U.S. Air Force Solidifies Azure Hosting and Dell EMC Hardware

On 17 November 2017 by Pete Petersen

Air Force

With a $1 Billion deal, the U.S. Air Force has granted a deal that further solidifies the direction of cloud providers, specifically Microsoft, and hardware providers, specifically Dell EMC, specifically as solid and proven partners in just about any environment out there. There have been concerns and hesitations over the past few years around embracing a cloud-focused solution rather than rolling your own and continuing keep your own hardware on-premise. Let’s review some of those concerns.

Security and Audits

In a recent post about Artificial Intelligence, it was mentioned that during Citrix’s annual customer event,

…One of the guests on stage with Kirill was Jim Noga, Chief Information Officer of Partners Healthcare in the Northeast. Jim said something that struck a significant chord. He said to the effect that Azure and Citrix as providers are much better at Cyber-security than any individual organization. Now, instead of being a security risk, the right cloud solutions are now ways for us all to secure our environments, their functions, and importantly, their data.

Passing regulatory audits has been regular fare by both Microsoft and Dell EMC on Azure and Dell EMC hardware for many years. This $1B deal makes it clear that both vendors are ready–and have been ready–for the most rigorous security tests.

Scalability

Scalability, really, and elasticity, are both primary selling points of moving to the cloud in the first place. Having the ability to spin up and take down resources on demand in a dynamic fashion are ways to save money, more easily plan for growth, and better utilize resources in a cyclical business where resources need to grow and shrink periodically.

Availability

Moving resources to the cloud, specifically to Azure, make some of your environment’s problems come to light more easily. As an example, in order for an environment to truly shine in an Azure-hosted environment, your networking plans must be solid, your Active Directory forest/domains need to be clean, and your applications need to be well defined and understood–especially their data flow requirements.

But this is really nothing new. Having a bead on your own stuff is critical whether or not you move some or all of it up to Azure, or whether you keep it at home on Dell EMC equipment. Either way, this is not different.

In addition, analyze Azure’s uptime numbers against your own, whether for specific applications, or overall. You will be hard-pressed to find an environment with better availability than what can be found on Azure–and even on Office 365 for that matter.

Cost

Run the TCO numbers in your own environment, and be sure to include all soft costs, personnel, backup, disaster recovery, business continuity, all software, hardware, maintenance, Support, etc. That all has to be rolled into any cloud offering, plus margin to pay the hosting organization, in this case, Microsoft and Dell EMC. If your plan is to spin up machines exactly like you have on-site and leave them on and not manage them, then you’re likely to pay more on Azure than on-premise. But if you manage your resources well–and depending on your workload–you may be able to save by moving up to Azure. But like all things, your mileage may vary.

In the end, cost is one thing. While considering cost, also consider the other business and technical benefits from hosting.

Flexibility

Another consideration is that you don’t get to own the hypervisor or control the versions of large swaths of the stack. But another question is: Do you need to? You’re used to it, but is it necessary? In some cases of rapid development or technical competition, it is understood, but in most SMB, Commercial, Enterprise, Education, and Government organizations, really needing that level of access is a means to an end. What is really needed is a way to get users, students, staff, access to their applications and data in the most efficient and secure way possible.

Ready For Anything

With all of that said, with this Air Force deal, there should be little doubt that both Azure and Dell EMC are ready for anything.