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Why You Need a Cloud-First Vision for Your Data Center

10 Apr 2016 by Jessica Hall

Committed to its own true transformation, Microsoft started with a bold vision for any enterprise: “All of Microsoft runs in the cloud.” Adopting a cloud-first approach to software and workloads, Microsoft Azure became the company’s standard infrastructure for the development and deployment of new programs and workloads. The enterprise also assesses its current infrastructure to identify other cloud migration opportunities.

Many physical data centers are reaching End Of Life (EOL) or facing closures, and Microsoft’s cloud-first vision has allowed the company to address these challenges well before they become real problems. With companies like Microsoft leading the way, there’s never been a better time for your company to advance its data center. In migrating to the cloud, you can mimic Microsoft’s approach by doing these four things:

Move commodity workloads to SaaS tools.

As part of the organization’s strategy to run entirely in the cloud, shifting workloads to Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions like Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365 has helped Microsoft consolidate its data center and increase efficiency. With Office 365 being a cloud-based productivity suite, it aligns with the change that many are making as a key strategy to enhance productivity and reduce expenditures.

Migrate new dev and apps to PaaS offerings.

Microsoft’s cloud-first approach included moving new development and contemporary applications to its Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution, Azure, to enhance the efficiency of its infrastructure. Reducing the limitations associated with physical systems, this cloud-based platform not only allows you to scale applications to any size, but you can also use any language, framework or tool to build applications.

Transfer current apps to IaaS solutions.

Transferring many of the company’s existing apps to Azure, which is also considered an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering, helped Microsoft address the challenges of two data centers facing closure and thousands of servers nearing EOL. While this has resulted in a substantial migration to Azure, the company has also placed an emphasis on balancing load across its remaining locations.

Leave what’s left in a private cloud.

The plan outlined that the few remaining workloads, which are typically bulky or unique in nature, would be optimized for Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V virtual machines. By the end of 2018, Microsoft predicts that it will have transitioned from its legacy IT systems to an IT environment that is primarily powered by Azure. With evolving business needs and strategies, data centers need to undergo modern-day transformations.

“Over the next five years, the profile, topology and purpose of data centers will change dramatically, driven by the digital world and the use of emerging technologies. Between 2013 and the end of2014, $1 billion of new venture capital funding went into the Internet of Things (IoT), and in 2014, more than $40 billion was spent by enterprises on designing, implementing and operating the IoT (see "Drive Digital Business Using Insights From Symposium's Analyst Keynote" for more details). At the same time, there will be an increase in investment around the Nexus of Forces (cloud, social, mobile and information) as many businesses focus on growth and new opportunities,” according to Gartner’s recent report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World,” published in October 2015.

Gartner proposes a modern data center strategy, outlining three distinct data center personality models to consider based on your organization’s workloads. Download Gartner’s report to learn about the next phase of considerations you’ll need to address in transforming your company’s data center.