Reliable Cloud services for demanding businesses.

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Azure ExpressRoute Interconnect: Navigate to Azure

Our UK Cloud Snapshot Survey 2017 exposed a number of challenges facing UK organisations, including GDPR, Brexit, Data Sovereignty and the increase in Cyber Security attacks. One of the less difficult issues to address, for over 70% of the surveyed respondents, are the options to connect a private network to the cloud, such as Azure ExpressRoute. 35.7% use Azure, and yet very few use Azure ExpressRoute, in fact only 28.3% used a direct Cloud Connect to any of their cloud services.

Why use Azure ExpressRoute?

As I’ve covered before, in Cloud Connectivity Providers Explained, Azure ExpressRoute is a service that enables customers to create private connections between Microsoft Azure data centres and their own networks, such as on-premise infrastructure or colocation. Azure ExpressRoute connections are direct, they don’t rely on public internet, and offer far greater reliability, significantly more security and lower latency (speed) than can be achieved over a typical internet connection. Almost always Azure ExpressRoute connections can result in cost-savings. You can find out more detail regarding Azure ExpressRoute here: ExpressRoute Overview: Extend your on-premises network to Azure.

Azure ExpressRoute Network Overview

Azure ExpressRoute Network Overview

How to get Azure ExpressRoute

In order to take advantage of all the goodies Azure ExpressRoute can provide, we work with ExpressRoute connectivity partner providers. One of our partners is Megaport, who are one of the most accomplished ExpressRoute partners in the world, supporting 18 ExpressRoute locations across the globe. Megaport was the world’s first SDN-based Elastic Interconnection platform designed to provide a secure, seamless, and on-demand way for enterprises, networks, and services to interconnect.

Provisioning connections between data centres and external services has always been a problem, either due to cost or due to complexity. A decade ago I remember the only viable option was a direct Point-to-Point, which unless the two locations were within reasonable proximity, high capacity connections were an eye-watering expense. Connections between diverse geo-locations, such as between countries, required backhauls and XConnects between friendly data centres or peers, often taking weeks or months to provision. You can read more about the many DIY options in Cloud Network Providers | Connect Your Private Network to the Cloud.

Why use Serviceteam IT & Megaport

Megaport want what we want, consistent connectivity to optimise the provisioning process, and contractual terms, making connectivity options broader, simpler, and far more streamlined. Ultimately, “How can I do this simply from my phone?”.

“For the last three years, we have rapidly expanded our network and one of the biggest values of Megaport is the ability to provision service to Azure specifically from any location to any Azure region in less than a couple of minutes. Our business model complements the cloud business model: no lock-in contracts, pay-as-you-go, and you only pay for what you need.”
Matt Simpson, Director of Global Cloud Strategy, Megaport.

True multi-platform cloud connectivity

One of the things that allows Megaport to stand out against their competitors is our shared commitment to a vendor-agnostic vision of the cloud. By consolidating multiple cloud vendors into a single user interface, enabling customers to quickly and simply deploy multi-cloud environments, leveraging multiple public cloud options as well as their own data centres, which are all accessible from a single interface.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Microsoft Azure Applications | Glossary

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service for managing applications and services. Azure was announced in October 2008 as Windows Azure before changing its name to Microsoft Azure in 2014.

Microsoft Azure is a widely used computing service, with over 600 Azure services for users, you would think that an Intern for an IT company would be an expert, right? Well, sadly no. I’m the first to admit that as well as lacking knowledge in AWS, I knew as much about that as  I did Azure.

However, fast forward a few weeks, and while I’m still no expert, I think I know my fair share and it’s all down to this glossary of key terms. While I used it to build my knowledge pretty much from scratch, it can also be used to fill in any gaps or even to refresh your memory. Either way, I can honestly say that without this glossary, I wouldn’t have been able to do half of the things I have – blagging can only take you so far.

What is Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a cloud service from the global software giant, Microsoft. Azure offers a vast range of useful compute and application resources. These are all offered on-demand and in a cost-effective manner which helps businesses scale and grow.

What I have learnt from creating this glossary is that even the complicated sounding terminology usually has a simple explanation. Which can be useful when developing your knowledge on technical topics. I must stress that these do not need to be committed to memory – and you certainly don’t need to know the ins and outs of every detail.

