Kenneth Berry, partner relationship manager with WestcoastBy Kenneth Berry, Partner Relationship Manager with Westcoast

 

Azure Pricing: It can’t be that complicated, can it?

As the majority of my peers in the industry would say: “It depends” and unfortunately that is the best and worse answer a potential client can get.

However, I see this as the reason why we are seeing more and more clients move some of their infrastructure to Azure, as it enables more flexibility and agility.

When a client makes an upfront purchase, they are “stuck” for a want of a better word, with that for the lifecycle of that infrastructure, and more often than not they spend the last few years of its life sweating the asset and worrying that it might decide one morning to head for server heaven.

Pricing Azure is very simple:  just ask what compute, storage and networking you need?

And don’t forget to include electricity costs, IT labour costs, maintenance fees, out-of-warranty fees, virtualisation costs and other service provider costs (cooling) etc. when comparing it to an on-premise server investment.

This is a common mistake a lot of partners or end users make.  They don’t calculate the actual total cost of their current infrastructure to make a fair comparison with Azure.

If you price like for like infrastructure you will find more often than not, that Azure is slightly more expensive.  Keep in mind though that with Azure you are renting space in a multi-million-euro secure data centre and you can never hope to replicate that environment in the privacy of your own comms room.

One of my colleagues states accurately that you can get compute services in Azure at a lower rate than it costs to power a server for 1 hour. Compute can cost as little as 11 cents per hour, a KW of power costs 13 cents upwards1.

When you are looking at the actual cost of Azure, you need to include and work out all the costs associated with service provision.

From my point of view, Azure is an important consideration in any modern workplace strategy.  If you are simply migrating to Office 365 and using Azure for storage or using it for SAP Hana, what you should keep in mind are the practical benefits of Azure which are flexibility, capability, agility, security, disaster recovery and compliance.

  1. Flexibility and scalability: we have heard this from the start, and these are the main drivers for adopting Azure, i.e. having the ability to add multiple VM’s or a VM monster for minutes or hours to complete a complex query
  2. Agility: enable your business to test and develop new infrastructure/software offerings quickly and easily without the upfront capital costs
  3. Security: Microsoft is the subject of ongoing security breach attempts but it’s one of the most advanced security companies in the world with an investment of approx. $1 billion in the security of its data centres
  4. Disaster recovery: if you want disaster recovery quickly and easily, use Azure back up and site recovery through the portal
  5. Compliance: with GDPR already upon us all, Microsoft have for the last year ensured that their offerings are GDPR-ready

But coming back to the issue of pricing for a moment, Microsoft also offer opportunities to make significant savings.  With Reserved Instances for compute, savings of up to 25% can be made if you are willing to commit to a 1 – 3-year term, in a particular data centre location and running a chosen VM. Using a hybrid benefit, these savings can increase to 80%.

A great way to quantify the cost/benefits for Azure is to complete the Azure TCO Calculator, which will enable you to input the costs associated with your current infrastructure and the tool will calculate your potential costs within Azure.

From there, you can use the Azure Migrate tool, which can help you discover, mitigate issues, view dependencies and adjust and optimise cloud resources based on utilisation of your on-premise infrastructure. Both of these tools are free* to use and in my experience you should be taking advantage of them.

 

 

by Dave Northey, Azure specialist, Westcoast Ireland

Last week, with my “Westcoast Hat” on, a few colleagues, half a dozen partners and I got to visit the Microsoft Data Center in Dublin.

With my old “Microsoft Hat” on, I would have visited said location on numerous occasions, and am still amazed that on each visit, I get to learn something new – not because I hadn’t absorbed it yet, but because Microsoft had introduced something new: a new piece of innovation, a new way of doing something, or yet another new physical datacentre.

My visit to the Microsoft datacentre blew me away

The Dublin datacentres are just one of the (currently) 50 regions that support Microsoft Azure’s global infrastructure – they (obviously) also support Microsoft’s other commercial and non-commercial cloud products (Office 365, Dynamics, Bing, Xbox, etc).

I would love to just tell you about everything we saw and heard – but I signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement.  So with my lips sealed, let me point you at a couple of very good (short) videos that explain what we got to see in person.  If you’re even mildly interested in what Microsoft are doing in their datacentres (and have a couple of minutes spare), I highly recommend that you watch these:

 

Enjoy,

PS – If you have any Azure related “issues” that you’d like me to discuss in future blog posts, click on my signature (above) and challenge me.

