How Azure Stack can help you on your Digital Transformation Journey to the Cloud

The shift in the modern business now revolves around a new IT concept – the digital transformation. It’s a process that’s taken organizations into the cloud and digital age. Today, companies are leveraging the power of their datacenter and combining the power of cloud to achieve next-generation business solutions. The path to cloud and digitization begins by enabling a Hybrid IT model and creating a business which can support it. For example, platforms like Azure Stack are designed to help organizations extend their datacenter platform into a cloud ecosystem. But, you must also understand how your datacenter can help enable this type of extension. This helps organizations become a part of the digital economy by responding faster to market demands. Furthermore, when you combine datacenter and Azure Stack platforms – you create a more agile infrastructure, build modern applications and supporting new types of user use-cases. In this blog post, we’ll clearly discuss the cloud and digital transformation process using the power of Azure Stack.

What does application modernization really mean?

Application modernization is actually at the heart of digital transformation which gives opportunity to every organization to engage their customers, empower their employees, helping in optimizing and streamlining their operations, and at the same time it’s also transforming their products and services. It’s all about the applications being agile, time to value, and how quickly they can release their product to the market. Based on our experience working with multiple customers, we see that most of the applications are running in a virtualization platform, that’s a pretty much like three-tier architecture, so to run one application, we need a front-end web server, application server as a mid-tier for batch processing and SQL server as a back-end tier, so three virtual machines to run a single website. That’s the current environment we see in the field. However, if we look at where the innovation is going towards from an app development perspective, everything is moving into a microservices type and also a serverless computing in containers, that’s where the world is moving towards – so all applications being built are cloud native applications, that’s pretty much aligning that microservices and serverless computing container’s architecture.

Where does Azure Stack fit into your cloud journey?

Microsoft Azure has been in the market for quite a while now, so most of the customers are now part of that journey already, they are in Azure and comfortable on how to use it and how they interact with the platform. We also have developers developing applications on Azure, which provides a rich platform to develop applications using any tools they have, so it’s an open platform for all. However, there are certain companies that have applications and had some obstacles moving them into the cloud because of data sovereignty, security and regulatory compliance. Those applications cannot be moved to the public cloud immediately. Azure Stack is in fact nothing but an extension of public Azure, so you have Azure software running in a piece of hardware deliver it to you as an Integrated System from one of the certified service partners (HPE, DELL EMC, Cisco, Huawei, Lenovo, and Terra), it’s connected to your datacenter, and it’s running in your on-premise environment.

For example, any customer who wants to be ahead of the curve from an application modernization perspective, they can use Azure Stack as an opportunity to convert or re-architect their application, moving them into containers, serverless computing or into microservices architecture. And at the same time, if there are any line of business (LOB) application which are not compatible or have some dependency, so you can pretty much move them into Azure Stack running on your own firm itself. This will also give an opportunity for IT departments to offer microservices to their business, and to the agency of their customers. For most organizations, cloud is not going to be one size fits all, there are still some applications will be kept on-premises and some of them will be moved to public cloud in Azure. Hybrid Cloud gets a lot of attention, and for good reason: it’s where much of IT is going. But on-premises datacenters also have an important role to play, both today and in the future. For many organizations, integrating these two to create a hybrid cloud is essential and Azure Stack is the key in this integration.

What are some of the use cases of Azure Stack?

For customers who have Azure presence already, and Switzerland will have two regions coming up in Geneva and Zurich by 2019, so if you have production workload running in Azure today, you can have that workload back to Azure Stack running on-premises. You can also use Azure Stack to protect your existing workloads running on-premises for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) scenarios. Another use cases such as if you have an existing SharePoint farm (multiple SharePoint instances), you can consolidate those and run them in Azure Stack, you can also run a managed SQL Server, managed CRM server or Web Apps, so you become an Azure provider for different business units in your enterprise or for other customers. There are plenty of other opportunities you could benefit from and tailor them to your business need.

Hands-On?

The majority of organizations will need to understand Azure Stack in much greater detail to see how it could meet their business requirements. Before you consider committing to buy any production unit, Microsoft have introduced the Azure Stack Development Kit, which will allow you to try Azure Stack for free. Given the nature of the development kit, Minimum hardware requirements apply, and Microsoft will provide the development version of the software, to load and proof of concept your applications and services, ahead of committing to the full solution.

Summary

Microsoft Azure Stack offers a great solution if you have a requirement to operate services on-premises, in a disconnected scenarios, build modern applications across hybrid cloud environments and you are looking for a unified experience with Microsoft Azure. You can learn once and use anywhere. Azure Stack provides the consistency required to support a true end-to-end DevOps approach, whilst offering a variety of flexible payment models.

itnetX can assist you with planning, implementing and operating your very own Azure Stack environment. Get in contact with us!

Charbel Nemnom
Microsoft MVP, Cloud and Datacenter Management



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