Microsoft Azure as an ‘Infrastructure as a Service’

Tracking Newer Trends

My advice to other executives is with the pace of technology change accelerating, you can’t hold onto any preconceived notions. For instance, years ago, VM environments could not be considered as effective as physical environments. At the time it was not easy to manage VM’s and ensure they managed resources effectively. Today, the majority of our environments are VM’s. They make monitoring and allocating resources to our servers easier and faster. Since the technology continues to evolve, what I have found to be effective is find a trend that you believe can have a major impact to your organization (whether cost savings, feature content, etc) and pilot it within your company. If it seems promising but doesn’t pan out in a pilot don’t completely abandon but revisit it again. Continue to monitor the developments of the trend. If it’s truly a sustainable trend it will evolve. If not it will disappear in favor of a better solution. We have piloted the use of Azure within our company through the stand up of a server that has a limited scope. We test out the ability to stand up the server, manage resources and confirm the cost model. We now have data to base an expansion on and determine our roadmap for the use of cloud services.

A Brief Overview of Microsoft Azure

In my opinion cloud services in its different forms (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS etc) is the trend and Microsoft is establishing itself as a leader in this space. Azure for us is infrastructure as a service (IaaS). We are making decisions based on capital expenditures for end of life servers to see if it makes financial and operational sense to shift some work to the cloud. We believe it will give us the flexibility to scale up and scale out easily without some of the constraints of the CapEx process. If our situation changes we can remove servers, and storage and not have excess capacity we don’t need. It is truly real time infrastructure with no long lead times to obtain hardware, storage, networking. However, there is a learning curve to managing your infrastructure in the cloud and some pitfalls when it comes to sizing and specifications. These pitfalls can lead to your costs escalating quickly without enough oversight. On the flip side the cost of hosting your own data center gets very expensive especially with the pace of technology change. The ability to bring up an environment and easily remove it are great factors to consider if you are testing new solutions or approaches and don’t want to make a significant long term investment. Over time with additional technology changes and competition the cost curve for IaaS will continue to improve making it more competitive for mid to large organizations.

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