At the start of 2016, the Synergy Research Group’s 2015 study, of the global market share achieved by major public cloud providers had Amazon in first place and Microsoft in second with a 9% share. Over the past 4 years, this picture has changed, and while Microsoft Azure is still ranked second overall, it has grown considerably to 20% while Amazon has retained 31% of the market. Google remains in 3rd place with around 6% of the total.
The growth in cloud adoption has benefited many organisations, although as more businesses have moved their applications and data to the cloud there have been major challenges to overcome – in some cases, this has been due to varying quality in advice from Azure consultants who often rely on a lift and shift methodology to migrate applications, rather than creating cloud first architectures that allow applications to reach their potential.
Common Problems with Azure
The good news is that in most cases, the problems in Azure that businesses face are relatively minor and can be quickly resolved with by making small changes to the deployment, or the software that is using it. However, this is not always the case. We regularly encounter much more significant and complex issues which come from the architecture that was originally deployed. It may simply not be fit for purpose. In these cases, where the architecture does not fit the use, resolution may need wholesale changes to the architecture, or even a full rebuild from scratch.
Lack of Virtual Network Structure
Our background as SharePoint specialists and experience in deploying SharePoint to bespoke environments meant that igroup were one of the first Microsoft Gold Partners in the UK to concentrate on building cloud environments for our clients. This was a logical move for us as Azure gave flexibility to our SharePoint clients and allowed for infrastructure to be provisioned more quickly and support greater flexibility to meet the different server needs of different organisations.
One of the key challenges we met in the early stages of helping clients move SharePoint to the cloud was that the cloud itself – the Virtual Machines – are only a small part of the whole. Deeper networking and functionality is required as part of the infrastructure to enable effective communication between applications and effective collaboration between users.
The networking (virtual or physical) that connects users, applications, databases, and identities together is an intrinsic part of the cloud environment. In fact, as a fundamental part of the whole, it is the first thing that should be defined.
If Azure supporting network architecture is not fit for purpose, it must be redesigned by a specialist. In truth, this is a lot more straightforward than the replacement of a physical datacentre. As networking can often amplify issues elsewhere, it is sometimes the case that improving access can allow for reductions in the specification of VMs – we find that some consultants overspec the VMs to counter network performance issues meaning that as a consumer, your organisation pays more for your subscription than is really necessary.
Lack of Sufficient Power
Lower specification machines are less expensive, and the pay-off for this is less power and the ability to process fewer instructions. Weaker specifications applied to VMs on a network can create bottlenecks for information that increases latency elsewhere.
We developed Cloud Control to better manage Virtual Networks. Our systems measure usage across the network and analyses data to establish what resource is required to deliver optimal performance. From this data, it becomes possible to scale resource and keep costs lower while removing bottlenecks.
In some cases, software issues can cause problems for end users which can mean a call to your Azure Support partner.
Software updates including moving from one version of a program to the next can cause problems with connected apps. Dependencies can break at different levels – from application to application and even from OS to software.
In order to counter this, we recommend running a test environment alongside your main deployment which can be used to check update compatibility. The flexibility of Azure means that this doesn’t need to be “always on”, which means it can be treated more cost effectively than it would in a traditional datacentre.
Security and Malware Management
Regardless of the steps that a business takes to protect information, and even with multiple monitoring systems in place, there will always be a risk of new threats and breaches.
There is a saying that IT systems are only as secure as the weakest socket in the network which is as true of the cloud as it is with physical infrastructure. The best defence is user vigilance.
A key component of our Cloud Control system is a suite of monitoring tools that were developed to track changes in network traffic. This was designed with large organisations such as public sector bodies where data protection is vital. Our solutions ensure that all appropriate software patches are installed on VMs to maintain system security and to close vulnerabilities quickly. We also install anti-virus software to further protect information.
Can We Help?
If your organisation is facing issues with Azure that are causing problems with performance, or if you simply want to arrange a health check to ensure that everything is working correctly, we can help.
Call us today on 0203 697 0302 to speak to a member of our specialist cloud team, and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs.