Aug 25, 2020

Working from home – Putting the horse back before the cart. Part I.

A few months ago, countless businesses were suddenly put on the spot to equip employees for working from home. Collaboration tools were introduced early on to keep teams productive and operations largely up and running. But where will we go from here? No longer the exception to the rule, remote workers must embrace a new day-to-day routine. And even companies that can’t afford agile working models as a permanent standard should keep the momentum that the current crisis injected into digitalisation going. Now is the time to get data centres ready for the future, and one way to do this is by replacing ageing server hardware with virtual systems in the Microsoft Cloud. Just how can you pull this off? Our expert, Stephan Verstegen, answers this and other questions in our interview.

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Jens Käsbauer
Content Manager
Which challenges are businesses currently confronted with?

IT departments are very focussed on the costs. Investments have to be made and there also need to be enough employees to maintain the infrastructure and respond to issues. Unfortunately, in most companies, available budgets don’t tend to grow at the same rate as expenditure, but this is where an Azure platform can contribute to keeping costs in check.

Another topic of discussion is the current situation and how it is affecting business operations. Within a short period of time, businesses were forced to send their employees home and ensure that they could work from there as quickly as possible. The first step was to leverage video conferencing solutions such as Teams, but after a few weeks it became clear that this didn’t quite cut the mustard. Sooner or later employees will have to access data, not just see people and the Windows Virtual Desktop on the Azure platform has received a lot of attention as a potential solution to this challenge.

 

You said that Azure can help reduce costs. Does that mean the notion that a cloud solution is initially more expensive is untrue?

If you have the right strategy and the right partner in place during implementation, a cloud solution is more affordable than purchasing an on-premise solution. Having said that, it’s not as simple as just moving everything into the cloud. Businesses need to innovate and adopt a change strategy that is in line with their modern requirements so that it is possible to dynamically react to new challenges and add or shed modules accordingly every month.  This is how a cloud solution can be kinder on the budget than purchasing an on-premise solution that doesn’t adapt. The beauty of cloud solutions is the possibility to scale server resources as needed meaning that businesses can add capacity for peak times—even just hours—and then downsize the same "machine" in quieter periods. Large in-house server farms are a stark contrast to this, with their steep up-front investments and often idling resources.

 

What’s the best strategy in order to make the process as cost-efficient as possible?

At Bechtle, we are largely aligned with Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework, which uses numerous best practice elements to guide businesses through the different phases of moving into the cloud. This starts with the strategic phase during which we work together with the various departments to determine their objectives and desired results. This is followed by implementation together with the customer’s IT department and finally roll out across the entire organisation and continued support after launch.

 

Split into six phases, this framework includes a variety of instructions and best practices at the end of which businesses have a future-proof cloud solution based on Microsoft Azure. Bechtle leverages this guide along with the experience gained from countless successful projects to support its customers. This allows us to cover all bases, think outside the box and ultimately find the solution that best meets our customers’ needs. For instance, sometimes the best way to go is to add a service from another provider to the mix..

 

To help things get off to the best start, Bechtle also offers a series of packages that have been designed with our customers’ current predicament in mind and which can also be specially adapted right down to the very last detail.

 

Can you give an example?

Imagine you only have a few weeks before support for the hardware you use comes to an end. You have to do something fast to make sure that your business can stay up and running. Of course, companies don’t head into this without a plan, but aligning the switch to the cloud with an actual strategy can easily become an afterthought. The processes is entirely different if the company has a lot more time to act. In this case, we first develop a strategy to guide the implementation so that we can react to changing needs and be in a position to offer our customers the right solution at the right time no matter if the situation calls for an ad-hoc or long-term solution. During the whole process, we never lose sight of the big picture as in the most cases, it is hybrid scenarios that are most likely to best meet the requirements of businesses today.


These days, IT departments tend to be faced with the question of whether a cloud solution makes sense at all rather than how many cloud solutions they would like to implement.


What, in your opinion, are the benefits of multi-cloud and hybrid solutions?

For one thing, we have authentication solutions which can be leveraged to link up clouds from different providers. Such applications are constantly being developed and more and more solutions are emerging that enable Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services applications to be linked up meaning the gap between two worlds can be bridged with just one product.

 

Or imagine you want to run a failover data centre and you’re now faced with the question of whether a physical installation is really necessary or if you can achieve failover through the Azure platform. Within the framework of a disaster recovery plan, the Azure platform-based data centre takes over the workload of the in-house data centre in case of an issue until it has been resolved. Typically, this happens semi-automatically. A similar failover mechanism can be achieved between AWS and Azure. However, our experience shows that the vast majority of German companies haven’t got to this point yet. These days, IT departments tend to be faced with the question of whether a cloud solution is the way to go for them, rather than how many cloud solutions they would like to implement.

 

Read the second part of the interview to find out how you can embed data protection and security in your organisation, learn about Microsoft’s view of the modern workplace, and how you can benefit from the partnership between Bechtle and Microsoft.

 

Read on.