John Bergin, managing director with IT Force and his thoughts on Microsoft Surface as a Service.

Each month we talk to a Westcoast partner and delve into an area of technology to get their perspectives on the market.

This month we talk to John Bergin, managing director of IT Force about Microsoft Surface as a Service.

Tell us a little about IT Force and your services?

Based in Dublin City, we deliver award-winning Managed IT Services and IT Contracting Solutions to clients. When engaging with any client, IT Force looks beyond simply delivering a service. Our objective is to become a reliable and trusted partner to all our clients. The process involves identifying their needs, understanding their business and the market sector in which they operate. We keep abreast of what is happening in the industry and what the trends are in our vertical markets as well as what is coming down the tracks. We stay informed as to how this will impact our clients and we ensure that they are kept informed.

Westcoast Ireland is the first distributor here to offer Surface a Service to the reseller and end-user communities here.  What has been IT Force’s reaction to the launch?

We were very excited to hear that Westcoast Ireland had this new offering. Westcoast are well recognised in the marketplace as delivering such services with flexibility and a high level of professionalism. Westcoast are able to offer our customers the ability to purchase the latest Surface technology in a way that’s convenient for them.

How have your customers reacted to this new offering?

The initial reaction from our customers is very positive. This offering enables companies to shift the high cost of acquiring new technology from a capital expenditure (capex), which they must depreciate, to an operating expense (opex). By doing so, companies large and small can free up cash for investment in strategic initiatives that drive revenue and growth.

Westcoast Ireland is the first Irish distributor to offer Microsoft Surface as a ServiceAre there specific industry verticals where you see SUaaS really taking off?

We pride ourselves on providing expert support to Dublin’s financial services industry. We have experience of building robust and resilient systems that provide maximum up-time and meet regulatory compliance requirements. We feel that this might be a particular industry vertical that adopts SUaaS.

Which Surface models do you see as the most popular?

We see a few distinct users of the surface – mid management or general user, senior management and senior technical / design personnel.

For mid management or general user the demand would generally be for an i5, 8gb ram, 128gb SSD, with Case, dock, Keyboard/ Mouse and External screen.

For senior management the i7, 16gb ram, 256 or 512gb SSD, with Case, dock, Keyboard/ Mouse and External screen seems to be most popular.

For Senior technical and design personnel we are noticing have a demand for i7, 16gb ram, 512gb SSD, with Case, dock, Keyboard/ Mouse and External screen(s)

Surface as a Service from WestcoastWhat appeals to your customers about the Device as a Service (DaaS) model?

Unlike traditional device procurement, which can leave companies with surplus computer hardware should they decrease the size of their workforce, DaaS offers flexibility. Predictability is another factor driving DaaS adoption. Since customers pay on a monthly per-seat basis, costs over the lifecycle of the device are more certain. Along with their subscription, customers not only receive the latest technology — they also have access to customised services and support, including device configuration, installation, data migration, onsite support and technology recycling, resulting in a more manageable total cost of ownership.

With DaaS, software applications are closely tied to the lifecycle of the hardware, ensuring more robust device security.  Are IT Force customers very conscious about security concerns?

Although the public typically only hears about cyberattacks against high-profile companies, banks and government websites, small businesses make prime targets for cybercriminals. Security is becoming an issue at the top of the agenda for small to medium sized businesses.

SMBs have evolved significantly over the past several years, and so too have their cyber security risks. Instead of having just a simple website or email server, the majority of SMBs today boast fairly complex infrastructures that include various combinations of on-premises, cloud and/or mobile networks.

The massive amount of data being generated from those networks presents a treasure trove for hackers, and a breach of that data can cause serious harm to any SMB, regardless of its size, location or industry. This has put security top of mind for many of our customers.

Can you see other hardware vendors adopting the DaaS model and what impact will that have on the device market and your business?

 It is very likely that other hardware vendors will enter the market. It will likely have a positive impact for customers in that their choice of devices will expand and the whole area of DaaS will become more mainstream.

Want to contribute to our next Q&A?  Just drop us a note and we’ll be in touch.