Microsoft Azure Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft Azure Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft Azure launches 3 new tools to speed migration to hybrid cloud and optimize deployment

In a Microsoft blog post, the company detailed three new tools to aid in cloud adoption: Cloud Migration Assessment, Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, and Azure Site Recovery

Microsoft launched three new resources for the enterprise focused on getting companies to the cloud faster, and saving them money once they get there, the company announced in a blog post on Wednesday.

Most of the companies Microsoft executives work with are considering a hybrid cloud approach to their infrastructure, according to the post, written by Microsoft’s general manager of cloud platform marketing Mike Schutz. In order to best assist companies in understanding the size of their environment and how they can plan financially for a move to the cloud, Microsoft released three new tools focused on cloud migration and economics.

SEE: Build your own VM in the cloud with Microsoft Azure (Tech Pro Research)

Here’s a breakdown of the three new tools and what they can offer businesses.

  1. Free cloud migration assessment

This assessment will help customers more easily find and better understand their current server setups, to help them determine the cost and value of moving to the cloud, the post stated. Once the servers are discovered, the tool can analyze their configurations, and give the user a report of the potential cost drop of moving to Azure.

Additionally, data center administrators can export the results of the assessment into a customized report, the post said. For those looking to gain some extra funding for a cloud project, the report could provide some valuable data and statistics for your conversation with the CFO.

  1. Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

This tool is intended to save users money on their cloud deployments. According to the post, customers can activate the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit in the Azure Management Portal, which could save them up to 40% on their Windows server licenses, by optimizing what resources you’re using. The post noted that it is available on Windows Server virtual machines in Azure, to all customers.

“Use your on-premises Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance to save big on Windows Server VMs in Azure,” the tool’s web page said. “By using your existing licenses, you pay the base compute rate and save up to 40 percent.”

  1. Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery is meant to ease the process of migrating virtual machines to Azure. Applications running on AWS, VMware, Hyper-V, or physical servers can be moved. Additionally, a new feature in Azure Site Recovery will “allow you to tag virtual machines within the Azure portal itself,” the post said. “This capability will make it easier than ever to migrate your Windows Server virtual machines.”

Other features include automated protection and replication of virtual machines, remote monitoring, custom recovery plans, recovery plan testing, and more.

By Conner Forrest a Senior Editor for TechRepublic
Picture from Microsoft

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Cloud Migration done right

Cloud Migration done right

Lessons on How Juniper Networks made the switch in the cloud and what you can learn

There are many steps for a company to transition to the cloud. At the 2016 Structure Conference, Juniper Networks’ CIO Bob Worrall explained how the company is managing the change.

For many companies, transitioning to the cloud is a long process with many steps. At the 2016 Structure Conference in San Francisco, Bob Worrall of Juniper Networks explained his company’s strategy and provided some best practices.

Over the past four years or so, Worrall said, Juniper has closed 17 of its 18 data centers, and moved 85% of its applications to the cloud. By June 2017, he said, the company won’t have any corporate data centers remaining. Almost all of their apps will be running on Amazon Web Services (AWS), but their engineering assets will all be hosted on a private cloud, where they are adding their own tech and IP to make it a showcase for what they can do in networking, Worrall said.

One of the first considerations was the cost of moving to the cloud. On the engineering side, moving to the private cloud was a “no-brainer” in terms its financial impact, Worrall said. But, the transition away from their corporate data centers to the public cloud was a “fine line.”

Worrall said that Juniper, like many others, had to refactor their apps to run on the cloud, which was costly. So, he said, you have to pay attention to the cost model. Juniper designated some IT employees to look after monthly billing and bill statements to make sure they are continually optimizing for storage, and getting the most for their money.

For security, they created a team to think through security and compliance, and to make sure they’re meeting those needs. It took “grinding” to get the legal team comfortable with the cloud, Worrall said. But, they’re also investing heavily in network monitoring, logging, and inspection so they can more readily detect and respond to any issues.

The cloud has “retooled” the Juniper organization, Worrall said. Juniper has made significant investments in the skillsets needed for designing apps for the cloud, and refactoring them to run in the cloud. According to Worrall, the firm has bifurcated its development team to focus on those issues and they have added new employees who understand the cloud environments of Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.

The most critical skills, he said, are found among the people who know how to make these cloud platforms work together. So, they’ve hired more people in the US and India to look after that connection, and they use Oracle Fusion Middleware to connect all the clouds together.

Juniper’s vendor management team has also been strengthened to better look after SaaS contracts and vendor promises, to make sure their cloud investments are optimized.

While there has been a lot of positive reaction from employees, Worrall said, some people have left the company over time. As a response, Juniper is investing in existing employees to help them grow their skills. Companies should consider the impact that cloud will have on their workforce.