Microsoft Azure Glossary

App Service App – this app provides resources for hosting a website or web application or mobile app back end.

Affinity Group- these ensure that resources created within the same affinity group are hosted by servers that are close together. This enables these resources to communication quicker and easier.

Availability set – is a collection of virtual machines that are managed together to provide application redundancy and reliability. This use of this ensures that during either a planned or unplanned maintenance event at least on virtual machine is available.

Azure Classic Deployment Model – this is a model used to deploy resources in Azure.

Azure command-line interface (CLI) – this interface can be used to manage Azure services from Windows, macOS and Linux.

Azure PowerShell – this is a command-line interface to manage Azure services via a command line from Windows PCs.

Blob Storage – this is storage that handles all unstructured data, scaling up or down as your needs change. This storage means that users will no longer have to manage it which saves time and effort.

Cloud Services – allows you to develop, package and deploy applications and services to the cloud.

Endpoint – Endpoints allow you to make VMs placed in different networks, irrespective of whether it is within Azure/on premise/other cloud.

Instance Level Public IP Address – these are associated directly to the Virtual Machines Instances rather than to the Cloud Services when you back all the Virtual Machines within.

Public Virtual IP Address – when you create a Cloud Service in Azure, you will be assigned with Virtual Public IP Address. This address will not be released until all the VMs placed insider the Cloud services is successfully deleted or stopped.

Portal – this is a secure portal used to deploy and manage Azure services. There are two portal Azure portal and Classic Portal.

Region – this is an area that does not cross national borders and contain one or more data centers.

Resource – this is an item that is a part of your Azure solution that users can use to deploy different types of resources.

Resource group – this service holds related resources for an application which is located within Resource Manager.

Shared access signature (SAS) – this is a signature that enables you to grant limited access to a resource, without exposing your account key.

Regional Virtual Network (VNet) – is a service in which enables users to securely connect Azure resources to each other using virtual networks. A VNet is a representation of your own network in the cloud.

Resource Group – this is a container that holds related resources for an Azure solution. The resource group can include all resources for the solution or only ones that that you want to manage as a group.

Reserved Virtual IP Address – users can reserve IP addresses for the subscription.

Storage Account – this is an account in which gives users access to the Azure Blob, Queue, Table, and File services in Azure storage.

Subscription – this is an agreement between a customer and Microsoft in which enables the user to obtain Azure services. The pricing is dependent on the offer chosen for the subscription.

Tag – this is an indexing terms that enables users to categorise resources for ease of management or billing. This enables users to organise complex collections of resources in an easy manner.

Virtual Network – this is a network that provides connectivity between your Azure resources that is located from all other Azure tenants.

Virtual Machine – multiple virtual machine can run at the same time and they allow the software implementation of a physical computer that runs an operating system.

Virtual Machine Extension – this is a resource in which implements behaviours or feature that either help other programs work or give the ability for the user to interact with a running computer.

X-PLAT CLI this is a command line interface for Windows, Linux and IOS Platforms.

I hope that you will find this Microsoft Azure glossary just as useful as I did, whether that’s to learn something brand new or to expand and refresh your knowledge. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below about any questions or suggestions you may have.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Top 10 Reasons to Use Office 365

Our top 10 reasons to use Office 365 should include the Hybrid option, then you don’t have to make a choice between cloud or on-premise. You get the best of both worlds. For the majority of businesses, Office 365 makes much more sense, and Microsoft is not a consumer-grade advertising provider. Here are our Top 10 reasons why we think Office 365 is best.

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Cloud Security elements every business should consider

Cloud Security has been a serious issue since the concept of the cloud began. The classic example was initially the discomfort of a shift from physically seeing the IT security infrastructure to simply trusting someone else with it virtually. Back in 2012, Serviceteam IT carried out major business process project for an insurance sector organisation. The conversation regarding data being located in the the Cloud was very short. Under no circumstances, no matter how much cheaper or how much more flexible, as cloud security was considered low.

