Do you still remember the very first time you have had your hands on a mobile phone? I sure do. Because back in those days, you need to sign up with a mobile phone service provider to have a phone and use their service. You choose from the different plans available from the service provider based on your preferences and usage history. My challenge back then was I paid more for a plan with more minutes of airtime than I actually need. And if I decide to downgrade the plan but would require more minutes, I still get charged more for overage.
If you look at the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an IT resource, the biggest bulk of it comes from capital expenditures – hardware, software licenses and human resources. Imagine having to build a data center from scratch – you have to architect the design (human resource,) buy the hardware and software licenses and eventually install and configure. That doesn’t even include the time it takes roll out the solution into a fully functional system.
You wonder why the cloud has such an appeal to the business decision maker. While IT assets have become a necessity to improve business processes, we’re not in the business of building and supporting IT resources (not unless you work for companies like IBM, HP, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc.) Organizations aim to lower down the cost of acquiring IT assets while maximizing their productivity benefits. Here are five (5) reasons why Microsoft Azure can be a cost effective data center solution for small and medium-sized businesses.
- You dictate when you get your IT resources. Tired of waiting for the whole procurement processes? Even small and medium-sized businesses are affected by this. Resellers will tell you when your order will be available and when it will be delivered. Remember the hard drive shortage of 2012? Even the big players like EMC and Hitachi could not fulfill the requirements due to the shortage. With Microsoft Azure, you can get a server in less than 20 minutes, depending on the configuration you would like. No more waiting for days to provision a server for your online store.
- You decide how your bill would look like. Compare the cloud with the traditional way of building data centers or acquiring IT assets, your costs will be very different. Instead of having to pay upfront for the resources, you take advantage of the pay-as-you-use model. Want a server with 12 CPU cores, 32 GB of memory and fast SSD storage running SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition? That’s all that you have to pay for. Microsoft will take care of the underlying networking and maintenance.
- You determine if you need to increase your IT assets. Launching a product but not sure how much traffic your marketing campaign will generate? In the past, you are stuck with over-provisioning hardware and software resources in the hopes that your investments will allow for growth. If you under-provision your resources, you run the risk of losing potential customers. Microsoft Azure’s scalable architecture allows for the flexibility to scale up or down your IT resources depending on the workload demands. And, depending on the service that you choose – be it the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – you can even do so without the downtime. So, if your online store is experiencing a massive amount of requests, scaling up can be as easy as clocking thru the Microsoft Azure portal or even automated using Windows PowerShell or Azure Automation.
- You define your pace of innovation. A lot of successful startups and small businesses depend on technology to sustain their growth. Companies like AirBnB, Uber and NetFlix started leveraging the existing technologies to become successful. You’re probably aware that analytics and business intelligence has been and still is a hot topic in organizations because it allows for quicker decision making based on data. But if you have to rely on internal resources to build analytical models when you don’t even have a full time IT staff, it would take some time to leverage the availability of technologies. Microsoft Azure has these capabilities that organizations can use – Azure SQL Data warehouse for building and running data warehouses, Power BI for providing interactive visualization tools, Azure SQL Database with elastic scale for dynamic workload demands and many more.
- You depend on a reliable platform. As your organization grows, high availability and disaster recovery become a priority. I’m a bit biased because this is my field of expertise. But when you need to keep your IT assets highly available and make sure that your customer data secure, it comes as a cost. Microsoft Azure’s Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings are highly available, by default. I use Azure SQL Database as an example for this purpose. Any database you create in Azure SQL Database will automatically have three local copies for redundancy. If you want to have it replicated across different geographical locations for even better resiliency, you can sign up for the active geo-replication feature.
These are just some of the options available from Microsoft Azure that give you the flexibility of provisioning IT resources at your own pace depending on your goals and budget.
Not sure if Microsoft Azure is for your organization, you can sign up for a free trial to test it out.
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