Azure Hybrid Solutions: the distinctive business factor for service providers
Can service providers remain relevant to end users who increasingly use cloud-first or cloud-only strategies in their organisations to improve productivity, efficiency and availability? Can service providers make their companies future-proof and create new business opportunities and sustained growth? Yes, they can, by starting to explore the cloud. And knowing that service providers who have adopted the public cloud grow twice as fast as their peers who have not, it is better to start now than tomorrow.
During a recent Cloud Discovery workshop at Insight, the CEO of a hosting provider indicated what is probably the biggest advantage of the cloud for service providers in general. He said the workshop really opened his eyes on how a hybrid cloud solution can help his company reduce costs instantly, save time and resources, and stay competitive for the future.
One of the technical staff members, also present, added that he had reinvented his job: "When we started talking about cloud migration within our company, I was really anxious."Migrating workloads to Azure could mean that I could become redundant and lose my job, but now I've learned that the cloud allows me to make valuable time available to develop new and successful solutions for our company to help our end users improve their business. It feels as if I have reinvented my job."
This is just one example of the feedback we receive at Insight when we work with service providers to assess their readiness for the cloud and help them develop an (often hybrid) cloud migration strategy that meets their requirements. Is this different than before? Absolutely. While a few years ago most service providers were still wary of services in the cloud, they are now gradually using cloud technology and are starting to develop a cloud strategy for their business.
Why the cloud?
The reason why is easy to guess. We are in the middle of a digital transformation, where new technologies enter the world and demand completely new business strategies. Cloud computing is one of them. According to IDC and Microsoft1, the cloud is now commonplace with almost 80% of businesses deploying or fully embracing the cloud and is expected to achieve double-digit growth in IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings until 2020. Modern IT is no longer a matter of keeping the lights on, but about adding business value to help end users innovate and differentiate. It is no longer about ownership, but about consumption, not about CapEx, but about OpEx. The digital transformation requires a new approach and service providers know it. But where do you start?
The most basic advice to adapt to the new digital age is simply to start using (Azure) cloud services today to become familiar with all available options and features. In most cases, this will be in a hybrid environment. In conversations with partners, Insight has found that every individual service or hosting provider always has one or more workloads that can be easily transferred to the cloud without overthrowing the whole company.
For example, storage is such a workload. Companies must store data for at least 10 years. Why save it in expensive private data centres if you can store it almost free of charge in Azure? Backup and Data Recovery (DR) is another: for many service providers it is quite an effort to maintain a solid DR plan. Azure offers a business continuity plan that is always up-to-date without additional investments. A third workload can be Security and Identity, for which Azure offers a complete Active Directory (AD) solution with all management options included.
RDS, an example
At Insight we see that more and more service providers are relocating all their workloads to Azure as soon as they have experienced the flexibility of Azure and how they are saving costs and making more profit. This is especially the case if they are running Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on Azure. A hot topic due to Microsoft's announcement at Ignite that Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is being added to Azure. WVD will further improve the possibilities for service providers to deploy and manage Windows and Office on Azure as a service and to add extra value around it. Service providers are aware that the sooner they are familiar with Azure, the better they are prepared for the future to embrace WVD and further developments.
There is help
Start simple and start today. It seems so easy to start the journey to the cloud, but service providers can still find the diversity and versatility of Azure pretty daunting. We understand this at Insight. That is why we developed the Insight Cloud Journey to help each service provider individually explore the best roadmap for his or her company. Together, we follow the four major steps of the Insight Cloud Journey to begin with the implementation and start benefitting from a cloud-based approach: Discovery, assessment (financial and technical), migration and optimisation.
Sometimes the journey is (temporarily) suspended because a service provider is not yet ready for the cloud, but in general most service providers make all four steps. The basic idea is that you do not have to move everything at once, but that you will start using public cloud today in a hybrid environment to be ready for tomorrow. The cloud is there with all its functions and benefits. It is time for service providers to realise that their future is much brighter with the cloud than without it. Insight can help.
Would you like to know more about the opportunities that Hybrid Solutions can bring to you as a Service Provider? Watch our Hybrid Solutions webinar.
1IDC eBook, sponsored by Microsoft, The modern Microsoft partner series, The blooming cloud opportunity, 2016..