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The State of the Microsoft Cloud

10 Mar 2016 by Jessica Hall

Microsoft must be on cloud nine. During its first fiscal quarter of 2016, the company reported that its sales of Azure were twice what they were last year, generating an 8% increase in revenue. Projecting that the platform’s widespread acceptance among companies will only continue to increase, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, estimated that the company’s annual cloud sales would reach $20 billion by 2018.

In leveraging Microsoft’s popular and robust cloud offerings, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can help you keep pace with your competitors and meet customer needs. According to Gartner, more than 40% of enterprises will have implemented hybrid data centers by 2018, up from 10% today (Gartner, Use Hybrid Data Centers and IT Service Continuity to Enable Digital Business, June 9, 2015. John P. Morency, David J. Cappuccio and Rakesh Kumar). Your portfolio is — or soon will be — changing to a combination of in-house, hosted, Software as a Service (SaaS) and other cloud-computing platforms. Maximizing your internal IT resources as well as your MSP’s offerings will be critical in accelerating the transition to this modern, blended model.

Combining Microsoft’s robust offering with a seasoned MSP, you won’t need to worry about managing this mix. Consider partnering with a well-vetted MSP when transitioning to Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud for these three reasons:

It's not always an easy transition.

With an intricate blend of solutions and tools, workloads often can’t go through a one-to-one migration. Additionally, utilities and capabilities leveraged within your organization may not easily be substituted by SaaS and, in many cases, won’t easily integrate into cloud platforms. In fact, to remain competitive, core business functions often rely on a workflow that leverages many different out-of-the-box and custom applications that need to be regularly improved. The right MSP can help uncover the complexities of your company’s migration, offering careful planning and going through the process of aligning current workloads with much-needed Microsoft cloud solutions.

“Building an app that spends its entire life in the same public cloud is the ideal cloud application model. Stepping outside of this model is more realistic, but it presents challenges for I&O professionals. The cloud conversation often centers on connectivity and movement of apps, increasing interest in open source tooling to bypass aspects of vendor lock-in, excitement around containers, or API management,” according to the Forrester report, “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015,” which was published December 1, 2015.

Knowing that many enterprise applications aren’t suited for public cloud, an MSP can help you determine which apps can be moved over and which should live on-premises or on localized cloud offerings.

Decrease the resources devoted to managing these solutions.

By transferring the management of SaaS apps to the provider and an MSP, your internal IT resources can gain additional bandwidth to focus on initiatives that have more value to the organization. Additionally, MSPs can manage the “cloud handshake” — and this is where these providers shine, as MSPs have had to evolve to effectively address and manage integrated IT environments.

Microsoft is also providing solutions and services to help both your MSP and company implement and run this modern-day model. As James Staten, chief strategist of enterprise cloud at Microsoft, points out, “Our Operations Management Suite, Azure Stack, newest version of SQL Server, Azure Active Directory Premium, Visual Studio Online and StorSimple are all natively heterogeneous solutions that give you consistency and manageability across blended deployments, making native hybrid application design, advancement and delivery simpler and more productive.”

Security is twice as sound.

You’re undoubtedly seeking a partner who will safeguard your data and operations with an end-to-end vision for the security of cloud-based software and platforms. Microsoft makes sizable investments in protecting companies with their state-of-the-art, enterprise-grade computing offering and in-depth security expertise.

In working with an MSP on transitioning to Microsoft cloud solutions, many of these partners take these four additional steps to reduce their customers’ risks, ranging from targeted attacks to user error:

  1. They’ll design your comprehensive infrastructure to be secure by taking an integrated approach to security.
  2. MSPs can help implement internal controls, detailing processes that will provide for a highly protected environment.
  3. MSPs constantly monitor physical environments or select partners who do the same.
  4. They seek to standardize security, using several security layers.

Few companies have the resources to protect against ever-evolving security threats. Microsoft does, helping companies defend against, detect and address security challenges, and an MSP serves as an added layer of protection.

The recent Forrester report tallies the development and sophistication “of each interoperability and migration category,” allowing you to make an informed choice when considering a move to the cloud. With in-depth expertise on the subject, our opinions and knowledge were tapped in the creation of this report as one of more than 25 enterprise and vendor thought leaders. (Insight is listed as a resource on pages 2 and 12, and indirectly positioned as one of the thought leaders on page 3.)

Download Forrester’s “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015” report to explore key considerations for planning a move to the cloud or altering your current cloud infrastructure.