Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Managed Azure Hosting Investment?
Are you gaining as much value as you could be from your current Azure hosting arrangement?
Finding the best option for your cloud hosting is a challenge many businesses struggle with, and like them it’s likely you’re missing out on the most cost-effective approach.
In this article, we take a deep dive into the important role of cloud hosting and highlight the reasons why you would benefit from investing in managed Azure hosting.
Cloud hosting today
Cloud technology has matured rapidly over the past few years, particularly with its use in the business world. Gartner predicts that global end-user spending on public cloud services will grow 20.4% in 2022 to total $494.7 billion, up from $410.9 billion in 2021.
The Microsoft Azure cloud platform is now capable of powering all your organisation’s mission-critical applications in a sophisticated virtual IT infrastructure.
Following trends driven by the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, the cloud has become the preferred choice for many organisations. This is largely due to how the Azure cloud’s flexibility and agility reflect the requirements within our ‘new normal’ of working from anywhere.
For most of us, the cloud has become the heartbeat of our businesses, with a large percentage of our internal and external processes dependent on the technology. With that in mind, the traditional method of IT hosting – rows of old-fashioned servers in cabinets, stored away in cupboards or in large data centres – could soon be a distant memory.
Not only does cloud hosting provide a more cost-effective alternative to the previous physical server-based model, but it also directly aligns with the global shift to remote work.
Azure hosting 101 - What exactly is Azure hosting?
For the benefit of those who need a more straightforward definition first, Azure hosting is a method of outsourcing your organisation’s IT infrastructure to a service provider who can supply you with a virtual hosting environment.
Similar to traditional data centres, you can procure your cloud infrastructure on either a pay-as-you-go model or as a long-term commitment ‘as a service,’ and use the provider’s space in the cloud for yourself. However, unlike traditional IT hosting, solutions exist across a network of connected cloud servers and a wide spectrum of digital resources.
Your applications and systems are then deployed via your cloud platform, rather than through a server that exists physically on your premises. This virtual context makes it far easier to scale your IT resources up and down depending on your needs, and gives you a wide range of additional advantages.
One of the most notable of those advantages is that, with Azure hosting, you only pay for the IT infrastructure and resources you use. This makes it a far more cost-effective option than on-premise. Here you’re making a transition from a capital expenditure (CapEx) model to an operational expenditure model (OpEx), which affords you the freedom to achieve lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and greater return on investment (ROI).
The challenges of Azure cloud hosting
Another key difference between traditional IT and the cloud is that Azure hosting isn’t just a case of deploying your environment and leaving it to run by itself.
An IT infrastructure hosted in the cloud requires continual monitoring, management, and optimisation if it’s expected to continue performing as you need it to.
Of course, you want to be able to focus entirely on your own priorities, whether that’s running your business or managing your team. It’s highly unlikely you have the time or the resources to be constantly worrying about whether your IT systems are running properly.
Unfortunately, unless you’ve taken a strategic approach to finding the right hosting services, that’s one of the challenges you’ll eventually end up facing.
If you’ve read this far, your organisation probably already has some processes, workflows, or applications hosted in the Azure cloud.
If so, do any of the following scenarios sound familiar?
- You’re working with an Azure hosting partner already, but you’re unhappy with the service provided, and want to move cloud partners?
- You had a consultant deploy your cloud for you without a strategy in place, and you now need to plan for the long-term
- Your current hosting provider isn’t giving you any additional support, and you need more help managing and maintaining your cloud environment
- You have an in-house team supporting your cloud, but are facing challenges due to a skills gap
- You’re receiving erratic costs and surprise charges.
If any of these issues are resonating with you, the time has come for you to explore different options with a cloud management solution or managed Azure hosting and find a better solution.
Exploring your options for Azure hosting
There are several options to choose from when it comes to Azure hosting. The important thing is to determine which will be the most suitable choice for your organisation’s specific situation.
It’s also worth mentioning here that the most suitable choice right now may not be in a year, so remain open-minded. We’ll explain this in more detail later in the article.
Whether you’re just running a few applications in the cloud and need someone to look after your environment, or are looking to facilitate the hosting of an entire cloud-based IT infrastructure, you need to find a solution that best meets your unique requirements.
The most common options include:
1 – In-house managment of your Azure hosting
If you decide to purchase your Azure hosting directly with Microsoft as your cloud provider, you’ll be responsible for all the set-up, configuration, and management of your own virtual IT environment.
This will require investment to ensure your team has the necessary cloud-specific skills and experience to keep your cloud running without any issues. This will also take up a significant amount of time and resources for the people responsible.
Unfortunately, this isn’t easy. As mentioned earlier, managing a cloud estate is entirely different to managing an on-premise IT infrastructure. Perhaps you might have done this to begin with, and now need a partner to take over the cloud management or cloud hosting for you.
2 – Work with an Azure hosting partner
As an alternative to the above option, you can find a partner to host and deploy your workload in the cloud for you. In some cases, this will ideally come with some additional support and consultancy from the partner, but not always.
This is usually the most common approach businesses take, especially when cloud adoption has come without a holistic strategy in place.
However, working with a consultant or Azure hosting partner can be extremely costly, or it can be highly cost-effective when you’re able to find the right one. If you’re relying on multiple partners for different aspects of your cloud environment, and aren’t receiving any additional services from your hosting partner, you could end up significantly over-spending.
Key things to review
When evaluating your options, or deciding which approach to take with Azure hosting, it’s important to be aware of some recent developments in the cloud market as well.
