Data Hosting in the Cloud

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Alan Bawden - Operations Director, The JM Group

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TechQuarters are a Microsoft Gold Partner on the Azure hosting platform. We help organisations understand which Azure services will work for them and how they can benefit from the Microsoft hosting platform.

We run trial proof of concepts for Azure Platform as a Service, through to full migrations of Data Centres to the Azure Platform.

Discover the power of Microsoft Azure and what it can do for you...

What is it?

Azure is Microsoft's brand name for their data centres and hosting services that can be accessed from the Cloud.

Microsoft Azure hosting is a global service provided from 100+ Data Centres spread around the world. Microsoft have invested over $US 7 Billion in these data centres and are widely recognised as one of the top tier providers, if not the biggest, in the world.

In the last few years Microsoft have expanded their provision of data centres and services on the Azure platform considerably. There are now 3 dedicated UK data centres and one in Dublin, which are all backed up to each other as a disaster recovery measure.

Here are some great examples of how TechQuarters can help you get the most out of Microsoft Azure

Example 1 – Hosted Servers

Would you like to migrate your older servers that are currently on-premise to Microsoft Azure data centre hosting? Are you looking for a Microsoft Partner who can provide preferential rates for a migration and hosting?

TechQuarters are a Gold Partner of Microsoft on the Azure hosting platform. We help organisations set up their Azure hosting and extend their network out to Microsoft Azure with hosting requirements such as servers or storage in the cloud.

Example 2 – Hybrid Cloud (A half-way move to the Cloud, getting the best of both worlds)

Weaving in Microsoft Azure to your present network and connection of other Microsoft Cloud Solutions, such as Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Security.

Then full support with our dedicated Helpdesk and Callout services from our Managed Services team, followed by User Training from our 365 Cloud Academy team.

Example 3 – Full Cloud (Desktop as a Service)

Migrate all your users to access your company applications, company databases, Office 365 and files from the cloud. You will be fully in the Cloud but all your users will still connect to your systems via their laptops, PCs and mobiles over an internet connection.

All your network infrastructure will be housed on Microsoft Azure hosting.

Then full support with our dedicated Helpdesk and Callout services from our Managed Services team, followed by User Training from our 365 Cloud Academy team.

Example 4 – Azure Backup

If you have on premise devices that contain files on storage such as servers, NAS boxes, hard drives, then you most likely want to back them up to the Cloud. We configure devices to back up to Microsoft Azure. With this service you get:

  • Full file and image level backup
  • 10 years + retention
  • Backup up to 3 times a day
  • Fully encrypted at rest and in transit to the data centre
  • Pay for the service in banded levels of Gb, for instance, up to 500GB of backup data

Example 5 – Data Centre Migration

If you are running virtual machines, servers, database instances, applications or just general file storage within another data centre, we can help you migrate this infrastructure to Microsoft Azure.

We normally start by loading our tools on to the present data centre to perform a Cloud Readiness Assessment for Azure. This will indicate the costs and benefits and the detailed plan to move everything to Azure.

There are typically two ways to migrate. The first is to build and spin up new infrastructure then copy the data over, the second is a lift and shift services, which copies the Virtual Machines over to Azure.

It is very easy for us to run a POC for a minimal cost and if you decide to migrate, it has minimal risk as there is a roll back scenario.

It is fully scalable and as a starting point it is quite easy to simply scale out some existing services to Azure for test purposes.

Example 6 - Fast Internet connection to Office 365 and Azure with 'Express Route'

Microsoft Azure has a service called Express Route, which is provisioned by some select Internet Service Providers. It essentially gives a business uncontended internet connectivity to the Microsoft Data Centres.

The short summary of what you can get:

  • Service levelled connectivity
  • Tiered speeds – 50 Mb, 100Mb, 200Mb or more
  • Uncontended leased line connection

Two pricing methods

  • Metered where you will be paying for bandwidth
  • Unmetered giving you unlimited bandwidth

Example 7 – GDPR storage of Personal Identifiable Information

With GDPR coming into force on May 25th, 2018, we are performing projects for companies that discovers and collects Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and then surfaces that information into Azure with it being indexed and searchable.

  • Blob storage or file server storage to make it indexable and easily searchable
  • Cost effective storage solution

Example 8 – Hosting of Application Servers

Migrating applications from on-premise SQL Servers to Microsoft Azure SQL Instances.

  • The cost of SQL licensing and the server build/management is included
  • Different storage tiers, HDD or SSD
  • Load your applications on to SQL instances and let Microsoft Manage the servers and provisioning of the SQL instances

Example 9 – Citrix on Azure for remote working

Virtualise an application and stream it onto your desktop.

  • Citrix Xen App Essentials is used to present your infrastructure and applications
  • Very useful for Line of Business Apps being presented to the desktop

Example 10 – Azure hosting for websites

Web sites can be hosted on Microsoft Azure and connected to SQL Instances if there are substantial databases attached, for example with an ecommerce website.

  • Azure SQL as a Service (SQL Instances), much more economic and efficient
  • Lower overheads to manage and Microsoft hosts and manages the underlying infrastructure and patching of the servers

Example 11 – Disaster recovery

We provide a Disaster Recovery service using Azure Site Recovery (ASR). It will replicate your on-premise server(s) to Azure and enable us to spin these up in the event of a disaster, giving you access to a duplicate site at that time of need.

  • Replicate your infrastructure daily by way of image copying to Azure using ASR.
  • Recover your infrastructure in minutes with access to a duplicate on Azure.

How does it work?

Our Cloud Architects will demo a test lab, then set up hosting trials and perform a proof of concept for you in your area of interest. If you are already clear on what service you need, as a Tier 1 provider of Microsoft's Azure service, TechQuarters will be able to discuss your design with you, architect the solution, then get straight into the development phase.

The project process will involve an initial scoping phase for any migration work. We then create a detailed project terms of reference (PTOR), which essentially acts as a blueprint for any further work that we perform. The PTOR will detail the phases, responsibilities, tasks, timelines and estimated costs. We then gain your approval and proceed to the next steps in the project, working with you through to controlled closure of the piece of work.

Once the project work has been completed, we may handover the service to your internal team for support or you may choose to bounce out or utilise our dedicated Specialist Services team for Azure Helpdesk on-going support.


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