As a longtime Microsoft partner, we approach new Microsoft products with patience (a nice way of saying “skepticism”), allowing them to prove themselves and mature in the market before we approach our clients about them. Azure, Microsoft’s innovative cloud offering is no exception and has been on a rapid pathway from the Enterprise space downstream to the mid-market over the past five years. In fact, according to Microsoft, they expect to drive $20 billion in annual revenue from Azure.

 In addition to the maturation of the product (a nice way of saying “working the major bugs out”), the awareness and comfort of the public need to reach a certain level before we start seeing mass adoption. We have observed a turning point in the conversations with our customers in the past six months, and many of the hesitations clients had about moving sensitive data to the cloud have dissipated. In fact, according to Microsoft, over 40% of their Azure customers are startups, a testament to significant comfort in the marketplace. Upward has invested significant resources into training our staff and migrating many of our own systems to Azure. And through that process, we have identified pathways that make sense for small and midsize companies to begin their transition to the cloud. This article will explain the three easiest ways to begin migrating your business to Azure.

First, there can be zealous hype around “the cloud”. Let’s review the practical business justifications for moving to a service like Azure in the first place. The first value is redundancy, these services provide excellent peace of mind that your data will not be susceptible to hardware failure, fire, theft or flood. The weak link becomes a company’s internet resiliency instead of their physical hardware.

The second value is flexibility, rather than buying expensive hardware that may be more than you need or less than you’ll need in the years to come, you can save money by constantly rightsizing the services to your needs.

Third value: more convenient access to data. The cloud offers an alternative to VPN connections with a home office server. Although authentication is still required (of course), there are ways to make the authentication process more convenient.

Once a business has philosophically made the decision that the cloud is intriguing, the economics may still not justify a wholesale move of everything your environment uses, as hardware is cheap these days. Here are some easy ways to migrate your business to Azure using baby steps:

Secondary domain controller in Azure

Your domain controller decides who gets access to your network and what data and access one has once inside. When a DC goes out, so does your network. Putting this service into Azure is cheap and provides great redundancy, while baby stepping your systems into the cloud.

Azure backups and site recovery

Moving your backup and disaster recovery to Azure is a very effective way to begin the transition to the cloud. In addition to backing up your data, this service keeps a server ready, near-line, in case your primary servers fail. If there is a failure the service will automatically recover and run your server environment entirely from Azure. One cool feature of this service: when the day comes to finally retire your on-premise servers, we can just failover to Azure once and for all.

Run your accounting program in Azure

Let me guess, you use QuickBooks? Most small businesses do, and unfortunately, this can be the last holdout application that makes a complete migration to Azure harder to justify. However, if a business is willing to spend just a little more money, QuickBooks (or any other local accounting program) can be run from Azure. By setting up what is called a Remote Desktop Server in Azure, we can present QuickBooks to all your employees with no latency from across the globe. This can also help solve technical challenges that can come from a local QuickBooks hosted file, helping to further stabilize the environment.

Even if you are a small business, the economics are starting to tip in the favor of using a fully hosted cloud service like Azure. If you are interested in making your business more agile and flexible, contact Upward Technology today to learn how Azure could play a role in the future of your company.