Azure Platform Solution

Azure Platform Solution: State-of-the-Art Managed Services for Azure

24 June 2022

Hybrid Cloud
Technology review

If you want to outsource management of your Azure environment, you can always rely on Inetum-Realdolmen. We're now raising the bar for ourselves even higher with the Azure Platform Solution. "We've completely reassessed our managed Azure services offering,” says Rik Delva, Solution Manager Multi-Cloud. "We now have a mix of proactive and reactive services based on automation, flexibility, and a collaboration model."

In a rapidly evolving and competitive market, companies want to put their business first and offload concerns about their IT infrastructure. And IT departments want to focus solely on strategic IT tasks with higher added value for the business. Inetum-Realdolmen frees up customers to do just that by providing the perfect solution with managed services for infrastructure.

Public cloud: fundamentally different

"Over the years, our Managed Services have freed our customers from the time-consuming management of their data center infrastructure. No matter where: on-site, in our Rcloud data center or in the public cloud," says Delva. "But a public cloud like Azure is so fundamentally different from a traditional data center environment that you also have to provide a different, customized managed service. That's exactly what we're doing now."

The list of typical features and functions available in the public cloud is long and includes self-service, high availability, generally unlimited scalability, and elasticity. "Managed services have to take all that into account," stresses Delva. "For instance, Microsoft Azure's pay-per-use model makes it financially attractive to switch off specific systems at night. And the elasticity of the cloud allows you to constantly focus on having the right data center capacity." In theory, many possibilities are available, but in practice someone has to find out about them, use them and follow through. Unfortunately, this often goes sideways.

While the public cloud creates lots of additional opportunities, it also presents organizations with many additional challenges. The extreme flexibility of the public cloud inevitably introduces certain risks and hazards. Combined with the self-service option, this flexibility can lead to additional and even exorbitant costs. "If your governance isn't in order, you will literally get the bill from Azure," adds Delva. "You probably don't want to have someone run a test on a service that costs you 5,000 euros a month. And, to make matters worse, you forget to switch it off."

With Azure, you also have lots of options for managing security and compliance. "You can even secure the public cloud better than an on-site environment," stresses Delva. "But you have to do it right. If you don't, you could give the entire world access to your cloud environment and your business-critical data could end up on the street."

Agile and DevOps

The world has also changed significantly on a different front in recent years. In response to businesses requesting quicker time to market, development teams have switched from a waterfall methodology to an agile methodology. There they work in sprints of two to at most four weeks at a time, and deliver functionality at the end of each sprint.

Data center teams must keep up with this evolution. This leads to development teams and operations joining forces, making DevOps a general practice. "This means our cloud engineers become part of the development team. During development, they focus on providing the necessary infrastructure components, paying special attention to non-functional requirements such as security, scalability, performance, and so on," says Delva. "And they do this using Infrastructure-as-Code to take advantage of automation.”

Next gen datacenter

Automate to free up time with the Azure Platform Solution

The cloud is an extremely dynamic entity. Weekly, if not daily, Microsoft brings out new updates and services to improve the performance, scalability or reliability of your Azure environment or simply lower its cost. It really pays to monitor all of this closely, and keeping up with the evolution of the Azure platform is virtually a full-time job. "Most of our customers simply can’t afford to keep a close eye on this evolution and acquire and maintain the necessary skills. Our years of expertise with the public cloud and managed services, together with comprehensive automation of management tasks, allows us offload our customers and help them get the most out of their Azure cloud. And that's exactly what we do with our Azure Platform Solution," Delva explains. "Automation not only ensures a faster response to specific events, it also eliminates human error when providing services. So, automation also significantly impacts the quality of service and allows us to keep this service as affordable as possible."

Platform Layer: basic service

Azure Platform Solution

The Azure Platform Solution, Inetum-Realdolmen's innovative offering for managed Azure services, provides a better overview of the cloud environment with its wealth of options. The new service consists of four building blocks. The first is the basic service, called the Platform Layer.

"In the basic service, we monitor our customers' Azure environments using a high degree of automation," Delva explains. "If we detect a problem, such as a parameter deviating from the norm or a component not working properly, our service automatically generates an alarm and notifies the customer." Inetum-Realdolmen supplements this dynamic monitoring with formal reports that give customers basic insights into their Azure environment, including cost and security.

Additional building blocks

As part of the basic service, Inetum-Realdolmen regularly communicates with customers about any incidents registered in their Azure environment. If certain incidents recur in these reporting sessions, we take specific actions in the environment. This is where the second building block, Service Reliability Engineering, comes into play. "Actually, this part of the solution can be regarded as a fixed budget that the customer agrees on with us. This is where we continually optimize the cloud environment on the DevOps front together with the customer team," explains Delva. "This amounts to reserving capacity within our team of Azure cloud experts. That's why we work with our customers to assess the support they need. We can then respond to all of a customer's needs and issues within the agreed scope and actively intervene in their Azure environment."

The two remaining building blocks are optional services that extend the basic service or Platform Layer. Inetum-Realdolmen offers these services as in-depth cost and security management under the Proactive Services banner. "This usually involves recurring tasks or actions," Delva explains. "For instance, we may agree with a customer to spend one day a month analyzing the cost of their Azure environment. This way we can clearly identify their main costs and, if needed, where they can save money. We can do the same for the environment's security or architecture. Governance is the key to this – when you start a cloud project, it's important to carefully consider certain aspects, such as security, identity, network, cost management and policies. This isn't a one-time task; it must constantly be reassessed. That's exactly what we do with our Proactive Services."

Lastly, Inetum-Realdolmen offers Specialized Workloads, which provide managed Azure services that go far beyond pure platform management. A good example is the Application Performance Monitoring service, which greatly enhances application management. Other options include backups and patches for the Azure environment. "Some customers already have a standard solution in place for this, so we offer these services as an option."

Every customer can receive a proposal tailored to their specific needs. This proposal consists of standard, highly automated building blocks that have already proven their worth with other customers. "And just like a public cloud environment, our Azure Platform Solution is constantly evolving. Stay tuned for further upgrades to our solution," concludes Delva.

Do you want to know more?

For more information you can get in touch with your regular contact, or contact us at info@inetum-realdolmen.world or +32 2 801 55 55.

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