Posted on February 11, 2015 by Tadd Axon
It might seem contradictory.
One one hand, a majority of businesses are now considering leveraging the public cloud to get their business done, and get it done at levels of efficiency never before possible. But at the same time, the concept of the cloud still instills fear and concerns across all levels of the business.
With so much on the line, and the cloud being seen as the key to competitiveness in the years to come, can businesses afford to be ambivalent about its value? And when it comes to Microsoft Azure, their own cloud platform, many organizations are treading lightly, unsure how to proceed. Is it something to fear, or to embrace?
Read on, as we put these fears to rest.
A recent report from Capgemini reveals a long list of the key friction points slowing the adoption of Microsoft Azure. Forty percent said “fear of security breaches,” another 52% said “data sovereignty” and compliance issues combined to make them apprehensive. The list went on to document a handful of other concerns.
Despite all that, Microsoft’s cloud isn’t exactly disappearing. Quite the opposite actually. Microsoft adds 10,000 new customers every week to Azure. And Gartner names Azure a magic quadrant leader in all key sectors of the Cloud space – IaaS, PaaS and SaaS – a distinction Amazon and Google can’t claim.
So what do we make of these two different stories? The fears are real, but the cloud continues to rise. With this in mind, lets take a closer look at the major fears getting in the way of Azure adoption.
As seen in the CapGem study, compliance is a major factor that almost instantly derails the conversation around Azure adoption. At Softchoice, we hear this from clients all the time. And it makes sense considering how much specific industries have to lose (legally and reputation-wise) should something go wrong. Not only that but for the longest time if you worked in a highly regulated space, such as the federal government, all bets were off when it came to cloud. You simply didn’t do it.
In the case of Microsoft Azure, these concerns are largely unfounded. Microsoft Azure offers an enormous range of compliance options, offering ready to go bulding blocks, and highly secure and responsible data practices, for an expansive list of industry standards, including card payments PCI, HIPPA the U.S federal government and many more.
That is not to say you should go to the cloud with that new app you are building without doing your due diligence first. As is often the case, industry specific standards vary, and you should always have your legal team evaluate the law and how it applies to you. Often, Azure only offers partial compliance, or only on a specific set of services (not all). This means it will be up to you to fill the gaps.
Security is equally, if not more, a cause of friction for companies looking at Microsoft Azure. When your mission critical workloads, and business assets live in the data center somewhere not under your control, it’s perfectly natural to fear this. It doesn’t help when the media bombards us with stories of high profile, public cloud breaches. A certain celebrity photo scandal comes to mind.
But perhaps it shouldn’t be so frightening. After all, Microsoft offers round the clock monitoring, physical security and centralized logging, certainly no worse (and probably better) than most businesses can afford on prem.
On top of this, Microsoft made major announcements in Q4 of 2014, directly addressing some of the biggest hold ups when it came to security. Speaking at TechEd Europe 2014, Azure execs rolled out an expansive anti-malware software solution free to all Azure users, enhanced data loss protection on apps like as Office 365 and Sharepoint in the cloud, and more granular role based access control on data in Azure, giving role based entry in an exhaustive way for the first time.
Still, as with compliance, this doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for security. It just means you shift your focus to the areas where you still play a significant part, such as what happens to your data and how it’s treated moving to and from the cloud.
It’s always surprising when Microsoft’s service level agreement (SLA) promise to deliver “only” 99.95% uptime on its services is seen as a deal breaker for some organizations. A few even seem to be waiting for 100% – which no honest tech provider will ever promise.
With Microsoft Azure, we feel the Disaster Recovery and Back Up offering is as good as it gets. They provide a 99.95 % SLA for most of its online services. all data existing (on average) in three separate instances, spread out over wide swaths of geographical area (depending on your settings and requests). Microsoft data centers are reportedly incredibly resilient, and protected.
While outages might happen, and disaster might occur, Microsoft has enormous resources into making sure they are as painless and minimally disruptive as possible.
The key takeaway: rather than speculating about that 0.05%, focus instead on what would happen if disaster struck your own data center, and if you (or any other provider, for that matter) are as well-equipped as Microsoft to respond.
Not everyone looks at it this way. But there is a contingent of people, however small, that sees the Cloud as a threat to job security. For the most part these are workers whose primary function is maintenance in the data center, such as replacing hard drives and watching the network. With Microsoft Azure, these maintenance issues become Microsoft’s problem, freeing up your team to focus on more important business outcomes.
The reality is it’s just as common for people to see this for what it really is: an enormous opportunity. For years we’ve been haunted by the 80/20 rule – the notion that the vast majority of our time is wasted on maintenance, versus where we really would like to be, on building, changing, growing and innovating. Azure changes all that.
With the off-premise infrastructure and software services of Azure, you finally get the chance to put more resources into innovation, versus the never-ending maintenance cycle.
Whether you’re already convinced, or just starting to consider IaaS solutions like Azure, Softchoice offers non-biased expertise to help you discover the most efficient, productive way forward. Contact a representative today to learn more about our technology assessments and managed services options.