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.

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

Windows Azure: Move your applications to the cloud

Windows-Azure-300x190 Windows Azure: Move your applications to the cloud

Set your apps up in the cloud using Windows Azure.

Many clients have been asking us about the Windows Azure platform so we’d like to take this opportunity to give a brief overview and let you know what we’ve been working on.

The Windows Azure platform is a platform-as-a-service offering from Microsoft that competes with Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, and Salesforce. It is everything you need to move your applications to the cloud. This enables developers to focus on developing great applications, instead of worrying about infrastructure.

It supports a variety of programming languages out of the box including Visual Studio, .Net, Java, PHP, and Ruby.

As illustrated above, using the Azure platform you can deploy your application, database, services, and access control service to the cloud. Then you can control who has access remotely while deploying your application through Microsoft’s globally distributed datacenters. The Azure platform will then automatically scale infrastructure up and down depending on load and charge only what you use. There are no upfront costs and organizations even have a free trial to get started.

A few other key components worth mentioning are:

  • The Azure Platform Appliance: If you need to keep your applications and data in your own data center, you can setup a private cloud using the Azure Platform Appliance. It is essentially a suite of software and hardware to setup on your own infrastructure. It is designed to be extremely efficient while providing massive scale.
  • The Azure Market Place: This is a market place for components, applications, and even services that run on Azure.
  • The Azure Data Market: This market is used for buying and selling raw data. From real estate to demographics, these data sets are rich with information that can be utilized in your applications.

At Optimus we focus on Software Development, Software Testing, and Business Analytics. We have been working with our clients to move all three services onto cloud based infrastructure. It has proven to be reliable, scalable, and increasingly cost efficient.

To learn more about how you can move your applications to cloud, contact us.

(image courtesy of Microsoft)

Benefits of Cloud Computing: Where are the Opportunities

data_center-200x300 Benefits of Cloud Computing: Where are the Opportunities

Enterprise data centers moving to the cloud

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and now Apple are battling for market dominance in cloud computing. This fast-emerging segment has companies of all sizes measuring the benefits of cloud computing.

The big players are offering services ranging from software-as-a-service (ie: hosted email), to platform-as-a-service (ie: virtual desktops), to storage and computing as a service. Companies large and small can use these services on a pay-per-use model to access flexible, scalable, and powerful data centers.

Outsourcing is gaining in popularity as companies move towards storing their data on secured public or private infrastructure. Tech behemoths such as Amazon are vying for market share against their competitors, deploying faster networking servers that are available on demand. Scalability and ease of deployment are key reasons why enterprise software is well suited for the cloud.

All big market players have made sizable investments in their unique product offerings.

  • Apple’s iCloud promises consumers seamless integration services across all your applications.
  • Microsoft has launched its Azure platform backed by a significant investment in web infrastructure and thousands of servers.
  • Google’s App Engine resides on Google’s own infrastructure and delivers more than 250 million page views each day.
  • Amazon Web Services are constantly evolving and being enhanced to include database, auto-scaling, and monitoring.

Each player can benefit from different revenue streams from the cloud computing boom, including monetizing their infrastructure and attracting new developers. The cloud wars have led to rapid reductions in the price of utilizing the cloud infrastructure.

The cloud wars have not only benefited companies seeking to trim their internal IT expense by moving their data on the cloud; they have also led to the emergence of small, focused, quality-oriented outsourcing companies such as Optimus. These companies can offer services in their cloud infrastructure at a lower cost than larger, more established peers, such as Accenture. Optimus focuses on providing excellent, tailored services to all its customers, which comprises large as well as smaller companies.

OptimusBI helps companies with their data management and business analytics needs. For more information on our services, please contact us at rupmeet.singh@optimusinfo.com