Microsoft Aug 26, 2020

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

In the first part of the interview with Stephan Verstegen, we discovered how important it is to have a cloud strategy, the benefits of hybrid cloud scenarios and how Microsoft Azure can reduce data centre expenditure. In this second part, we turn our attention to the topics of data protection and security, the modern workplace and the benefits of the partnership between Bechtle and Microsoft.

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Jens Käsbauer
Content Manager
Naturally, readers should not take this interview as legal advice, but what’s the situation in terms of GDPR and data security as a whole?

Microsoft aligns itself with European data protection standards and is GDPR compliant. Additionally, Microsoft is the largest certified provider in the cloud field and has all the relevant German certifications such as the Federal Office for Information Security’s (BSI) C5 certificate.

 

Plus, Azure customers may choose in which one of Microsoft’s 61 data centres worldwide they want to run their virtual machines.. You can have them hosted in Germany, in the US, or really anywhere you want. If you want, for example, to run an online shop that’s only for the American market, there would be significant latency if the data centre were in another part of the world. In this way, website operators can also ensure that they are compliant with the regulations in each country. That’s the short read on data protection and GDPR. For more detail, Microsoft has created  documentation to ensure transparency into which data is stored where.

 

When it comes to data security, Microsoft works on three layers: There are the physical data centres in which the Azure platform runs. These comply with the highest Tier 3+ standards and are equipped with a range of security mechanisms: Biometric access control, security guards deployed 24/7, video surveillance, locked cabinets and access to servers only for authorised personnel. Only very few businesses are in a position to maintain this level of security in their own data centres. At a software layer, all data is encrypted in the store and as it travels between the platform and the user.


Investing around US$ 1 billion annually in the continuous development of security solutions, Microsoft is underscoring its position as a market leader in the field.


On top of both of these, it’s possible to take additional steps to secure your data and leverage other security products so that, for example, data can be encrypted and access analysed and managed on the company side.  Customers can choose from a large number of providers and technologies to ensure security that meets their specific requirements. Something that is of particular interest to many of our customers is the possibility to use these tools not only in the Azure environment, but also to secure their existing on-premise infrastructure. Microsoft can thus also support secure hybrid scenarios by extending increased security in the Azure cloud into traditional data centres.

 

Microsoft has done a lot of work over the past few years in the field of data security. A fact confirmed by the Gartner Quadrant which puts the company among the best of the best. Investing around US$ 1 billion annually in the continuous development of security solutions, Microsoft is underscoring its position as a market leader in the field. This is of particular interest to our customers with hybrid solutions because the point where a classic IT infrastructure and the cloud connect is often a critical vulnerability.

 

This weak spot also presents a common challenge for businesses who are considering a switch to the cloud. Can businesses benefit from Azure in their own data centre?

Absolutely. Azure Stack is a pared-down version that is detached from the cloud and can be run in your own data centre. Microsoft is working with the big hardware players—Dell Technologies, HPE and others—so that IT departments can set up a solution that’s tailored to their individual needs within their own data centre. Once this is in place, the Azure platform can be operated to a limited extent on-premise.

 

The limitations are, however, a given. An on-premise system can never be as scalable as services sourced from the cloud, because the hardware used is not as flexible. Having said that, the admin tools are the same which, in turn, makes it easy to connect the Azure cloud platform to your on-premise data centre meaning that you can take advantage of the same management layer and technology benefits across environments.

 

In terms of the modern workplace, what benefits do you see with the Microsoft solution?

First and foremost, the way Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) interlink. Microsoft is one of the few providers whose portfolio covers all three as-a-service models. In terms of the modern workplace, which is inextricably linked to SaaS, it is of enormous benefit to run end-user and server apps (PaaS and IaaS) in the same cloud, and this, combined with Surface devices, gives businesses a perfectly harmonised package to support all things modern workplace. There is also a significant reduction in work  associated with managing solutions from different providers.

 

What does the partnership between Microsoft and Bechtle bring to the table if companies are looking to leverage Azure to migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud?

Bechtle customers can look forward to strategic consultation from the very start. Plus, as a partner of virtually all major vendors, Bechtle is not only in a position to provide vendor-neutral support in all licensing and contractual matters, thanks to Bechtle Clouds, customers get only a single contract and invoice for everything and we take care of licence management, too. Customers also benefit from our end-to-end services—from strategy development to implementation, to ongoing support during operation beyond the contract. This is what makes us stand out from other companies that only offer consulting services. Bechtle truly is a full stack provider.

 

As well as being by our customers’ side on the road to complete transformation, we can also optimise the existing infrastructure. Incidentally, one thing that we absolutely recommend our customers do is review their environment every six months. The reason is simple—not only are technologies constantly developing, so are the demands a company has of its cloud solution. It could be that switching to a cheaper package makes sense or that making a change would boost performance. There is also a ready-made package available for this, which includes an on-site workshop to develop recommendations and possible optimisations within the customer environment..

 

Conclusion.

Following the abrupt switch to working from home and the new working style that came with, companies must now modernise their data centres an organised, strategic and future-oriented manner. This encompasses on-premise capacities to be scaled up using modern cloud features in order to remain innovative and competitive into the future. Security features that can extend to the existing infrastructure ensure data are protected from unauthorised access.  Being able to choose between data centres enables compliance with national regulations and lower latencies. With Bechtle by your side, you can be sure you are following the right strategy and staying in control as you integrate new solutions into your existing infrastructure—on-premise, in the cloud, or both.