Blog posts on the subject of cloud computing by management and developers at Optimus Information Inc.

Cloud adoption is growing rapidly as enterprises become more comfortable with the concept and understand the advantages and how to mitigate the disadvantages.

Learn about the benefits of cloud computing for enterprise, some of the pitfalls to adopting cloud computing in an enterprise setting and how to deal with those pitfalls so your cloud computing experience is a positive one.

Five Core Principles to Simplify Public Cloud Management

public-cloud-e1614288447834 Five Core Principles to Simplify Public Cloud Management

The Challenge of Managing Public Cloud Platforms

Migration to a cloud-native framework has been at the center of digital transformation for many organizations over the past couple of years, and this trend is on the rise. In particular, Public Cloud offerings are extensively getting adopted since they make applications highly scalable, easily accessible with an internet connection, and secure without the efforts of managing infrastructure. This however remains dependent on a proper migration to the public cloud that ensures a seamless transition, reduced costs, and enhanced operational excellence. 

While there are several benefits of migrating to a public cloud, the migration in itself may also bring a set of challenges related to governance, security, and resource optimization. This is often because, when migrating to a public cloud, organizations use different solutions to host different functions and applications. Such a model may also introduce unseen operational complexities and hidden costs. As a result, it is strongly advised that organizations weigh their options well, and take a pragmatic approach to manage both the transition and operations of their public cloud instance. 

In this article, let us explore the five best practices to make the most of your public cloud platform.

Core Principles to Simplify Public Cloud Management

1. Embracing Automation

Public cloud adoption calls for quick and responsive applications that require repetitive and time-consuming management tasks. This is specifically true with respect to public cloud offerings, where businesses could be using a combination of different compute resources from different vendors. In such scenarios, the cloud management experience becomes much simpler if organizations embrace smart automation to enable, deploy, and update applications autonomously. 

To do so, it is important to adopt DevOps practices that simplify the management of cloud-hosted applications. Besides reducing repetitive workloads, automated processes reduce the human error element in cloud management, making applications highly efficient, reliable, and available. By automating workflow processes, IT staff and resources can be directed toward activities that add business value and improve the overall operational experience.

2. Focus on Security and Governance

Data privacy and security remain a chief concern among cloud service providers, IT developers & operators, application end-users, and business managers. This asks for the need to leverage cloud-centric tools that enforce authorization, validation, and authentication across all users and devices accessing the cloud network. 

To help with this, it is recommended to take advantage of out-of-the-box solutions like Identity and Access Management (IAM) available in Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS. Using these ensures only intended users gain access to specific services of your cloud ecosystem. Other security and governance tools organizations can consider include: 

  • Role Based Access Control (RBAC), 
  • Single Sign-On (SSO), and 
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

Additionally, organizations should also put in place security management and enforcement policies to ensure security incidents do not interfere with operations. System and Performance Monitors also act as essential services that help manage assets that interact with the cloud ecosystem. 

3. Use a Consolidated Platform for Visibility and Monitoring

A Public Cloud Ecosystem consists of several interdependent assets, often managed by different vendors. Managed Public Cloud vendors typically offer a single pane of glass– a dashboard that helps to monitor all services and assets running in the cloud framework. This eliminates the need to learn how to navigate the interfaces of all these services, making monitoring and management simple for both operators and developers. 

Using a single pane of glass dashboard also helps you compare prices and performance of services offered by different vendors, allowing greater insights on cost savings and optimization. This also allows you to familiarize yourself with the core concepts of various tools within the cloud platform, eventually helping to manage applications more effectively. Microsoft Azure Monitor, Amazon CloudWatch, and BMC TrueSight are some popular dashboard solutions that help to improve a hosted applications’ observability and management.

4. Plan for Continuous Integration and Development

Cloud Resources are built to scale up and down seamlessly with changes in workload. This makes migrating the massive number of technologies and tools as one of the greatest challenges to public cloud adoption. For the same reason, it is important to start with a Minimum Viable Cloud – the starting point for your migration, and a platform that can be used to continuously improve as you build your ecosystem. This also helps to generate an understanding of the cloud platform’s fundamental concept, while ensuring that there is no service downtime. Once a benchmark is defined, an automated workflow should be set up to continuously improve the application and infrastructure by matching changes in consumption patterns and computing technology. 

