Mark Skelton, OCSL's Head of Consultancy works with clients across all sectors. He sees Hybrid IT and Hybrid Cloud as something many organisations are now moving towards. But he also sees many organisations struggling. We took the opportunity discuss the most common issues organisations are facing. And how these can be addressed by Azure Fast Start, a brand new package launched by OCSL this month.
The Skills Gap. Over the last 18 months, we’ve had many discussions with clients about Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and Azure. But one of the key challenges is that it's new technology. Many clients simply don’t have the skills. They have a go, but don’t know how to deploy. 9 times out of 10 they get stuck on the initial launch.
The Security Challenges. This is a challenge when moving to any Public Cloud. It's hard to know what exactly will happen when you drop Azure into your own environment and start connecting VPNs up to your existing production data set.
Licensing and Subscriptions can also be complex. Many clients struggle to get the best set-up and feel in control.
There's also confusion around best practice. Because there are so many different ways to deploy Azure, there's often no out-of-the-box guidelines. What you need here is experience. And this is where partners can really add value.
All of these factors, mean organisations are slow to adopt Hybrid Cloud, Azure and other Microsoft Cloud Solutions.
Q: Can you tell me a bit more about Azure Fast Start?
Yes. As I've outlined, many organisations commit to Public Cloud, but then fail to get started. So, what we've developed is code to help clients get started in Azure in a matter of hours. It's based on our collective experience of deploying Azure infrastructures.
It helps clients get started in Azure in a highly automated manner. With a greater degree of automation and standardisation, we help to de-risk your move to the Public Cloud and reduce your time-to-value.
Q: How long does it take to set up Azure Fast Start?
Typically, setting up Azure can take up to 15 days to set up and deploy. With the IP code OCSL has developed we can install and set up Azure in just a few hours.
Q: What's included in Azure Fast Start?
In short, you get best practice set up out-of-the-box. This includes domain controllers, ADFS. All of this lovely stuff. It delivers a good security baseline. Azure needs a level of security hardening to make sure networks are fully secure. So, we’ve put a lot of thought into identifying what a good security model looks like.
There's also no need to figure out complex subscriptions and licensing. This is all part of the package.
Our package also sets up the Hybrid Identity piece. It builds a brand new ADFS environment in Azure for you to start consuming identity from the Cloud. So, your Active Directory User Names and Passwords are being extended up into the Cloud, but in a highly secure manner.
We also set up processes for Resource and Network Security Groups. We also set up VPNs, and all of the virtual networking in Azure. We set up an internal network, an external network, and put all the security and firewalls around this. So you have absolute certainty, your resources are protected in any environment,
When it comes to storage accounts, Azure can be complicated. We set up storage accounts and the encryption keys, so anything deployed to Azure gets encrypted at rest. And this is mandatory for a lot of compliance policies.
As part of the package you also get our expert’s expertise. In a hands-on face-to-face workshop you get a good understanding of Azure to take forward.
Q: Anything else people should know?
Azure Fast Start has really taken off and our clients are already reaping the benefits of automated deployment in a standardised way. We're investing in more IP developments and are continually looking for new ways to help our clients get the most out of Azure.