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Move to Azure’s Cloud Services from an existing server or use the services of an Azure Architect. 

Azure Consulting, Deployment, Management & Support, Toronto 

Still using an “on-prem” server? Move your business operations to the cloud using Microsoft Azure, a leading Enterprise-Level Cloud Solution for small, medium and large sized organizations. Our team can provide the IT services necessary to design and implement Microsoft’s Cloud Solution to your business. Watch the below video to learn more about how it works. 

Microsoft Azure

The Azure Cloud Computing roles we can fill:

 

Azure Support

We can provide cloud solution architects, engineers, administrators and operators to resolve just about any Azure issue. Our team can bring a Microsoft Azure cloud strategy and cloudsafe solutions to your business. Get you started with Azure, migrate your existing server to Azure cloud platform or restructure Azure processes and system so that they function more efficiently. Our professionals tell you the differences between azure web app vs cloud service.

Azure Consulting

1CS Azure Solutions Consultants will navigate your business through the selection of cloud services and the development/creation of a suitable cloud solution. They compile extensive notes on needs and wants, build a plan to deploy it, assist with setup choices up and roll-out implementation. Other activities involve cloud computing mapping configurations, policies, procedure, monitoring and maintenance.

Azure Architecture (Technical)

Our team of Azure Architect’s will design the overall cloud solution. This includes cloud infrastructure, design and tailoring (from a technical perspective). It also includes the chosen Azure platforms and solutions to meet specifications. Our team of professionals has experience with different kinds of environments including hybrids. Also experienced in transferring data from an existing physical server (or third-party cloud server) to the Azure cloud infrastructure.

Azure Development Engineering

Development specialists or engineers concentrate on making the platforms, apps and automation processes ready for use. This involves rigorous testing before initial roll-out.

Azure Stack Operations

The Stack Operations leader focuses on maintaining Azure Solutions across a local or third-party hosting solution. Functions include dealing with integrations and the upkeep of infrastructure services.

Azure Administration

Each person on our Azure Cloud Architect Team can act as an Azure Cloud Administrator. Objectives consist of monitoring infrastructure statistics, some setups, research, privacy and security standards.

Introduction to Azure Cloud Services

 

Moving to the Cloud

You may or may not be familiar with Microsoft’s Azure. If not, the following information will provide a basic understanding of how businesses and organizations can leverage this powerful cloud solution.

There is little debate that cloud computing represents the future. While some businesses have not yet moved away from using onsite hardware such as a local server, a considerable number have. In doing so they have transformed their organizations digital infrastructure by increasing capability, streamlining technology and competing with the best in their industry.

A 2018 study conducted by US based IDG found that 73% of businesses surveyed deploy not less then 1 application or a portion of their IT systems in the cloud. An additional 17% stated they plan to do so within 52 weeks. Spending is also increasing, not just for large-scale enterprise but for small and medium sized business too. The average cloud budget among large businesses was reported to be $2,200,000 with small and medium sized entities averaging $889,000. Please keep in mind that based on the definition of a small business, a small business can still be rather large compared to other small business.

A substantial portion of the 17% will turn to Azure. Just to give you an idea, in 2018, Microsoft posted earnings of a little more than $110,000,000,000, driving this number in part was a twenty-three percent increase in revenue from the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform including its associated services and technologies.

Azure is an example of what is known in the IT industry as Software-as-a-Service or Saas for short. Like Saas, the “cloud” is another buzz word we are starting to hear more of. But what do these terms really mean for Canadian enterprise level organizations and SMB’s. Many don’t understand how they work. The information on this page attempts to shed some light on what is a vast, complicated topic, using Microsoft Azure cloud service as the example.

Understanding The Essential Parts of Microsoft’s Azure

 

How does Cloud Computing work?

The concept known as cloud computing refers to the practice of accessing resources (hard drive space, programs and applications) which do not reside on your computer-through the internet, rather than saving data directly to your computer or installing software directly to your device.

You may be using a cloud-based solution and not even know, such as Gmail or Dropbox. Gmail does not get installed on your computer, instead users go to a location on the internet “the Gmail sign-in webpage” and login from there. Same with Dropbox, although it appears that stored files are on your computer, ultimately, they reside on the web. This way, these files do not take up space on your device. Instead, they take up space on Dropbox’s server, and can be accessed from anywhere, so long as there is access to the internet.

Programs and applications can also be operated in the cloud. Previously we purchased MS Office from Staples, the Microsoft Store or got it via online download, and was installed directly to your device. Now, Office 365, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Note and Outlook can be access from a web browser, without having the suite of programs installed directly on your device.