5. Optimize Resource Costs and Consumption

A major part of public cloud management involves eliminating wastage, identifying & eliminating mismanaged resources, and right-sizing compute constructs. Public cloud providers like AWS and Azure charge clients for allocated resources, whether these are in use or not. Unsurprisingly, organizations typically amass charges through unattached and unused resources. 

It is, therefore, important to ensure you reserve (and eventually pay) only for the resources you use. Besides picking the right size of computing instances, it is also important to observe trends in resource usage using tools such as a Heatmap. These resources can then be provisioned accordingly to support peak performance of the hosted application. 

Investing in Reserve and Spot instances also helps reduce expenses on computing resources offered by public cloud vendors. For complex setups, another way is to use a Multi-cloud architecture that helps avoid vendor lock-in while keeping budgets flexible.

 

Closing Thoughts

Above are some of the key principles that allow an organization to get the most out of a public cloud platform. While use cases for organizations may differ, the goal is always to achieve fast, reliable, and responsive applications with limited risk, at a reduced cost. It is recommended, however, to pair these practices with the right tools, processes, and people for a successful implementation of a cloud-native setup.  

 

Top 5 Cloud Adoption Pitfalls

iot-3337536_1280 Top 5 Cloud Adoption Pitfalls

What are some pitfalls you can avoid in your cloud adoption journey?

Digital transformation is the evolution of business because it embraces the necessity of change. Cloud adoption is a pivotal and typical step in the digital transformation journey. However, if not implemented correctly, there are many potential pitfalls you can encounter. In a recent webinar with Betty Rhiger, CTO of Microsoft Canada’s One Commercial Partner, she discussed common cloud adoption pitfalls and how to avoid them

1. Not Defining the Outcome

During the cloud adoption journey, business will sometimes feel like they are not achieving what they wanted. Often, this is because they didn’t clearly define what digital transformation meant for their organization or what specific outcomes they wanted to achieve. These outcomes are not necessarily technology outcomes, but they could include improving speed to market, agility, and employee engagement. Regardless of the outcome you’re after, it is important to define these outcomes from the beginning because it will change the workload, your plan, and what you’re measuring your success against.

2. Not Assessing who is invested

Major roadblocks can be encountered if you don’t have the buy-in from your stakeholders: customers, investors, your team, etc. Who will be impacted and who is invested? 

Also to avoid cloud adoption pitfalls, be sure to evaluate your team and see if they have the skills to adopt the cloud. Building a skills readiness plan is also recommended. This helps identify how and which team members should be reskilled or where you want to get the support of a third party.

3. Overlooking the details

Now that you have identified your outcomes and developed a strategy and plan, some businesses forget about the details such as the environment setup, architecture framework, and landing zone. Moving to the cloud can save money if it’s done properly. But, companies make assumptions that overlook these details, and it can end up being costly. Know your details, migrate and modernize properly, and save money. 

4. Not Maintaining the Same Quality

Cloud adoption requires adjustments, but don’t sacrifice quality along the way. Regardless of whether you are adapting existing offerings or building new ones, have a plan to ensure you are maintaining the quality of your application or service. To avoid this cloud adoption pitfall, ask yourself: Do you know what the quality was before? How might these changes create a dip in quality and impact your user experience? Making a change for the newest and “coolest” technology won’t work if your users don’t know how to use it. 

5. Not Incorporating Governance Early 

Governance underpins everything. Controls, compliance, security are all needed in a cloud environment. Even if you are using SaaS, where users are not responsible for hardware or software updates, that doesn’t mean you are handing all support over to the cloud provider. For example, you will have to think about how you will incorporate new releases. What functionality will you use or not use? If data is being pulled out of that app and being used somewhere else, are you still staying compliant? Governance should be in place early and any feedback and learnings should be incorporated into your iterative process. 

 

What is Multi-Factor Authentication and Why Should You Have it?

what-is-multifactor-authentication-1500x630 What is Multi-Factor Authentication and Why Should You Have it?

