Microsoft Azure’s new tools for the hybrid cloud

As cloud computing regularly gains more customers, most companies are still opting to keep some of their data in private servers in addition to the public-based cloud servers. Fighting to keep its spot as one of the leaders in the cloud wars, Microsoft understands this fact. That’s why they’ve recently added new hybrid cloud resources and tools to Azure.

These include a free Cloud Migration Assessment, Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, and Azure Site Recovery. First, we’ll discuss the benefits of a hybrid cloud, then talk in more detail about each of these new resources.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud, essentially, combines on-premises, private storage with public based cloud servers. Users should be able to access both of these options together through their hosting platform. With this, companies are able to have the benefits of both types of networks.

Utilizing a hybrid network, you can use the public cloud for activities like sharing resources or hosting data, while securely processing information on the private cloud. The hybrid cloud boasts higher data speeds and better load times because essential data can be pushed through private servers, not public ones.

Of course, one of the main reasons for choosing a hybrid cloud approach is the increased security. With a private server, you can continuously secure sensitive data with encryption.

Publicly accessible data, as expected, can still be accessed through the public cloud. Additionally, users can send all data and applications that don’t require increased security to a public cloud. This allows companies to decrease their spending without worrying about sacrificing privacy needs.

Essentially, with a hybrid cloud approach, you can choose to shift your resources either through on-site servers or a public cloud network, depending on your needs.

Utilizing a hybrid approach also helps with continuity, as simply backing up the content you have isn’t enough. Instead, you need a plan for what happens during a disaster. Many companies consider hybrid cloud solutions for this reason. If critical data is replicated to a different cloud or server, there is less chance of downtime and data loss. Many companies, in fact, offer continuity solutions with their hybrid cloud systems.

The hybrid cloud strategy is already very popular and it only continues to grow, with “9 out of 10 IT workers [reporting] that hybrid cloud will be the approach for their organizations five years from now.” This proves that this strategy is a technique that’s here to stay.

In Microsoft’s words, “a hybrid cloud approach lets you uniquely optimize your overall IT environment for maximum performance, agility, cost, and compliance.”

Correctly utilizing the hybrid cloud “enables an environment that has a combination of pure cloud systems, apps that span clouds and local systems, modern front ends in the cloud with legacy on-premises back-end systems, smart IoT and edge devices combined with cloud analytics, and fully on-premises systems.”

In their blog post, Microsoft also acknowledges that the hybrid cloud can be complex, but doesn’t have to be. Instead, it should simply “bring together and maximize the combination of cloud and on-premises environments.”

The answer to the complexity often seen in hybrid cloud approaches, in their opinion, is consistency. Microsoft Azure aims to help users work more efficiently, as they can adopt common skills for both their private and public environments. They claim that although other vendors didn’t realize how important the hybrid cloud was until recently, Microsoft has been working on their tools and resources for more than seven years with Azure, continuously updating and improving them.

Cloud Migration Assessment

One of Azure’s new resources is their free Cloud Migration Assessment. Using this, you enter details about your company, such as the servers across your IT environment, then analyze their hardware configurations. After that, you’re provided with a detailed report. This also includes the estimated cost benefits of moving to Azure.

This is useful for users or companies that want to migrate either all or certain applications to the cloud. Of course, migrating can cause problems, especially for those with no Azure experience. The assessment will help with vital questions such as how much it will cost, how exactly you should size your environment, and which virtual machine option to choose.

This detailed information will be based on the configurations of your data center. Administrators then have the option of exporting the results of the assessment into a customized report.

Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

Azure Hybrid Use Benefit was built to help simplify your move to the cloud and make it as cost effective as possible. According to their site, you can “save up to 40% with Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance.”

This benefit is available to all customers to save money on Windows Server virtual machines by using Azure. With it, you can use your existing Windows Server licenses with Software Assurance to transition to the cloud.

Some features of this product include getting base compute pricing when you use Windows Server virtual machines, simply deploying new workloads, and migrating existing VMs.

Azure is attempting to get more customers by explaining how the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit can help users receive large savings when moving to the cloud.

Azure Site Recovery

The last of their new tools is Azure Site Recovery. We have a full explanation that details everything you need to know about this, including all of its features and best practices.

Essentially, this tool helps you easily migrate virtual machines to Azure. With it, you’re able to move applications, regardless of if they are running on AWS, VMware, Hyper-V, or on physical servers.

According to Microsoft, you can configure Azure Site Recovery to use your Hybrid Use Benefit with PowerShell. Additionally, they recently announced a new experience that will allow users to tag VMs within the Azure portal itself. This will greatly assist with migrating your Windows Server VMs.

Microsoft Azure is doing all they can do continually provide support for the popular hybrid cloud approach, and we expect to see more as the technology evolves and more companies become dependent on it.

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