What’s the difference between Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365?

In this post Chad Stigant explains the difference between Microsoft Azure and Office 365, what they do and whether you need both.
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How secure is Azure?

Author: Russell McKee, Senior Consultant & Azure Architect Covering this ‘how secure is Azure’ blog, is Russell McKee. An experienced Azure Architect and Senior M365 Consultant with over 20 years in the IT industry covering several sectors including Healthcare Government, Blue Light and Private enterprises. Highly focused on delivering change, innovation and exceptional end user experience by working with customers to get the best solution to the challenges they have. Russell has impeccable attention to detail and a genuine passion for innovation and technology. Russell’s specialisms include Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Exchange, Identity & Access Management, Modern Desktop with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Telecoms, Networking, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Virtualisation technologies. What to consider when securing your cloud estate There are multiple factors to consider when securing your cloud estate, from traditional components such as firewalls to other areas in today’s cloud-based world such as identity and access management. Let’s not forget other areas like encryption both while the data is at rest (for example on storage) or in transit, such as sending information over a banking website. Azure is a cloud computing platform from Microsoft that provides a range of services for building, deploying, and managing applications and other workloads in the cloud. Azure offers a wide range of security features, including encryption, access controls, and network security, as well as tools for monitoring and managing security. Azure is also designed to meet a wide range of compliance standards, making it a secure and reliable platform for organisations looking to protect their applications and data in the cloud. How secure is Azure? What is Azure? Azure is a cloud computing platform from Microsoft that provides a range of services for building, deploying, and managing applications and other workloads in the cloud. Azure offers a wide range of services, including computing, storage, and networking, as well as services for data management, analytics, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things (IoT). How secure is Azure? One of the key advantages of Azure is its focus on security. Azure offers a range of tools and features to help protect against threats and data breaches, ensuring that applications and data are secure in the cloud. One key aspect of Azure’s security is its commitment to compliance. Azure is designed to meet a wide range of compliance standards, including those related to data protection, privacy, and security. Azure is also regularly audited by third-party organisations to ensure that it meets these standards. This means that organisations can use Azure with confidence, knowing that their applications and data are compliant and secure. Azure also offers a range of security features to help protect against threats and data breaches. These features include encryption, access controls, and network security, as well as tools for monitoring and managing security. Azure also offers features such as multi-factor authentication and device management to help keep data secure. In addition to these security features, Azure also offers a range of tools and services for managing and securing applications in the cloud. This includes services for deploying and managing containers, as well as tools for monitoring and managing the security of applications. Azure also offers services for data management and analytics, making it easy to manage and analyse data securely in the cloud. Summary In response to the question ‘how secure is Azure’ – overall, Azure is a secure and reliable platform for building and managing applications in the cloud. Its focus on compliance and its range of security features make it an ideal platform for organisations looking to protect their applications and data in the cloud. Ready to move to cloud?  Moving to the cloud can help your business grow securely, while increasing profitability, productivity and accelerating digital transformation. However, in order to realise these benefits, the migration process must be carefully designed and monitored by a team of professionals. If you want to find out more about how we can help you migrate to Azure, get in contact with us today.  You can find out more about Azure cloud platform on the Microsoft website, or read about how we can support you here.
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Cloud migration – understand the process, benefits and challenges before migrating to Azure

Are you considering cloud migration? If migrating to Azure is on your IT roadmap, we can help you understand more about the process, the benefits and the challenges you might face along the way. Making the move to cloud? What to expect What is Cloud Migration? Benefits of cloud migration Cloud Migration Process Key Challenges Author: Russell McKee, Senior Consultant & Azure Architect An experienced Azure Architect and Senior M365 Consultant with over 20 years in the IT industry covering several sectors including Healthcare Government, Blue Light and Private enterprises. Highly focused on delivering change, innovation and exceptional end user experience by working with customers to get the best solution to the challenges they have. Russell has impeccable attention to detail and a genuine passion for innovation and technology. Russell’s specialisms include Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Exchange, Identity & Access Management, Modern Desktop with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Telecoms, Networking, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Virtualisation technologies. Cloud migration: What to expect when migrating to Azure  Many businesses rely on some form of legacy on-premises infrastructure that they own, host or manage. These systems or servers may have been introduced recently, or over a decade ago, and likely were effective in getting the job done for a period of time. However, technology has changed rapidly, and businesses need flexibility and modern technology to have sustainable long-term growth. Moving workloads, applications and processes to the cloud helps businesses to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud technology and can accelerate innovation to help businesses stand out from their competitors. In this article I’ll discuss the ins and outs of cloud migration, and what businesses can expect when migrating to Azure.  What is Cloud Migration?  A cloud migration is the process of moving legacy assets, such as applications, data, servers or processes, to a public or private cloud, in this case, migrating to Azure. It also includes the ongoing process of maintaining and optimising the cloud once the migration is complete.  Benefits of making the move to cloud Cost Efficiency and Scalability  Cloud technology allows business to only pay for the resources they use. With legacy on-premises infrastructure, business have a significant upfront investment for the technology, the installation, as well as the costs involved with maintenance, electricity and sufficient cooling. If the business needs to upgrade, it involves upgrading all the hardware, and the process would potentially take months. Similarly, there is no easy way for businesses to downgrade if their needs change over time. In comparison, with the cloud, it’s simple to increase or decrease resources as needed with no significant upfront costs involved. Once the technology is set up, the business only pays for what they use, and nothing more.  Performance and Reliability  The Azure cloud has a 99.9% uptime and is one of the most powerful clouds available. It keeps network latency low and provides an end-user experience that is significantly faster and more powerful than high-end on-premises infrastructure.  Security  Microsoft has over 3,500 cybersecurity professionals working 24/7, along with advanced AI, working to keep all processes, applications, and data in the cloud safe. This ensures that businesses can feel safe knowing that their precious data and applications will not fall into the hands of a cybercriminal. Similarly, there are many security features built into the Azure cloud to help IT professionals run cloud processes safely and effectively.  Cloud migration process The process of migrating to Azure requires expertise and a thorough understanding of a business and its goals. It includes the initial planning and assessment of legacy systems, including applications, databases and servers. That’s where we can help. From here the cloud migration strategy is designed with contingency plans and roll-back plans to answer worst case scenarios. A pilot migration is then completed to resolve any issues and ensure that all requirements will be met. Finally, the migration will be run, typically over a weekend, or throughout the night, to limit the amount of disruption for the business and its employees. This process of migration is typically undertaken and managed by experienced consultants, as businesses can rely on their previous experience and expertise.  Key challenges Lack of strategy and planning  If businesses rush this process of migration, they will likely have a poor final outcome, which can negate the benefits of moving the cloud and hurt the growth of a business. Each business has different requirements and goals, and the right IT provider will be able to design a migration strategy that sets them up for success and longevity of cloud systems.  Poor cost optimisation  Although one of the key benefits of moving to the cloud is cost savings, as costs are based off resource consumption, if a business does not optimise their usage and costs, they may be surprised by a high bill. Thankfully, Azure has free built-in functionality to predict usage and the associated costs, and the tools available to optimise usage to decrease overall costs whilst increasing efficiency.  Ready to move to cloud?  Moving to the cloud can help your business grow, while increasing profitability, productivity and accelerating digital transformation. However, in order to realise these benefits, the migration process must be carefully designed and monitored by a team of professionals. If you want to find out more about how we can help you migrate to Azure, get in contact with us today.  You can find out more about Azure cloud platform on the Microsoft website, or read about how we can support you here.
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Harness the power of AI in your organisation with Microsoft Azure

