Microsoft Azure for hosting and support
We’ve been running ‘traditional’ web application hosting and support for our clients for over a decade now and this has served us and our clients well. However, there are some downsides to this approach for hosting which are a lack of flexibility and limited options for disaster recovery.
The lack of flexibility began to present itself as a big challenge for us and our clients. This was due to the age of the systems we were hosting, and the usage patterns which have naturally changed over time too.
This adversely affected our ability to respond in a quick and nimble way to our client’s needs – something which we like to pride ourselves on.
To allay these problems, we decided to migrate our infrastructure to Azure. Whilst this sounds like a painful task, it was relatively straight forward. As our original servers were virtual machines, running on VMware, Microsoft have made it very easy to migrate those servers with a lift-n-shift approach.
We were able to use the free Azure Migrate tools that Microsoft provide, which automated the majority of the work needed to migrate the servers.
From the outside looking in, there isn’t much of a visible difference between the VMs on the old infrastructure and the new VMs on Azure, only a new set of public IP addresses.
The benefits are immediately clear to see.
- A much more flexible infrastructure, allowing us to more easily provision for more capacity should our clients need it or, reduce capacity and turn off services for periods of time whilst they are not using them. We previously did not have the ability to do this without incurring unnecessary costs.
- The backup and recovery options are much more integrated into the management experience, all handled through the convenient Azure portal.
- Additionally, it’s also made the process of running BCP (Business Continuity Process) rehearsals and testing the DR approach easier due to the very well-integrated DR toolset. This was previously very time consuming due to the mixture of tools and technologies needed to provide a similar experience that comes out of the box with Azure.
- The move has allowed us to consolidate our skillset as we were supporting more and more systems built directly for the cloud. By moving our existing hosting infrastructure to Azure, we’ve gained more expertise in the underlying technologies, fixing issues faster and ultimately providing our clients with a better experience.
However, this hasn’t been a trivial task. We had to carefully size up and cost out the infrastructure that we’d need in Azure and compare this to the facilities in our previous hosting infrastructure. We ran benchmarks of the systems on both the old and new infrastructure to ensure they would provide the same level of performance.
Overall, migrating to Azure has given us many benefits. Primarily we now have much more flexibility to scale both up and down depending on clients’ requirement. We also have much more confidence in the BCP solution that we have in place, and to boot we may also see cost savings over the fixed cost of our existing infrastructure.
If you’d like to discuss how Azure could benefit your business and its flexible working solutions then we’d love to hear from you.