Choosing a cloud infrastructure can be complex, even for seasoned IT professionals with vast knowledge of the benefits. There are plenty of perks associated with cloud-based infrastructure, and as the popularity of these services grows, so does the need to understand the similarities and difference between two of the industry’s heaviest hitters: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Both tech giants in their own right, these two cloud-based offerings are two of the most trusted in the game, but which is best for your organization will depend on several factors, which we’ll discuss below.

Amazon AWS vs. Microsoft Azure

But First, What Is Cloud-Based Infrastructure?

Cloud infrastructure is among the basic products offered through the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model. It is intricate and carries a variety of components, including virtual servers, virtual PCs, virtual memory, virtual network switches, and virtual storage clusters.

With cloud infrastructure, users are able to create their own unique IT infrastructure, which comes with processing, storage, and networking fabric resources that are easily configured to a company’s preferences.

What Are The Benefits of Cloud-Based Infrastructure?

There are many benefits of cloud structure versus traditional physical infrastructure. For one, it does away with the frequent procurement, maintenance, and capacity planning that comes with the use of physical servers and storage. In addition to a low barrier to entry, cloud infrastructure also boasts low capital requirements and a low total cost of ownership. Typically, cloud infrastructure offers more flexibility in design with its easy set-up and ability to be replaced or deleted, and it is also highly scalable.

What Are The Primary Differences Between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure?

Amazon Web Services made its grand debut more than ten years ago, and it’s gotten progressively better since then. Operating since 2010, Microsoft Azure comes with its own long list of benefits, and while these two both share some similarities in their capabilities, there’s a world of difference between them.

AWS is known for stability, reliability, and an array of solid offerings. It groups IaaS offerings into four categories, which include:

  • Compute
  • Storage and Content Delivery
  • Database
  • Networking

With AWS, you can monitor your resource usage with innovative management tools like Amazon CloudWatch, and track API usage and user activity with AWS Cloudtrail. Other tools, like AWS Config, can be used for monitoring resource inventory and other changes.

Azure, on the other hand, is divided into categories such as Compute, Data Management, Performance, and Networking. It secures these services utilizing tools such as:

  • Azure Active Directory
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Active Directory Federation Services
  • Others

Azure also boasts service and integrations to help monitor and alert businesses about their performance metrics and logs.

While cloud infrastructure can be of great benefit to a wide variety of organizations across a number of industries, it’s a solid option for government agencies as well. In fact, both Microsoft Azure and AWS have dedicated areas for Government on their clouds, which ensures that their strict needs for compliance are maintained at all times. Both services are said to be compliant with ITAR, HIPAA, DISA, FIPS, CJIS, and other organization standards.

What Is A Hybrid Cloud?

Making the transition from physical servers to the cloud can be an arduous process for businesses. There are many reasons why organizations may choose to forgo cloud infrastructure in lieu of their own data centers for some aspects of the business. With this, Microsoft has created support for unique hybrid cloud configurations.

Hybrid clouds allow businesses to run cloud applications and deploy cloud-model applications and infrastructure, all with the comfort of your own on-premises resources. This seamless transition between the two is allowing a growing number of businesses to explore the benefits of cloud infrastructure without totally abandoning what is tried and true.

Which Service Is More Affordable?

Although there are many factors that make cloud infrastructure more affordable than its predecessor, the savings aren’t always cut and dry. Many of the costs associated with cloud infrastructure are due to user behavior in addition to workloads. While trying to predict the costs can seem futile, both Azure and Amazon have cost calculators to make the process an easier one.

Will I Need Licensing For Cloud Infrastructure?

When it comes to cloud-based infrastructure, many users are drawn to the simplicity of licensing. With the cloud, users are automatically charged for licenses based on usage. If you happen to work for a big company, chances are you already own a number of expensive licenses. Luckily, not all hope is lost. Moving to the cloud won’t result in wasted investments, as Windows offers license mobility for application servers that qualify.

Cloud infrastructure is saving many businesses time, trouble, and money. If you think your organization is ready to make the transition to the cloud, you’d do well to do your research to determine which of these two possess the tools you need to make the most of a new and improved infrastructure.

]]> Why do executives choose to bring in IT consultants to plan and enact business continuity strategies? Tue, 31 Jul 2018 21:10:40 +0000 A business continuity plan is one that ensures continuous delivery of products and services to clients, especially after critical operations have ceased, as often happens after a major disaster.

