It’s hard to beat the benefits of Microsoft Azure, especially for companies already heavily invested in other Microsoft products. In fact, in early 2020, CNBC reported that Microsoft continued to lead the pack as one of the most popular suppliers of public cloud services, especially with larger companies.
But as they say, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and the power of Azure is no exception. As a customizable and flexible cloud service, it also requires expertise and commitment to develop, configure and maintain one’s Azure cloud.
Once you’ve made the investment in Azure, you may find yourself unexpectedly encountering the following five challenging scenarios.
1. Large and Complex Migrations
Depending on which systems you’re moving to Azure, you could have a pretty hefty lift on your hands. If you are, for example, migrating your entire database infrastructure to Azure- your data warehouse into Azure Synapse; your analytics in Power BI, or any other combinations thereof, it is imperative that the appropriate level of planning is undertaken before moving your databases, applications, or services to Azure.
Microsoft does provide some good general resources for a migration of any size, with recommendations for strategizing, planning, optimizing, and modernizing your migration. Their documentation will be very helpful in the pre-planning stages as you attempt to get your arms around your vision as a whole. But complex projects like this require rigorous planning, staggered migration timelines, and thorough follow-through to ensure successful execution of plans. It’s an all-hands-on-deck initiative that can span many months or even years.
Because Azure is so versatile, you can leverage the extensive integration capabilities with a wide range of applications, tools, and services. This means that you have a lot of integration points to manage and a lot of details to track as you attempt to connect all the pieces. Detailed planning, tracking, and testing are vital as you attempt to ensure that all the dots are thoroughly connected – and that you don’t get caught up in troubleshooting once you go live. This can be particularly challenging when building a hybrid environment.
Azure has several tools to help you on your journey to connectedness like Logic Apps, Service Bus, and API Management to name a few, and these can go a long way in reducing the amount of time you put into integrations. Overall, Azure is well-positioned to function optimally with on-premises systems, but you have to build a process that takes advantage of human and technological resources to keep all your ducks in a row.
3. Unusual Uses and Applications
The beauty of Microsoft Azure is that it has both breadth and depth – it is the right solution for so many different situations, even obscure ones. The downside of this is that unique deployments of Azure won’t have clear-cut strategies and steps for implementation and management. You’ll be able to stretch and flex in many new and interesting ways, but without an experienced partner to help, you may find that trial-and-error and Bing searches leave you frustrated and lost. The more services you take advantage of, the greater chance that you’ll need help and direction along the way.
Here’s an interesting example of this from the Microsoft Ignite conference in March 2021. They discuss using agile development, automated deployments, infrastructure as code, and Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates to manage a complex migration.
4. Administration and Monitoring
Many an IT Director has assumed that administration and monitoring come with the Azure platform, and have found themselves under-resourced when the engine is up and running. While the cloud takes many day-to-day administrative tasks off an IT department’s plate, it may actually increase the management hours required to keep those services running and stabilized. In the case of Azure, its administration and monitoring capabilities are scattered throughout the various components and services, so you will need to be sure you have the talent who can holistically stay on top of everything.
5. Application Modernization
Your initial focus when migrating to Azure will be simply getting it up and running so your users can start taking advantage of the benefits as soon as possible. But what about further down the road? Technology advancements move quickly, and you will certainly find yourself facing a modernization project in the near future. While this challenge might not hit you until further down the road, the time to prepare is now; get the right people, partners, and resources on board so you’re prepared for the changes to come.
Datavail was contracted to help an organization in a similar situation. An international multi-campus college based in Canada needed help modernizing their student portal – built on Microsoft Azure – to enable self-service, greater efficiency, and additional strategic features. You can read the details of the case study to learn how the college worked with Datavail to bring their Azure-based portal into the 21st century.
Microsoft Azure Cloud has a lot to offer companies of all sizes with its infrastructure, platform, and software as a service offerings. You may recognize the challenges above from your own experiences, or you may be wondering how you will combat these challenges as you begin your journey with Azure. To get answers to your questions, download our white paper, “5 Companies That Solved Common Challenges with Azure Cloud.”
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