The uses of cloud computing are endless and give users the ability to harness computing power they might not otherwise have which come with many advantages compared to a traditional server. Businesses see these abilities as competitive advantages and are flocking to cloud-based services in droves.

Who really wants to allocate office space to maintain a physical, local server, dish-out significant upfront costs, capitalize the cost and depreciate it over many years, run the risk that security patches and upgrades will not be provided when needed, deal with compatibility issues when integrating third-party applications to your server, which at best has poor security and lacks accessibility.

The reasons why an organization would choose to stay with traditional hardware are diminishing, especially when they can purchase a subscription instead. Cloud software is often paid for on a monthly or annual subscription, meaning there is little or no upfront capital costs and no need to amortize the cost over time. Security patches and updates are managed by PaaS and IaaS cloud computing providers for you, and depending on the cloud service provider, can be more flexible, accessible and secure.

What exactly are Microsoft Azure cloud computing solutions?

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-computing-service for business which is comprised of more than six hundred different services and technologies including Microsoft’s SharePoint Collaboration Tool Service. It’s a platform on the web upon which applications, programs and systems may either be installed, built, tested and implemented for use. Services include Microsoft’s software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service, these products are all hosted on and delivered from Microsoft’s cloud file server Azure. The 3 core functions of Azure are cloud service, app solutions and VM, otherwise known as Virtual Machines.

What role do Virtual Machines play?

Contrary to what some may think, a VM is a computer file or image which functions like a computer. Virtual machines operate like conventional applications. The concept is sort of like a computer inside of another computer, isolated from the rest of the device, such that functions performed within the VM will not “spill” out into the host computer. This feature is quite useful for developers who can experiment within an enclosed environment and safely test new systems, create backups, safely inspect and work with data which has been infected with a virus and operate programs from within an operating system it is not compatible with, without consequence to the real computer which the VM is situated within.

Multiple virtual machines can operate concurrently on the same computer, with each having virtual hardware of its own. Routed to the real hardware itself, virtual hardware lessens dependence on physical hardware and support related expenses.

Microsoft Azure Services

Azure boasts nearly 600 hundred services, technologies and solutions. Almost any cloud service which an organization would likely require can be accessed on this web-platform.

Microsoft Azure is suitable for small, medium and enterprise size organizations

Flexibility, scalability and accessibility are traits which allow Azure to be utilized by organizations small and large.  It is trusted by startups all the way up to enterprise level companies.  A recent survey of large firms in the US indicates a significant portion of the respondent’s trust Microsoft cloud and enterprise group.

On top of a diverse selection of ground-breaking, and mission-critical solutions, Azure has a plethora of other competitive advantages which make it suitable to a broad range of business and non-profits.

The system is responsive, agile and adjustable. You can increase storage space, create new programs and add new cloud services, knowing that  Microsoft’s cloud solution for business can support all of these operations.

There is no need (except for special situations) for expensive computer equipment such as a server and load balancers including the IT support services to go along with it. In many cases, reduces capital expenditures in exchange for a low fix monthly or annual subscription or pay as you go billing. Services are on-demand and come with useful admin portal reports to keep track of your spending. Of course, paying for a server via subscription opposed to DIY leads to more accurate budgeting.

There is also the reliability factor. Azure is proud of its ninety-nine point nine, nine percent up-time promise, best in class data recovery plans and backup systems. Customers know that their critical business information and systems are with a trusted partner whose reputation is impeccable.

How does Azure benefit my business or non-profit?

The “Azure Advantage” is its power, which many businesses including SMB’s find extremely advantageous. What we are referring to is its computing capability, which would be hard to build and achieve in-house due to the high cost. Microsoft’s solution to this cost constraint is offer these powerful cloud services via cloud on a pay as you go or subscription (monthly or annual) licencing model. Whereby businesses and other organizations alike, no matter how large or small, can leverage state-of-the-art technology and powerful computing strength, which they might not be able to acquire, on their own. In other words, the power and capability of Azure would be difficult to duplicate as the cost would be prohibitive.

Being able to scale your operations up or down on-demand is another huge benefit of the Azure cloud service. Traditionally, the issue with scaling was that IT systems would have to be built-out or built-in. With MS’s cloud service, that is no longer the issue. Expanding or consolidating is easily accomplished within the infrastructure and platforms. When adding new departments, divisions or employees, the infrastructure is already there. If a decision is made to merge, sell-off assets or consolidate the business, users can easily be removed and there will be no capital cost expenditures factoring into your decisions and processes.

