A little over 3 years ago we had a big decision to make. At that stage we had several good years’ behind us providing cloud services to our clients with a clear and deliberate focus on keeping them at the cutting edge of modern IT, a core value of ours and something I’m personally very passionate about. The issue we had was that some of our cloud partners didn’t quite keep up the pace.
Their server hardware was outdated and the software they used was being superseded. This affected our ability to give our clients the latest and greatest IT services which wasn’t where we wanted to be. The big decision then was to invest in doing it ourselves and build our own data centre or choose a better partner that shared the same vision as us.
Building our own data centre was highly appealing. I can’t think of an experienced engineer worth their salt who wouldn’t give anything to get the opportunity to design and implement a data centre solution. We’d have full freedom to keep up with the latest and greatest offerings in modern IT as they because available and our clients would reap the benefits. The only niggling doubt in our minds was that it was going to cost a lot to keep the hardware up to date and then we’d be in the same position as our existing partners with outdated servers.
Next Generation of Hardware
The alternative, and the path we took, was finding a like-minded partner that had the same plan. Enter Microsoft. In hindsight, it was a no-brainer as Microsoft were pumping and continuing to pump billions of euro into expanding and upgrading their Microsoft Azure data centres. In our wildest dreams, we couldn’t match that sort of investment. They’re installing the latest generation of hardware and rolling out new modern services daily all over the globe and there’s no sign of them stopping. My news feed for the past week for Microsoft Azure updates alone is 3 pages long, and that’s just the headlines and their two-line summary! Now the only investment we need to make in keeping at the cutting edge is our time and brainpower, Microsoft are covering the rest.
One of my favourite aspects of the cloud is the ease of upgrade. The hard work of purchasing, building and installing new servers has already been done for us. I do miss the thrill of that but now I get more of a kick out of booting up servers running the latest generation hardware that a Small or Medium Business might never see in the entire lifetime of their business. As new upgrades come online we simply pass the benefits to our clients. For example, this year alone we’ve already provided our clients with two separate server performance-related upgrades at no extra cost. That’s not to mention all the cool backend features that our clients never even get to experience. Again, reflecting on this year and just looking at the IaaS section of Azure, practically all areas of the service have evolved, VPN gateway performance has increased, storage management has become easier, network performance has been improved, automation has been simplified, new DNS services have come online, the choice of geographic locations has increased, file-level restores of VMs can be completed in minutes, the list goes on and on.
All in all, I’m genuinely excited by the pace of development of Microsoft Azure and the Cloud Services space in general right now. Yes, it can be difficult to keep up the pace with the latest and greatest, but the thrill of the challenge is what keeps it interesting. I’m fully aware that I sound like a Microsoft advertisement at times, and I’ve been branded a bit of a Microsoft fanboy by some of my work colleagues, but I’m not blind to the fact that the platform isn’t without its issues. That’s where knowledge is key. Knowing its pitfalls as well as its benefits allows us to get the best out of the platform and not get roadblocked when something doesn’t work as expected.