Traditional offices have lost value in 2020, with remote working proving to be safer and more convenient while maintaining or even increasing productivity. That’s with effective organisation, at least: a strong working-from-home model needs the right support structure. Failing to have a robust framework is what leads to the most common problems with remote working.
These problems include team miscommunication, data mismanagement, inadequate resource allocation, and operational insecurity. Offices are inevitably easier to control, ensuring a level playing field, but companies vary wildly in their mastery of remote working. Some have excelled such that they may never go back to expensive office rental, while others continue to struggle.
Businesses yet to crack the formula need some assistance with getting work done, and it’s the SaaS industry that stands to provide it. In this article, we’ll be looking at Microsoft Azure, a powerful cloud platform with the potential to radically transform a remote working environment. Companies of all kinds should consider it, and cloud resellers should position it accordingly.
What exactly does it bring to the table in the context of home working? How can resellers lay out its strengths and convince their clients to invest in its use? Let’s answer these questions.
What is Microsoft Azure?
One of the biggest cloud computing services on the market, Microsoft’s Azure platform offers wide-ranging functionality covering services and applications. It currently features over 200 distinct utilities, deploying them together under one banner: users can pay for the features they want and disregard the rest. This means that every implementation of Azure is unique.
It isn’t just the power and flexibility of Azure that makes it appealing. It’s also the provider. In addition to having some of the most high-performance hardware in the industry, Microsoft also offers the defining desktop operating system in Windows 10 and the class-leading office suite in Office 365. With all Microsoft systems finely tuned to work together, there’s evident value in committing broadly to Microsoft’s digital ecosystem.
Microsoft Azure vs AWS
AWS, or Amazon Web Services, is one of Azure’s biggest competitors, so there’s obviously a lot of interest in how these two massive suites compare. In truth, they’re both excellent, offering numerous services, incredible scalability, and rock-solid reliability. That said, though either would be a strong choice, we recommend Microsoft Azure for one simple reason: integration.
The average business runs chiefly or exclusively on Windows computers, and while AWS is a viable option, it will always make more sense to increase an existing investment in Microsoft services. Not only will it yield better results — Azure, Windows and Office 365 are designed to be used in combination — but it will also prove more economical: the greater the investment, the more money can be saved.
Furthermore, as providers of cloud services, our established relationship with Microsoft and in-depth understanding of its systems allow us to offer expert guidance for any resale partner looking to package Azure most effectively — and even provide client support.
What does Microsoft Azure offer the remote worker?
Having introduced Azure and set out why we recommend it above alternative solutions, it’s time to delve deeper into why it has such rich potential for remote working. Of the 200+ listed Azure products, there are many that are relevant here, but the following warrant special attention:
Windows Virtual Desktop
Virtual machines are easy to shape and deploy through Azure, and Windows Virtual Desktop is the service used to handle them. It may be common for business employees to have decent work laptops, but not all companies can afford them, and there’s still the tricky matter of getting them configured and maintained. Having employees at home (or out of the office in general) work through remotely accessing virtual machines makes a lot of sense.
Based entirely in the cloud, a virtual machine can run at a level of performance than a regular machine could, and be significantly more secure. In the unlikely event that access to a particular VM is compromised, it can simply be replaced with another. When new employees are hired, the onboarding process can be greatly sped up by simply spooling up new VMs with all the necessary tools and data attached.
When businesses operate in the cloud, they can become concerned about data retention. Working from local drives with several levels of redundancy feels quite safe, whereas keeping data in the cloud — in virtual machines, no less — seems much shakier. It’s also much more difficult to prevent accidental file deletion when employees are scattered.
Usefully, Azure Backup can securely store and retain everything from individual files to full VMs, throwing in multi-factor authentication to keep vital data shielded from prying eyes. What’s more, since it’s fully automated and baked into the system, it’s vastly easier to implement than a comparable local backup system ever could be.
Some companies are still viewing remote operation as a temporary measure, assuming that they’ll return to their offices once it’s safe and resume viewing remote working as an occasional necessity and nothing more. Most, though, have resolved to either continue working remotely or go back to their offices but with a lot more flexibility.
Among the latter group, what of those with substantial on-premise systems still in play? To hit maximum productivity and consistency, they’ll eventually need to migrate those systems to the cloud or convert them to hybrid setups. Azure Migrate can help with that, making it intuitive and straightforward to get everything moved to the cloud.
Azure Media Services
As evidenced by the rise of Zoom, demand for large-scale business communication tools has risen dramatically — but each tool has drawbacks. What if a company wants to hold a company-wide training session with maximum video quality for clarity and high-level security to prevent anyone outside the company from tuning in?
That’s where Azure Media Services becomes extremely useful. Fully compliant with key regulations and rich with options for formats, quality levels, dynamic encryption standards, and even digital rights management systems, it’s superb for keeping business-related media streams within the Microsoft ecosystem and protecting them from outside intrusion.
How to package Azure as a remote working solution
If you’re interested in reselling Azure licensing, or you already do but want to offer it specifically as a working-from-home solution, you need to package and pitch it with your customers’ needs in mind. Companies trying to get better at working remotely are likely to be interested in one thing above all others: convenience. They’ll also want to save money in the long run.
Due to its rich integration with other Microsoft products and its huge range of relevant services, Azure can certainly offer that convenience — but be aware of the learning curve. You’ll need to handle the implementation, and probably provide extensive training as well. Partnering with intY, then, is a smart way to proceed: whenever you need assistance, you can lean on our expertise.
Turning to Microsoft Azure’s convenience, power and stability is a great move for any business trying to figure out how to make the best of the working-from-home model. With so many ways to license it as a reseller, you need to think carefully about how you can present a compelling pitch. If you need assistance, intY is here to help.