As part of my day job I was asked to write a short article explaining why I think organisations should consider Azure for there public cloud services.
At a very high level the five reasons, that I believe are part of a compelling growing argument are;
- Identity Management.
- Microsoft Trust Centre and Security.
- Azure App Service.
- Azure Service Bus.
- Azure Stack.
As you can imagine reducing the list of Azure services to just five bite size discussion topics was very tough. It is probably no surprise to those of you that follow this blog, that I prepared information about more than the five!
So after the brake and in no particular order, here are the Azure reasons and services than didn’t quite make the final article, which appears on Xtravirt’s website.
Visual Studio Team Services
With Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) Azure provides a solution to share code, track work and ship software for any language.
Scaled for both enterprise and small teams alike, VSTS is free for up to five users. Offering unlimited free private code repositories with either GIT or Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC). Tools to capture new features, track bugs, work items, feedback and backlogs. Designed to work with Scrum, Kanban or other Agile processes.
Continuous Integration and deployment, that allow you to catch quality issues earlier through build definitions, automatic compiling and testing. Tracking build health over time with integrated automatic deployment after a successful test pass.
Support for multiple development tools such as Visual Studio, Eclipse and GIT clients enable development in any language and with familiar development tools.
With impressive features and integrations VSTS is an ideal platform for taking control and managing code for both small teams and the enterprise alike
Azure Application Insights adds a powerful performance management and analytics service for your Azure hosted apps.
Offering performance monitoring, alerting and dashboard views for Azure apps and also websites hosted with other cloud vendors and on-premises. Helping ensure that your applications are available and performing. With customisable views that can detail how many customers are affected and perform a root cause analysis.
With data analysis and machine learning integration detecting trends in performance, behaviour, identifying usage patterns, anomalies, failures and changes becomes simple. With interactive queries and full text search functionality finding information is intuitive.
With Application Insights supporting the development lifecycle, information and visualisation of your Azure hosted services allows you to take control and manage performance.
Enterprise and On-Premises integration
There are few things consistent in the world of technology, one of the exceptions to that appears to be the need for more storage. Data keeps growing and the requirement to manage that data keeps growing with it.
StorSimple is a hybrid cloud storage solution for SMB and enterprise alike. Including both physical and virtual storage options for deployment into on-premises environments. The solution has the potential to fit use cases for both head office and branch services alike.
Maximum published configuration numbers include; tiered volume storage limit of 64 TB encompassing both cloud and local storage, throughput of 920/720 MB/s from the SSD tier over 10GbE, 120/250 MB/s for the HDD tier and 40/60 MB/s for the cloud tier.
The StorSimple solution is designed to move data through tiers of storage, archiving inactive primary data from SSD to HDD and then onward to Azure cloud storage. This provides a simple means by which to expand the available storage, without having to expand local arrays.
Additionally, cloud snapshot services provide off-site data protection, reducing and potentially removing the need to replicate to a secondary data centre. With policy based data protection, access to data in the event of a disaster is not constrained by tape availability or library capacity.
With SAN innovation continuing at pace and including tiering to cloud storage, why shouldn’t your cloud provider also be your storage provider?
Azure Security Centre
The Azure security centre provides a central view of the security state of your azure resources. With dashboards so you can verify at a glance that all appropriate security controls are in places and configured. With visualisations and integrations to PowerBI to assist in-depth analysis of security information.
Policy based configurations can be defined across Azure subscriptions and tailored to application type or security requirement. Policy driven recommendations can be used to guide and simplify the process of implementing required controls. Use policy based configuration to ensure that anything deployed to your Azure cloud meets security and compliance requirements.
With integrations to cloud security solutions from Microsoft and its partners, including firewall and anti-malware integrations. Use existing team skills and knowledge to manage cloud services. All whilst providing an aggregated view of the cloud security landscape.
Supported by Microsoft global threat intelligence and expertise, security centre helps you detect actual threats and reduce false positives. Whilst providing insights into any attacks and plans for rapid remediation.
Segmentation is not a new concept, with traditional reliance upon VLANS and firewalls to provide logical isolation and control traffic between networks and devices. With Network Security Groups (NSG) in Azure you can apply logical segmentation between devices at the virtual network, subnet or virtual machine NIC level.
Using NSGs to provide network access control you can group resources that belong in the same security zone into their own subnet. So far great, but this is following the traditional model described above. However, we can also apply and manage NSGs at the virtual machine NIC level to achieve micro segmentation. As a configuration, it’s something that would need to be carefully managed, to ensure that rules between virtual network, subnets and virtual machine NICs correlate.
With the complexity of managing this configuration, for large environments I would suggest utilising Azure virtual network appliances to manage the segmentation.
For smaller implementations and requirements, micro segmentation with NSGs coupled with network-watcher provides a robust Azure native solution.
So that rounds up the additional elements that I’d considered for inclusion in the Xtravirt Article.
To find out more about Microsoft Azure and how you can benefit from Xtravirt’s Cloud services, please contact Xtravirt and they’ll be happy to use a wealth of knowledge and experience to assist you.
All the best
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