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Data Centre to Cloud: Best for Microsoft Workloads

There are a number of options for running your Microsoft workloads: from your own servers in your company, to leased resources within an external data centre, to the public cloud, where you share the cloud resources you need with other companies.

Each model offers advantages. But what suits your Microsoft workloads best? We present the benefits and introduce you to the different operating models for workloads, so you can decide what's best for you independently - On-Premise or Cloud?

Back to the roots: What we mean by Microsoft Workloads

Before we dive into the different operating models for your Microsoft workloads, it's important to brush up on the basics. What exactly is meant by a Microsoft workload?

Before we dive into the different operating models for your Microsoft workloads, it's important to brush up on the basics. What exactly is meant by a Microsoft workload?

Workloads are basically, in the cloud computing space, a collection of IT resources that include servers, VMs, applications and data. They thus support a defined process or application. In practical terms, you put together a package of necessary resources that support the execution of a process. A workload can also be used for several processes.

In the Microsoft context, a workload is a collection of Microsoft-specific IT resources such as Windows or Microsoft SQL servers or applications.

You can find more information on the different types of workloads and their structure and use in our article "Microsoft workloads in the public cloud".

The journey of your workloads begins: From data centre to the public cloud

The public cloud and the three major hyperscalers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are now an integral part of everyday IT life, almost as natural as using Windows programs. IT services can thus be provided virtually in a completely new way. However, in order to be able to use the public cloud successfully and to operate Microsoft workloads via it, sensible preparation and migration planning are required.

There are various ways in which workloads can be migrated from a data centre to the public cloud of your choice: Public cloud service providers either redeploy your cloud environment or transfer parts of your existing infrastructure to a new location to a cloud provider of your choice.

Public cloud computing fundamentally provides you with IT resources and services that are detached from the underlying infrastructure. These are distinguished by their scalability, transparency and performance. A public cloud solution is no longer about your own server, the server configuration on site in your company or the same in an external rented data centre as an outsourcing model, but about a shared environment with many users, highly secured and above all virtual.

The three major hyperscalers have numerous locations for their data centres, spread across the globe. Amazon Web Services, for example, has 24 worldwide locations, so-called regions, which in turn are home to a total of over 70 Availability Zones.

The public cloud is configured in such a way that it, and thus also your Microsoft workloads, can be set up easily across multiple locations, countries and continents. For you, this means maximum security for hosting your workloads.

Once you have decided which workloads are to be run in a cloud in the future, the responsibilities must be defined as to how they are to be migrated. The fact is that the applications and data that are combined in the respective workloads must first get to the cloud provider's server.

In order to realise the practical step into the public cloud, the data centre operator must therefore transfer large amounts of data of the workloads from the physical location to the public cloud of choice in a secure process and with as little disruption as possible for users. If new workloads are to be created in the process, they are generated directly in the cloud.

Here are some reasons why the public cloud is good for you

In addition to the regions already mentioned, which give you the freedom to choose where your cloud environment and thus your workloads are hosted, the public cloud holds other advantages, regardless of the provider.

Migrating the workloads in the AWS Cloud in most cases causes lower total cost of ownership, due to the cheaper operation of the workloads. The services booked in the cloud can in principle be billed using the pay-per-use principle, which again increases cost transparency.

In addition, the large hyperscalers provide a range of ready-to-use services. Amazon Web Services, for example, has more than 230 AWS services in the area of security, compliance and governance.

One important thing to note that when it comes to running workloads in the public cloud is that they do not necessarily have to be run in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. Other hyperscalers, such as AWS, hold specific benefits that make the case for switching. In this regard, there is also no workload that cannot be run in the AWS Cloud. Amazon Web Services has also been investing in developing workload migration strategies to its own public cloud for more than 12 years.

Data center vs. cloud - these are the deciding factors in workloads

There are a number of differences between the data centre, regardless of whether it is managed in-house or rented from an external partner, and the public cloud. These must be taken into account when considering the ideal operation of your workloads. The table below lists the points to be considered. In addition, these are described in detail in the following section.

  • Managing workloads
    When it comes to managing your cloud infrastructure, you either need specialised staff or a public cloud partner who takes care of your workloads. Running your own data centre places complete responsibility on you, requiring management and maintenance. With rented data centre resources, workload management remains in your hands.
  • Ownership of the infrastructure environment
    In the public cloud, multiple customers share the same physical infrastructure, with each customer environment logically isolated. Your cloud environment is fully secured, and only you have access to your stored data. In contrast, your data centre or server landscape is in your possession due to significant investments, and only your employees access the resources.
  • Investments for future workloads
    In the public cloud, no investments are needed as your workload volume grows. As your data centre reaches capacity and more workloads need to be set up, investments become necessary.
  • Workload operation costs
    Your public cloud environment follows a pay-per-use principle, meaning you only pay for what you've actually consumed by the end of the month. (Microsoft) workloads running on the respective cloud platform are billed based on various parameters and can't be priced flatly. In the data centre, workloads are typically billed at fixed prices.
  • Security for your Microsoft workloads
    Opting for the public cloud allows you to rely on the security provided by the provider. For example, AWS offers more than 230 services dedicated solely to the security of your Microsoft workloads. In a data centre, the security aspect, like all IT services you operate, lies with you and your staff.
  • Scalability of your workloads
    One core feature of the public cloud is scalability. The required resources for running your workloads can be scaled up or down within minutes, providing you with full flexibility. In a data centre, such flexibility is often limited – once you've invested in servers or selected external data centre resources, you have them available for a period of about 3-5 years. Scaling up then requires additional investment.

Optimization potential for your workloads: check performance and costs

Not every workload is automatically best suited to the public cloud. The two leading providers in the market, as per the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services 2021External Link, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, engage in fierce competition when it comes to workloads.

According to a report by IDC in 2019External Link, Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform offers twice the performance of SQL Server and is globally present with twice as many availability zones – a total of 77 zones in 24 regions – compared to the next major cloud provider, Microsoft Azure. With a server location in Frankfurt, Germany, for instance, you have the opportunity to operate your workloads in compliance with GDPR, or you can leverage one of the 230 services that offer quality data encryption.

Not every type of workload lends itself well to cloud environments in the same sense. The key is requirements: some workloads perform better either on-premises or in a virtualized cloud environment. A good example is workloads that need to store, process, or retrieve large amounts of data in a short period of time, and that require huge amounts of network bandwidth. These are predestined for dedicated environments. Even workloads with high demands on the shortest possible response times are often unsuitable for distributed computing environments.

When choosing the location for workload operation, it's important to consider both the required performance that needs to be delivered and the incurred costs.

To uncover potential optimization opportunities for migrating your workloads to the cloud, experts recommend a cloud assessment. This assessment includes not only a cost-related check through a comprehensive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis but also evaluates which services are necessary and in which environment they can be delivered most efficiently from a cost perspective.

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