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3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

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3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

Posted on: 04 June '14
Koushik Ramani
Lead Architect and Head - IMS Consulting

I often hear from IT leaders that their approach to the cloud isn’t working. They’re hazy on the real benefits of cloud, so they’re unsure where to start or who should initiate the investigation. Many of these cloud initiatives are driven by business decision makers who see the cloud as a panacea for their challenges, yet they lack the technical insights into the processes and interfaces critical for success. In addition, data protection, regulatory concerns, and complexity of orchestrating business process across distributed infrastructures further complicate matters.

To make the most of migrating to Microsoft Azure and to avoid time-consuming and costly false starts, you should take a strategic and carefully considered approach. This means combining big-picture business perspectives with technical knowhow to create a structured plan of action.

Here are three steps to help you get the most from Microsoft Azure strengths of agility, availability and scale:

Step 1: Clearly define the problems and challenges you are trying to solve
This step sounds deceptively easy, but glossing over goals and expectations can doom any cloud project. Before jumping to conclusions about what the cloud will do, first think about where the problems and bottlenecks in your operations lie. For example, are there key areas in your business that require significant investments to maintain or develop in-house, but could be relatively easy to provision in the cloud? Do these services have external connectors or use standard services that are version controlled by external parties? In order to make your cloud journey successful, you must consider the entire business process and key handoff points between stages.

Step 2: Inventory your user services and business applications portfolio
Once you have identified the key areas in your business processes that you want to improve, develop a high level feasibility report and build a reference roadmap. This requires taking a comprehensive look at your existing infrastructure, platforms, and in particular, legacy technologies and systems. For example, the older the systems, the more expensive the move to the cloud may be. Also, the greater the number of interfaces, the more complex the migration could become. It’s also essential to survey user services. Heavily customized applications are not good choices for the cloud. On the other hand, standard applications and services that already run on Microsoft platforms are the best candidates and will be the easiest to move.

Step 3:  Define success criteria and measure them
It’s essential to define the criteria for success in measurable objectives, such as reducing TCO, or improving uptime by some quantifiable amount. The reference roadmap must be tagged with milestones that indicate clear ROI.

Taking a structured approach gives you get a clearer basis for deriving the most value from cloud technology adoption. Creating a reference architecture that defines the contact points between your infrastructure and cloud is a key factor to making critical interfaces work as expected. And, the plans and procedures you create during the process provide greater predictability and control over the outcome.

You don’t need to do this alone, however. While it’s understandable that you might want to handle cloud migration internally, you might not have the internal resources or technical knowledge to take it on. That’s why many companies opt to work with a partner who can guide the process and accelerate the jump to the cloud.

In your search for a partner to help your analysis and implementation, make sure they have proven experience with Microsoft Azure cloud deployments and a solid grounding in major business application platforms. Using an expert can prove a smart move because it saves you time, eliminates costly misdirection and reduces the risk of failure. Also, by offloading cloud planning and integration to experts gives you more time to focus on key initiatives while still controlling the scope and expenditures.

If you are interested in reading about how two companies adopted Microsoft Azure cloud services for key business operations, visit:


Koushik Ramani

Koushik, in his role as head of IMS consulting, engages with global customers in identifying the right IT infrastructure solution. He is actively involved in various technical communities and has specialized in virtualization, cloud computing, infrastructure transformation and optimization services.