The Status Quo: Single Factor Authentication

You’re probably familiar with normal authentication by now. It’s made up of typically two things: your username and password. And if you know your username and password, you can get into a site, right? It’s a good basic first level of security. But if you happen to use that same username and password somewhere else, and that site gets compromised, it can be used to compromise other sites where you happen to use those same credentials. And if we’re being honest, those credentials can often be guessed again and again. So single-factor authentication has some limitations, and it’s easy for accounts to be hacked. The solution? Multi-factor authentication.

The Future: Multi-Factor Authentication

So what is multi-factor authentication (MFA)? It combines two or more different factors, typically something only you would know or have. Bank cards are a great analogy in this situation. If you think about your traditional bank card, you need your bank card as well as your pin. Having your bank card alone doesn’t get your cash out of the machine and neither does having your pin alone. You have to have the two of those things in combination. This combined layer of security adds a layer that makes it much harder to compromise. 

Authenticator Applications

There are two classic applications of MFA these days. In addition to your username and password, the site might send you a text message to your phone. This way you have to enter a code in order to authenticate. Although better than single factor authentication, it does have its weaknesses. It can be compromised by someone taking over your phone number or intercepting a message. This would be considered the weaker form of MFA. The stronger of the two would be an authenticator application that runs on your phone and generates codes on a regular basis. This way you have to know your username and password, but also must have access to the exact device at the time of login. 

Why Should You Use Multi-Factor Authentication?

MFA is the best thing that individual users can do to protect themselves. Google and Microsoft have both independently done studies on the effectiveness of adding MFA to protect your accounts. Their findings? It increases the effectiveness of your security by over 99%. In simpler words, it reduces the likelihood of a successful attack to less than 1% of what it would otherwise be. In security, we’re a big believer there’s no such thing as a silver bullet, but multi-factor authentication is as close as it comes. And it’s effectively zero cost for the sites that support it. 

Watch the video from our webinar about Cloud Security Best Practices to learn more about MFA and other ways to stay safe from cybersecurity threats. 

The Digital Transformation Journey of a Vancouver based eCommerce Retailer

key-business-success-1500x630 The Digital Transformation Journey of a Vancouver based eCommerce Retailer

What’s behind most successful businesses nowadays? We’d argue the key is a solid data centre, cloud base, and vision. While communication and office culture are both integral in a thriving business, it helps to have an online space that encompasses it all. Recently we hosted a “Digital Transformation Journey with Azure” webinar with Riz Somji. As the CEO of Cymax Group, one of the fastest online furniture retailers, he was more than qualified to discuss many key points of his experiences: community, data storage and digital transformation being a few. Keep reading to hear the highlights of the event. 

People, Culture, and the Need for a Top-Down Buy In:

Vision and strategy are two of the most integral parts of the digital transformation journey. When Cymax first started, most sales were driven by ad revenue. But soon the team realized that they really needed to take a bold move to be data driven. Instead of finding data and working from that, they needed a top down model. They soon had a stronger, more sound foundation. As Somji shares during the webinar, people need to drive the transformation. Everyone should imagine the vision and comprehend the strategy before sponsorship even begins. 

Data-Driven Organization: 

How is Cymax using data to help improve their business? First off, as Somji tells us, everyone needs to have the software and understand how the analytics work. Implementing a dashboarding tool, such as PowerBI, is also a good choice. For Cymax, every part of the company was focussing on data to drive decisions during the digital transformation journey. True, at the beginning analytics were inconsistent because everyone had different perspectives of which data was crucial or not. But soon after, the company decided to just have one source of data and proof. Enter: data warehousing. Now they could have data cleaned as it came in. The newest development? They’re working on linking data to people’s own objectives and jobs. It’s a cross functional view, as Somji describes it. And it’s more efficient. They used to have 120 people in the call centre. Now they are down to only 30 people. And the sales? Well, they’ve tripled. 

A Digital Transformation Journey with Azure and Microsoft: 

For Cymax, because everyone was motivated to undergo the transformation process, they got their migration done and moved over to Office 365 in the span of a couple weeks. Crazy? We know. Microsoft supported them on this journey to the cloud as well, providing investment funds, strategic directions and more. Somji explained that because Cymax is such a dynamic company, using Azure kept everyone’s energy levels high. Because Azure DevOps is constantly evolving, the team stayed interested and had a really positive experience. For them, they understood that servicing technical debt is too much work, so using the cloud would save not only time but also money.