Business Continuity Strategies

How exactly does a business continuity plan work? This system is put in place to ensure that if your operations are disrupted for any reason, there are mechanisms in place to get things back up and running as quickly as possible. Years ago, this was not considered necessary by most business owners. However, with the number of severe disasters America suffers each year, it has become essential.

From one end of the nation to the other, disasters do strike. California now experiences more severe fire seasons than ever, not to mention earthquakes. All coastal areas, especially in the south and along the east coast are prone to floods and hurricanes. The mid-section of America is known as “Tornado Alley.” There’s seemingly nothing we can do to stop Mother Nature, but we can be prepared. As a business owner, this is a must.

The Role Played By IT Organizations In A Business Continuity Plan

Nowadays, most businesses depend wholly on their computer and networking systems for everything from customer service and shipping to billing.

Any type of disruption to your business operations can be costly in more ways than one. Often, the disruption turns out to be an IT issue. Certain industries are even more vulnerable. These include health organizations. They provide critical services to their patients. The whole nature of healthcare is providing excellent patient care. That means on-time, dependable services. In this sector, lives literally are at stake, so a business continuity plan is vital.

A Business Continuity Plan includes setting up, running, and maintaining backup systems for all data and applications. Most include onsite and offsite data backup and recovery initiatives.

Important Aspects Of An Effective Business Continuity Plan

Any plan must be well-thought-out and well-orchestrated so that it works correctly and quickly to restore access to files and apps. Below is a simple checklist with guidelines about how to create a Roadmap to your own customized Business Continuity Plan.

  • Conduct A Business Impact Analysis

This establishes the core mandate of the business. From this analysis, a business owner can derive the importance of the most critical services offered by that specific organization. The impact analysis should also be aimed at discovering the internal and external impacts that any disruption would cause. Once the critical services and products have been identified, they must be put on a priority list. The priority list should be based on other factors such as additional expenses, loss of revenue, and even intangible losses.

Some of the identified threats in a business include natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and tornados depending on the geographical area where your business is situated. Other general threats include fires, cyber-attacks, and even terrorist attacks. Each of these may have different impacts and so the recovery plan must be able to address each of these threats separately.

  • Designing The Continuity Plan

In designing your plan, you must also identify the specific person or department that will be responsible for its implementation in that area. In most instances, the IT department will be a big part of this, whether you’re using in-house personnel or IT managed services. Public Relations might also come in handy, especially in the event of a natural disaster. It’s important to keep your customers or patients calm during the crisis. Customers need and want to know what’s going on. Try to be as transparent as possible. This can help you avoid the loss of customer trust and brand reputation.

  • Facility Resources

What resources have been set aside to help in the recovery process? Your budget should include an allocation for unexpected negative events. Whether your office is flooded because of a plumbing leak, or the roof is torn off by high winds, you need monies in your budget allocated for just this type of incident.

For instance, cyber-crimes are becoming almost commonplace. In the case of a cyber-attack, are you prepared? What would you do if today, one of your employees clicked on a bad link and a ransomware virus was downloaded into your computer system? Do you have IT experts on staff who would know what to do? Are you prepared to pay a ransom of thousands of dollars to restore access to your database? Cyber-crimes are occurring with much more frequency. They can bring a business to a standstill in a moment’s time.

Testing Your Business Continuity Plan

This is the phase that comes immediately after implantation of the plan itself. Testing your plan is so important. You may have missed something critical during the planning stages. Now is the time to find out where the gaps are. This is your golden opportunity to fix those gaps and address all those issues. If you wait until a real disaster strikes, it could end up costing a lot more money to deal with the evolving circumstances.

Why Executives Work With IT Consultants

Tragedy strikes when least expected. Those who survive are the ones who adequately prepared for every contingency. Most business owners are simply not experienced enough to do all this legwork and planning on their own. It takes a specialized team of people to design, implement and test a Business Continuity Plan. That’s why so many of today’s savvy business executives hire IT consultants who specialize in this field.

A good IT consultant will come in and asses your current IT infrastructure. They will help you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. They will put together a plan that fits your budgetary requirements. In the end, you should be able to institute a much stronger business continuity plan for less money when you work with a professional IT consultant. They bring value to the process of planning for the unforeseen.

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