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is undoubtably one of the greatest technological advancements of the past decade. Find out how your organisation can get the benefits of AI in Microsoft Azure here >
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What is Azure Active Directory and why you need it

The hybrid workplace requires a comprehensive identity and access management solution, such as Azure Active Directory (AAD). Learn more about the benefits of ADD here.
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5 steps to a successful Azure migration

Migrating to the cloud can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be. Here we share 5 steps to ensure a successful Azure migration.
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How to get the most out of the Azure Cloud

The Azure Cloud can offer businesses of all sizes and industries functionality that can increase productivity and enable innovation whilst decreasing overall costs. Find out how you can get the most out of the Azure Cloud, read on >
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How technology can help businesses reach their sustainability goals

IT teams have an important role to play in helping organisations achieve their sustainability goals. Explore the technology that can support your business here.
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Migrating to Azure: the benefits and challenges

Migrating to Azure can help your business grow faster stand out from your competitors. Find out more in our blog.
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How much does Microsoft Azure cost?

Thinking about migrating to Microsoft Azure? Our blog will help you understand how to estimate your Azure costs and use Microsoft's Azure Pricing Calculator.
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How Azure Virtual Desktop can improve your security posture

With remote and hybrid work, it can be difficult for businesses to maintain a strong security posture. If you want to find out how Azure Virtual Desktop can improve your security posture, read our blog.
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What is Azure used for?

Organisations looking to take the next step on the digital transformation journey, often ask "What is Azure used for?" Here we explain what Microsoft Azure is.
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What’s the difference between Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365?

For many businesses, Microsoft products and services are integral to the smooth running of IT systems. Microsoft has been a reliable provider of software and solutions for decades, with many sectors still picking them over Apple or new competitors.

Microsoft, along with the rest of the technology sector over the last couple of decades has been moving core services into the cloud.

Is your organisation ready to migrate to Azure? Get support here >

Microsoft Azure is another enterprise cloud platform, with a much wider range of capabilities. Unlike Microsoft 365, which is a software as a service (SaaS) product, Azure has infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) components. To understand the difference between Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 we need to understand what each of these cloud platform terms mean.

Cloud Platforms: SaaS, IaaS and PaaS explained

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Even if your company doesn’t use Microsoft 365, you will almost certainly have several SaaS subscriptions. From finance software to customer relationship management (CRM) systems, SaaS solutions are everywhere.

Instead of downloading software (applications), or uploading it from a disk, you can pay a monthly subscription – often depending on the number of users that need access – to use a piece of software. The majority of SaaS products are cloud-based, which means users can login anywhere in the world, on any device.

Microsoft 365 is designed to be as convenient and powerful as possible, with the full suite of services that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. Businesses can either pay monthly or annually, and part of the convenience of SaaS products is they’re not tied to a particular device. You can use Office365 on Apple Macs or other devices; you don’t need to have PCs to run the software.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) 

IaaS is a little more complex. With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), companies can scale-up and down computing powers without needing to invest in hardware and servers. IaaS gives companies an almost instant computing infrastructure, such as data centres, security applications and servers, managed over the Internet.

Instead of managing all of this themselves, companies can pay Microsoft a monthly subscription for Azure, creating and deploying as much or as little cloud computing power as needed. From web hosting to solving big data challenges to providing storage, backup and security solutions, IaaS is an integral part of many companies IT infrastructure.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) environments makes it possible to run SaaS solutions, such as Microsoft 365. Developers can manage the infrastructure, with the advantage that this secure environment gives companies more control over operating systems, software and the way you can configure software for the unique needs of your business. Everything is managed in the cloud, giving you the flexibility to scale solutions up and down as required. 

Depending on what your business needs, Microsoft Azure is PaaS and IaaS. Azure includes Compute, Data Services, App Services, Networking and Store services. Companies can create and configure everything they would need in a secure cloud environment, which is something a dedicated IT partner can help with. Designing flexible, scalable, cloud solutions within a cloud platform gives businesses a great deal more control and computing power than many could access when these systems and platforms were on-site. 

As you can see it’s not a question of either using Azure or 365, they both do very different things. But combined these cloud platforms can provide most businesses with the IT infrastructure, development framework and software they need for business operations. 

Migrating your IT infrastructure and applications to the cloud makes good business sense. Instead of being tied to legacy hardware and systems that are often inflexible and costly to maintain, cloud platforms give businesses scalable solutions that flex with their business’ requirements.

What would your workloads look like in the cloud?

In the video below, Gary Duke explains how a Cloud Economics Assessment can help you understand what your assets will look like in the cloud and how much it would cost.

If you are thinking about migrating to Microsoft 365, our Microsoft Cloud Assessment service will help. This 2 day service explores your cloud readiness, aligns digital transformation with business outcomes, and provides you with a roadmap for transitioning to Microsoft (Office) 365. Sessions are tailored to your organisation, IT infrastructure and objectives. We also run this service for organisations interested in Microsoft Azure. Further details can be found here >

microsoft cloud assessment

How secure is Azure?

Author: Russell McKee, Senior Consultant & Azure Architect

Russell McKee from Cloud Business talks about how secure is azure, migrating to Azure, migrating to the cloud, microsoft cloud migration

Covering this ‘how secure is Azure’ blog, is Russell McKee. An experienced Azure Architect and Senior M365 Consultant with over 20 years in the IT industry covering several sectors including Healthcare Government, Blue Light and Private enterprises. Highly focused on delivering change, innovation and exceptional end user experience by working with customers to get the best solution to the challenges they have. Russell has impeccable attention to detail and a genuine passion for innovation and technology.