Where are They Investing Next and Why?:

So what is a company like Cymax planning on investing their money in next? There are really 2 main categories: artificial intelligence and machine learning. Both provide added value to them but also their vendors. They’re looking for AI and ML engineers to help them integrate the processes into production. In the past, they had a pricing engine that priced products in real time. Sound slow? Well it was. And considering that they were competing against so many other sellers, this was less than ideal. But now, they’re looking to use AI and ML for image optimization. This way they can look at damaged products, and using technology find out where the product inconsistency is. Instead of having back and forth conversations with vendors, they can share their learnings, and improve product quality. 

Digital transformation is the way to the future. It ensures that your business is online in the upcoming times, especially important as everything has been remote lately. If digital transformation is something you’re interested in, contact us at Optimus here.

 

5 Do’s and Don’ts to Succeed at Digital Transformation

dos-and-donts-to-succeed-at-digital-transformation-scaled 5 Do’s and Don’ts to Succeed at Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has been a hot topic for a long time, and for good reason, but what are some do’s and don’ts to succeed at it? If you haven’t had a chance to implement it, you may be worried. In a study by The International Data Corporation (IDC), they estimated that there is a $20 trillion market opportunity over the next five years. A survey done in 2019 gives jarring results to go along with these statistics. 64% of business leaders fear that they have less than 4 years to undergo digital transformation or they may go out of business. According to Harvard Business Review, 52% of Fortune 500 companies that existed in 2000, are no longer in existence today. The reason? It was because they couldn’t keep up with the way the world was transforming. So why is it so crucial to overcome the fears of being behind, and just go for it? We will highlight why it’s so important but also how you can take steps to integrate it to your advantage, through our 5 do’s and don’ts to succeed at digital transformation.

Digital transformation is important but is it too late to implement it? More importantly, how can you succeed?

So why is digital transformation so critical? If you haven’t already checked out our other blogs on digital transformation, they are a great first step to learning about the topic. Check out one of our favourites here. Digital transformation is about more than just taking your business online. It encapsulates all aspects of business, whether that be management or data storage, and makes it accessible, secure, and timeless. It’s been talked about for a while, and so it’s natural to feel late in the game if you’re only starting out now. But this isn’t actually the case! Digital transformation is an ever-evolving process and it’s better late than never. There are steps to take on this journey, so keep reading if you want to learn more. 

5 do’s and don’ts to succeed at digital transformation:

Procurement

DON’T: Don’t buy what you’re not going to use. Don’t procure cloud like you procured software in the 2000s. The old model/way of thinking is to put more money on the table to get a bigger discount. Cloud providers have built-in services that are intended to help you save money by allowing you to turn things on when you are using them and turn them off when you’re not. So there’s no need to put a lot of money upfront with a 12-month expiry to get a discount. You could just end up throwing away money that you won’t use. Instead, you can employ the pay as you go model, and save yourself a lot of overhead costs.
DO: So what should you do? Work with your vendor. The old mentality is that organizations don’t want to work with their vendors, want to isolate themselves, and just try to get bigger discounts. Public cloud vendors are willing to help you with your setup and how to best use their services to achieve your business outcomes. Leverage auto scale and off features that dynamically allocate your resources and optimize your cost to stay within budget. Essentially: if you’re not using it, turn it off.

Multi-Cloud vs. Single Cloud

DON’T: There’s no need to go multi-cloud just because. There’s fear about vendor lock-in. If you are going to go multi-cloud know your reason why. Going multi-cloud when you are a small organization or early in the cloud adoption journey can just slow you down because you are mixing in additional complexities and adding new services for your team to learn.
DO: So what are your alternative options? Adopt one cloud and do it well first before you adopt any others. Leverage Platform as a Service from cloud providers. It saves you time because these services are pre-built and you can start using them immediately. 

Actual Innovation

DON’T: This one is short and sweet. When undergoing digital transformation don’t just have a recreation of your on-premise work, keeping arbitrary ancient rules for no reason.           DO: Instead, challenge your team to reach the bounds of what they can do and embrace automation. 

Learning and Growth

DON’T: The previous point being said, don’t replace your hard working experts with automation.
DO: As a replacement, invest in learning and don’t expect it to happen automatically. Encouraging agility and innovation during this process is crucial. Automation is important, but only in conjunction with new learning. 

