Is it Time to Move to the Cloud?
Azure vs traditional infrastructure first came up at a former employer’s company meeting, the CIO shared his vision for the upcoming year. It included keeping the central core of the infrastructure (servers, storage arrays, switches, etc.) on-site in a central location, then adding a remote office infrastructure that would only contain the necessary equipment needed to operate – for example, switches, firewalls, and miscellaneous vendor-provided devices.
As I listened to him share his vision, I was intrigued by the concept since we were considering opening a new remote office. There were questions that I struggled with though… Was it possible to not have servers on-site? What happens if the connection between the central and remote locations goes down? When that happens, how are business-critical resources accessed? I put Azure vs traditional infrastructure side by side to find out.
Traditional infrastructures offer a sense of control and security over relevant business data, applications, and infrastructure and that control is why many stay with a traditional infrastructure instead of moving to a cloud-based platform. Owning the physical equipment and software and having it on-premises, allows control of physical access and if implemented well, can yield many benefits.
However, some limitations hinder their potential:
- Traditional infrastructures can be complex and rigid, preventing them from adapting to changes necessitated by business situations.
- Traditional infrastructures require comprehensive planning from the start to prevent ad hoc infrastructures that can jeopardize business goals.
- Traditional infrastructures can be challenging to scale to meet changing business requirements outside of virtualization, which requires in-depth knowledge of the virtualization platform and the physical hardware to support it.
- One of the biggest limiters of traditional infrastructure is that businesses must continue to purchase updated hardware and software.
Introducing Microsoft Azure
Today, we can take the whole concept of centralizing the core servers, etc., one step further and place the core infrastructure in Microsoft Azure, keeping only switches and vendor-provided devices such as modems and firewalls onsite. All critical infrastructure services like Active Directory, print and file servers, business-critical applications and more would move into the cloud utilizing one or several of the cloud solutions models.
Just as virtualization transformed the scalability and efficiency of traditional on-premises infrastructure and reduced the overall total cost of ownership (TCO), cloud providers have changed how IT professionals strategize when planning their networks.
Microsoft joined Amazon (AWS) in the cloud by creating the Azure platform, first as an internal initiative codenamed Project Red Dog, then released to developers in 2008 at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference. Now they are the world-leading enterprise-cloud provider, used by 90% of Fortune 500 companies.
Microsoft offers an extensive portfolio of cloud services ranging from compute to storage to IoT and more. The Azure platform provides businesses with the following benefits over traditional infrastructures.
- Elasticity and Resilience: Traditional infrastructures are susceptible to downtime, have limited capacity and cannot guarantee a consistently high level of server performance. Azure excels in providing elasticity and resilience enabling you to build a structure that can add or reduce compute power or storage as needed.
- Flexibility and Scalability: There are two ways to scale a traditional infrastructure: purchase physical hardware or virtualize. Whereas Azure provides the ability to quickly build, deploy and manage applications or systems as it best serves the business.
- Deployment: Adding new servers and/or applications within a traditional infrastructure requires IT staff taking time to procure new hardware/software, set it up, then test and implement it. In Azure, businesses can deploy mission-critical applications often without upfront costs and with minimal provisioning time, allowing IT staff to focus on more pressing activities and objectives.
- Reliability: For reliability, traditional infrastructures need to have redundancy requiring dual firewalls, ISP providers, power sources, etc., which gets expensive in time and money. With Azure, Microsoft provides the hardware and dedicated teams for implementation and maintenance. They’ve built in redundancy, from failover hardware to datacenters located worldwide.
- Automation: A conventional infrastructure requires in-house IT personnel to monitor all systems and handle the day to day duties like patch management and maintaining threat protection. In Azure, this is all handled by Microsoft ensuring the infrastructure continues to run smoothly, and that required security measures are in place.
You can find a full list of Azure services on Microsoft’s site.
Azure vs Traditional Infrastructure
The advantages of moving part or all of your company’s infrastructure to the cloud include increased flexibility, scalability, ease of management and cost savings. Successful infrastructure migrations to Azure require a lot of planning. If you’re looking to move to Azure, I outline all of the things you need to consider in this article. If you’d like to learn more or want help getting started, our engineers can help you throughout the process.