Craig Ashmole, Founding Director of London based CCServe stated, “There are commercial businesses that are taking advantage of the strategic moves that Juniper Networks have taken. This businesses can deploy green field Data centre sites in under a few weeks. This is real value.”

Picture above: Juniper Networks CIO, Bob Worrall, speaking with ZDNet's Stephanie Condon at Structure.
Image: Jason Hiner/TechRepublic

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

5G is Future of mobility

5G is Future of mobility

5G is coming and it is the future of mobile

In 5G, wireless will grow up into a true horizontal industry that provides a support system for literally everything

Scouting the news feeds on where we are going with respect to the world of mobility and up popped this interesting article written by Alan Carlton, who has 25 years in the wireless technology industry spanning 2G, 3G, 4G and beyond and of course the focus at this year’s 2016 Mobile World Conference is 5G and how it will take the use of mobility to new reaches for IoT.

It is fair to say that it is still early days for 5G, but research efforts have been rolling for some time and standardization is expected to start in the next few months. Perhaps the two most-cited requirements in 5G are the 1000x improvement in peak data rates (on LTE 2010) and a big reduction in end-to-end latency. These KPIs are important, of course, and keep us engineers pointed in the right direction. But really, they only tell a small part of the 5G story.

A better way to understand 5G is first through a historical lens. It is astonishing to reflect that this mobile industry adventure really only began a little over 20 years ago with the proliferation of GSM. In those days, peak data rate support was a massive 9.6 kbps! Today, deployed LTE systems have improved upon this metric by 100000x. Presented in this context, the 1000x goal of 5G doesn’t really seem so crazy, does it? GSM or 2G, of course, was not designed for data. 2G was designed really for only one thing: basic telephony applications. 3G raised the bar with a specification that supported more voice users and the beginnings of a mobile internet. 4G took this further with the first real system designed principally to support video. It is this evolution that has driven the 100000x. And further, it is this service roadmap that has also driven latency reduction on a parallel path. At the simplest level, 5G will certainly be about more of this. However, the true 5G vision is a lot more interesting.

In 5G, wireless will grow up into a true horizontal industry that provides a support system for literally everything. 5G is the first generation to target supporting the full array of vertical markets (e.g. Automotive, Transport, and Health) that in themselves will define the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). This is the real 5G challenge, and in this respect 5G and the IoT are simply two sides of the same coin. Think about this challenge: what do a car and a thermostat have in common? They are all part of the IoT! So, how will 5G go about tackling this “everything” challenge?

Think flexibility. Think simplification. Think re-imagination. These concepts will permeate all aspects of 5G from the services supported, how the network is designed, and all way down to the elemental new waveforms that may provide us with some new acronyms and labels for this fifth generation.

5G will be built on a foundation of established IT thinking. The cloud, Network function virtualisation, and programmable networking (aka SDN/NFV) will provide the cornerstones. These technologies inherently deliver flexibility and, at least through the eyes of any IT professional, are a lot simpler than the legacy approach of telecom. 5G will, however, take these technologies to new levels and depths of integration, and in so doing will shape the 5G specification that will be defined in the months and years ahead.

“Reading my previous blog on the IEEE predictions for technology advancement in 2016 both 5G and Network function virtualisation (NFV) are on the top of their list”, states Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London based IT Consulting firm CCServe. “The other item coming across is Containers, which hold SW application logic and all of its dependencies, running as an isolated process, and execute the same in any environment. This creates parity between dev and production, and enables developers to confidently break up apps into discreet chunks”.

SDN/NFV in telecom is a hot topic today, but where we are now only scratches the surface of its original vision. The focus of work in this area now is primarily Total Cost of Ownership and OPEX reduction through switch hardware commoditization and the efficient relocation of a subset of network functions.

In 5G, SDN/NFV concepts will be pushed much further, returning to the original value proposition, namely that of enabling true architectural innovation. In 5G, it will not simply be about virtualizing the network functions, but entirely changing the way of its inner working. Network evolution will be the frontline in the realization of many 5G requirements (e.g. low latency). Today’s internet is simply not designed to support low latency. However, through programmable networking, new, more efficient approaches will become possible.

In 5G, virtualization will touch every element in the system, spanning backhaul, fronthaul, and radio access. It is within this flexible, dynamically configurable fabric that system resources will be optimally and instantaneously orchestrated to deliver the next generation experience to end users.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

IDC 2015 Contact Centre Leaders

IDC 2015 Contact Centre Leaders

2015 IDC Worldwide Contact Centre CCaaS Vendor Assessment matrix

The IDC MarketScape study examines the key players in the worldwide contact center infrastructure and software (CCIS) market, analyzing  current capabilities as well as longer-term strategies

The CCIS market includes voice and digital media contact distribution, management, and agent-software clients, as well as self-service solutions for voice, web, and mobile devices used to offer customer service solutions as part of a customer experience strategy. IDC also examine the ecosystem and cloud (public/private) deployment, customer experience solutions, and mobile customer care solutions, as well as go-to-market models used by vendors to achieve these.

