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Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure, Cloud Computing

Microsoft Azure is over 7 years old today and it is currently the flagship along with Office 365 for Microsoft’s Cloud platform. In 2010 when Azure first launched it was viewed as having limited documentation and was second or third class in comparison to Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services had managed breakthrough the barriers and would be myths about hosting data in the 'cloud' space.

The cloud is typically data centers around the country with a lot of NASs, SANs, and servers which are capable of housing insurmountable amounts of data. These data centers or “cloud storage” facilities grew by reducing client equipment costs of reducing the need for on-premise equipment and allowing the data to be managed at these data centers.

Choosing the Cloud

Most data centers typically have an availability time of about 99.9% and cost a fraction of the maintenance or upfront cost of purchasing servers, NAS, and SANs. For that reason, the cloud concept was an easy decision, which is rapidly becoming mainstream as the way to do business.

In 2011 Scott Guthrie, whom was the Vice President of the .Net platform transformed Azure. Guthrie and his team transformed Azure from using Silverlight into an HTML5 web portal. The moment that happened, Azure began to grow and expand its use to the variations of Microsoft users.

The ease and flexibility of using a web interface to manage and manipulate data is what has given Azure the edge since 2011 above other cloud platforms. Three important aspects of any use or migration into the cloud is ease of use, performance, and scalability. Microsoft has managed to combine all three necessities into one product and expounded upon that.

Since 2014, Microsoft Azure has moved into a variety of platforms since its expansion. Azure now accounts for IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) as its incorporated services that clients and users can utilize. The integration of these platforms in Azure gives the ability for virtual environments and apps to be created in seconds, scaled, and billed based on utilization. Billing by usage as opposed to physical hardware and maintenance is a huge reduction in cost for organizations today. This is the major attraction to the Azure cloud space is its ability to quickly integrate and expand networks, then significantly cut costs of doing business immediately.

Azure has grown to expand past Microsoft products to incorporate IIS, BizTalk, SQL Server, Linux, Hadoop (HDInsight), including support of non-Microsoft databases that include SQL and no-SQL. The Azure platform is capable of not only integration and support, but also design of key infrastructure products. This integration of non-Microsoft products and features shows that the Azure platform is capable of much more than its original design. These are key features that businesses seek out when looking to move to the cloud.

Data security and risk of breaches is what has kept most companies and organizations away from the cloud in the past due to the fear of moving their data. This fear was not due to data breaches or security issues in the cloud, but due to data breaches that did take place with on-premise equipment. Many on-premise equipment due to high costs to maintain and replace have had out-of-date software, poorly written code, and low network infrastructure entry points. The reality is for most functions when handling security and maintenance of networks, it takes teams of people to handle the demands. These teams of people come at a cost including equipment costs as well which is what most companies have tried to push of as much as possible. Now with Azure, the answer to hand off the security and maintenance without equipment costs is all yet appealing.

IT GURUS OF ATLANTA is a trust and certified Microsoft Partner which provides Microsoft services at discount prices. One of our major offerings is the Microsoft Cloud space, from “cloud storage” to “cloud technology”. Our key offerings within “Azure” include, but is not limited to the following:

Azure Files

Allows users to create SMB 2.1 shared folders using the storage in Azure. These files are then allowed to replicate geo-redundant or regionally. The share is based on .Net code or PowerShell scripts to the user’s preference. The access key is usable in any Azure VM and the storage key auto-generated within Azure. Mapping drives to the shared folder is done through with drive letter via Net Use. REST APIs or PowerShell can be used to access the files over the internet.

Azure Site Recovery

Site to site replication to create redundancy and backups of VMs including critical data is the key function of site recovery. This recovery is based on Microsoft’s Hyper-V Replica. The data center version which is keeps the data is maintained with System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

Azure ExpressRoute

Originally designed to be distributed by Microsoft, quickly moved to having 3rd party ISP’s distributing the service. The ISPs provide the data pipeline; however, Microsoft provides the secure private link. This pipeline provided by the ISP and link by Microsoft directly connects clients straight into Microsoft’s data centers. This pipeline and link does not travel over the internet. The data pipe has specs that range between 1Gbps to 10Gbps. 3rd Party ISPs that provide this service are AT&T, Equinix, Verizon, BT, Level 3, TelecityGroup, SingTel, and Zadara.

Azure VMs (Virtual Machines)

Virtual machines including new extensions for the VMs allows the manipulation, housing, and separation of critical data to include applications. Azure VMs not only support Windows, but also Puppet, Chef, and Linux. Antivirus protection for the VMs can be installed from a variety of providers such as Symantec, Trend Micro, or Microsoft. While other vendors charge for their antimalware, while in preview, Microsoft’s Antimalware is free and can be used on Worker and Web Roles.

Monitoring and Web Analysis

Through the new portal, intense monitoring tools that monitor VMs and analyze Azure websites can be found within the new portal through the “Monitor” option. Devops capabilities that include Visual Studio Online, project management, and source control.

Network Features

Site-to-site connections that increase network connectivity between various internal and external. These virtual network connections are capable of encompassing Azure regions instead of just an LAN. Public IP capabilities without utilizing Azure’s endpoint control.

Active Directory

Azure AD Premium which integrates with Office 365, InTune, and is a solid part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite that combines all three segments. Enterprise Mobility Suite combines Azure Active Directory, InTune, and RMS (Rights Management Suite). The capabilities of Azure AD allow for single-sign on, multifactor authentication, reporting of malicious access attempts, group-based application access, and self-service password reset. Support of over 1,200 SaaS applications, from Citrix GoToMeeting, Salesforce.com, Microsoft apps, and Google Apps.

Cloud App Discovery

Cloud App Discovery allows Azure to cipher through applications utilized in an environment and find the appropriate Cloud App to use in the Azure Cloud space which does the same functionality of the on-premise application. Cloud App discovery utilizes an agent installed on user machines which not only discovers new applications, but also monitors the use of these applications to determine which apps can be decommissioned or replaced for underutilization. This is the same functionality which is utilized by FlexNet Manager to determine license and application use.

XenApp Express and XenDesktop for Windows 10 (Replacement for RemoteApp)

Delivery of Azure apps to any device, securely, and remotely. This combined with XenDesktop which does VDI (Virtual Desktop Interface) distribution allows Azure to deliver Windows 10 desktop solutions to users in a completely virtual environment. This combination of desktops, virtual apps, data, and networking bring the full desktop experience from any laptop or mobile device.

IT GURUS OF ATLANTA is a Microsoft Partner which specializes in Azure Active Directory Premium from architecture and design to implementation and support. Our certified and experience engineers coordinate with our seasoned architects to ensure that every project receives optimal attention with successful delivery. Migrating or managing an infrastructure into the Microsoft Cloud space can be a cumbersome project, however, collaborating with IT GURUS OF ATLANTA ensures that your project moves with ease by professionals that are trusted by Microsoft.

Let us collaborate to implement or support your company’s next efforts in projects towards the Microsoft Cloud space.


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