Christmas decorations have been packed. Trees that used to bear the seasonal ornaments and a glory of colored lights have been throw out, and their artificial counterparts folded up and stored away for another year. While no known magic is at work you step outside into a new day, a new year – 2021; and you cant help but feel like this year is going to be different. It feels different. Brighter. Stronger. Hope filled. Its usually in this euphoric atmosphere that ones mind begins to fill with ideas of what to do differently, goals to accomplish, new year’s resolutions. That’s great. You and I both need that magical renewal of energy, invigoration, and encouragement to face another year of challenges. But in addition to personal goals and strategies I want you to think about introducing something new to your organization/business/enterprise – The Microsoft Cloud.
Why am I talking to you about the cloud? Because I’m passionate about it. I’m a Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect Expert – not because I have to be, but because the cloud has captivated me and I want to show the world how they can benefit from it. So yes I am very biased, just as biased as a New York toy store is on its opinion of Christmas – yes there is money to be made but there is something magical to be experienced at the same time. I want to share the magical experience of the cloud with you.
What is the Microsoft cloud? The concept of the cloud can be rather obscure to many people but it actually is a simple idea. Because of a technology called a hypervisor, 1 physical computer and its hardware can act like several separate computers. For instance I can buy a traditional ‘box’ computer made up of 1 tower, a single large hard drive, 1 physical CPU and motherboard, and couple sticks of ram. I can chose to use this computer as a server, maybe storage server that people can save files on. Maybe a SQL server that stores SQL databases. Maybe a web server that hosts webpages. But now lets introduce hypervisor technology and now we can make that 1 server, instead act like 4 separate computers, each separate from each other. So now I can build a “virtual machine” on my 1 server that is designated as a file storage server, and then I can build a 2nd virtual machine (also known as a VM) that acts as a SQL Database server, and then I can build a 3rd VM on it that acts as a web server, and that still leaves a 4th VM to be whatever I want it to be. I didn’t have to buy any more hardware, i just used the existing hardware of my single server and through hypervisor technology split it up into 4 independently virtualized computers.
Now Microsoft has taken this technology and built entire datacenters -essentially warehouses – filled with hundreds/thousands of physical computer hardware and through hyper visor technology we can create and use hundreds to thousands of virtualized resources on this physical hardware, all without time, money, and space that goes into buying that hardware, and installing and maintaining it ourselves.
This has also grown out to include entire services like Microsoft Exchange Server for email and SharePoint for file management that used to require a sizeable physical footprint – dozens of servers and space, and people to install, setup, configure, operate and maintain them. Now, Microsoft has built these environments in their own Microsoft datacenters where they do all the maintenance and management of the systems and simply make available to you as a service to use without the heavy investment into a brand new physical infrastructure.
So where should you even start?
There’s a thousand ways you could probably approach the cloud but why not just keep it simple. For many of you reading, you may not have a disaster recovery solution for your Active Directory environment. Why not build a virtual network in azure and stand up a new domain controller for your organization that is offsite and replicated locally 3 times for redundancy. That way if your office network goes down, you still have a live working domain controller in the cloud that is completely unaffected.
Then from there instead of buying new hardware and adding new servers into your office network, why not just spin up your additional server needs in Azure where your new domain controller is.
Or what about backup solutions? Why not backup your servers to the cloud so that if your local network environment were to go down, you would have all your latest backups available instantly to you from azure. Take it a step further with actual disaster recovery replication and have ‘to-the-minute’ replicas of your existing servers ready to come online in Azure just minutes after your local network goes down.
Maybe you’re looking for a secure work from home / remote work force solution? Why not take advantage of Microsoft Azure’s Windows Virtual Desktop?
They provide secure Windows 10 desktops complete with all the necessary work applications, accessible remotely from practically any device (android, iphone, mac, or Windows) via a native application or HTML 5 capable browser. Instantly give your users the tools they need on a secure and protected virtual environment that they can access from anywhere – including home. This is the strategy Microsoft themselves took when Covid-19 brought on the first waves of quarantine and they need a solution to keep everyone working, but securely from home.
Or what about getting rid of that clunky old Exchange or Domino environment and instead use Microsoft Exchange Online email (part of Office 365) that is cutting edge, extremely secure and well maintained.
Maybe your organization wants to develop a new application that uses microservices and server less databases? Azure is the place to do it.
The cloud is here to make some things in your professional life MUCH MUCH better and I, and the rest of my Safari Micro teammates, are here to help you get on to it. Over the next several weeks I’ll be going more in depth on Microsoft Azure – Microsoft’s Enterprise cloud environment and the exciting capabilities and features of its offerings. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about Azure or would like to start the conversation of how we can help you get started in the cloud.