Key criteria that contribute to a successful CCIS offering include:

  • The ability to present a strategy that comprises key technologies that focus on the 3rd Platform of IT, including cloud (public and private), Big Data and business analytics, mobility, and social business functionality.
  • Vendors that present innovative strategies around partner management, pricing, and product packaging.
  • Vendors that can provide flexible delivery options for partners and customers as part of their video portfolios (on-premises, managed, hosted, cloud).
  • Business partnerships and sales channels that open up new markets for the vendor’s offering, yet still maintain a high level of support and customer care.

Twelve of the leading worldwide contact center infrastructure and software vendors profiled in the report are:-

  • ALE (formerly Alcatel–Lucent Enterprise)
  • Avaya
  • Cisco
  • Genesys
  • Interactive Intelligence
  • Intelecom
  • Loxysoft
  • Mitel
  • NEC
  • SAP
  • ShoreTel
  • Unify

Some of the key challenges for customers investing in contact center infrastructure and software are the identification of technologies, features, and applications that are most appropriate for their organisations, and more importantly, which source(s) they should turn to for deployment and expertise.

CCaaS leaders 2015

“Although there were 12 key vendors evaluated it is my opinion that the leader of the pack – Genesys – showed more diversification with regard to capabilities and ability to move with market demands, so this report has focused on the overall capability of Genesys.” stated Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London-based IT Consulting CCServe.

The three primary sources of CCIS functionality are:

  1. IP PBX/unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) vendor solutions and the enterprise network, such as Cisco, Avaya, ShoreTel, Unify, ALU Enterprise/Huaxin, NEC, Mitel, and Huawei.
  2. Standalone contact center solution environments from vendors such as Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, and SAP.
  3. Hosted/managed and cloud service provider solutions offered by facilities-based providers such as Genesys, inContact, Verizon, and 8×8.

Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution for contact center solutions, customers can choose from an assortment of features from these sources, which may require a little, or a lot, of integration to make the solution run on customers’ network infrastructure and/or within the bounds of their existing services/carrier contracts.

  • Many organisations find CCIS solutions complex and are not sure how they would go about managing and maintaining the environment. Therefore, having a solution managed by a third-party provider would help remove the complexity for them and alleviate the need to make internal investments in hiring appropriately skilled IT staff to manage and maintain it.
  • Businesses are looking at ways to reduce the amount of real estate to lessen operational costs and lower their carbon footprint generated by existing premises-based equipment. As a result, businesses are reducing the amount of hardware equipment they have on-premises.
  • Cloud environments can provide greater levels of automation, orchestration, provisioning, and deployment. Transitioning to the cloud can help organisations reduce operating costs, improve application performance, and better allocate their resources. However, contact centers are generally more strategic than, for example, unified communications (UC) solutions so the transition is slower and the ability for customisation can be less than a system on-premises or hosted by a service provider.
  • Businesses reliant on high levels of security will be more inclined to move existing solutions to hosted and private cloud deployments. In addition, many providers still need to do more work in terms of updating or bringing inadequate security policies to reassure companies that the transition to a cloud-based environment will provide them with the proper level of security.

In Summary:

“The CCIS market includes functionality that runs on standards-based equipment or purpose-built systems such as PBX. It has revived itself over the past three years with vendors active in several acquisitions, divestments, and partnerships,” said Jason Andersson, program director, IDC Nordics. “The movement to cloud is clear as investments in both hosted solutions and cloud solutions are beginning to make global headway.”

IDC expects 9.4% revenue growth in worldwide CCIS in 2015. Although premises-based solutions have garnered high attention in recent years, enterprise evaluations, trials, and ultimately adoption of hosted solutions (single-tenant) and cloud (multitenant) CCIS solutions will contribute significant growth predicted for the global market this year. Revenue growth will be driven by enterprises looking to retain capital, reduce costs, and improve customer experience, as well as by service providers refining their contact center strategies and product portfolios.

The full report covering all the vendors can be found on the IDC website but should you want to see the deep dive on Genesys covering their premise-based platform as well as the Cloud-based Contact Centre offering then you can read that report here.

Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe

Cloud Comparison Index

Cloud Comparison Index

The ISG Technology Insights Group Launches the Cloud Comparison Index™

The First Benchmarking Service That Compares Costs of Public Cloud versus Internal IT
Study Shows Usage Matters; Public Cloud Not Always Cheaper
Price Differential Among Public Cloud Providers as High as 35%

STAMFORD, USA ― Information Services Group (ISG), a leading technology insights, market intelligence and advisory services company, has announced the launch of the ISG Cloud Comparison Index™, a new advisory and benchmarking service that offers clients a first-ever view of how public cloud costs differ among providers and how they stack up against those of internal information technology (IT) solutions.

