Seven Steps to Get Started with Microsoft Azure [Whitepaper]

reasons small business should move to the cloud

With the evolution of cloud computing in the modern IT landscape, the savviest CIOs know that outsourcing workloads to the cloud can offer lower costs, more strategic use of IT resources and a competitive edge.

What’s more, outsourcing workloads to the cloud with Microsoft Azure also reduces risk, shortens time to value and can offer more overall benefit to your business, as our whitepaper, Seven Steps to Get Started with Microsoft Azure, illustrates.

From planning and budgeting to choosing the best strategy to secure your cloud environment, here are three of the seven proven steps that will allow you to keep your focus on your core business while you gain the rewards only Azure can bring.

Don’t start with a production workload

Azure, which Microsoft created as a cloud computing platform for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft data centers, consists of a growing collection of integrated services, including identity management, analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web.

Azure is powerful but it’s also expansive, so it’s important to take the necessary time to become familiar with it.

Take a step back before going all out. Move a workload you can afford to have fail a little as you learn, or as digital thinker Dominic Basulto wrote a few years ago in The Washington Post, make “rapid, iterative adjustments that uncover tiny failures,” and then correct them more quickly than your competitors.

To do this, rank all your applications by how much they impact your core mission. Most enterprises will start with dev/test workloads, so there will be only minor consequences for any failures (the full whitepaper offers more info, specific directions and a grid for rating your apps for cloud readiness).

Consider corporate policies and compliance issues

Regulations vary from sector to sector, so make sure you understand the data security requirements that apply to your market space. Laws are being modernized, notes David Chappell, an industry expert on Azure and cloud computing. But if you’re like most organizations, he says, you’ll probably find that you can do more than you thought you could in the cloud, while still complying with the necessary regulations.

Azure has also now gained many third-party national and international certifications, including ISO, HIPAA, FedRAMP and more, which make compliance even easier. Visit the Azure Trust Center for more details.

Define your goals for the cloud

As we note in the whitepaper, it’s important to think hard about what you’re really trying to achieve in the cloud and understand what it has to offer.

Some people think Azure is just Windows in the cloud or that AD, Azure and AAD are all Microsoft, so it all works together. They need to think again.

The cloud doesn’t run itself. It’s true that AD, Azure and AAD all come from Microsoft, but they don’t all automagically work together. You must decide how you want them to interoperate, then set them up correctly. The first time you do that it’s not simple. There are tricks and traps that people only learn from experience working with Azure.

In the whitepaper, you’ll find all of the details and guidelines for custom implementation and much more, including:

  • Information on defining your cloud goals
  • Calculating financial return
  • Determining a cloud identity strategy
  • Securing your cloud environment
  • Evaluating complexity

You’ll get access to specific, proven advice for moving your IT environment to the cloud successfully with Microsoft Azure.

The cloud changes the game, but it still requires rigor, and an understanding of “cloud operations,” including people to tease out the issues that could otherwise sideline your operations.

Azure, which includes many features to learn and configurations to adjust, also requires:

  • Architecture design
  • Backup configuration and monitoring
  • Database administration
  • Firewall rules management
  • Load balancer configuration and monitoring
  • Network management
  • Operating system configuration and patching
  • Security
  • Troubleshooting
  • Virtual machine monitoring

Do you have the in-house resources to handle all of those tasks?

Saving on tedious, error-prone administration and sidestepping the issues associated with identifying and recruiting Azure specialists, architecture design, security and operations specialists are some big reasons CIOs outsource workloads to the cloud. They know configuration and optimization are better left for certified experts who do these tasks every day.

If this is your first time working with Azure or moving any workloads to the cloud, be prudent. Seek out a knowledgeable partner who can help manage it for you.

Find out exactly how in Seven Steps to Get Started with Microsoft Azure.

Rackspace Microsoft Managed Azure offers you the best blend of technology and automation plus human experts to deliver ongoing architecture, security and 24x7x365 operations backed by hundreds of Microsoft certified engineers and architects.

Visit Rackspace to find out more about how we can help you reduce your risk and shorten your time to value while getting more value from Azure.

Scott Nordstrom was the product marketing manager for the Microsoft Cloud portfolio at Rackspace, which includes Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure. Prior to Rackspace, Nordstrom was the global market segment manager for the IBM Cloud.

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