Congratulations, your company finally decided to try Microsoft Azure or Amazon’s AWS cloud services. Great choice, both have a robust suite of services that are flexible, scalable and cost efficient if managed properly. If you’re like most companies you probably are starting with less than a handful of servers or only intending to run an application or two. Now that the decision is made, what’s next?
First you must figure out what infrastructure services are needed (i.e. system design) based on the application(s) stated system requirements. So far so good. For the sake of this article, let’s say the application requirements state that you need an Application server, a SQL server, and a Web server to optimally run your application. From the Azure or AWS service console you select the appropriate server type and size (vcpu, memory, storage, redundancy) and initiate the build. You wait awhile and when initial load is completed you discover that the servers are built but only with the operating system or maybe SQL Server (depending on your selection). Basically the environment is a blank slate.
At this point you might feel you are ready to install your application, but wait, more system configuration is required beforehand. Important tasks like; network configuration (VLAN, Firewall, Site-to-Site connectivity etc.), storage / LUN configuration, and Server configuration (authentication, roles & services, monitoring etc.). Don’t forget to think about optional services like backup, hardware redundancy, site recovery and many other operational services needed to complete your environment.
Alright, you accounted for all the important services, configured them and now you are ready to install your application. Great, off to the races right? Well sort-of, please don’t forget someone still needs to provide daily management and support just like any other environment. That’s correct; you the customer are still responsible for the daily operational management and support. Items like; Active Directory, Connectivity, Patch and Virus Protection, Virtual Server Platform Operations, Access Control and Management, Local and Geographic Redundancy (if selected), Pro-active Performance Monitoring, and Technical Support / Incident Tracking & Escalation to name a few.
Now you are off to the races provided you have the in-house technical talent to provide and manage all the services. If not, don’t worry, Managed Server Providers (MSP) are companies that have the technical talent and the support mechanisms to make your first venture into the cloud a successful one.