Evoke Technologies which is using Microsoft Azure and Office 365 has got greater visibility into the business and is now poised for growth, thanks to its decision to adopt the hybrid model which makes transition to the cloud systematic and hassle-free. Now, the company spends more time in increasing its business and expanding core competencies rather than spending time and energy into managing the IT infrastructure. Crayon, which Evoke roped in to help it adopt cloud, understood the company’s processes and ensured smooth transition.
Dataquest had a candid conversation with Raghu Addanki, Director IT at Evoke Technologies Private Limited on the sidelines of hybrid cloud adoption. During the talk, we tried to understand as to how the whole journey has been. Excerpts:
Have you recently embraced a cloud-based licensing? If yes, what were the challenges, hindrances, issues that were faced? How did you go about evaluating one such solution that you have currently implemented?
We recently adopted Azure and Office 365.
By the time we decided to adopt cloud-based model, there were several comparative evidences strewn over the internet. A number of businesses across verticals had implemented cloud. Mining these experiences and evidences helped us in analysing the near fit cloud providert who could understand our needs.
We faced challenges in assessing the right cloud vendor, and also defining the roadmap for cloud migration. We did not want to squander time in running from pillar to post to understand various cloud offerings available in the market. Instead, we wanted someone who could understand our needs and guide us to adopt cloud.
Finding the right consultant wasn’t easy. We explored multiple options and sought presentations from major cloud vendors in the market. Many of them bore hefty price tags.
And we too had our own share of experience in the form of multiple POCs and performance tests.
From sizing, provisioning, monitoring to billing, we evaluated endless cloud offerings. While technically it was a fantastic discovery process with every atom of our brain thrilled, it was not easy to find the right object which could help us to kickstart our cloud journey.
Having evaluated a bevy of solutions from various cloud vendors, we decided to go with Microsoft Azure. And our initiative paid off.
Microsoft is known for delivering excellent customer experience. From our Partner Account Manager to PTS and from Cloud Program Managers to even the local Microsoft Partners, everyone helped us to embark upon this new successful cloud journey. They were able to comprehend our needs and thus made invaluable contributions to our cloud goal.
Their pre-cloud embarking experience gave more strength to our initiative. ‘Go Live’ has exceeded expectations and the operational efficiency has touched a new high.
After months of usage my sage advice:
1. Ensure you get top notch cloud performance at the lowest possible cost
2. Planning and migrating to cloud is an easy job for your experienced project or delivery managers, but assessing the right cloud solution will seal the fate of your cloud journey
3. To address the above point, use an already available cloud analytics tool and precisely project your goal
While most cloud pricing is on a decreasing note due to the market challenges, enrolling in Enterprise Agreements gives you more discounted pricing, and greater visibility.
Hence we decided to go with an EA.
How do you go about evaluating the pros and cons of moving to a Hybrid Model. What are the challenges in front of you while adopting to the cloud technology, and how would you overcome this?
Hybrid cloud solution to us has been an eye opener due to the fact that we realised it would enhance our IT capabilities. This model has the potential to increase reliability, performance, along with expanding our capabilities.
We found that we could easily control user access and identity virtually from anywhere. One potential advantage that it offers is that it reduces helpdesk calls for user accounts and passwords resets.
Our project and delivery teams can benefit from quick on-demand provisioning. Many administrative tasks are reduced. Our engineers can focus on strategic value.
Another positive aspect which the hybrid model promises is disaster recovery and backup. We found that this would help us protecting data and apps ensuring business continuity. We can easily send data copies to cloud and retrieve them at super-fast speed when needed.
My SQL Team that includes both developers and field engineers had been demanding this model for a long time. Since it is in place, they are able to focus on new applications instead of maintaining the infrastructure. Larger data sets can now be shifted to cloud.
Another reason for moving to the hybrid cloud is our set of business applications which we are optimizing for mobile. We wanted to make all our customer-facing applications optimized for mobile.
