Managed Cloud Services for Azure

Since its launch back in 2010, Microsoft’s Azure platform has become a go-to resource for modern businesses. According to recent data, nearly 70% of organizations—including over 95% of Fortune 500 companies—worldwide are leveraging Microsoft Azure for their cloud services needs. In this article, we’re going to explore Azure’s cloud offerings by answering a few big questions:

  • What is Microsoft Azure, and does my business need it?
  • What are managed cloud services, and what are the benefits of cloud managed Azure services?
  • How can InterVision help my business to manage its Azure services and keep critical systems, applications, and data secure?


What Is Microsoft Azure, and Does My Business Need It?

Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform brings together over 200 distinct products and cloud services. Together, these services are capable of powering an organization’s analytics, storage, and networking needs within a single, scalable environment. Bringing so many mission-critical cloud services into one cohesive platform helps businesses to leverage the services they need, when they need them, solving many logistical, organizational, and security challenges.

One of the biggest value propositions offered by Microsoft Azure’s platform is the ability to leverage the available services within a single subscription. This takes a substantial amount of responsibility off of in-house IT teams, as a managed services provider (like InterVision) will handle much of what would otherwise be the customer’s responsibilities in configuring and managing items like:

  • Event and incident management
  • Change management
  • Configuration management
  • Security management
  • Patching
  • Backups
  • Cost Optimization


What Kinds of Organizations Use Azure?

Azure is widely used across a number of industries. According to Microsoft, a few of the industries that rely on Azure the most include:

  • Healthcare
  • Government
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial services
  • Retail

Exactly how these organizations use Azure varies, but what they all have in common is that Azure empowers them to develop practical, effective solutions for their most pressing challenges. From the development and implementation of personalized healthcare to optimizing risk management in financial services, Azure serves as a dynamic toolbox.

That being said, many of Azure’s core offerings are consistently in high demand across different industries and use cases. We’ll look at these next.


What Are the Core Azure Services?

While Azure offers over 200 distinct services, they can be categorized into four core service categories. What are the 4 service categories provided by Microsoft Azure? Compute, analytics, storage, and networking. Here’s how TechTarget defines them:

  • Compute, including services that “enable a user to deploy and manage virtual machines (VMs), containers and batch jobs, as well as support remote application access.”
  • Analytics, including “distributed analytics and storage, as well as features for real-time analytics, big data analytics, data lakes, machine learning, business intelligence, internet of things (IoT) data streams and data warehousing.”
  • Storage, for “scalable cloud storage for structured and unstructured data. It also supports big data projects, persistent storage, and archival storage.”
  • Networking, including “virtual networks, dedicated connections, and gateways, as well as services for traffic management and diagnostics, load balancing, DNS hosting, and network protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.”


What Are the 3 Types of Cloud Services Azure Offers?

Organizations can take advantage of Azure services through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model. One of the primary differences between each of these models is how the responsibilities—for development, configuration, security, and so on—break down. 

  • Within a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, an organization leverages a comprehensive, cloud-based application that is managed by the third-party provider. Everything—from initial deployment and configuration to ongoing maintenance, optimization, and more—is primarily handled by the service provider, making it an excellent arrangement for organizations with relatively small head counts. 
  • Organizations that opt for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) take on a little more responsibility while outsourcing less of the overall workload. Within a PaaS arrangement, the service provider hosts the hardware/software platform within its own infrastructure, and organizations can then develop and manage their own apps within that supported platform.
  • Finally, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides a more practical breakdown of what an organization manages and what the service provider handles. With IaaS, an organization pays for crucial, back-end IT infrastructure services (like virtual servers, data storage, and networking), as they’re needed, but runs and manages their own applications. 


Here’s another way to see how Azure services are delivered within each model:

Azure SaaS services list

  • Hosted applications/apps
  • Development tools, database management, business analytics
  • Operating systems
  • Servers and storage
  • Networking firewalls/security
  • Data center physical plant/building


Azure PaaS services list

  • Development tools, database management, business analytics
  • Operating systems
  • Servers and storage
  • Networking firewalls/security
  • Data center physical plant/building


Azure IaaS services list

  • Servers and storage
  • Networking firewalls/security
  • Data center physical plant/building


What Are Cloud Managed Services?

When an organization invests in managed cloud services, it essentially means they’re going to off-load some of their in-house IT teams’ responsibilities to a third-party. That third party will develop, deploy, and manage all or part of their cloud infrastructure, including hybrid IT models. Learn more about InterVision’s managed cloud services for Azure.

Representing a complex and important set of tools, Microsoft Azure is well-suited for multiple managed cloud services models.   


What Is Managed Services vs SaaS?

In short, managed services is a more comprehensive approach in relation to SaaS. When an organization invests in a (standalone) SaaS solution, they purchase services that are delivered via the cloud, which the organization then uses and manages however they see fit. By leveraging a managed cloud services model, organizations don’t have to devote their IT team or resources to manage the SaaS solution on their own—instead, the managed services provider handles items like event and incident management, configuration management, security, and more.

One of the biggest values of the managed services model is that an organization gets not just a working platform, but also support resources, networking, hardware management, security, and more.


