Extending Internal Business Solutions to Azure

As cloud technologies continue to evolve and mature, there is an exciting opportunity that we are seeing more frequently; leveraging Azure’s Platform Services to build and deliver secure business applications for internal company use. While this is a natural progression for organizations already adopting cloud services and technologies like Office 365, we are now seeing this model adopted by companies still primarily running traditional on-premises data centers and applications. There are a lot of advantages to this approach so in this post we will attempt to make the case for taking your first steps toward cloud services used for supporting your internal business solutions.

The key points we will cover in this post are

  • Infinite capacity
  • Consumption based pricing
  • Redundancy immediately available
  • Enhanced insights to further optimize costs

Infinite Capacity

One of the core premises of the cloud services is infinite capacity, and it should not be discounted. From the early days of development, through initial launch, to the long-term use there is no need to worry about having enough capacity on hand to satisfy the application. There is no fear of having to add additional capacity to your Virtual Machine hosts and SANs. Over the years, I cannot count the number of projects that have been delayed because operational capacity issues. These issues are eliminated completely. Likewise, as your app needs to scale out it can do so easily without having to rework anything.

Consumption Based Pricing

Another core premise of cloud services is paying for only what you use. When moving your business solutions from the Virtual Machine (VM) hosted model, to one implementing Azure Platform Services leveraging services like Azure Storage, Web Apps, and Functions we start to see the cost to run our solutions is minimized. We only pay for the processing cycles our solution uses, there is no longer a need to pay for the idle time between requests. Also, unlike traditional on-premises solutions we do not need to budget for the total available disk space (or worse the raw disk space of an underlying disk array), but only what you consume this month. This offers a cost-effective way to approach capacity planning and also encourages good data cleansing and archiving habits.

Redundancy Immediately Available

For those who do not work for a Fortune 500 company with access to geographically distributed data centers and real-time redundancy, you will be pleased to find that you have immediate access to services across data centers with intelligent services to handle synchronization and failover. While redundancy can come at higher utilization costs, the costs are still very reasonable and should be significantly lower than adding the capabilities to your local data centers.

Enhanced Insights to Further Optimize the Costs

If all of this wasn’t enticing enough, there are tools offered from Microsoft and ISVs that can provide rich operational metrics to show where your compute and storage costs are, and how they can be optimized to save money. This allows you to maximize your investment, and continue to leverage the tool while keeping costs under control. We typically look to do a quarterly review with the customer subscriptions we manage to ensure that services and the consumption are optimized for their goals and budgets.

Closing

If you have not already started to look at how you can integrate cloud services into your application development, now is the time. If your organization has an active MSDN subscription, it normally comes with a $150 per month credit to get you started. In our experience that can easily handle dev instances for several projects.

If you are interested, but do not know where to start, engage B&R's Architects to help provide a detailed analysis and roadmap matching your application needs to the appropriate Azure Platform Services and estimate the associated operational costs.

 
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