Utilizing cutting-edge tools and solutions provided through Microsoft, organizations are-able-to convert their existing operations to Azure, meaning higher rates of productivity, as well as incredible analytical and database capabilities. When other companies find out you are using Azure to manage their important business information, it gives them confidence that their information is secure and that you have good judgement in using a reputable cloud service.

These are some of the benefits of Microsoft cloud business intelligence.

Where are Microsoft Cloud Servers located?

There are Azure cloud server locations in fifty-four regions around the world, more than AWS. MS Azure cloud data centers use fibre cabling, enough to stretch all the way to the moon and back more than once. These are located within one hundred and forty nations. Users can choose the area of the world or country of choice, thus giving the ability to maintain data residency and compliance with local data retention and security regulations.

Since inception of it’s first data-centre in 1989, Microsoft Corporation has spent more than Fifteen Billion American Dollars, by adding coverage to new regions and countries, although not all Azure cloud services are available in every country.

Where to get Azure and what does it cost?

 

Where to purchase Azure (create Azure cloud service)

Contact 1CS and we will get your business or organization setup with access. We can provide a free trial for 30 days and a credit towards making a purchase, based on current Microsoft offerings to resellers like 1CS.

1CS can guide and manage the process for you, taking the lead, so that you can have peace of mind during the transition and focus on what you do best. We know how to deploy Azure cloud service on behalf of business and organizations of all sizes.

How much does it cost? (Microsoft CRM cloud pricing)

Given the shear number of cloud services, Azure private cloud pricing depends on which services an organization chooses to implement and how much they are used.  

Fortunately, there aren’t any upfront capital costs which are payable to Microsoft as users are charged by the hour and pay for only that which they use.

For instance, the Azure Application Service can be purchased for less than $.015/hr, whereas some data base-as-a-service products are a little more than $.02/hr. These services, and many others, may have no cost during the first year of use.

Other services like Rest-based “blob” storage of un-structured data, will be billed to coincide with data usage instead of time. Other cloud solutions are billed based on the number of executions.

For more information on Microsoft Azure pricing, contact us.

How does a free Azure account work?

Azure’s free trial offer is an option for new users, so long that they have not previously taken advantage of the free account or been a paying customer.

Microsoft also offers two hundred dollars towards services in the first month. Additionally, users can access a group of its most popular services at no cost including twenty-five service offerings which will remain free.

Upon completion of the one-month free trial, users may still use the permanently free offerings, however they will need to upgrade to a subscription account without a spending cap. If customer usage remains within the complimentary threshold’s, the subscription will not be billed to the customer.

In the first year of the subscription, the customer will receive the following at no-cost:

  1. One Hundred and Twenty-Eight Gigabytes – Managed Disks spread across Sixty-Four (P6) SSD storage, + ONE Gigabyte snapshot and Two Million I/O’s
  2. Seven Hundred and Fifty (hrs) – Azure (B1S) GP Virtual Machines for MS Windows Server
  3. Seven Hundred and Fifty (hrs) – Azure (B1S) GP Virtual Machines for Linux
  4. Fifteen Gigabytes – outbound data transfer rate and no cap on inbound data transfers
  5. Two Hundred and Fifty Gigabytes – Azure Cosmos Database including 400 reserved in units
  6. Five Gigabytes – LRS File Storage including Two million read, list, and other file functions
  7. Five Gigabytes – LRS-Hot Blob Storage including Two Million read, write, and write or list functions

Cloud Service Market Segmentation (North American SaaS, IaaS & PaaS)

 

Microsoft Azure’s Share of Market

In the grand scheme of the cloud services market, Amazon Web Services has the largest single share, somewhere around one-third. In comparison, Microsoft’s cloud service is used by about thirteen percent of the market. However, Microsoft’ portion of the market increased by thirty percent when calculated in 2018, compared to 12 months earlier in 2017. What’s interesting is that, even though the market grew by a factor of 3, Amazon Web Services share of the market remained constant across the same time period. Microsoft would point to this as an indication that their share is increasing compared to its largest competitor.

In 2018 Microsoft reported (for the first time) sales over one hundred billion dollars, of course that is in USD. New earnings were driven by Azure cloud services. More specifically, sales figures for the Intelligent Cloud segment of services which is made up of Azure and its associated solutions and technologies, were up by twenty-three percent, with earnings of Azure on it’s own up by eighty-nine percent.

