Man working on laptop in front of a data center

Microsoft Azure for the Evolving Midmarket Data Center

20 Apr 2016 by Jessica Hall

This article originally appeared on April 20, 2016, and has been revised to bring our readers the most up-to-date technology information.

The move to a hybrid environment is just one of the many trends currently impacting the evolution of data centers. As you think about making changes to your own infrastructure, consider what advancements are taking place that are particularly well-suited for the midmarket business, and how your company can take advantage of them.

If you have even begun to explore the integration of public cloud into your infrastructure, you have likely heard of the biggest player in town. Microsoft® Azure™, leverages more than a hundred data centers across the globe — more than any other public cloud provider — allowing you to rapidly scale. By the way, if you’re wondering about Microsoft Azure pronunciation, we’ve got our take on it for you here.

In this article, we’ll take a look at their offerings, including world-class security and support, and how to utilize the cloud-computing platform without completely replace your current infrastructure with a hybrid cloud approach. Like many companies, yours can use Microsoft cloud services as an extension of their existing infrastructure, running some workloads on premises and others in the Azure Cloud.

Get ready to work faster than ever.

The Microsoft Azure portal is very user friendly. The integrated solutions, templates and services of Azure ensure that developers and IT specialists can rapidly build and manage enterprise, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile and web applications using existing skills and familiar technology. Supporting the same technologies these professionals already use, it also enables you to leverage the broadest selection of databases, devices, frameworks, operating systems, programming languages and tools.

David Mayer, vice president of product management for software at Insight, adds, “Microsoft Azure is built upon the technology underpinnings of the company’s software stack. However, now you can run various different versions of Linux®, including Red Hat®, on Microsoft Azure, and they're starting to enable customers to host non-Microsoft-based applications within Azure.”

Consider the hybrid cloud.

Bridging the gap between traditional IT systems and a various types of cloud computing, the role of the data center is evolving. Mayer says that many are realizing the hybrid approach is the right approach. Many companies are moving workloads to the cloud, leveraging Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions. Before migrating applications, Mayer says to consider the cost, service delivery capabilities, time to market and management overhead before making a selection.

He adds, “You need to look at your environment on a workload-by-workload basis, weigh all the variables, consider the choice from a cost-savings perspective and determine the right approach.” Companies will look at the what, how, when and why in regards to the applications they need to move. Mayer says that the industry will see an upward tick in this trend in late 2016, with migrations to hybrid environments accelerating in 2017. DataCenterKnowledge.com predicts that this trend will continue to last until 2020.

Understand your systems so they can work together.

With many growing businesses moving to the cloud or hybrid environments, it’s imperative that you assess your systems before performing a migration. Mayer says that the greatest challenge for midmarket businesses is gaining an understanding of the intricacy of how solutions work with each other. He adds, “You need to be aware of all the data that gets exchanged between your ERP system and your reporting system and between your reporting system and your email system.”

Then, make a plan.

Midmarket companies should understand all the information that gets exchanged within their systems, determining what data is dependent upon what applications. Mayer states, “There’s a lot of work and planning associated with making sure that you don’t break any of those connections.” He adds, “As much as we would all like to just pick up the whole thing and drop it somewhere else, the reality is some applications will never move.”

Networking issues are also a critical concern for many companies as of late. Businesses are turning to private connection services like Microsoft Azure EzpressRoute or Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect to resolve those issues.

Act while it’s a buyer’s market.

Mayer points out that the cost of storage is decreasing as well as the cost of compute. He adds, “As cloud vendors scale, they are capable of delivering their service at a cheaper and cheaper cost.” With prices falling and capabilities rising, there’s never been a better time to move your data center to the cloud.

However, don’t base your decision solely on cost — consider which providers have staying power, too. As reported by DataCenterKnowledge.com, large telecommunications companies are now seeking to offload their extensive data center portfolios that were used to enter the cloud services market. Because cloud server providers like Azure, AWS and, to some degree, Google Cloud Platform™ have taken up the vast share of the market, it has become difficult for others to compete with their by-the-hour virtual compute offerings.

Leveraging our long-lasting partnership with Microsoft, we can help your midmarket company determine if Microsoft Azure is the best solution for you. Talk to a specialist to learn more.

A worry-free path to the cloud

Microsoft Azure makes it easy to build, deploy and manage applications.

Learn more