Moving to Azure – Costs and Considerations

Back to basics – What is Cloud?

We’ve all heard of the cloud but what does it mean for your business? How can our valuable operational data reside safely in the cloud?

Public Cloud has been around for just over a decade, spearheaded by services offered by Amazon Web Services and adopted by the US and global enterprise sized bodies around 7 years ago. Since then, public cloud platforms from competing giants Google’s Cloud Platform and Microsoft’s Azure have been playing catch up.

However, in the last year, Microsoft’s Azure has seen an unprecedented migration of SMEs into their largely Microsoft Windows-based platform.

Where is the Cloud?

Data centres owned by Cloud providers store hundreds of servers and thousands of terabytes of data in a secure location. Essentially you are renting someone else’s servers without the associated cost of ownership and maintenance. These are geo-specific, in other words, you can specify the country that your data is stored, a must for GDPR compliance.

Each region operates multiple locations, so should a data-centre go down, your data is still available.

So, Why Azure?

Simply put, Microsoft’s Azure offering is the closest relation to the traditional computing model used in Windows-based office networks. This presents Windows-based environments the path of least resistance into any cloud platform.

In real terms, this means lower cost of migration.

With the worldwide adoption of Windows 10 and Office 365 as the de facto in an office environment, it’s the obvious choice for the majority of SMEs. Add to that fact that Microsoft offers huge economies of scale in licensing scale when you one stop shop Windows, Office 365 and Azure resources from Microsoft.

A great example of this is the “Microsoft 365” license that includes the largest combination of Microsoft subscription licenses in the software giants history.

What does a migration look like?

Most SMEs opt for one of two approaches. Ditch the old multipurpose server, move data and email to the 365 Cloud and go serverless. Alternatively, if line-of-business applications or big data applications are prevalent, migrate some traditional services now using the lift and shift methodology, then move the reminder later when pricing and flexibility become more favourable. This results in what we refer to as a “Hybrid Cloud” deployment.

So, this all sounds great… but how much does it cost?

Traditional tin box server hardware starts at several thousands of pounds, and needs to be reaplced every 4-5 years. On top of that, you have perpetual Windows software licensing costs, user licensing, installation and migration labour.

Serverless Microsoft 365 starts at £16 per user pcm and includes £9.40 Office 365 license that you likely already pay for. They also throw in Windows 10 for those machines that you didn’t get round to upgrading for free. AND you get access to Microsoft Mobile Device Management platform, Security and Compliance Centre EMS and InTune.

Migration costs are approximately the same or less than the traditional tin box server approach.

Creating a hybrid deployment requires servers in the Cloud and start from around £120pcm for a 15 person outfit with limited storage requirements and 24/7 availability. Migration costs are slightly cheaper than a traditional on-premise server since it can be achieved almost entirely without visiting site. Servers are prebuilt from a template and take seconds to create.

In broad terms, with the latest pricing revisions from Microsoft, 5 years’ subscription equals almost the same price as a “tin box” server solution.

So, if it costs about the same or perhaps slightly more – where is the added value? Resilience, scalability, security, availability, reliability, flexibility, performance and compatibility. Cloud is superior in nearly every way.

Unless there is a genuine business case to keep data in-house for compliance reasons, technical and operational value can be found everywhere you look. Cloud services are paid for through subscription, rather than through one-off capital outlay. A model that many businesses prefer from a cash flow perspective.  Often overlooked is the future-proof nature of creating a solid Cloud infrastructure. With the tidal wave of AI in full flow, can you afford to miss out on this opportunity to take advantage of these emerging virtual technologies that are born in the Cloud?

Sounds great, when can we get started?

Our Microsoft certified consultants and engineers relish the opportunity to work with new and existing customers alike to develop migration strategies and work with your teams to deliver migration projects to agreed timescales.  Get in touch today and we can start talking about your migration to the cloud.

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