Security and Trust

DON’T: Finally don’t treat your network like a security boundary. Using the same network that you used in 2010 doesn’t do you any favours. And don’t expect that you’ll find your perfect match in terms of frameworks and diagnostics tools on your first try.
DO: Try to iterate governance and improve each time. Aim for progress over time.

Do you need a partner with Azure or digital transformation expertise?

Want guidance on finding a strategy and determining a roadmap? We at Optimus understand the needs of each company, and are an extension of your organization. We will use our expertise in Azure and the Cloud Adoption Framework to successfully guide you through your digital transformation, no matter where you are on your journey. To learn more and set up a complimentary discovery session, click here

 

Why Implementing a Cloud Management Service is Crucial: The Benefits of CloudCheckr

Financial-analuze-powerbi-300x225 Why Implementing a Cloud Management Service is Crucial: The Benefits of CloudCheckr

Have you read extensively about digital transformation? And read all about how to take your business to the cloud, upping your game? We have, too. But we want to let you in on a secret weapon of sorts. Yes, you heard us right. It’s something that’s understated but will make a monumental difference in your day to day operations. CloudCheckr, a comprehensive cloud management platform, provides total visibility and deep insight, as well as cloud automation and governance. Intrigued? We were, too. Read on to learn why CloudCheckr is the simplest path to your technological future. 

What Is CloudCheckr?

CloudCheckr is a management platform that aims to give comprehensive cost and security to all of your cloud services. An Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Technology Partner with Security and Governance competencies, the platform simplifies and contextualizes data from your public cloud services into actionable insights. As well as this, it works on Azure and other public clouds such as GCP. What does this mean? A clearly organized, visual platform that shows you where your resources are going, all while integrating over 500 Best Practice Checks.  

How We At Optimus Integrate CloudCheckr:

Not only do we at Optimus use CloudCheckr in our daily workings, we also want our clients to gain the same benefits. Our offer? When Optimus is your Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP), CloudCheckr comes included. 

What Are the Benefits of Using It?

So what’s so good about the platform? We’ll tell you. Being a multifaceted platform, they have everything you need to manage and allocate costs, optimize spending, and regulate your finances. They relay usage reports in easily readable dashboards for all members of your team, curated whenever you want them, whether that’s weekly or monthly. 

With emerging public cloud security challenges arising in the near future, a cloud management platform such as CloudCheckr can help you attain the financial benefits you were promised. They are the next step to complete digital transformation and success. They can ensure that your cloud infrastructure is audit ready for 35 regulatory standards. This allows no room for error. It’s a completely scalable service that can keep up with your rapidly expanding environment and provides detailed usage statistics for resources across Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. 

Challenges You May Be Facing In Its Absence:

Of course, using a platform such as CloudCheckr isn’t necessary. But perhaps it should be? When optimizing costs on your own, a lot of issues easily arise. Keeping an enterprise wide inventory gets complicated fast, and assets can slip through the cracks, creating almost undetectable leaks in your system. This is money that could have been re-allocated to optimize workloads. 

 

For more information, contact us.

 

 

Digital Transformation in a Nutshell: Understanding Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure

Digital-Transformation-Clooud-Adoption-300x188 Digital Transformation in a Nutshell: Understanding Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure

What is digital transformation? We’re hearing a lot about it these days, and especially more in the seemingly strange “apocalyptic” era that’s taking place right now. There has never been a time in history that there has been such a need for the Cloud. As we navigate through this uncharted territory and wonder how on earth people managed to live with so much uncertainty in the past, most of us have found solace in virtual connection. Now don’t get us wrong, we encourage and embrace the outdoors and passions that don’t require a screen in front of our eyes; however, right now, the only way to connect with those outside our household is virtually. We are all gravitating towards supporting people and programs that allow us to do that. 

So how is it that some businesses are now elevated among the rest? It’s simple. Digital transformation. Those who have taken their passions and programs to the Cloud, and done so successfully, are experiencing lower levels of strain at this time. But how can you or your business embrace digital transformation? We’re here to tell you about Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure, and how it urges you to look at business objectives before jumping right into your transformation. This framework is crucial in adopting the Cloud successfully. 