Russell’s specialisms include Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Exchange, Identity & Access Management, Modern Desktop with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Telecoms, Networking, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Virtualisation technologies.

What to consider when securing your cloud estate

There are multiple factors to consider when securing your cloud estate, from traditional components such as firewalls to other areas in today’s cloud-based world such as identity and access management.

Let’s not forget other areas like encryption both while the data is at rest (for example on storage) or in transit, such as sending information over a banking website.

Azure is a cloud computing platform from Microsoft that provides a range of services for building, deploying, and managing applications and other workloads in the cloud.

Azure offers a wide range of security features, including encryption, access controls, and network security, as well as tools for monitoring and managing security.

Azure is also designed to meet a wide range of compliance standards, making it a secure and reliable platform for organisations looking to protect their applications and data in the cloud.

How secure is Azure?

What is Azure?

Azure is a cloud computing platform from Microsoft that provides a range of services for building, deploying, and managing applications and other workloads in the cloud. Azure offers a wide range of services, including computing, storage, and networking, as well as services for data management, analytics, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things (IoT).

How secure is Azure?

One of the key advantages of Azure is its focus on security. Azure offers a range of tools and features to help protect against threats and data breaches, ensuring that applications and data are secure in the cloud.

One key aspect of Azure’s security is its commitment to compliance. Azure is designed to meet a wide range of compliance standards, including those related to data protection, privacy, and security. Azure is also regularly audited by third-party organisations to ensure that it meets these standards. This means that organisations can use Azure with confidence, knowing that their applications and data are compliant and secure.

Azure also offers a range of security features to help protect against threats and data breaches. These features include encryption, access controls, and network security, as well as tools for monitoring and managing security. Azure also offers features such as multi-factor authentication and device management to help keep data secure.

In addition to these security features, Azure also offers a range of tools and services for managing and securing applications in the cloud. This includes services for deploying and managing containers, as well as tools for monitoring and managing the security of applications. Azure also offers services for data management and analytics, making it easy to manage and analyse data securely in the cloud.

Summary

In response to the question ‘how secure is Azure’ – overall, Azure is a secure and reliable platform for building and managing applications in the cloud. Its focus on compliance and its range of security features make it an ideal platform for organisations looking to protect their applications and data in the cloud.

Ready to move to cloud? 

Moving to the cloud can help your business grow securely, while increasing profitability, productivity and accelerating digital transformation. However, in order to realise these benefits, the migration process must be carefully designed and monitored by a team of professionals.

If you want to find out more about how we can help you migrate to Azure, get in contact with us today. 

You can find out more about Azure cloud platform on the Microsoft website, or read about how we can support you here.

Cloud migration – understand the process, benefits and challenges before migrating to Azure

Are you considering cloud migration? If migrating to Azure is on your IT roadmap, we can help you understand more about the process, the benefits and the challenges you might face along the way.

Author: Russell McKee, Senior Consultant & Azure Architect

Russell McKee from Cloud Business talking about migrating to Azure, migrating to the cloud, microsoft cloud migration

An experienced Azure Architect and Senior M365 Consultant with over 20 years in the IT industry covering several sectors including Healthcare Government, Blue Light and Private enterprises. Highly focused on delivering change, innovation and exceptional end user experience by working with customers to get the best solution to the challenges they have. Russell has impeccable attention to detail and a genuine passion for innovation and technology.

Russell’s specialisms include Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Exchange, Identity & Access Management, Modern Desktop with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Telecoms, Networking, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Virtualisation technologies.


Cloud migration: What to expect when migrating to Azure 

Many businesses rely on some form of legacy on-premises infrastructure that they own, host or manage. These systems or servers may have been introduced recently, or over a decade ago, and likely were effective in getting the job done for a period of time. However, technology has changed rapidly, and businesses need flexibility and modern technology to have sustainable long-term growth.

Moving workloads, applications and processes to the cloud helps businesses to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud technology and can accelerate innovation to help businesses stand out from their competitors. In this article I’ll discuss the ins and outs of cloud migration, and what businesses can expect when migrating to Azure. 

What is Cloud Migration? 

A cloud migration is the process of moving legacy assets, such as applications, data, servers or processes, to a public or private cloud, in this case, migrating to Azure. It also includes the ongoing process of maintaining and optimising the cloud once the migration is complete. 

Benefits of making the move to cloud

Cost Efficiency and Scalability 

Cloud technology allows business to only pay for the resources they use. With legacy on-premises infrastructure, business have a significant upfront investment for the technology, the installation, as well as the costs involved with maintenance, electricity and sufficient cooling. If the business needs to upgrade, it involves upgrading all the hardware, and the process would potentially take months. Similarly, there is no easy way for businesses to downgrade if their needs change over time.

In comparison, with the cloud, it’s simple to increase or decrease resources as needed with no significant upfront costs involved. Once the technology is set up, the business only pays for what they use, and nothing more. 

Performance and Reliability 

The Azure cloud has a 99.9% uptime and is one of the most powerful clouds available. It keeps network latency low and provides an end-user experience that is significantly faster and more powerful than high-end on-premises infrastructure. 

Security 

Microsoft has over 3,500 cybersecurity professionals working 24/7, along with advanced AI, working to keep all processes, applications, and data in the cloud safe. This ensures that businesses can feel safe knowing that their precious data and applications will not fall into the hands of a cybercriminal. Similarly, there are many security features built into the Azure cloud to help IT professionals run cloud processes safely and effectively. 

Cloud migration process

The process of migrating to Azure requires expertise and a thorough understanding of a business and its goals. It includes the initial planning and assessment of legacy systems, including applications, databases and servers. That’s where we can help.

From here the cloud migration strategy is designed with contingency plans and roll-back plans to answer worst case scenarios. A pilot migration is then completed to resolve any issues and ensure that all requirements will be met. Finally, the migration will be run, typically over a weekend, or throughout the night, to limit the amount of disruption for the business and its employees. This process of migration is typically undertaken and managed by experienced consultants, as businesses can rely on their previous experience and expertise. 

Key challenges

Lack of strategy and planning 

If businesses rush this process of migration, they will likely have a poor final outcome, which can negate the benefits of moving the cloud and hurt the growth of a business. Each business has different requirements and goals, and the right IT provider will be able to design a migration strategy that sets them up for success and longevity of cloud systems. 

Poor cost optimisation 

Although one of the key benefits of moving to the cloud is cost savings, as costs are based off resource consumption, if a business does not optimise their usage and costs, they may be surprised by a high bill. Thankfully, Azure has free built-in functionality to predict usage and the associated costs, and the tools available to optimise usage to decrease overall costs whilst increasing efficiency. 

