OneView, our telecoms and lifecycle management solution, was always designed to run in a Cloud environment. We originally partnered with a local hosting provider and utilised one or two physical servers, but we rapidly outgrew this as our needs expanded.
So what did we consider when looking for the right Cloud Computing partner? Well, we needed three things – scalability, reliability and security. The more customers we engaged, the bigger our customer base grew and the more stringent the security requirements became. With this it became harder and harder for us to keep up.
Our big draw card with Azure was scalability. We could take on a new customer overnight and not give a second thought to whether or not our servers could support these changes. Sure, you have to invest more money but you’re happy to do so because you’ve secured a new client. This point ties into reliability. We didn’t want any services to go down or falter because our servers couldn’t handle the increased workload. We needed something that wouldn’t fail us when our needs grew.
From a security perspective, physical security was always our greatest concern. Any man on the street could’ve used some clever tactics to access the building housing our servers. Yes, they would’ve had to get through a number of security loopholes to do so but we didn’t want to run that risk. With Azure this can’t happen because they’ve taken so many industry-accepted precautions and have procedures in place to keep our data safe. Now, there’s simply no way anyone can physically access our servers.
Making the migration a success
Every environment is different. We started out by asking what our long-term vision was for our product. This was to have OneView be fully integrated and fully connected. To do that, we needed to have a reliable Cloud Computing platform. If we look at the breath of functions that OneView performs for our clients, our system requires the same secure, reliable and stable Cloud support used by large enterprises, because we support such a large client base.
Once we had this groundwork in place we could then figure out which portions of our application and modules were best suited to the Cloud and which can be moved at a later stage. What we learnt from this process was that it is so important to test the waters first. That way you can remove any roadblocks and mitigate any issues before it’s too late.
We actually pushed out our original migration date, which may have seemed like a bit of a disaster at the time because we were not sticking to our original plan, but we realised that we needed the time to do even more preparation to ensure a smooth transition. It turned out to be the best choice we made because when we actually made the move to Azure, none of our customers were negatively affected in any way.
The lesson we learnt from previous migrations was not to rush into anything and to communicate well, and in advance, with your customers so they know exactly what’s going on in the background and also share with them how the move benefits them.
Azure is constantly improving. Microsoft is constantly working on it and investing in Azure to make it better. The support structures around Azure help mitigate the roadblocks I mentioned earlier. Azure helps us provide our customers with a platform with the accuracy and consistency they need to keep their entire telecoms environment in check.
The nuts and bolts of our Azure use
We take advantage of Azure IaaS and PaaS components to make our product development more scalable, flexible and stable, with access to faster, more powerful and reliable resources. We utilise Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) to host our database environment, as well as various other business services. PaaS components, including the likes of Storage Accounts, Redis Cache and App Services are leveraged in order to provide flexible and scalable storage strategies and hosting solutions.
More specifically, we’ve made use of RESTful web APIs and Web Jobs in order to achieve a decoupled, Micro-services approach to app development. Additionally the use of Table and Blob storage has allowed us to store data and files in ways that are optimised for various usage scenarios often leading to improved performance while also offering additional redundancy.
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