As you begin to implement your organization’s 2017 tech strategy, here are the top five most interesting things that are going on in the world of Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure that you should consider.
Almost every business struggles with backup, and the funny (or unfunny) thing about these struggles is that they are the same no matter what size the organization is.
- Complexity: Backup should be simple. Every minute we spend looking at backup is time wasted. We should take backup for granted and only spend time with it when we need to change services or restore things. Unfortunately, backup products, in a race to be the best, have bolted on unnecessary bells and whistles, and legacy (they support tape) solutions often never worked in the first place.
- Cost: Every business has a lot of data that must be protected. And that means you need lots of storage to protect that data on. We can be clever with that storage, but it’s another capital expenditure cost that detracts from business flexibility. Additionally, we have to pay upfront for backup software, which is often very expensive.
There are some newer players in the backup market that don’t fall fowl of the above, but, like with email, many businesses view backup as a service that should be taken for granted as a utility. Many of us have moved email to the cloud, so why don’t we move backup, too? Backup is one of the easiest services to move to the cloud, and Microsoft offers a rapidly evolving and very cost-effective solution in Azure Backup. Many small-medium enterprises are adopting Azure Backup to protect single file servers or to backup Hyper-V and vSphere. Depending on the solution, you can:
- Seed the first backup by tape.
- Perform backups directly to the cloud, using very cheap storage, negating the need for local storage.
- Keep backups for a short time on-premises, and keep long-term backups in the cloud.
- Encrypt all backup data and keep it for up to 99 years in the cloud.
Disaster recovery (DR) has a different objective to backup; with DR we need to return a business to an operational state with minimal loss of data, in a short time, with as much automation as possible, and in another location. These goals made DR very expensive and very complex, and this is why few organizations have DR solutions, and of those that do, the solutions are unreliable and costlier than they should be.
Azure Site Recovery (ASR), a DR-site-in-the-cloud, offers IT business continuity services for customers using physical, VMware, or Hyper-V servers at a very cost effective rate. Automation is central to all-things-Azure, and ASR enables you to completely automate the failover of services to Azure once you decide to invoke your business continuity plan. Instead of being a “snowflake solution,” ASR is a cloud service that is used by many businesses and tested on a daily basis. This means that you can have faith in the service, and you can build on that faith by performing test failovers of your services to an isolated network within Azure without impacting production systems.
Operations Management Suite
It’s true that Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery are a part of the Operations Management Suite (OMS), but OMS is much more than backup and DR; most of what is included is automation and management.
Enterprise management solutions have been around for decades; in that time, there has been one constant — we seem to spend more time installing, fixing, and upgrading the management system than we do on the systems we are meant to be managing.
OMS offers us a management service from the cloud; we simply choose which management features we want and we turn them on. The focus is on data. A searchable database can be queried, alerted on, and visualized using dashboards and Power BI. OMS is evolving at a fast rate, adding features to manage services no matter where they are (Windows or Linux, in Azure, on-premises, or in AWS). Recent examples of new features include on-premises network and vSphere monitoring!
Hybrid Cloud is more than just a network connection, and Microsoft is in a unique position to act on that. Microsoft started down this path when Azure was powered by Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and improvements in Azure started to trickle down. Windows Server 2016 includes not only security and features from Azure but also pieces of the Azure fabric such as storage and networking.
Later in 2017, three OEMs (HPE, Lenovo, and Dell) will start to sell pre-tested hardware configurations with a solution called Azure Stack — this is a version of Azure that you can run in your own data center, using the same Azure Resource Manager API as Azure; offering some (and this will grow) of the features of Azure such as storage, compute, and networking; and giving developers and operators a common platform. No matter where you choose to deploy services, the underlying architecture will be the same; you can use the same PowerShell cmdlets, the same JSON templates, and even use the same VM OS images from the Azure Marketplace.
The desktop is where we run applications, such as Microsoft Office or File Explorer. Usually, we run these applications on our PC or laptop, but many organizations move some or all applications to a remote location for the following reasons:
- Centralized deployment
- Better information security
- Speed up migrations, such as Office 365
Microsoft and Citrix have announced a very close relationship in which Citrix Cloud will
- Be sold via the Azure Marketplace
- Deploy Citrix VDI and XenApp services as virtual machines in a customer’s Azure subscription
This partnership will benefit both corporations, and hopefully customers, too, if the licensing works smoothly and is cost effective, and it is sure to generate many headlines once the services go live.