Cloud computing is an IT game-changer – perhaps even more than virtualization. That’s because it’s also a business game-changer, not just for large enterprises but for smaller ones, too. Now a 250-person organization with little or no IT resources can deploy applications, platforms, and infrastructure at the same speed and cost as a 25,000-person global corporation.
Growing Urgencies: Transitioning End of Support Platforms to the Cloud
Regardless of an enterprise’s size, cloud computing can enables organizations to focus less on day-to-day IT operations and more on how its IT cloud strategies can help deliver greater value to all stakeholders – customers, employees, and shareholders especially. At the same time, organizations can also use cloud computing’s advantages to sharpen their competitive edge. And the sooner, the better because those advantages will eventually force all organizations into the cloud, diminishing the competitive rewards.
Timing is critical, too, as many long-standing IT platforms are entering their end-of-support (EOS) phases. For example, the EOS date for Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005, used by tens of millions of enterprises worldwide, is July 14, 2015. This gives these organizations the generational opportunity to upgrade their IT platforms in the cloud. Microsoft is making its cloud solution the best option for these major upgrades.
Microsoft Azure: A Mature and Robust Global Platform for Hybrid Clouds
Organizations that are exploring cloud-computing providers will find many options available. Many niche provider platforms include those of big telecoms, like Verizon and CenturyLink; web giants like Amazon and Google; and top-tier IT companies, like IBM, HP, and Microsoft.
Of these, the Microsoft Azure cloud services platform is arguable best qualified to be added to any short list of providers. In fact, Azure is the only cloud platform ranked by Gartner as a 2014 Magic Quadrant market leader for four critical enterprise capabilities:
- Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure
- Enterprise Application Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Public Cloud Storage Services
Microsoft Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables its customers to quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of highly secure and reliable Microsoft-managed datacenters. Organizations can build applications using any language, tool, or framework. And they can integrate their existing IT environment with their public cloud Azure applications.
Azure’s Portfolio of Integrated Services
The broad catalog of Azure cloud services spans eleven categories. All of these services can be used in stand-alone modes or in mixed but highly integrated solutions. Microsoft continues to add new services, so consult the Azure website for the latest lineup.
Effectively engaging cloud computing’s new IT paradigm isn’t without its own challenges, pitfalls, and risks. Moving to the cloud successfully takes smart planning and execution, which can take months. For organizations taking a wait-and-see stance on cloud computing, the time has come to shift from passively waiting to actively investigating their options and seeing how cloud computing can help drive their business strategies forward.