What is the Cloud Adoption Framework?

It was developed by Microsoft as the One Microsoft approach to Cloud adoption in Azure. Sharing guidelines from Microsoft professionals and customers across the board, this framework aims to educate on the best practices to drive desired business outcomes. It uses a cloud adoption lifecycle, providing the full lifecycle framework with detailed steps and tips along the way. Put simply? Your ticket to digital transformation, outlined by the best in the game, packaged up and wrapped in a bow. 

Why is it Crucial for the Successful Adoption of Cloud?

A lot of people want quick results on projects without really delving into the process and examining why they’re doing what they are doing. We strongly believe that this framework should be a crucial part of your process going forward. Sure, it might be “easier” to skip the “why” questions and favour how you will move to the Cloud… but this framework makes you look at what business goals you are intent on achieving and aids in creating a plan. This is an integral part of long term success when adopting the Cloud. Microsoft defines cloud adoption as “[…] a means to an end. Successful cloud adoption starts well before a cloud platform vendor is selected. It begins when business and IT decision makers realize that the cloud can accelerate a specific business transformation objective. The Cloud Adoption Framework can help them align strategies for business, culture, and technical change to achieve their desired business outcomes.” 

We at Optimus use the Cloud Adoption Framework in our own work extensively. While planning with clients, we adopt this framework to move them to Azure because it encourages best practices and makes our clients’ cloud adoption successful. 

How to Get Started

Is your team new to this framework? An easy way to get going is to read “Get started with the Cloud Adoption Framework”, an article by Microsoft explaining how to begin your Cloud migration journey with Azure. It will walk you through the entire process while outlining best practices. From outlining how to look at your “motivations” or goals, to defining methodology, this guide has you covered on all bases. 

Find out how to implement Microsoft Azure in your business by contacting us at Optimus. Don’t miss out on the chance to take your business to the Cloud.

 

 

 

4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

Imagine you return to the office on Monday morning and discover a mysterious spike in your Azure consumption. You are now significantly over your monthly budget. As you feel a headache forming, you ask yourself: “Wasn’t moving to the cloud supposed to reduce spending?”

Here are 4 easy and basic actions you can take to prevent a run-away Azure cost incident.

1. Delete or deactivate unused resources

According to Microsoft, “The challenge with cloud computing is that once you flip the switch on, the meter keeps running until you switch it off” (Aleenah Ansari). You don’t leave the heat on when you take a weekend trip. So, why would you pay for unused resources in the cloud? Part of optimizing for cloud is deleting all unused resources so you are not unknowingly incurring cost on an unused resource that is still active. If the resource needs to be kept, place the resource in a free or low-cost configuration (for example, a dev or test configuration which automatically starts at a lower price tier). 

Read this article to learn more about how to optimize your cloud investment with Azure Cost Management.

2. Create subscription budgets and alerts

Just like managing your own personal finances, you can set limits for your Azure budget. Microsoft  Azure allows you to set alerts and thresholds to monitor your budget based on cost or usage. You can even set up an automatic trigger when a given budget threshold is reached. For example, you can notify operations staff, trigger VMs to shut down, or you can move your infrastructure to a different pricing tier when you hit a certain budget.

As a best practice, it is important to review your budget regularly to see how much you have spent and to make proactive changes if needed. Use this tutorial to create and manage Azure budgets.

monthly-budget01-1030x624 4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

Based on the fields chosen in the budget a graph is shown to help you select a threshold to use for your budget.

3. Use management groups to roll-up observation across all subscriptions

Modern TV streaming services give you parental controls to easily see who’s watching what and manage who should be allowed to watch what. Azure offers a similar feature to easily and efficiently manage multiple subscriptions within your organization. Azure management groups allow you to manage access, policies, and compliance of those subscriptions by providing a level of scope above subscriptions.  

Once you have organized your subscriptions into containers called ‘management groups’, you can apply your governance conditions to all your subscriptions in that management group. Note: All subscriptions within a single management group must trust the same Azure Active Directory tenant. However, once they do, the costs from individual subscriptions can also be rolled up to the containing management group, allowing for convenient budget monitoring and alerting across multiple subscriptions.

Root_Management_Group-1030x635 4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

Azure management group hierarchy.

