How Microsoft Azure ISV partners can profit from Azure
By taking advantage of the cloud, Microsoft Azure ISV Partners (independent software vendors) can increase their margin through increased revenues and reduced infrastructure costs. It’s not all plain sailing through, there can be hidden challenges in a migration to Azure including rising costs due to higher than expected consumption, and a need for specialist technical skills.
Microsoft Azure is designed to be flexible. The cloud platform technology was introduced commercially in 2010 and is now has the second largest market-share. From inception, it has been designed with business use in mind. Azure was developed to highlight security, scalability, and reliability making it ideal for hosting applications.
Over the past few years, customer demand for SaaS has grown. The model fits better with modern business than traditional one-off licenses, and also benefits the vendor, as it provides a recurring revenue stream. This fits well with Cloud technologies, as it enables more control for the vendor when it comes to deployment of their software rather than running the risk of it being hosted in an unsupported environment.
SaaS, combined with Azure IaaS provides more flexibility for Azure ISV Partners than was previously possible, however, there are some key issues that need to be considered in order for it to be as successful as possible.
Common Issue #1: Cost Control
When the architecture for a cloud infrastructure is designed, there are a number of factors to consider. One of these is the need to create an environment which meets the requirements of the software at peak use. Servers need to be able to handle peak demand without loss of performance without breaking the bank.
If an organisation has 1,000 users within it, the specification of the virtual machines within the network will need to be able to process a high number of concurrent requests in order to serve data correctly. However, there will be periods of time when demand is much lower – such as outside business hours.
Mostly, cloud virtual machines are sold based on their specifications. While there is an element of consumption pricing, it is only a component of the overall cost. As a result, many businesses find themselves paying for unused capacity a lot of the time.
With an ISV model, where software is sold as a service, there are opportunities to reduce the cost.
If Azure ISV partners sell into multiple territories, there is the ability to spread resource across multiple customers. This allows for some efficiency and means that the resource is more fully utilised, however, this can create issues with information security.
Scaled Usage for Azure ISV Partners
With technology like igroup’s CloudOps Active Management Solution (CAMS), the resource can be scaled based on demand – the number and spec of Virtual Machines (VMs) is reduced at times of lower demand while also protecting the integrity of individual networks.
Common Issue #2: Compatibility
Software needs to be updated as vulnerabilities are exposed, or new features are added. This can create some issues with traditional licensing models, as the software may be deployed on machines with differing specifications.
With a cloud-based SaaS model, a standard configuration of a server can be specified in Azure that is consistent across all customers. Once the architecture for this environment has been designed, it is then possible for Azure ISV Partners to duplicate it for each new client as they sign up. This reduces the need for testing compatibility across multiple systems and simplifies the rollout of new features.
igroup works with ISVs to create test deployments and automation in Azure that replicate the standard architecture used by customers. This ensures that new versions of software can be rolled out after full testing to reduce customer problems.
Common Issue #3: Identity
Cloud-based software offers improved collaboration for Azure ISV Partners, but features such as Single Sign-On (SSO) can be difficult to configure. Federated Identity Management using Active Directory is supported by Azure but requires extensive configuration to get it to work as you would expect. In some cases, it will also require a separate VM to be deployed that will handle your Active Directory Database – potentially increasing the cloud costs.
We offer a number of solutions to help businesses achieve SSO and manage identity in Azure properly.
Shared Azure AD Server
To reduce the cost of the overall cloud subscription, it is possible to use a shared AD server rather than deploying an additional one for every client you have. This maintains full security as all data is stored separately.
Active Directory Federated Services
Our experience in deploying complex SharePoint farms that support collaborative working and provide true SSO using ADFS means that we can help provide the underlying identity management for your servers so that users can share information between your application and other business systems more easily.
You can download our whitepaper on using ADFS to manage single sign on to the cloud in Azure by clicking here.
Common Issue #4: Maintenance
A key driver in cloud adoption is the reduced maintenance costs when compared to physical servers and infrastructure. It is important to recognise though that a cloud environment is not 100% maintenance free – there are still regular tasks that need to be carried out in order to ensure that the system runs correctly including:
- OS Updates
- Anti-Malware Updates
- Scheduled Back-Ups
When you use Azure, you have a choice of buying individual virtual machines or creating a spec for IaaS. Beyond a limited amount of forum-based support, Microsoft’s standard cloud subscriptions do not include the level of managed services that you would get from a traditional Azure Gold Partner.
With igroup’s CloudOps Active Management Solution (CAMS) suite, Azure ISV Partners benefit from our managed services team handling elements such as OS updates and your data and application server back-ups to increase stability. We provide a test environment for compatibility testing.
Common Issue #5: Compliance for ISVs
Historically, security has been the number one priority for any business moving their data to the cloud. Some industries mandate that data can only be hosted in the UK.
The flexibility of the cloud means that it is possible to create a hybrid environment in which some elements such as the application itself is hosted in the public cloud (Azure in Microsoft’s data centres) whereas the database is hosted either locally on a company’s own server, or in a UK based datacentre for compliance.
igroup’s experience in providing complex hybrid environments using Azure public and private cloud means we can help our clients structure their cloud management to optimise performance, cost, and compliance.
Note: last updated 29 October 2019
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