These considerations may need to be taken into account before you make a final decision on where you go next, as they could each have an impact on your bottom line in the long-term.
The Microsoft Partner Model
The Microsoft partner model has been changed over the last few years, so partners no longer receive the financial rewards they used to from a percentage of their customers’ fees. This means your hosting costs will be higher than they were previously, as most partners will have increased their fees because the percentage they’re paid is eroding over time.
Cloud Solution Provider Agreements
If you’re working within the framework of a cloud solution provider (CSP) agreement with your Azure hosting partner, you’re no longer locked in or stuck with the limitations that were previously involved.
This frees you up to explore other more cost-effective options for cloud hosting, while retaining as much of your other Azure systems and applications as you like.
With inflation on the rise, the OpEx model of cloud infrastructure-as-a-service is a much more appealing prospect than investing a large sum of money into a physical data centre right now.
The lead times on physical servers have also increased as well with the current chip shortages.
The risk involved with the traditional on-premise approach to IT hosting is currently higher than ever before, with the demand for remote work and business agility at an all-time high.
More and more businesses are migrating to the cloud as it continues to present the most financially-sensible option for enterprise IT.
The digital skills gap is evident across most industries at the moment, and has been even before the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. In 2019, for example the Open University’s ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’ report found that 88% of UK organisations admitted to facing a shortage of digital skills.
Finding in-house employees who have sufficient cloud-specific experience is difficult, especially in a job market that’s recovering from ‘the great resignation.’ These people are coming at a very high cost today.
It’s usually more cost-effective to lean on intelligent automated tools to handle many of the core processes for you, rather than hiring someone new and paying them a hefty salary.
How to find the best Azure hosting partner for your needs
With all the above considerations and changes taking place, we’d strongly recommend that you regularly review your Azure hosting partner like you would with any other supplier.
It’s beneficial to remember that you’re building your own IT infrastructure, and cloud technology is commoditising. You can leverage different services and solutions from different cloud providers for your own benefit.
Begin to work yourself into a position of being cloud platform-independent. Rather than being tied down exclusively to one platform from one provider, whether that’s Microsoft Azure or AWS, you should take advantage of both simultaneously, and retain the flexibility to build a bespoke cloud-based IT estate ideal for your specific requirements.
This applies to your Azure hosting situation as well. In an ever-changing cloud market, you need a cloud hosting partner who has a deep understanding of how everything fits together. This should be someone who keeps on top of all the latest options from both providers, and who has knowledge and supporting technology that works across all platforms.
You shouldn’t settle for a partner who simply hosts your cloud for you and leaves it there for you to worry about, or one who forces you to buy additional services just to keep it monitored, maintained, and supported.
You can find Azure cloud specialists who work closely with you to understand your business goals, then recommend solutions tailored to meet your unique requirements as your business evolves.
Like with any subscription, if your prices went up, your service was poor, or a better option became available, you’d make a change. With the cloud, you’re not committed to a fixed cost for your hosting technology like you were with traditional on-premise servers. You should always be looking to help your business’s bottom line by remaining aware of the options available to you, and a great cloud partner will help you achieve that.
Consider a CloudOps Active Management Solution (CAMS) to Enhance Your Azure Hosting
Whatever your current hosting arrangement, every cloud-based IT infrastructure is improved with the addition of intelligent automation tools and proactive support services.
Our CloudOps Active Management Solution (CAMS) is the ideal answer.
We do this by using a complex algorithm to select the best performing environment between AWS and Azure for you, guaranteeing vast cost reductions when compared with native pricing models. We review your unique cloud environment regularly and make decisions based on your best interests to save you as much as possible.
Equally available across AWS and Azure, CAMS is a bespoke solution that can be tailored to fit your business.
- More predictable and manageable monthly costs
- Less drain on time, resources, and manpower
- More opportunity to focus on your business and innovation
- Full customisation
- Superior storage and data transfer allowances
- Full confidence your hosting is taken care of with 24/7 support.
Your improved hosting arrangement will also grant access to the wealth of benefits and advantages offered by CAMS Core. This holistic cloud managed service is something no other hosting provider is able to provide.
Of course, it’s also valuable to begin working with a team of proven, experienced specialists who deal with this technology every day, and have been doing so for years.
When it comes to Azure hosting, you need to be making strategic decisions that will be best for your business and your commercial needs.
In today’s market, amidst all the changing trends, this means finding a cost-effective option that will still deliver reliability, stability, and consistency. Of course, if IT hosting isn’t core to your business, you shouldn’t struggle through that alone.
Managed Azure hosting services, when approached strategically with the right partner, can add a whole new dimension to your cloud investment. Cloud hosting done properly can provide your business with a wealth of benefits and advantages when compared to a traditional hosting provider.
The current cloud ecosystem affords you the luxury to find the most cost-effective solution without compromising on performance.
A partner like us will also work closely with you in an advisory role, providing expertise to help remove the hassle of your cloud hosting challenges. This allows you to focus entirely on your own roles and responsibilities, with full confidence your IT infrastructure is in great hands.
If you’re unsatisfied with your current Azure hosting situation and want to reduce your costs, learn more about how CAMS can help you save money and improve performance here.
If you have any questions or need to chat through any specific challenges in more detail, please do drop us a line and a member of our team will be happy to help.
CAMS is designed specifically to give you full transparency, control, and support, for your cloud infrastructure. Get in touch with a member of our team to learn more, and we’d be happy to help!
Steve Rastall - Managing Director
Get in touch: Steve.Rastall@igroupltd.co.uk
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