4. Improve system monitoring, alerts, and notifications

Your smartwatch counts your steps, monitors your sleep habits, and notifies you when you’ve been sitting too long. Wouldn’t it be nice if you received similar alerts about your Azure account? Using tools like Azure Monitor and Application Insights can help you understand how your applications are performing and can even proactively identify issues affecting them and the resources they depend on.

Azure Monitor can be used to monitor the availability, performance, and usage of your web applications. Alerts in Azure Monitor also notify you of critical conditions by sending a text or email to an administrator responsible for investigating an issue. Alerts can also attempt to take corrective action, such as launching an automated process that attempts to correct an error condition.

Azure_Monitor-1030x567 4 Tips to Prevent “Run-Away” Azure Costs

A high-level view of Azure Monitor.

Managing a cloud tenant can have unexpected challenges. However, using these features from Azure will help you maximize your cloud infrastructure without extending your budget. Reach out to us if you want to learn more about optimizing your Azure infrastructure.

 

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Q&A About Open Source and Azure with Mark Godfrey of Microsoft

Mark Godfrey is a TSP with Microsoft Canada. Recently he spent time presenting to an audience of more than 200 application developers about Open Source, Azure and Optimus Information at the Vancouver Microsoft Technology Summit

Open Source is everywhere at Microsoft. Check out what’s running on Microsoft Azure today.

Q: Welcome Mark, and thanks for joining us today.

A: My pleasure, happy to be here.

Q: For people who don’t know you and your role, can you explain what you do at Microsoft?

A: Sure. At Microsoft I’m a TSP – Technology Solution Professional. I’m the guy who helps the sales teams by talking to customers about how Microsoft technology works and how it will fit into their environment to improve agility, increase innovation and secure their IT assets

Q: You enjoy this role?

A: I love this role. I think it is the best job at Microsoft.

Q: Thanks – I’ve known you for a few years and I know that statement is true. Can we begin with some myth busting? I was really surprised to learn that about 50% of the workloads on Azure today are actually Open Source workloads.optimus-mark-qanda-blog-2-1 Q&A About Open Source and Azure with Mark Godfrey of Microsoft

A: True, we are approaching that, getting very close, I expect to see it will be greater than 50% within the next two years.

Q: Honestly, I am shocked. I had no clue.

A: You and most of the people in the room where I was presenting. I think the challenge we’ve had is that we haven’t done a good job of marketing how integrated we are with existing Open Source software. It’s really a shame that we haven’t been better at letting folks know we want to meet them where they are. If they are already using Chef and Puppet or any number of Linux distros. There are a lot of app development tools that are already built and integrated into Azure. We want the Open Source world to know about this.

Q: Who should we be telling? Are there industries or vertical markets that are more likely to be using instances of Open Source?

A: No, it’s everybody; anybody who is running Open Source software today. It’s not just small business and the hipster shops. It’s government and big business that are also using a lot of Open Source technology, especially in the application development and DevOps world.

When Microsoft first introduced Azure, we actively met with customers about their Windows workloads. And, in parallel, we were ensuring that Azure was equally friendly for Open Source. Now customers are beginning to realize, ‘wait a second, Microsoft is a great platform to meet us where we are.’ Customers might be using tools like Chef, Puppet, Drupal – all these different Open Source technologies – and not realize they don’t have to change. They can continue with these technologies on Azure.

Q: What’s the advantage of putting your Open Source workloads on Azure as opposed to another public Cloud provider?

A: Speed and agility, and the rate of innovation you can drive. It’s the same challenge you have with the Windows world, in that standing things up on-premises can take weeks or months. Standing things up in Azure and leveraging the services that already exist in Azure is minutes or hours. And Microsoft is the only public cloud platform that offers a truly hybrid solution; what you’re doing on-premises can be extended into Azure. You just can’t do that the same way with AWS or Google Cloud.

I’ll give you some examples, and the picture above really illustrates this; application development platforms like Joomla and Drupal can run natively on Azure. It means that development teams can deliver applications much faster than if they were using an on-premises development platform that needed to be created or recreated for every project. By leveraging Azure, they continue to manage and leverage the technology that they use today, but at cloud speed, so there’s not a lot of retraining, replacement, or new hiring that’s required.