Additionally, Gartner, a world-renowned research and advisory company’s recent publication for IaaS referred to Microsoft as a leader in the delivery of cloud services and solutions.

Azure compared to AWS

The major players in the “Cloud Space” are AWS and Azure, commanding almost 50% of total market share.

Amazon Web Services is one of two major Saas cloud examples in the north America market, similar to Microsoft’s Azure, in that its primary operations are cloud computing, cloud networking and cloud storage.

AWS is older than Azure by about 24 months and offers the largest most comprehensive set of cloud services and solutions in the public cloud marketplace.

However, Azure’s geographic footprint-meaning regional server locations tops that of AWS. Azure can also be easily integrated with other Microsoft products such as Exchange Email Service.

After 2015, Amazon Webs Services’ and Microsoft Azure comprised well over 50% of the market appetite for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service products and an even greater share of Cloud Platform as a Service products, each a subgroup of cloud services.

In fact, Amazon Web Services has almost 3 times as much market share as MS Azure.

Microsoft Azure’s Services and Solutions

 

Reserved Virtual Machine Instances (Azure cloud service vs virtual machine)

An RI or Reserve Virtual Machine Instance is a VM on Azure’s cloud infrastructure which is for dedicated use across a 1 to 3-year contract. Enjoy more accurate estimations of cloud computing costs compared to the pay-as-as-you-go model. Depending on how you structure services, the savings could be as much as eighty percent in some instances. RI VM’s are for Linux and Windows based operating systems. Realize priority computing power in any Azure region.  

The Azure Dashboard & Portal

Realize the tractability of Azure’s system including the integrated command-line through Cloud Shell. The portal includes an interface by which customers can administrate their platform and applications from one central location. VM’s, cloud storage, visual studio projects, web applications, data bases (DB), virtual network and more, all from the same place.

Once you are logged into Azure, you can manage your services from there. You can do things like manage users, keep an eye on traffic and performance, activate new services, manage DevOps practices including workflow along with the ability to easily integrate add-on programs.

Azure Database Options

Azure has multiple fully-managed cloud DB options. They manage the high-availability and scalability functions in addition to back-up systems.

Azure Cloud Storage Options

Each storage solution is facilitated through an account.

Service includes:

  1. Files – Management of sharing files for on-prem and cloud deployment projects
  2. Tables – NoSQL schema-less storage
  3. Queues – Single message storage allowing efficient messaging from one app to another
  4. Blobs – Huge object store binary and text data

The “Azure Factory of Data”

Like Microsoft’s Common-Data service tools, Azure Data Factory is a solution tailored to give development operators the ability to amalgamate and use isolated sources of data in the cloud and on a local machine.

The factory facilitates a connection between local SQL Data, Azure Storage and Azure SQL database using a gateway designed for this purpose.

Azure Data Lake

Similar but different than Azure Storage. Deals with complicated sets of data. A hyper scale archive designed to hold and process big data. Not to mention that it is secure, backed up and a flexible cloud services solution. Companies benefit from it’s yield of statistics and other information.

Azure Search

Azure’s Search service (a SaaS) shares its API with developers and provides tools for creating a customized and comprehensive search function across mobile devices and web content, using private apps. From within Azure’s search as a service product, queries get sent through an index (controlled by customer), looking through only that data which is provided by users.  

Active Directory for Azure

Azure AD is a cloud directory and ID manager. It incorporates the best of its core directory services, access management and identity application into one solution. AD provides a platform based on standards by which access may be managed under one central regime of governing principals.

Azure Databricks

An analytics platform built in consultation with Azure and with Azure in mind. Databricks assists the creation of a data warehouse leveraging real time analytics and machine learning. The Microsoft cloud platform offers a collaborative environment for users including data architects and technical analysts.

The Azure Stack (azure on premise vs cloud)

If your organization wants to use Azure but needs to host its own data or is required to use a certain solution for hosting data, rather than hosting it within the Azure cloud, Azure’s Stack is here for this purpose. The Stack is purpose-built so that Azure services may operate from your existing server, rather than from within the Azure cloud server.

Infrastructure and platform services will be fully accessible. The construction and graphical interface is the same as the cloud version, runs as a unified application and deploys familiar development tools.

This service from Microsoft is generally referred to as a hybrid-cloud-computing-solution and in the case of Azure Stack, is fully compatible with Azure’s PaaS and SaaS services.

