Five Azure Options for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs)


Editor’s note: The following post was written by Windows Server for Small and Medium Business MVP Sharon Bennett

Five Azure Options for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs)

As I speak to MS partners from across the country, a single theme always emerges from the discussions: “how do I make Azure work for my SMB clients?”

Azure is big and it is not like our traditional on-premise implementations. Back in the day, a typical implementation would consist of a few servers, desktops, switches, etc. We would set up the environment systematically, working through the checklist: install server, promote to DC, configure roles, setup member server with LOB applications, the checklist goes on. For the most part, it was the same basic procedure for each client. Once the client was setup, we would then explain to them how to work within the confines of the software and the implementation. It was a one-box-fits-all type of solution.

Azure has changed that. Now, instead of squeezing the client into the pre-defined box, we can apply different boxes to the client to give them the best possible solution. Azure provides boxes in several shapes and sizes that can be tailored to each client’s business needs. Here are the five most popular Azure services that work well for the SMB client:

  1. Backup
    1. Azure backup provides an easy and automatic backup for servers (2008 R2 and higher), client machines (Windows 7 and higher), and Azure virtual machines. These backups are encrypted, compressed, and most importantly, off-site. 
    2. Disaster Recovery
      1. Azure Site Recovery, without the requirement for System Center, enables us to make a replica of our on-premise VMs in Azure. It is the perfect DR solution for SMBs, as it is easy to setup, and well within the budgets of SMB clients. 
      2. Enterprise Mobility Suite

EMS combines three standalone products: Azure Active Directory Premium, Intune, and Azure Rights Management. Combining these 3 services facilitates you to control and manage devices, users, and data.

Azure Active Directory Premium – from multi-factor authentication, to reporting and single sign on to 2500 SAS apps, and on-premise synchronization, AA is your identity management and control center in and for the cloud.

Intune – manage the explosion of the BYOD movement in your clients’ environments. Register and manage these devices, including the option for selective wipe of devices, and password resets. Publish apps for your users and manage it all from a single pane of glass.

Azure Rights Management – keep data safe as we move away from the traditional brick and mortar environment. ARM allows you to control where your data goes and who has access to it.

  1. Virtual Machines
    1. Azure virtual machines enable the SMB clients to expand the datacenter to Azure. VMs can be used in a variety of ways, from production to test/dev. There are several advantages to using Azure VMs over on-premise virtual machines. 

                                                               i.      Fast – a fully configured SQL server VM can be up and running in about 10 minutes.

                                                             ii.      Scalable – scale up, or just as important, scale down as your environment changes.

                                                            iii.      Consumption-based – you only pay for the resources you use.

                                                           iv.      When finished with the VM, you can delete it.

                                                             v.      Licensing, for the most part, is included when you use a VM template. Please check the specific licensing details for non-MS VM templates.

  1. Remote App
    1. Hosting Line of Business applications has never been easier. Using Remote App in Azure, you can offer the LOB applications to clients using the secure and familiar Remote App interface and keep the data secure in Azure or on-premise. 

 

These are just a few of the services to help you help your clients. Keep in mind that they can be used separately or in combination with each other, depending on what is best for your client. Azure is a great option for SMBs as it provides a flexibility that SMB clients have never had previously. It enables these clients to grow as big as they want to; both they and you are no longer limited by resources, or on the other hand, the lack of. From app development to websites, SQL databases, and content streaming, Azure can be customized for each client. Now that your clients can focus on growing their businesses and not what they run on, their SMBs will be given the opportunity to grow.

 About the author

Sharon Bennett brings over 20 years of IT experience from a variety of roles, including running her own business as an Small Business IT Consultant. She is a Microsoft Small Business Specialist, MVP, MCT (alumni) and holds several Microsoft certifications. Sharon is an IT Blogger (Biz-Tech’s Top 50 Must read IT Blogs 2013), Best In Biz International judge, author, teacher and active member of her local community. Follow her on Twitter @bennettbusiness 

About MVP Monday


The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.

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