Azure DevTest was the topic of the 2nd SAM Club Azure User Group meeting, that was held this month at one of our clients who kindly hosted in a central London location. The number of clients attending increased and all those in attendance agreed that the discussions are useful and interesting.
Microsoft started the meeting with a ‘hot off the press’ announcement that Azure can now be purchased direct from Microsoft. The Azure price will be based on the US$ exchange rate which will be set at the beginning of each month with Microsoft making a commitment to not make a profit on exchange rates. The benefits were discussed around flexibility of billing and being able to move away from the ‘use it or lose it’ format of the minimum monthly commit, Azure SCE agreements.
Organisations using Azure can still purchase via their preferred reseller also.
Microsoft talked about the Cloud 9 portal which was recently acquired and how this can help analyse usage.
Azure DevTest – Test and Development in Azure
The discussion then focused around the agreed topic of Azure DevTest environments which tends to be a popular starting point for moving to Azure.
Open discussion between our clients identified some of the issues they have with their developers and managing their needs.
Some of the key points were:
- Understanding of the developer’s specific requirements
- Backups and ability to spin up new systems quickly with the latest copy of the live system
- Balancing overheads for storage requirements
- Development teams always want more space/resource which can’t always be provided easily or quickly
- Number of people working on an app at the same time
- Visual Studio license credits being allocated to an individual, there is a need to pool for a team of developers
- Controlling costs, how can IT heads manage developers spend in Azure
- Access required to full dataset / data security – where is the data?
Some benefits Microsoft highlighted around Azure Test and Development labs:
- Ability to set spending thresholds and set up alerts at spending levels and the ability to turn an environment off when required
- Central reporting
- Multitenanted so multiple users can run apps at the same time
- Pool Visual Studio credit into test and development labs
- Complete cost management control – can set a period of the day developers can access
- Allows Dev teams to spin up new environments when required quickly
Microsoft talked about their client Centrica who have been using Azure test and development.
Azure App Service
The Azure App Service was briefly discussed as an option for clients to move apps from on-premise to cloud and deploy web/mobile/API apps.
The issue around some of the legal vendors not being on board with cloud was raised with clients as a blocker to this. In house apps could be used within this service.
Microsoft discussed running use cases with Microsoft technical teams to use chatbots within Azure to help fee earners. Azure cognitive services could help potentially analyse initial case communications to drive efficiency with ability to search precedence library as an example.
Azure Infrastructure Cost Analysis
Microsoft mentioned that they provide funding for full infrastructure scans using a Movere – described as a MAP Toolkit on steroids. The scan is run for a minimum of 2 weeks up to a month and aligns all apps and infrastructure to a cost in Azure.
Taking a high-level lift and shift exercise considering existing licenses i.e. SA for Hybrid Use Rights can save up to 70% of the costs.
Calculating the compute for 1 or 3 years for always on production applications and using Reserved Instances will also help to reduce costs.
The next meeting
As security and data breach keeps coming up in discussions around cloud it was decided that for the next meeting we invite Stuart Aston, who is Microsoft National Security Officer along to share Microsoft’s stance on security and compliance. All attendees will provide their list of questions for Stuart before the meeting so that they can be addressed. If you are interested in attending the next meeting, which is being held on 9th April, in London then please get in touch for further information.