Are You Having Problems with Azure?

13th June 2016

According to the Synergy Research Group’s 2015 study, the global market share for public cloud providers at the start of 2016 put Amazon in first place and Microsoft in second with a 9% share:

 

The growth story is slightly different – the following chart shows how much each has grown during 2015:

 

While all of the major providers have shown enormous growth in business, Microsoft Azure has more than doubled thanks to an aggressive strategy that shows the massive benefits of a modern, scalable cloud platform for businesses.

While this growth has been a massive benefit to many organisations, it has also created some problems.  Many of the companies who have joined the migration to the cloud during the past couple of years have discovered issues with their environment due to a lack of planning and, in some cases, bad advice from consultants who do not fully understand the best way to deploy to Azure.

Common Problems with Azure

For most organisations, problems in Azure are minor and can be quickly resolved with relatively minor configuration changes to the deployment, or changes to the software running on it.  This is not always the case however – some issues can be much more complex and arise from the way in which Azure was originally configured.  These complex issues may require a wholesale change to the architecture, or even a full rebuild from scratch.

Lack of Virtual Network Structure

igroup were one of the first Microsoft Gold Partners in the UK to focus on building cloud environments for our clients.  Our background as SharePoint specialists gave us a unique understanding of how complex infrastructure can be to deliver the right solutions for business.  To work properly, SharePoint requires a number of different server specifications, and a network that connects them together.

When some businesses migrate to the cloud, they only look at a small part of the overall picture – the virtual machines – and do not include the deeper networking and functionality that’s required to create a true virtualised infrastructure.  In essence, the cloud solution that they build lacks many of the essential elements that are needed to enable effective communication between applications and effective collaboration between users.

The virtual network – which connects users, applications, databases, and identities – needs to be part of the initial specification of a cloud environment.  Because the network provides the names and locations of machines, it is the first thing that needs to be defined.

If the network architecture you have in Azure is not fit for purpose, it will need to be redesigned by a specialist.  Thankfully, this is a lot more straightforward than replacing a physical datacentre is, and it also provides the opportunity to refine the specification of all of your VMs to ensure that they are fit for purpose while providing the best value for money.

Lack of Sufficient Power

When a business moves to Azure, there is often a tendency to either under-spec or over-spec the virtual machines that are used.

Lower specification machines cost less, but are less powerful and can process fewer instructions.  A risk of a lower spec machine on a network is that it can create a bottleneck for information that causes latency across the rest of the network.

In order to manage Virtual Networks better, we developed Cloud Control.  This measures usage of different parts of the network to establish the optimal levels of resource that are required to deliver the right level of performance for users.  Scaling resource means that costs are kept lower without the issue of bottlenecks causing problems for users at peak demand.

Software Updates

Not all problems you encounter in Azure are as a result of the virtual machines or underlying platform.  In some cases, issues with the software that you have installed in the cloud can cause problems for end users.

Not all publishers update all aspects of their software at the same time.  Moving from one version of a program to the next might cause problems with any apps or services that rely on it.  Dependencies can break at many levels – OS to software; software to supporting app; supporting app to report.

With this in mind, it’s important to have a test environment that you can use in order to test updates before they roll out.  Thankfully with Azure that’s a lot more straightforward than it would be in a traditional data centre.

Malware and Security Problems

All businesses take information security seriously, but even if your organisation is running a range of monitoring packages and anti-malware you are still at risk of new threats and breaches.

Complex cloud environments are only as secure as the weakest socket in the network, and rely on user vigilance.

Working with large organisations and public bodies where information security is essential, we have developed monitoring tools within Cloud Control that are designed to track any changes in network traffic.  Cloud Control also ensures that all appropriate software patches to close vulnerabilities, and anti-virus software to protect against malware is installed on the virtual machines to maintain the system.

Can We Help?

If you’re already having problems with Azure and need help to solve them, or if you just want to arrange a health check to ensure that everything is working fine “under the bonnet”, we can help.

Call us today on 0207 099 0632 to speak to a member of our cloud team, and we’ll be happy to arrange a health check for Azure.

 

Call now on 0207 099 0632 to speak to a member of our team

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