If a business has regulatory, privacy or special availability needs which require it to host its data on a particular kind of server or host, or if they require Azure private cloud setup for any reason, the Stack is the solution. It allows businesses to access Azure cloud computing services without moving their data away from their required hosting solution.

Cloud Container-Instances

A container is like a box that a DevOps team places things into such as programs, applications, saved-settings, plans, strategies and other critical information so that it is all together in the same place.

Developers use these boxes primarily because the software is compatible to any Linux, Windows, MacOS or virtually all operating systems and devices. This is due-to-the-fact that all of which the software requires is packed in with it.

These boxes, otherwise referred to by Developers as a Container, can be used anywhere. They are basically an operating system dedicated to a single program or application, which in turn reduces compatibility issues and other errors.

While these containers might sound similar to VM’s, they are different in that multiple containers may all be using one OS, library or bin. Leading to reduced costs and increased capability by two to three times that could be run on a VM.

Container Instances give the ability to operate from within these containers on the Azure cloud platforms and do not require a virtual machine or server to do so. This allows for more productive development time and the reallocation of computing power for other jobs.  

Common Azure Questions and Answers

 

Which programming languages is Azure compatible with?

Microsoft Azure supports a selection of languages which programmers are familiar with such as Java, Go, Python, Net PHP, Node.js & PowerShell. However, the availability of a aprticular language does depend on the segment of Azure where applications are being developed and initiated from. While every language is not compatible with every part of Azure, the current availability does provide users with a rare chance to enjoy such uncommon flexibility.

How secure are Cloud Services from Azure? (Azure cloud security features)

Microsoft knows that information technology must be private and secure, which is why they have spent a billion dollars annually on 24/7/365 monitoring and incident response services from security professionals.

Azure deploys an SDL, otherwise known as a security development lifecycle. The SDL reviews security at each stages of the Azure cloud development process. This makes it easy for Azure to be continually updated which leads to a higher level of security.

Supplementing the SDL is the OSA or operational security assurance which utilizes SDL statistics and other information and results in a scheme or structure that assists in supplying secure operations to cloud services.

Microsoft Active Directory is incorporated into Azure which enables a single sign on process giving access to Azure and other applications such as but not limited to MS O365. This feature is called Azure AD Connect and ensures local and cloud users are synched, has options to deal with complex authentication problems and comes with Azure AD Connect Health which keeps an eye on local identifications and contributes towards the synching process with Microsoft cloud security in mind.

Azure is designed to be cutting edge, a top of the line service. It is trusted by enterprise level businesses like Uber and Whole Foods, as well as non-profits and governmental agencies.

Is it possible to migrate a local or cloud server to the Azure cloud server?

Yes. 1CS provides the IT Services necessary to move existing data and processes to the cloud, including the Azure cloud computing platform. The first step includes an investigation of all existing applications, data and systems, a review of required performance, resulting in a list of steps written in priority sequence. Once the first step has been ironed out, 1CS’s team of cloud engineers and architects will be in the position to make the move from your existing server to Microsoft’s cloud solution for business. 1CS will oversee the transfer with as little disruption to the existing business environment as possible including the use of VM’s and data basement tools to ensure that performance and reliability are maintained throughout the process.

Does Azure offer machine learning tools?

Yes. Azure includes multiple services which enable the customer to utilize machine learnings.

For those unsure of what we mean by machine learning, we mean that there is a service whereby data can be privately analyzed, without being told to do so, as part of its standard operating procedure, in effort to understand the data, pull out the patterns which humans may not detect, and provide the information to a user to make better decisions. These services are:
The Machine Learning Studio 

A browser-application designed to allow authoring, constructing, initiating and collaborate with forecasting models in an efficient way.

Cognitive Services 

Use Microsoft cloud services to locate and implement features such as API keys. API tools and solution s can be setup and run from Azure to assist a cloud data architect or cloud engineer in better understanding their webpages, applications and bots with intelligent algorithms. This understanding increases an IT cloud architect’s “senses” which will lead to better interpretation of user needs and software statistics.
Chat bots 

Users may take advantage of Cognitive Services further by using Bot solutions help design, integrate, initiate and manage chat bots with efficacy. Chat bots enable the ability to interact with users on webpages, programs and third-party solutions.

Can Azure really manage Big Data efficiently?

Yes. Azure comes with HDInsight which may be stored in an Azure Storage Service or Azure Data Lake so that data has the option to be analyzed with Machine Learning. One can also utilize, Storm, HBase, Kafka and RServer.

Tips & Tricks: Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft’s Azure Portal

 

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