Q: That leads me to my next question: Microsoft has a lot of great partners and one of them co-presented with you – Optimus Information Technology.

A: That’s right. We have an incredible partner community and they each have unique skills that help our customers move to the cloud. One of the strengths that Optimus brings is their test harness. This technology enables automated testing of Open Source applications. Microsoft is committed to helping our customers, and will fund proof-of-concepts and pilots for customers who are moving or testing workloads in the cloud.

Q: How do customers take advantage of this?

A: Simply reach out to Optimus or reach out to your local Microsoft TSP. We can help you get started.

Q: Mark, thanks for your time. This was really interesting.

A: My pleasure.

For readers of this blog who want to learn more about funding a PoC for automated testing of Open Source applications using the Optimus test harness, simply reach out to our Chief Technical Strategist, Ryan O’Connor.

ryan.oconnor@optimusinfo.com

Microsoft Technology Summit – Open Source and Azure and the Optimus Test Harness

Ryan O’Connor presenting the Optimus Test Harness at Microsoft Tech Summit in Vancouver

It was both a pleasure and a privilege to represent Optimus at the Vancouver Microsoft Technology Summit last week.

The tech summit is one of my favourite events. It attracts a lot of people – especially those who are working individually or remotely – and gets them out to an event where they can connect and talk about what is happening with technology and hear about the latest and greatest from Microsoft.

Also, it was an opportunity for me personally to reconnect with a bunch of people I have known from my many years of delivery; people who have moved on to other companies. Vancouver is a tight technology community, with a core of folks who have worked together over the years.

I was especially delighted that Microsoft asked us to co-present, because while the name “Optimus” might be new for some, the people who work here are well known, and so it allowed me to shine a light on some of the cool things that Optimus is doing. (Thanks Microsoft).

Microsoft and Open Source

Mark Godfrey from Microsoft was talking about Open Source on Azure and sharing some pretty interesting facts. Here are some of the stats he presented:

  • 4x growth in container customers in Azure since January, all with Docker on Linux!
  • ~40% VMs in Azure run Linux today
  • 60% of Azure Marketplace Images are Linux based!

optimus-ryan-blog-1 Microsoft Technology Summit – Open Source and Azure and the Optimus Test Harness

Mark was speaking about the investment that Microsoft has made and is making in Open Source. The image above really speaks to the journey. In the middle of his presentation he was explaining that if you are using Open Source software like Linux, Optimus is a great example of how you can work with a trusted partner to test an automation framework on Azure. At that point, Mark simply asked me to join him on stage and talk about the Optimus test harness.

The Optimus Test Harness

We have been helping customers move to the cloud and do their testing in the cloud for a while now. About 85% of our customers are tech companies that offer a product or a service. Most of them have cloud-based apps and a lot of them need to do testing on those apps. Locating something inside their tenant that is closer to the services they provide but also closer to Microsoft services like machine learning makes a lot of sense.

Three Ways We Can Help
  1. Proof of Concept. We can stand up our test harness on a customer’s tenant because there’s no licence fee. This helps customers prove the concept that automated testing might add value to them.
  2. Component Testing. We might test a particular component they are struggling with; for example, all the APIs. We might just do API testing or performance testing of some specific component. In that process, we might be doing end-to-end services. We will build and execute the script as a managed service.
  3. Knowledge Transfer. Or, we might take a more educational approach or a capacity-building approach, where we help an internal team grow in its testing maturity. In doing so, we are teaching, showing and doing. Ultimately, we turn everything over to the internal QA team to manage. Quite often, we end up continuing to provide service because of the value we deliver. The organization realizes that they can free up their resources to do other things and working with us is a cost-effective approach.

Ultimately, our approach is very consultative. We look at what you really need and what services you might want to embrace. For example, we can bundle the services (such as the creation of scripts) and the test harness into a licence fee so that you can purchase it as a capital expense.

The bottom line is that we can get you set up and get you going so that you will be able to do your regression testing with the push of a button.

Getting Started

Microsoft is investing in this approach and have already invested in several PoCs for customers who want to try the test harness. Let me know if you are interested in learning more. We can also help determine if you might qualify for Microsoft funding.

Reach out anytime – we would love to work with you. – ryan.oconnor@optimusinfo.com