ISG plans to publish in-depth analysis every quarter and make the reports available via subscription to the AccessISG™ on-demand information and consulting service. Future reports will examine the relative costs of using the public cloud versus internal IT for a variety of infrastructure configurations, applications and workloads.

The ISG Cloud Comparison Index™ leverages internal IT cost data from ISG’s proprietary benchmarking database and compares it with the prices of public cloud configurations from the four major public cloud providers: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and IBM SoftLayer. The public cloud data is sourced from Gravitant, a global strategic partner of ISG.

“ISG is in a unique position to help clients understand the true cost of moving work to the public cloud, versus performing the work in-house,” said Todd Lavieri, president of ISG Americas and Pacific. “The ISG Cloud Comparison Index™ combines our market-leading IT cost data with public cloud pricing data from Gravitant – creating an incredibly powerful analytical platform that delivers new insights into the relative benefits of harnessing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings versus leveraging fixed-cost, on-premises IT assets. This unique combination of data sets offers CIOs and other IT leaders a solid basis for sound decision-making, along with an objective view of the complex and rapidly evolving market for cloud-enabled services.”

First Report Shows Usage Matters in Public Cloud Pricing
The inaugural report of the ISG Cloud Comparison Index™ shows the cost of running an application on an internal IT platform is cheaper than running the same program in the public cloud when compute instance usage is higher than 55 percent, but the pendulum swings in favor of public cloud when usage drops below that mark for certain configurations.

For specific infrastructure configurations, the study found the price of public cloud services varies significantly from one provider to the next, ranging from $811 per month to $1,096 per month at 100 percent usage levels. The cost of internal IT for the same configuration was $548 a month, 32 percent lower than the lowest public cloud price. Cloud instance usage is the percentage of time that a compute instance is running and accruing charges from the public cloud provider.

However, when the average usage level for public cloud falls to 55 percent, the cost of public cloud is at parity with the cost of internal IT. The cost advantage for public cloud increases significantly as the amount of time that instances can be released increases (that is, usage falls), the study finds.

“Pubic cloud is not always cheaper,” said Christopher Curtis, partner, ISG Emerging Technologies, and head of ISG’s Cloud Solutions practice. “It’s largely a factor of usage. High levels of public cloud usage can create scenarios in which internal IT is more cost effective; conversely, the cost advantage of internal IT disappears when public cloud usage is at lower levels, that is, applications can release more resources. The break-even point appears to be around 55 percent for the specific configuration we analyzed.”

Public cloud presents a compelling value proposition for enterprise buyers of IT outsourcing services, Curtis noted. “Think of it: pay for your infrastructure only when you need it, dramatically reduce capital expenditures and virtually eliminate the need for commitment, all while reducing the time to provision servers and storage. For most buyers, that sounds like a pretty good deal. However, buyers are discovering this value proposition applies only to selected applications and workloads, not to entire data centers,” Curtis said.

Other key findings of the inaugural ISG Cloud Comparison Index™ report include:

  • Prices for identical infrastructure configurations vary substantially among public cloud providers. At 100 percent usage, the price differential is 35 percent from the highest cost option to the lowest, with the range narrowing gradually as average usage decreases.
  • Public cloud prices are highly sensitive to usage. The price spread among public cloud providers is twice as wide at 100 percent usage as it is at 50 percent usage.
  • Usage is the primary driver of cost in the cloud, but configurations and features also play a significant role. Different configurations and additional options, often specific to each cloud provider, can dramatically influence the break-even point between public cloud and internal IT costs.

“Enterprises should avoid viewing the public cloud only as a lever to reduce operating costs, as they do with traditional outsourcing solutions,” said Curtis. “Instead, they should view public cloud as a way to reduce or eliminate future capital expense by avoiding over-provisioning of internal IT resources to meet high levels of periodic demand. Public cloud creates significant cost-avoidance opportunities for volatile workloads. Applications with the most wide-ranging usage patterns are strong candidates for the cloud.”

“There are horses for courses in the usage of cloud services and what works for one company may not be the best for another.” Stated Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London-based IT Consulting CCServe. “To create viable business cases for workload migration, enterprises increasingly will need a deep understanding of the nuances of various pricing models, as well as how those models relate to specific workloads.”

To read the inaugural report of the ISG Cloud Comparison Index™ in its entirety, click here.


Having spent a majority of my career working with and supporting the Corporate CIO Function, I now seek to provide a forum whereby CIOs or IT Directors can learn from the experience of others to address burning Change or Transformation challenges.

Craig Ashmole

Founding Director CCServe