Ready to move to cloud? 

Moving to the cloud can help your business grow, while increasing profitability, productivity and accelerating digital transformation. However, in order to realise these benefits, the migration process must be carefully designed and monitored by a team of professionals.

If you want to find out more about how we can help you migrate to Azure, get in contact with us today. 

You can find out more about Azure cloud platform on the Microsoft website, or read about how we can support you here.

connectivity solutions

Harness the power of AI in your organisation with Microsoft Azure

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are undoubtably some of the greatest technological advancements of the past decade. Although AI has technically been in use for many years, it is only recently that organisations have truly harnessed the power of AI to deliver better business outcomes. 

AI may seem like it is only feasible for large organisations with even larger budgets, but with Microsoft Azure, these technologies are becoming more affordable. In this article we will discuss some of the functionality within the Azure AI platform, and how AI can benefit your organisation.

Ready to migrate some of your workloads to Microsoft Azure? Explore how here >

Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services

Azure Cognitive Services are cloud-based services with REST APIs and user interfaces available to help organisations build cognitive intelligence within their applications. These services are beneficial as they can be added to an application without the developer having AI or data science experience. These services are split into four categories: Speech, Language, Vision and Decision.

1. Cognitive Services for Speech are a set of tools that support next-generation speech capabilities within applications. Some examples of these tools include speech to text, text to speech, real-time audio translation and speaker recognition.

2. Cognitive Services for Language allow you to easily add natural language capabilities to your applications. This means that applications can understand conversations and unstructured text, with features such as entity recognition, sentiment analysis and question answering.

3. Cognitive Services for Vision includes many features designed to identify and analyse content within images and videos. With the Computer Vision functionality, applications can use real-time video to analyse how people move through spaces, the occupancy count, and even face mask detection.

4. Cognitive Services for Decision can help business leaders make smarter decisions faster. Some of the features include Anomaly Detection to identify potential problems early on and Personalizer, a tool that creates personalised experiences for users.

These services can work in isolation or together to create smarter applications and promote better decision making driven by data.

Azure Applied AI Services

Microsoft Azure Applied AI Services help you quickly and easily deploy AI solutions by bringing together Azure Cognitive Services, task-specific AI, and business logic. Some of the Applied AI Services include Azure Bot Service, Azure Form Recogniser and Azure Cognitive Search.

Azure Bot Service is a service where you can design and build enterprise grade conversational AI. These bots can make use of other Azure Cognitive Services to understand natural language and even have its own recognisable brand voice with text-to-speech. Once these bots have been developed, they can be used on many digital channels, including a website, mobile application, Microsoft Teams, or as an Interactive Voice Response.

Azure Form Recogniser is a service that quickly extracts text and structure from digital and physical documents. It uses advanced machine learning that analyses and extracts the information from a document. This information can be put into a data visualisation service for analysis or stored in the cloud for use in the future.

Azure Cognitive Search is an extremely powerful search engine service with built-in AI capabilities. The service mines information from unstructured data, then uses machine learning to index and filter the information. After this is implemented, it makes it significantly for users or developers to find necessary information

How AI can benefit your organisation

There are many ways that AI can be used within an organisation, each with its own benefits. However, the technology typically is used to increase efficiency, make use of big data, and create better customer experiences.

AI can increase efficiency as the technology can handle tasks much faster than a human can. There are many mundane data-related tasks, that can be automated with AI to increase productivity and improve business outcomes.

Organisations also rely on AI to take in and process massive amount of data in real time. Over the past decade organisations have collected more data than ever before. With AI, you can use this data to improve internal processes and create better customer experiences. 

Want to find out more?

With Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning becoming more accessible, organisations of all sizes can now harness the power of these advanced technologies. For a chat about what you could achieve with AI, get in touch to explore the possibilities!

Man holding mobile phone

What is Azure Active Directory and why you need it

With the move to hybrid work, it is essential that employees can work effectively and securely from anywhere, on any device. To make this happen, businesses need a comprehensive identity and access management solution. One solution is to have an on-premises active directory that employees can use a VPN to connect to, however, many businesses are making use of cloud-based solutions, such as Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).

What is Azure Active Directory?

Azure Active Directory is a cloud-based identity and access management solution that enables employees to access external resources, such as Microsoft 365 applications, and thousands of other SaaS applications. Although it is a cloud solution, it can also sync with an on-premises directory with Azure AD Connect. Simply put, Azure Active Directory provides a single place to manage identity, security and compliance for employees, external collaborators and IT systems.

Easily deploy multi-factor authentication

With Azure Active Directory, businesses can easily enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA works by requiring two or more of the following authentication methods: something you know (typically a password), something you have (typically a trusted phone or hardware key), and something you are (typically biometrics, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition). This simple feature prevents 99.9% of account compromise attacks, as even if a password is phished, the cybercriminal is unable to obtain the second factor of authentication. 

Enable Single Sign-On

Employees typically use many different applications and services daily. As each of these require login and authentication, this can result in a significant waste of time as employees have to re-enter their credentials multiple times. Furthermore, as each of these services should have a unique, complex password, many employees require their passwords to be reset if they forget them. To solve these issues, businesses can enable Sign Sign-On (SSO) with Azure Active Directory. 

Single Sign-On is a session and user authentication service that allows users to use a single set of login credentials to access multiple applications. With SSO, employees can use their standard login credentials once, and are able to access all the applications, systems, and cloud services necessary to do their job. This increases security, improves the user experience, and can allow IT teams to spend less time dealing with password reset requests and more time working on other projects and priorities. 

Collaborate externally

In some businesses, there are periods of time where external users need access to internal systems. With Azure Active Directory, businesses can invite external guest users into their directory. This is especially helpful for short-term projects with a defined set of participants. Within Azure AD, administrators can define what resources the external user is able to access, ensuring that they only have the level of access required for the project. After the project is complete their access is revoked, which simplifies the management of user lifecycle.

Make use of Conditional Access

The move to hybrid work has create a challenge for organisations as the security perimeter now extends beyond the network to include user and device identity. With Azure Active Directory, organisations can set up Conditional Access policies to use identity-driven signals as part of their access control decisions. Some of the signals may include device types, IP location, application, risk level and user or group membership. With carefully considered Conditional Access policies, businesses can mitigate many of the security risks associated with hybrid working.

Options to suit all organisations

For organisations with an on-premises directory, this can be synchronised with Azure AD for authentication when accessing cloud and on-premises applications or resources. For organisations that do not have an on-premises directory, with Azure AD they may never need to buy one. Either way, Azure Active Directory is a streamlined solution that protects your business with a universal identity platform the increases employee productivity.