Well, these are some of the pros of shifting to hybrid model. However, there are a few challenges which are associated with hybrid cloud.
Scalability and flexibility with the existing on-premise DC/DRs and applications has been a challenge. Without inhibition, we would acknowledge that we had our reservations for adopting hybrid model. We wanted a ready-to-use offering that could help us to run applications and services in cloud from within our datacenter.
My operations team stressed that security, SLAs and management should be closest to the internal environment.
Azure comes with built-in capabilities and features. Our hybrid environment of Windows, Linux and MAC were then seamlessly integrated. And suddenly we witnessed an unprecedented increase in the operational efficiency of our Infrastructure team. Notably our security is greatly enhanced. Everywhere now we have multi-factor authentication deployed.
By moving to a more virtualised environment like the Cloud, how have you been successful in optimizing your investments in such technologies (from an ROI stand point)?
With our zeal of embracing future with predictable ROI and a targeted TCO, hybrid cloud model was no less than the Seventh Heaven for us. But during a meeting with one of my operations teams, I realized that there is more advantage shifting to the cloud, especially when our existing on-premise architecture required: buying and installing hardware, maintaining these systems and services, replacing outdated equipment, repairing infected devices and equipment, and updating the software. The maintainence of the existing on-premise infrastructure was a huge cost which we could apply to cloud. At the same time, we wanted to do away with additional costs that went into paying licensing fees.
Azure comes with a great service team. They are not just a sales team we interact with. With their years of customer experience, they know the technical challenges which most businesses face in migrating to cloud. Plus, they offer detailed billing insights using the Azure billing system.
What surprised us most is the fact that Azure is application-centric, not only in terms of the platform design, but in terms of support. Most of the performance glitches were easily taken care of due to the team’s experience.
Due to a lot of knowledge transfer between our teams, we now have ready to use performance templates. Whatever be the application performance needs, now we have the confidence to handle.
Azure billing is so transparent and understandable that you do not need to engage 3rd party billing providers.
Do you use any tools to keep a track of your IT estates – especially in terms of licensing? How did you go about evaluating one such tool. What are the challenges that you faced to stay compliant with your licensing? How did you overcome such challenges with Crayon?
We use a variety of tools to ensure organizational licensing compliance, thereby respecting and preserving the vendor rights. While I do not want to name the tools, we had severe problem of managing and maintaining them. While one tool would give me accurate information on warranty status, another tool would help me on software metering. We faced tough times in maintaining these multiple tools. A quick example would be, many a times they would fail to identify version differences between SQL Developer edition, Standard edition and an Express edition. This would raise alarm in the available licenses versus actual usage. Manual inspections of systems had become a common task and we were wasting countless hours in achieving compliance.
With Crayon’s involvement, things became a lot easier. We now need not worry about licenses, installs, products, user rights or anything else. My IT budget is now quite predictable with no surprises. Crayon SAM delivery is top notch.
We now focus on our business and customers, rather than squandering time in dealing with licensing nightmares.
In addition, Crayon being a software vendor guides us on the best possible discounts that exist in the market. It helps us plan our future software investments in an accurate manner. Plus, their experience on handling licensing and SAM has also proved an advantage to us.
Are you on an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft? How have you benefited with an Enterprise Agreement by way of flexibility to buy cloud services and licenses (ad-hoc procurement)? How did Crayon help you with this transition?
Yes, we are on an EA with Microsoft.
EA saves us considerable amount of money every year and provides us discounts. For example, our websites are 38% cheaper than the adhoc or pay-as-you-go model.
EA helps us to manage cashflow as we do not pay monthly. They bill us upfront for the year ahead. This gives us more visibility into the budgets. Even for the bills that exceed, they help us with quarterly payments.
Apart from buying licenses or paying cloud bills, EA gives us the flexibility of managing teams. We can roll up and manage all our subscriptions transparently.
EA is not expensive. Microsoft helped us to start with a minimal investment.
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