Thankfully both the marketplace, and the organisation in the example above, have moved on and are cautiously adopting the benefits the cloud can offer. Last year the Enterprise Cloud Computing Survey from IDG revealed concerns that cloud security are still significant at 52%. Our own UK Cloud Snapshot Survey reveals 43% of respondents from UK organisations still cite cloud security as being the greatest barrier to cloud adoption. We can take encouragement from the downward trend, perhaps due to both improved cloud security and better end-user understanding.

One way to ensure a full understanding of cloud security, and security in general, is to understand the levels of your infrastructure that require protection. A simplistic multi-level infrastructure model, from the physical level, to the network level, to the applications.

Physical Security

Not so long ago physical security was a significant issue, as data centres were vulnerable and accessible to anyone almost, especially an in-office comms room. Companies recognised this risk, and therefore took the necessary steps to safeguard the physical infrastructure. Cloud has been has been a key player in alleviating physical security concerns. The expansion of the data centre for colocation, to the then centralisation of servers to purchase a ‘slice’ to now deploying applications without having to consider the server.

With almost all cloud providers, physical security concerns almost completely disappear, Partially due to the additional checks and measures carried out at data centre locations. Partially due to the distributed nature of the application, as the data will not only be encrypted on disk, but most probably meaningless as it’s balanced between multiple buckets.

Network Security

The second area to consider is the network, which is of upmost concern to Serviceteam IT. As an industry, cloud and IT professionals have made a great deal of progress in securing operating systems and basic networking.  Almost all organisations have the necessary cyber security tools, firewalls, access control lists and intrusion detection to safeguard against outside attacks to an internal network.

The greater challenge has come with the adoption of an ‘outside’ network, where the end-point is trusted, however, the traversal has been via the Internet. Cloud Connectivity can now take care of the network cloud security concerns, as the links have become both dedicated and secure.

Application Security

As the bottom of the ‘funnel’ has been, and can be, better secured, this has forced potential attackers to target higher up the stack. A common trend is tampering with customised applications, impersonating users or compromising some other user end-point. Whilst application security is a continual challenge, businesses can implement tools such as application monitoring. multi-factor authentication or group policy for additional protection and user verification.

Within the application layer, the emphasis should be on identifying vulnerabilities. Simple house keeping such as log file analysis, patch management, filters, scanners and yes, good old back-up! The digital world can be rather dangerous, therefore, security-aware application design, application security testing, and runtime application self-protection all combined with context-aware and adaptive access controls are needed.

Cloud Security Conclusion

Positioning as “inside” or “outside” security is very much for the past. Along with three digit passwords, open relays and no user-access controls. The simple recognition that perimeter defence is simply not enough. Applications need to be considered more actively in regards to their impact upon security as a whole.

Perhaps in the coming years the number of organisations expressing concerns regarding cloud security will continue to fall. Most probably when organisations are more comfortable with network security and application security is more robust.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) | Glossary

Recently starting as a Market Research Intern for Serviceteam IT, it became undeniably apparent that my knowledge in the IT industry lacked to say the least. The realisation of this caused emotions of discouragement, however, I knew that to perform well I had to act on this situation. I began to assemble a list of key words in which I either knew nothing about or lacked in knowledge.

If you are anything like me, this glossary will hopefully help piece together the jargon to create a comprehensive and easy to follow understanding regarding Amazon Web Services – which is exactly what it has done for me. There is certainly no guarantee that you will be an AWS expert simply by reading a few definitions, but it will hopefully provide a basis for your knowledge in which you can build on.

Amazon Web Services is a cloud service provider that offers a range of useful computing resources. These are all offered on-demand and in a cost-effective manner which helps businesses scale and grow.

Networking

Virtual Private Cloud – Amazon VPC is a commercial cloud computing service that provides users a virtual private cloud by provisioning a logically isolated section of Amazon Web Services Cloud.

Route 53 – this is an Amazon web service used to create a new DNS (see above for definition) service or migrate an existing DNS service to the cloud.

AWS Direct Connect – allows you to establish private connectivity between AWS and your datacentre or office. This has various benefits for the user including reduction of network costs and increase in bandwidth throughput.

Letter of Authorisation (LOA) – this is a letter needed for direct connect.