If you have any questions about Azure Active Directory and how simplify identity and access management, please get in touch. 

5 steps to a successful Azure migration

There are many ways that organisations use cloud technologies in 2022, with everything from cloud storage to big data analytics. Over the past two years, the rise in remote and hybrid working has increased trust and understanding of the public cloud, and it is predicted that many businesses will migrate more workloads to the cloud in 2022 than ever before.

Gartner predicts that global spending on cloud services will reach over $482 billion in 2022, up from $313 billion in 2020.

Out of the three major public cloud providers, AWS, Microsoft and Google, Microsoft Azure has the broadest feature set. Any organisation can migrate to Azure, regardless of the workload. 

Moving to the cloud has a multitude of benefits for businesses, including cost savings, stronger security, the ability to scale, and more. But while business leaders and IT teams understand these benefits, they are often reluctant to migrate to the cloud due to the migration process itself. 

In this article we will discuss the 5 steps required to ensure a successful Azure migration.

Turn your IT vision into a reality. Explore Azure Migrate here >

A successful Azure migration in 5 steps

Step 1: Assess current situation

The first step to a successful Azure migration is to assess your organisation’s current situation. Within this assessment, you should consider what on-premises workload will be moved to the cloud. This will include which applications, the amount of data transfer necessary to move to the cloud, the maximum and minimum levels of compute currently required, the policy and procedures, and which users currently rely on the workload. 

Although the Azure Cloud is feature rich, if your business uses legacy applications, they may not be compatible with an Azure’s PaaS, this may require the use of IaaS, which can be more costly than remaining on-premises. The amount of data transfer is a key factor influencing the time it will take to complete a migration. Finally, it is important understand user requirements, as the user experience will be paramount to the success of an Azure migration.

Step 2: Decide on a migration method

There is no single method of Azure migration, as every organisation has different requirements, technical expertise, and ambitions from the project. Some of the common types of migration include lift and shift, refactoring and replatforming.

Lift and shift is the simplest form of migration and is simply moving all data and applications from on-premises servers to the cloud. Refactoring is where a business will move data and applications to the cloud, whilst re-architecting them to better suit the cloud environment. Finally, replatforming is in between the other two examples, where applications are moved to the cloud, with minor modifications to take advantage of the new cloud infrastructure.

Step 3: Plan the migration

There are multiple stages to an Azure migration, and a well-planned migration will result in more effective use of cloud infrastructure, with less impact to the users of the systems. In this stage, IT teams must also consider security and compliance to ensure that they are protected from current and future cyberthreats. Unfortunately, organisations that do not adequately plan their migration often have to move their systems back to on-premises after the migration to make corrections. This is a costly and disruptive exercise that can hurt your modernisation strategy. You can avoid it by involving a trusted IT partner for the planning and implementation of an Azure migration.

Step 4: Migrate

Once the plan is finalised, either your IT team or IT partner can migrate the workload to the Azure cloud. This is generally completed out-of-hours when employees do not require access to the IT systems as there may be periods of downtime. It is common for organisations to start small, by migrating a section of files, or applications to ensure that everything is working as intended, before ramping up and the number of files, users, tools, apps and databases migrated to the Azure cloud.

Step 5: Optimise

After the migration is complete, it’s time to monitor the new cloud environment to identify any issues, possible areas of optimisation or cost savings, as well as ways that the user experience can be improved. This optimisation process should be ongoing, as the ways in which users interact with IT systems often change over time, and there are new updates to applications and the Azure cloud that can necessitate further changes down the line.

Looking to migrate to Azure?

If your organisation still has legacy, on-premises infrastructure, migrating to the Azure cloud can provide many benefits, most notably, cost savings and the ability to scale quickly and easily. If you don’t have the technical expertise in-house for an Azure migration project, or if you want to find out whether Azure is right for you, please get in touch.

How to get the most out of the Azure Cloud

The Azure Cloud offers businesses of all sizes and industries functionality that can increase productivity and enable innovation whilst decreasing overall costs. This may be through replacing existing physical infrastructure, or making use of next generation technologies such as AI and machine learning. 

However, migrating to the Azure Cloud does not guarantee cost savings as running workloads in the cloud without managing costs can result in unexpectedly high bills. Thankfully there are many tools within Azure to assist businesses to manage budgets effectively. In this article we discuss how businesses can get the most out of the Azure Cloud through effective cost management, next generation technologies, and by strengthening their security posture. 

Ready to start your Azure journey? Explore our Azure migration services here >

Take advantage of big data analytics

Technology-reliant businesses collect an exorbitant amount of data. This includes everything from data relating to customers and their buying habits to data captured from business processes. This data can be analysed to help businesses make better informed decisions to ensure long term sustainable growth. However, there are two key hurdles to overcome to truly drive value from captured data: storage and analytics.

To take advantage of big data analytics, first you must have an effective method of storing the necessary data. Azure has database options to suit all businesses and use cases. Some options for big data file storage include Azure Lake Store, and Azure Storage Blobs – the most flexible way to store blobs from numerous data sources These blobs can be any form of file including logs and database backups. Azure Data Lake Store is a hyperscale repository for big data analytic workloads which enables businesses to capture data of any size and type to store in a single location for analytics.

Once you have implemented a big data storage solution, they are able to use Azure to analyse the data to make informed decisions. Once again there are numerous big data analytics solutions available through Azure to meet different business needs. The three most common solutions include Azure Analysis Services, Data Lake Analytics, and Azure Synapse Analytics. All of these solutions are designed to quickly, and easily, scale regardless of how much data is collected and use next generation analytics to give powerful analytics that can enable data-driven decision making. 

Make use of Azure Cost Management

Regardless of what workload a business hosts in the Azure Cloud, it’s important to make the most of Azure Cost Management to get the best value for money. A simple way to do this is by using the cost analysis section of Azure Cost Management. This enables business leaders to view projections of future costs based on current usage. It’s also possible to enter a spending budget, and if usage looks likely to go over budget, take steps to reduce consumption.

You can also set alerts within the budgets section of the Cost Management tool for when a certain budget percentage is reached. When the alert is triggered, an email is sent to inform the business owner. This early notification makes it easier for businesses adjust their consumption to ensure they do exceed budget. 

Both suggestions will help you stay within spending limits whilst using the Azure Cloud. For cost optimisation, use the advisor recommendations section of the Cost Management Tool. This gives actionable recommendations of how to optimise costs to get the best value for Azure spend.