What Is the Difference Between Cloud and Managed Services?

Another bit of terminology that’s important to note is the difference between cloud computing and managed services, which do overlap to an extent. The key difference between these two items is that the managed services model, again, adds an extra level of insight and management over cloud computing as a standalone model. 

  • Cloud computing includes a wide range of components, with essentially every application and server hosted in a central data center. This includes everything from servers, hardware, and storage to networking, monitoring, and analytics.
  • Managed services include additional IT strategies and management, data security, network connectivity, virus and malware solutions, and more. Managed cloud services offer a more comprehensive solution for consolidated infrastructure, storage, security, maintenance, and optimization in cloud environments.


What Are the Benefits of Cloud Managed Services

The benefits of managed cloud services are wide-ranging, but the most-cited reasons for managed cloud service provider (MCSP) adoption include considerations related to personnel, costs, security, and enablement.

  • Cloud MCSP adoption empowers organizations with access to personnel with the right skills. Not every company is a Fortune 500 company, but working with a managed services provider like InterVision can help fill in the gaps, meaning organizations can have 24/7 access to expert resources and guidance. This can free up in-house resources and personnel to focus energy on higher value-added activities like:
    • Innovating new products or solutions.
    • Developing strategic initiatives.
    • Developing new applications.
    • Balancing their on-premises workloads effectively. 
  • Cloud MCSP adoption can reduce costs, and make them more predictable. By consolidating providers, an organization benefits from predictable, consistent costs. Because MCSPs provide support and security as part of their subscription cost, organizations can save money over “break-fix” services.
  • Cloud MCSP adoption provides greater security. Would it surprise you to learn that “misconfiguration of cloud resources remains the most prevalent cloud vulnerability,” one that can provide bad actors with access to an organization’s cloud data and services? It’s true, according to the NSA. Organizations can gain peace of mind through managed cloud service providers who will work to ensure that all best practices and data compliance policies are followed, and potential risks are effectively mitigated.
  • Cloud MCSP adoption better enables organizations to meet their business goals. No matter what an organization’s maturity, size, or objectives are, cloud MCSP helps ensure that the IT infrastructure and security are well-managed for the present and scalable for future needs. A managed service provider will also support your IT teams with expertise around new cloud-native technologies as they emerge, and help you to understand exactly how cloud MCSP could benefit your company.

These benefits—and more—increase the potential usability and ROI of Azure’s core services. According to Forrester research, embracing the managed services model provides, on average, a 228% ROI. Learn more about InterVision’s managed cloud services offerings and how they can benefit your business.


What Is a Managed Service Provider in Azure?

Azure managed service providers like InterVision work with organizations to identify the best solutions for their business, and how to get the most value out of them. (Please note that InterVision supports other solutions as well, to determine the best value and fit for your needs, but we’re focusing on Azure in this article.)

One of the most important things an MCSP is concerned with is application and data security. According to Gartner research, between now and 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the result of human error—cloud misconfigurations, for example. Working with an experienced MCSP will help to ensure that a business can focus on meeting its core objectives, knowing that its cloud environment is secure and in good hands. 

Learn how InterVision’s managed services can keep your networks safe.


How Do I Choose a Cloud Managed Services Provider?

Not all Azure MSP partners are the same, so here’s a quick guide to the qualities that are must-haves for top Azure partners.

  • Expertise. Look for MCSP partners who can bring a deep well of industry knowledge, talent, and strategic thinking on board. Have they worked with companies similar to yours, with similar objectives? What makes your organization or its needs unique? Make sure to identify an MCSP that can come up with innovative, flexible solutions. MCSPs should also ensure that systems and data remain secure.
  • Support. Most organizations will benefit from end-to-end support. Usually, comprehensive support involves in-depth needs assessments, an audit of current tools and capabilities, a change management plan, and so on—depending on the extent of the project. You should expect regular communication and updates from the MCSP, and they should offer proactive IT monitoring and management. Finally, do they offer 24/7 support? After all, we all know the biggest issues never seem to happen during normal business hours.
  • Understanding. The role of an Azure MCSP is not tied to selling the product, so one thing that separates great MCSPs from their peers is their ability to understand your needs first, and then discuss solutions. An MCSP should take a methodical approach to develop a full picture of the organization’s main priorities or pain points, so they can help their clients fully understand their options and the potential advantages/drawbacks. As an organization’s needs or priorities change over time, the MCSP serves to keep solutions up to date-and functioning well. 


Learn About InterVision’s Managed Cloud Services for Azure

When you’re ready to explore managed cloud services for Azure, InterVision is ready to provide secure, full-service operations management. Because the reality is that modern organizations need to be operating in the cloud, but they often can’t overcome the daily challenges their IT teams face as a result, challenges like:

  • Finding and maintaining high-quality talent
  • Recognizing and responding to cloud misconfigurations that could have a disastrous impact
  • Achieving cloud best practices while adopting new tools and processes
  • Addressing compliance, scalability, and reliability concerns
  • Dealing with ever-evolving, ever-present security threats

Learn more about InterVision’s managed cloud services for Azure, or contact us today.