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Getting Started With Azure

Azure 1.01: Every journey starts with a single step

Microsoft’s Azure is the future. You know it, we know it and your IT department knows it too. What you might not know is how to go about getting started with Azure. After all, Azure is a huge solution.

getting started with azure

In our last blog, we explained that we engage with customers in many different ways. So, if your IT team wants to implement Azure, great. If you’d like us to implement, great too. Either way, we can add immediate value to your Azure project by helping you plan your implementation. We’ve executed many Azure migrations and we’re a Microsoft Gold Partner, so we’re an expert and an extremely safe pair of hands.

Before getting into the detail of possible starting points, it’s worth explaining a couple of things about what an engagement with a Gold Partner like us involves.

Refreshingly great value

I expect this will be music to your ears? When you work with us as advisors, we’ll show you around Azure and advise you at no cost. Many of our customers pay us a monthly retainer of £0. That’s right. £0.00. Zip. Nada. Nothing at all. Our advice and guidance come as part of your Microsoft licensing. It’s why we’re Azure Gold Partners – to help companies like yours get the biggest bang for your buck when you’re getting started with Azure.

Easy in, no commitment

Microsoft Azure is a pay-as-you-go service, so you won’t be tied into lengthy contractual commitments. This makes trialling Azure extremely easy, low risk and low cost. Microsoft is currently offering a ‘free-start’ option that gives you £150 of credit, 12 months of popular free services and over 25 services free forever. After the free trial, many companies carry on testing using a self-service model, paying by credit card. Then, when they are ready to move onto a more professional footing, they engage with a Microsoft partner who can organise invoicing on 30-day credit terms.

Where to start

Now you know that starting is zero cost and comes with no commitment, let’s look briefly at some easy-to-adopt services. These are where most companies start because they offer a simple migration and easy to measure benefits. We offer packaged services for all four of the following starting points.

Azure Backups

We’ve saved customers huge amounts of money by migrating their backups from datacentres to Azure. Datacentres typically operate on rigid contractual terms with fixed pricing, regardless of how much bandwidth or storage you use. Azure takes the opposite approach. Azure backups offer cheap, pay-as-you-use, encrypted and off-site backups with no fixed-term contracts. So, starting your Azure migration by moving your backups to the cloud can be a really quick win. How much can you save?

The Azure Backup service is charged based on the size of each protected instance in increments of 500 GB (at £7.45 per month) and the cost of the storage. You can choose between Locally Redundant Storage (LRS) and Geo-Redundant Storage (GRS) which cost around 2.2p / GB / month and 4.5p / GB / month respectively. See the pricing page for more details.

How does this add up in practice? Backing up a Windows File Server with 800GB of data would cost about £50 per month; a server snapshot backup for a SQL Server with a total size of 800GB would also cost about £50 per month.

You can backup whole servers with application consistent snapshots to protect workloads like SQL Server and Exchange. However, you’ll need an Azure Backup Server which can be a virtual machine in Azure at a cost of about £100 per month.

Domain controllers

Starting an Azure migration by commissioning domain controllers might seem an unexciting beginning. It does make sense, however, if your ambition is to offer services to multiple locations or you want to embrace mobility.

Azure provides a very good and cost-effective solution if your Domain Controller is on-premises and you would either like to move it to the cloud or provide some resilience by having another DC in the cloud.

A small virtual machine in Azure can be configured as a domain controller and connected to your network via a site-to-site virtual private network. If this is going to be your only domain controller, for resilience, we’d recommend a pair of domain controllers in an Availability Set.

Test and development servers

Cloud-based servers on a pay-as-you-go basis make great sense if you’re developing, deploying or testing applications. You only pay for the virtual machines while they’re running which makes Azure a very efficient way of operating both Linux and Windows servers. You can also test and run scenarios where you need to increase or decrease the size of your virtual machine on demand to test and model scalability for when you go into production.

Using Azure virtual machines to develop and test applications is an ideal starting point for many companies because they get to experience Azure without affecting existing infrastructure.

SQL server

Migrating SQL Server to Azure is a perfect starting point in at least three different circumstances.

  • You’re looking to deploy a new application that requires a SQL Server back-end; or
  • You have an existing SQL Server on an old version that is going out of support; or
  • Your server hardware needs replacing

You can create a SQL Server Virtual Machine in Azure of whatever size you need, and make it part of your network via a Site to Site VPN. The application then interacts with the SQL Database(s) in the same way as if your SQL Server were on-premises. Migrating your existing Databases is straightforward and there are a number of ways of doing it.

Wherever you decide to start your Azure journey, it makes sense to enlist fee support from an Azure Gold Partner. At Compete366, all of our packaged services comes at exactly the same price you’d pay Microsoft directly. And, if you buy your Azure consumption through us, we’ll guide you through the whole process for free. We’ll also offer a free monthly call with an Azure consultant to discuss ideas, concepts and latest developments to help you get the most out of Azure.

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