Enable SSO and MFA in Azure AD

Businesses that use Microsoft 365 are already making use of Azure Active Directory, Microsoft identity and access management platform but not all are getting the most out of the solution. Within Azure Active Directory it’s possible to enable Single Sign-On (SSO) which allows users to activate one set of login credentials for a multitude of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. Enabling SSO increases productivity as users do not need to enter multiple login credentials and it increases security, as users only need to remember one long, complex password, rather than many.

It’s also possible to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) – an authentication process where a user must provide two or more forms of identification to login into their account. Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication requires two or more of the following authentication methods: something you know (typically a password), something you have (typically a trusted phone or hardware key), and something you are (typically biometrics, such as a fingerprint or face scan). Enabling MFA greatly increases security and can stop 99.9% of account compromise attacks, as even if a cybercriminal knows a user’s login credentials, they can’t access their account.

Want to get the most out of the Azure Cloud?

These are just some of the many ways businesses can work more productively, save money and increase security through the Azure Cloud. If you have any questions about Azure please contact us. We’d be happy to help.

How technology can help businesses reach their sustainability goals

Across all industries, businesses are working hard to become more sustainable to create a better world for future generations. This is evidenced as 80% of the world’s top companies now report on their sustainability. 

Over the past 5 years technology giants, such as Microsoft and Apple, have pledged to become carbon neutral, with many smaller organisations following suit. For businesses looking to become more sustainable, technology plays a major role. In this article we discuss how technology can help businesses reach their sustainability goals.

3 ways IT can support business sustainability strategies

Migrate on-premise infrastructure to the Azure Cloud

Migrating on-premise infrastructure to the Azure Cloud has many benefits for a business. Financially moving to Azure allows businesses to only pay for the resources they use. With legacy on-premises infrastructure there is a significant upfront investment for the technology, the installation, as well as the costs involved with maintenance, energy and cooling. If the organisation needs to upgrade it involves upgrading all the hardware, which can take months. Similarly, there’s no easy way for businesses to downgrade if their needs change over time.

This directly relates to the environmental impact of on-premise infrastructure. When a business installs on-premise infrastructure, there is an embodied carbon impact from manufacturing the infrastructure, as well as operating carbon impact from running it. 

Running on-premise workloads in Azure instead, reduces the embodied carbon impact as new infrastructure doesn’t need to be built to upgrade resources. Operating carbon is also reduced, as Microsoft has implemented next generation server cooling methods that reduce energy use. Similarly, the Azure cloud has been carbon neutral since 2012, meaning any workloads run on it, are also carbon neutral. Microsoft has pledged to be carbon negative by 2030, so it will remove more carbon each year than it emits.

Go paperless with an e-signature solution

In 2019, the average employee printed approximate 8,000 A4 pages per year. This has a significant environmental impact through the production of printers, paper, and ink. Throughout the pandemic this number likely decreased, however, there’s no reason why most businesses can’t be completely paperless. With Microsoft 365, all documents can be easily electronically shared and don’t need to be printed. Many businesses still print documents and contracts for signing by new employees, vendors, and other key stakeholders. With an e-signature solution, such as DocuSign, businesses can go paperless to reduce their carbon emissions and overall costs. Going paperless with an e-signature solution also increases productivity and gives businesses better control and visibility over processes.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability

At Microsoft Ignite November 2021, Microsoft announced the preview release of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability – an extensible software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that allows businesses to record, report and reduce their environmental impact through automated data connections and actionable insights. 

The solution connects real-time data sources to provide accurate carbon accounting, measure performance against goals and enable intelligent insights to make more effective action. This will aid businesses with accurate and transparent reporting on carbon emissions from the cloud, devices, applications, and other emission sources. This will also help businesses track their emissions to ensure they are on course to meet their sustainability goals, and if they’re not, the solution will give actionable insights to help them meet them.

What’s next?

It has become increasingly important for all organisations to have a sustainability strategy. IT teams need to play their part by looking for opportunities to reduce their carbon impact and support company sustainability goals. If you would like to explore how technology can help your business reduce your carbon footprint and protect our environment, please get in touch with our team.

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Migrating to Azure: the benefits and challenges

Many businesses rely on some form of legacy on-premises infrastructure that they own, host or manage. These systems or servers may have been introduced recently, or over a decade ago, and were effective in getting the job done.

However, the technology landscape has changed rapidly, and businesses require flexibility and next generation technology to have sustainable long-term growth. Moving workloads, applications and processes to the cloud can allow businesses to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud technology and can accelerate innovation to help businesses stand out from their competitors. In this article we will discuss the ins and outs of cloud migration, and what businesses can expect when migrating to Azure.

Find out about our Azure Migrate service, a popular package for organisations taking the next step on their digital transformation journey >

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving legacy assets, such as applications, data, servers or processes, to a public or private cloud, in this case, the Azure cloud. It also includes the ongoing process of maintaining and optimising the cloud once the migration is complete.

Benefits of migrating to Azure

Cost efficiency and scalability

Cloud technology allows business to only pay for the resources they use. With legacy on-premises infrastructure, business have a significant upfront investment for the technology, the installation, as well as the costs involved with maintenance, power and cooling. If the business needs to upgrade, it involves upgrading all the hardware, and the process would potentially take months. Similarly, there is no easy way for businesses to downgrade if their needs change over time. In the cloud, it is simple to increase or decrease resources as required with no significant upfront costs involved. Once the technology is set up, the business only pays for what they use, and nothing more.

Performance and reliability

The Azure cloud has a 99.9% uptime and is one of the most powerful clouds available. It keeps network latency low and provides an end-user experience that is significantly faster and more powerful than high-end on-premises infrastructure.

Security

Microsoft has over 3,500 cybersecurity professionals working 24/7, along with advanced AI, working to keep all processes, applications, and data in the cloud safe. This ensures that businesses can feel safe knowing that their precious data and applications will not fall into the hands of a cybercriminal. Similarly, there are many security features built into the Azure cloud to help IT professionals run cloud processes safely and effectively.

Cloud migration process

The process of migrating to Azure requires expertise and a thorough understanding of a business and its goals. It includes the initial planning and assessment of legacy systems, including applications, databases and servers. From here the migration strategy is designed with contingency plans and roll-back plans to answer worst case scenarios. A pilot migration is then completed to resolve any issues and ensure that all requirements will be met. Finally, the migration will be run, typically over a weekend, or throughout the night, to limit the amount of disruption for the business and its employees. This process of migration is typically undertaken by a third-party IT provider, as businesses can rely on their previous experience and expertise.

