Knowledge Base

So Your Email is in the Cloud, Now What?

July 18th, 2017

The days of “the cloud” being a nebulous industry buzzword are over.  There are clear winners in the cloud services game and they are, as anyone would expect, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.  Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure are leading the field in cloud based server space, which is being utilized for everything from development to production to disaster recovery needs.  In the end-user facing arena, Microsoft’s Office 365 is far outpacing its rivals, with Google Apps a distant second, staking out territory primarily in the Not-for-Profit and Education markets.

To date, CIS has migrated over 250,000 client users or “seats” to the Microsoft cloud.  Typically email and collaboration services are the proverbial toe that clients dip in the water, testing if the cloud is really the right fit for their business, but the journey to the cloud shouldn’t stop there; email is just the beginning!

It has become imperative that any organization whose physical or virtual data infrastructure relies upon aging hardware strongly consider the Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS when planning the next evolution of the server room or IT closet.  Myriad benefits can be reaped from migrating critical company data away from antiquated slow insecure hardware that requires on-site maintenance and care, as well as an expensive monthly outlay for power, cooling, real estate, and other such costs; to a modern, secure, reliable, disaster-proof, mobile platform.

Change can be revolutionary!

Imagine the following scenario: 

You manage IT for a 50-employee accounting firm in Manhattan.  As anyone in that position knows, in this context, “manage” means “completely run everything on a limited budget, with limited tolerance for IT requests.”  This is as tough a role as there is in the IT world.  With few dollars to spend, every decision becomes critical, and the need to squeeze extra life out of each product purchase is paramount; which is why you’re now running 10 critical production servers in a virtual environment hosted on eight year old non-warrantied server hardware with a similarly aged SAN on the back-end.  You’ve made a Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) request for new hardware each of the last 3 years, and it’s been rejected each of the last 3 years.  You know your backups run, but you’ve never given them a full failover test.  Any critical issue with your server hardware could mean the end of your job, if not the entire company.

In this scenario, the traditional method would be continuing to propose the same large CAPEX project to replace old server hardware with new server hardware, working with Dell, HP, EMC, or other such manufacturers.  The traditional method will be a short-term fix for some of your challenges, but you will eventually end up back in the same situation, while continuing to pay the overhead associated with real estate, power, warranties, etc.  And that’s only IF your CAPEX request is approved!

If you’re smart in your new hypothetical IT Management job, you will surely consider a cloud based solution, built on Azure or AWS.  Either solution will require a migration project, so there will always be a year-one request, but in this scenario the expense will yield revolutionary change in how your organizational IT costs and capabilities.

Just a few of the advantages of considering a migration to the cloud:

  • Servers and related costs become Operational Expenditures instead of repeated capital outlay
  • Cost savings for server/SAN including real estate, electricity, warranty, security, HVAC, and operational charges
  • Behind hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of network security from Microsoft or Amazon’s infrastructure
  • Global server replication for disaster recovery and business continuity
  • Mobility and flexibility options for remote / at-home employees
  • Ease of management, monitoring, and collaboration
  • Predictable and flexible costs

A migration to the AWS or Azure platform can either move existing virtual servers directly in to the cloud, or setup new Windows Server 2016 servers in the cloud, with the data and roles transferred over to them.   As there is company growth and new servers are required, your hypothetical IT Manager character can provision them quickly and with minimal costs added to your monthly bill.

Similarly, temporary servers can be spun up then decommissioned for any specific project needs or “busy seasons.”  Going back to our avatar working at an accounting firm, for example, we can reliably predict that the firm’s computing needs are going to spike between January and May every year, and be far less demanding during the taxation off-season.  In a traditional server setting, it would be next to impossible for a small firm to repeatedly add server hardware and computing “horsepower” to the environment every year for only a few months.  However, by leveraging the cloud, you can create and eliminate servers at will, only paying for true utilization, and creating cost certainty as well as savings across the entire IT year.

Finally, through migrating to a fully cloud-based server environment, your firm gains significant mobility and flexibility.  No longer are users tied to their office or to an aging slow Citrix connection to critical data and applications.  Employees can work securely from anywhere in the world that can provide them internet access.  Similarly, leveraging these cloud offerings creates a server environment that is ironclad against localized outages or disasters in your office, city, or even region.  Both Microsoft and Amazon leverage redundant worldwide data centers, ensuring that your data and servers are always available.

CIS helps clients migrate email, data, and services to the cloud securely and successfully.  Available Managed Services programs further leverage the cloud to provide enhancements to performance, security, cost, and efficiency, translating to a better user experience and stronger KPIs for clients of all sizes.

At CIS, we see the future of Modern IT as smaller IT closets on premises, with cloud-based servers providing more secure and robust services, and affording all users the ability to work from anywhere, from any device, securely.

Want to make the journey to the cloud with us?  Contact your CIS rep, or click here to get in touch with us if we don’t already know you.  We look forward to the discussion!