Relying on Microsoft’s Azure cloud for your daily business operations sounds warm, fluffy and oddly comforting. We hear a lot about benefits such as storage flexibility, cost savings, access to new open source tools and other productivity that comes from cloud services.
To get the most value from those benefits, it makes sense to have a partner to manage cloud services as computing clouds behave like their Cirrus or Nimbus cousins. They respond to pressure changes, they need regular monitoring, and there are consequences when they get overloaded.
A sunny day can turn rainy, and initial cloud success can change with time. You need someone who has seen a lot of cloud installations. Each company’s experience is different and no two clouds are alike. Several reasons for having a managed services partner are outlined in RSM’s white paper, “Strengthen your cloud strategy for the long run – Managed services make the most of Microsoft Azure“.
The changing weather analogy holds up in this April 2019 webinar by my RSM colleague, Lee Voigt, in which he explained several challenges for Microsoft Azure cloud transitions. His webinar is titled, “What you don’t know about the Microsoft Azure cloud, but should!“. Many organizations have already made the move to the cloud, others are still exploring and experimenting. Situations that worked superbly in year one can get sluggish or overtaxed if not maintained properly. Managed cloud services help you avoid problems and respond faster when security or compatibility issues occur.
Clouds can be fickle. What’s your forecast?
Microsoft itself estimates that more than three-quarters of Azure installed environments were not up-to-date or unsecured. Here are some warning signs to consider when your IT operations evolve with growth, acquisitions, upgrades or new offerings:
- Virtual machine installations may not have a service level agreement (SLA) that matches your needs. Check that Azure components and various SLA terms are a good fit for your situation today and in the future.
- If your organization is counting on cloud-based disaster planning or emergency data recovery, be aware that Microsoft definitions of terms like “redundant” and “emergency” may differ from your standards. A service provider can bridge that gap with products and services that manage according to your needs and definitions of availability and what is “offline.”
- Excess capacity architecture or adding storage based on existing on-premises systems doesn’t safeguard your cloud when users create their own cloud instances or download unsecured apps. Managed services adapt to usage levels and keep your operations optimized.
There are also industry-specific issues of data exchange, storage and retention, regulatory requirements and other sources of cloud stress. It can seem tempting to ‘set it and forget it’ and say that cloud migration is complete. However, we know to check if we need a sweater or umbrella before heading out for the day. Don’t get caught unprepared.