Key challenges

Lack of strategy and planning

If businesses rush this process of migration, they will likely have a poor final outcome, which can negate the benefits of moving the cloud and hurt the growth of a business. Each business has different requirements and goals, and the right IT provider will be able to design a migration strategy that sets them up for success and longevity of cloud systems.

Poor cost optimisation

Although one of the key benefits of moving to the cloud are cost savings, as costs are based off resource consumption, if a business does not optimise their usage and costs, they may be surprised by a high bill. Thankfully, Azure has free built-in functionality to predict usage and the associated costs, and the tools available to optimise usage to decrease overall costs whilst increasing efficiency.

Ready to move to the cloud?

Moving to the cloud can help businesses grow, whilst increasing profitability, productivity and accelerating digital transformation. However, in order to realise these benefits, the migration process must be carefully designed and monitored by a team of professionals. If you want to find out more about how we can help you migrate to the cloud, get in contact with us today or click on the link below to find out more about our Azure Migrate package.

How much does Microsoft Azure cost?

As mentioned in our previous blog post about Microsoft Azure, many organisations are trying to move away from CAPEX to OPEX to have a faster and more flexible cost model as the business scales up or down.

The cost of migrating to Azure is one thing, it’s also important to assess and predict what your costs would be living in the cloud. Microsoft makes this relatively simple for us by providing costs for all their resources in Azure up front, so all we need is a nice way to calculate all our complicated Azure costs to give us a reasonable estimate.

As with all large changes, it’s always advisable to carry out PoC (Proof of Concept) to ensure both Azure is the right fit for your workloads, but also your cost estimates are accurate, before you dive both feet in.

So where do we start to estimate our Microsoft Azure costs? Fortunately, Microsoft publish all their Azure pricing clearly online. However, calculating the cost of Azure from a never-ending shopping list of products, services, virtual machines (VMs) etc., would baffle the best of us. For example, to print out all the options for Windows Virtual Machine pricing would take about 50, without then looking at the associated disks or other items. 

Azure Pricing Calculator

Roll in the Azure Pricing Calculator… a fast web-based tool to build your shopping list of items needed.

From here you can search for products that you need, select from the common/featured section, or drill down the left hand side navigation to list the services under specific categories like “Networking”.

Here are our top tips for using the Azure Pricing Calculator:

  • Sign in – sign in at the top right of the site to save your Azure cost estimates. 
  • Naming – always try and name the VMs, and other items in your estimate to make it clearer on the purposes of each item
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  • Export – when you have completed the estimate, export it into an Excel file to share with budget holders 
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  • Egress cost – always have at least 6GB for outbound data transfer to see the cost in the estimate. Of course, if you have more accurate figures, put those in
  • Hours – choose what operational hours you need for each service. If it’s a full month then; 744 hours = 31 days, 720 hours = 30 days and 730 hours = an average month across the year. I would advise using 744 hours in a month as a rule, to get the “worst case scenario” for budgets
  • VM Size – firstly chose the correct size of VM, there are specific models for storage, computer or memory optimised, or also general purpose sizes too. Within in each, there are several configurations. Pay particular notice to if they support certain features, like Premium SSD’s
  • Location – the cost of services such as VM’s can differ based on location. Pick a location close to your users, or meeting compliance needs. Also consider that test environments could be offshore at a cheaper location. Check https://azureprice.net/region
  • Currency – make sure you select your local currency to avoid any currency conversions
  • HDD type – where possible go for Premium SSD as the performance cost is not generally significant. However, if you select IOPs requirement this can increase the cost significantly 
  • Feature / type – it’s important to understand the difference in features and cost for certain services, such as VPN Gateway, as a Basic VPN would be around £20 per month, whereas a VpnGw5AZ is around £2,329 per month. With different capacities and features it’s worth knowing what you are paying for. For example, Basic VPN doesn’t support IKEv2 or RADIUS, making AlwaysOnVPN an impossible option, but VpnGw1 does supports it
  • Storage accounts – access tiers would be hot, cool, or archive. Each will cost to store and retrieve data, hot being more expensive to store, less expensive to access. Versus archive being the opposite and cool being in the middle. Also only purchase your current projected storage capacity, this can be changed in the future
  • More info – once you’ve added an item to your estimate, you can hover over the “i” for more information/links to Pricing Details (full list of options for that item and their costs), Product Details, and Documentation (quick start, troubleshooting, training, and other guides).
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  • Reserved instances – if you know your VM will be online all the time (like a domain controller), commit to either 1 year for ~37% discount, or 3 years for ~57% discount.
  • Azure hybrid benefit – if you bring your own licenses to Azure, you could save as much as 50% on some VMs.
  • Dev/test – if these VMs are for development or testing, flick the switch at the bottom of the VMs estimate to see a reduced cost for Visual Studio subscriptions. 
  • Share – you can share a URL for your Azure cost estimate if you need to send it to someone else to review.

Using the Azure Pricing Calculator with these top tips should help get an estimate of your Azure costs, but an Azure Assessment will provide a more accurate Azure cost estimate and ascertain whether your workloads are a good fit for Azure. 

To get started on your Azure journey, click on the link below to find out more about our Azure Migrate service.

How Azure Virtual Desktop can improve your security posture

One of the key challenges businesses have faced over the past 18 months of remote and hybrid working has been how to maintain a strong security posture whilst employees are not physically in the office. When employees work from an office space it is easier to manage the environment as it consistent and has more defined boundaries. When employees are working from home there are more unknowns, and this increases the risk of a cyberattack.

For businesses that are wanting to improve their security posture whilst remote or hybrid working there are many solutions that can be put in place, however few are as effective and comprehensive as moving workloads to the cloud with Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

Explore our Cyber Security Posture Assessment service to benchmark your security posture now and prioritise steps to increase your organisation’s security. Details here >

What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

AVD is a virtual desktop interface (VDI) solution that is deployed through Azure and allows users to access Windows 10 and all necessary applications, from anywhere, on any device. AVD has many benefits to businesses and users, including increased flexibility, especially for hybrid workers, reduced costs, centralised management capabilities and better security. 

Below are six ways Azure Virtual Desktop can improve your security posture.

6 reasons why Azure Virtual Desktop boosts security

Baseline images

When an IT administrator is setting up Azure Virtual Desktop, they start by creating a golden image. A golden image is a pre-configured computer template for all AVD users. This image includes all necessary applications, security protocols and user settings. Shadow IT creates One of the key security challenges many businesses face is when users install applications or services without the consent of the IT department. Shadow IT increases the risk of an attack as your IT team cannot ensure user apps are secure. Using golden images reduces this risk as the only applications on the virtual machine are the ones that were pre-configured from the beginning. 

