Microsoft’s Azure hybrid cloud solutions offer a variety of resources for businesses and organizations of all sizes. However, finding success at getting the resources to communicate with one another has proven to be quite a challenge to even the most skilled and knowledgeable cloud-computing users. Azure provides multiple networking capabilities that users can use collectively or individually.
Connectivity between Azure resources will allow users to connect the resources together in a private and secure virtual network hosted in the cloud. An internet connection will allow users to communicate from one Azure resource to the next. A solid Azure Networking strategy allows businesses and organizations to stay connected. Azure users can connect an on-premise network to Azure resources through a VPN over the internet or through a dedicated connection to Azure.
Understanding the network capabilities of Azure is important before taking on any cloud or hybrid project. We recently chatted with two experts in the IT industry, Craig Jacotine of Steadfast Solutions and Matt Bullock of Accelera IT Solutions, to gather their insights on Azure Networking, including how Azure Networking is primarily used, the benefits of Azure Networking, how to implement a successful Azure Networking strategy, and more.
How do partners typically use Azure Networking?
Networking is a vital component of any cloud infrastructure. Teams need to be able to connect to resources to enhance the performance of each application, and all of this will depend on an effective and efficient network architecture.
We asked the experts how partners typically use Azure Networking, and they shared with us how Azure Networking is used within their infrastructures. We typically use Azure Networking “by extending our existing infrastructure into the Azure cloud”, said Jacotine. While there can be regularity or technical challenges moving workloads to the cloud, extending an environment or infrastructure with the cloud can certainly improve a partner’s capabilities.
“For partners, Microsoft Azure Networking allows us to create and configure fast-access cloud servers to host important client applications and have the resiliency to run them in a production environment”, said Bullock. A network that has been well-designed will allow you to host client applications from a single location, resulting in a decrease in deployment time and management costs, all while providing centralized security.
How do customers typically use Azure Networking?
Customers are using Azure for a variety of reasons and under various scenarios, from basic computing to networking, to full cloud scenarios. “Customers are using Azure networking as an opportunity to create their own virtual private cloud to securely access data and resources required to keep their business productive”, said Jacotine. “For Azure customers, the Network feature allows branch offices and remote locations (including remote workers in some areas) to have very low-latency connections to their most-used applications and provides peace of mind for CFO’s and other executives that their applications are being delivered in a secure manner”, said Bullock.
Customers are relying on Azure for top-notch security, cloud services, privacy, and the wide-ranging network of customers, partners, and processes.
How well does Networking work with other Azure services?
Microsoft maintains a full directory of Azure services, and this directory continues to grow. All the elements that are needed to build a virtual network are available, but what if other services are needed in addition to Networking? When we asked Craig Jacotine about Networking and other services, this is what he had to say about the interaction:
“The interaction with other Azure services is secure and seamless”. With Microsoft Azure, you can interact with other services without security challenges or productivity loss.
“The Network services have increased the adoption of private and hybrid cloud environments as there is a seamless user interface and connection between various virtual machines and virtual VPN connections for larger adoption by small and large companies. Due to this enhanced fiber network, users will now be limited by their connection and infrastructure at the office or at home, not the Azure data center”, said Bullock.
Azure provides businesses and organizations with the opportunity to create hybrid environments. The hybrid environments will allow businesses and organizations to leverage their on-premise resources and benefits of the cloud environment without a major investment.
Do users need to consider interactions with other services?
With Microsoft Azure, you can incorporate new services and scale your capabilities on the move. This type of flexibility makes Azure a wanted solution for businesses and organizations of all sizes. “If users want the flexibility of being able to bring in more future services or add-ons then it should be a consideration, however knowing that it all can be achieved does provide confidence in the solution”, said Jacotine.
What does a successful strategy look like with Networking?
Whether you are auditing an existing strategy or putting together a new strategy, you may be asking, “What does a successful strategy look like with Networking?” When he asked Jacotine this very question, and this is what he shared: “The correct planning and scoping needs to be put in place prior to the implementation phase”.
While there is no one-size-fits-all method for creating a successful strategy, Bullock noted, “A successful strategy always starts with correct configuration of the virtual servers. Once applications have been layered on the correct servers to provide load balancing (always looking to enhance the guest and user experience), then the appropriate broadband (fiber) connection can be chosen to always stay 20% ahead of what you believe will be the peak broadband load for guests and users. The challenges are almost always linked to unrealistic expectations of the guest or user’s Internet connection. Many times, IT staff will overload a virtual server or layer too many applications on a group of servers and hope the end-user will be able to download at the speed they are uploading from Azure Networking. More often, those end-user connections often can’t handle the output of Azure networking.”
What are some of the common technical or organizational challenges?
“The most common challenges for companies trying to implement this without the assistance of a certified partner usually limits the capabilities that can be achieved using Azure Networking, and therefore limits the technical output of what can really be achieved”, said Jacotine.
Are there key considerations around security?
“Security settings and parameters are there by default, however, it is very important this is altered to the specification required for the client/end-user”, said Jacotine.
“Security is always up to the IT staff and company executives (who need to properly fund and expect cybersecurity controls). With Cyber-liability insurance policies now a major part of liability protection for any company, having a secure cloud strategy with the correct configuration and a long-term strategy will allow companies to be more profitable. Just don’t forget to backup your Azure environment to the Azure cloud (different region) and with a 3rd party data backup company for maximum protection”, said Bullock.
How is Microsoft expanding or developing its Azure Networking offering to meet partner and customer needs?
We wanted to find out what Microsoft has done recently to ensure the needs of partners and customers are being met, and this is what the experts shared with us:
“The dramatic rise in the usage of Azure services, in general, have seen much more investment, development and support go into this product, and Microsoft have taken in the feedback from partners and end-users to ensure they are continuing to develop their product to meet their needs”, said Jacotine.
“The best development over the past 2 years in Azure has been the consolidation of dashboards. When Azure first came out, there were so many dashboards and many didn’t talk to each other very well. Also, Microsoft is serious about extending Azure Networking to every part of the US and beyond and they have become a major player in pushing for new fiber cable to be installed everywhere. Microsoft has also simplified its pricing policy and the costs have become more in line with other providers related to data ingress and egress charges. The Azure Networking environment is great, but not when it’s 30% more than other providers”, said Bullock.
You no longer have to remain disconnected in your Azure journey when you have the right solutions and resources. However, you should never make any major decision without consulting with a knowledgeable partner. “Always ensure that you consult your IT partner before making a decision to adopt these types of services to ensure it is right for you”, said Jacotine.