Updates and patch management

A simple method to improve security posture and reduce the risk of an attack is to keep all systems and applications up to date and run patches as soon as available. Although this is simple in theory, many users will delay updates and patches, especially if they require the computer to be restarted. If these patches fix security flaws within an operating system or application, delaying the update can leave systems vulnerable to an attack. With AVD it is easy to update all virtual machines at the same time to ensure all computers within an organisation are updated and secure. These updates can be run outside of working hours to ensure that there is no downtime for employees. 

Timely recovery after an attack

Malware attacks have been a constant threat for IT teams for many years now. This is where a piece of malicious software executes unauthorised actions on a victim’s system. These attacks can be difficult to recover from as it often leaves the victim without access to their system. Using a VDI makes recovery more efficient as if a virtual machine becomes infected with malware it can be turned off and reverted to its golden image. This can simplify disaster recovery and ensure business continuity, regardless of where employees are working.

Conditional access policies

Conditional Access is the tool used in Azure Active Directory to ensure only authorised users are accessing information and systems. It means that if a user wants to access a resource, they must complete an action. For example, if someone from HR wants to access an employee’s address, they must first perform multi-factor authentication to ensure it is not a threat actor trying to access personal information. Conditional access policies can also be applied to users accessing a virtual desktop. It is possible to prevent access to a virtual desktop if the user has an IP address from outside the geolocation of its employees. This improves security as it ensures that only authorised users can access sensitive data and systems

Hosted on Azure

One of the key security benefits of running a VDI solution on Azure, is that you benefit Microsoft’s security tools and expertise. Everything within the Azure environment is automatically encrypted and has sophisticated detection methods to prevent many cyberattacks. Microsoft also has over 3,500 cybersecurity experts who work on your behalf 24/7 to ensure all workloads hosted on the Azure cloud stay secure. 

Intelligent defences

With Azure Virtual Desktop it is possible to identify threats with real-time cybersecurity intelligence. The Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph gives actionable insights based off machine learning, behavioural analytics, and application-based intelligence. This greatly improves a business’s security posture as it constantly monitors usage to discover anomalies before it is too late.

Implementing Azure Virtual Desktop within an organisation not only improves its security posture, but also enables a hybrid workforce and can support business growth. We can offer you a Proof of Concept service for Azure Virtual Desktop to explore whether it’s a good fit for your organisation. Click on the link below for more information and next steps >

What is Azure used for?

What is Azure?

Azure is Microsoft’s public cloud computing platform. As Microsoft says, “more than 200 products and cloud services designed to help you bring new solutions to life – to solve today’s challenges and create the future.” Or as we like to say, “if you’ve got a clear business objective, Microsoft Azure helps you Reimagine Everyday and transform your business.”

In simple terms, Microsoft Azure provides Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Serverless compute, that can be used for services such as analytics, application development, virtual computing, storage, networking, and more. It can be used to replace or enhance your on-premise servers. Azure also delivers on key business outcomes such as increased security, improved compliance, cost optimisation and greater agility.

Azure can provide your organisation with an evergreen infrastructure, that is always up to date without the limitations of your existing on premises environment.  You can develop, deploy and maintain applications both internally or for your customers on a global scale, with the tools and frameworks of your choice.

Benefits of Microsoft Azure

Here are the most common reasons our customers transition from on-premise to Azure, or the hybrid cloud: 

  • Flexible – increase or decrease compute resources as needed
  • Open – supports almost any OS, language, tool, or framework
  • Reliable – 99.95% availability SLA and 24×7 tech support
  • Global – data housed in geo-synchronous data centres around the world
  • Economical – Only pay for what you use, when you use it

Migrate 5 servers to Azure with our Azure Migrate package. Learn more here >

How can Azure help your organisation? 

Azure is used by organisations across multiple sectors, for example: 

Healthcare – Azure meets security and compliance requirements for organisations with large quantities of sensitive and confidential data.

Education – Azure can resolve hardware issues allowing schools to offer BYOD programmes or use lower cost hardware with less computing power, as the processing power comes from Azure. 

Financial Services – Azure facilitates PCI-DSS compliance. Azure maintains a PCI DSS validation using an approved Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and is certified as compliant under PCI DSS version 3.2.1 at Service Provider Level 1. If you want to develop a cardholder data environment (CDE) or card processing service, you can rely on the Azure validation, thereby reducing the associated effort and costs of getting your own PCI DSS validation.

Legal – Azure reduces the risk of cyber threats and data breaches. Multi-layered security ensures the chance of a successful ransomware attack or data breach is minimised. 

Regardless of the industry, deployment of Azure can bring a plethora of benefits to many businesses. 

Azure versus on-premise costs

Cloud computing solutions like Microsoft Azure, use a OpEx cost model instead of the traditional CapEx. Below we detail the costs associated with each for deploying and running your IT infrastructure. 

CapEx IT infrastructure costs

The following shows the relevant costs associated with Capital Expenditure (CapEx):

  • Upfront cost on physical infrastructure
  • You need to plan your expenses at the start of a project or budget period.
  • CapEx computing costs:
    • Server costs – server clustering, redundant power supplies, and uninterruptible power supplies.
    • Storage costs – centralised storage and fault-tolerant storage for critical applications.
    • Network costs – cabling, switches, access points, routers, wide area networks, and Internet connections.
    • Backup and archive costs – backup maintenance/processes and consumables like tapes.
    • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery costs – recover from a disaster and continue operating using backup generators. 
    • Datacentre infrastructure costs – costs for construction, building equipment, cooling, power with redundancy.
    • Technical personnel – technical expertise and workforce to install, deploy, and manage the systems in the datacentre and at the DR site.

OpEx IT infrastructure (Azure) costs

The following shows the relevant costs associated with Operational Expenditure (OpEx):

  • No upfront cost, you pay for the service/product as you use it
  • OpEx is particularly appealing if the demand fluctuates or is unknown
  • OpEX computing costs:
    • Leasing software/hardware and customised features – remove the Azure resources when they aren’t in use so that you can minimise costs.
    • Scaling charges based on usage/demand instead of fixed hardware or capacity – whether its seasonal requirements, or weekly off hours, increase of decrease your Azure resources around your budgets.
    • Billing at the user or organisation level – using budgets and cost centres you can tag all resources to bill to the correct department or team.
  • The cloud vendor also manages the cloud infrastructure, so you don’t have to.

Start your Azure journey

Whether it is for the security, flexibility, scalability, cost optimisation or access to the latest tech developments, Azure presents a host of flexible solutions around your business. 

If you’re thinking about moving to Azure have a look at our Azure Migrate service or contact our team directly >

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