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Autonomous Systems Number (ASN) – this is a standardised exterior gateway protocol which is designed to exchange routing and reachability information among autonomous systems on the internet.

Compute

Amazon Machine Image (AMI) – this provides the information needed to launch an instance, which is a virtual server in the cloud.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – EC2 is a part of AWS and provides scalable computing capacity in the cloud, which developers can use to deploy scalable applications. In simple terms users can pay for computing servers to test and run applications. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for people – like how I’m trying to make AWS easier for you.

Amazon EC2 Container Service – is a cloud computing service in Amazon Web Services that manages containers. The service allows users to run and alter applications or microservices on groups of services.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk – is a service used for deploying infrastructure which allows developers to upload code and Amazon will work out the services to provide.

Storage

S3– Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, to put it as plainly as possible, is storage for the internet. It is designed to help web developers with web-scale computing – making it much easier.

CloudFront – this is a web service in which speeds up the distribution of web content. It delivers content through a worldwide network of data centers called edge locations.

Glacier – this is a secure, hard-wearing, and extremely low-cost cloud storage service for data archiving and long-term backup. It allows customers to store large or tiny amounts of data.

EFS – Elastic File System, like NAS in the cloud, can present S3 into several EC2 instances for example

Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) – this provides simple file storage for use with EC2 in the AWS cloud. This service is easy to use and offers a simple interface that allows you to create and configure file systems quickly and easily.

Snowball – is a service that accelerates transferring large amounts of data into and out of AWS using physical storage appliances, bypassing the internet.

Storage Gateways – this service connects an on-premises software appliance with cloud-based storage to provide integration with data security features.

Elastic Block Storage (EBS) – provides persistent block storage volumes for use with EC2 in the AWS cloud. They work independently from the life of an instance.

Dynamo DB – this is a fully managed database service that provides fast and predictable performance with seamless scalability.

ElastiCache – this is a web service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale an in-memory data store or cache in the cloud. There are many benefits regarding this including improving the performance of web applications.

Redshift – this is a fast data warehouse that makes it easier to analyse data using standard SQL and existing business intelligence tools.

Database Migration Service – helps you migrate/convert databases into AWS easily and securely.

Elastic Map Reduce – is used for processing big data. It makes it easier and faster to process vast amounts of data across dynamically scalable EC2 instances.

Databases

Data pipeline – is a web service that helps to process and move data between different AWS compute and storage services.

Elastic Search – this service makes it easier to operate and scale Elasticsearch for analytics, full text search, application monitoring and many more.

Knesis Streams – this enables large scale data streaming. It also enables people to build custom applications that process or analyse streaming data for specialised needs.

Security and Identity

Directory Services – these services enable your directory-aware workloads and AWS resources to use managed Active Directory in the AWS cloud.

Inspector – this is an automated security assessment service that helps improve the security and compliance of applications deployed on AWS.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) – this is a web service that provides users will securely control access to AWS resources. With this, users can control who can use certain AWS resources and what resources they can use and in specific ways.

Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a web application firewall that provides protection regarding web applications from common web exploits.

Cloud HSM – this is a service which helps you meet corporate, contractual and regulatory requirements for data security. This is done by using dedicated Hardware Security Module appliances with the AWS cloud.

Key Management Services (KMS) is a managed service that makes it easier to create and control the encryption keys used to encrypt data.

Management Tools

Cloud Watch – this monitors your AWS resources and all the applications you run on AWS. It can be used to collect and track metrics, collect and monitor log files, set alarms, and automatically react to change in your AWS resources.

Cloud Formation – allows developed and system administrators to create and manage a collection of related AWS resources, provisioning and updating them in an orderly and predictable fashion.

Cloud Trial – this service enables governance, compliance, operational auditing, and risk auditing of your AWS account. Using this will enable users to log, continuously monitor and retain events related to API calls across your AWS infrastructure.

OpsWorks – this is a configuration management service that uses Chef, an automation platform that treats server configuration as code.

Config – this is a service that enables you to assess, audit, and evaluate the configurations of your AWS resources.

Service Catalog – allows organisations to create and manage catalogs of IT services that are approve for use on AWS. These services can include things from virtual machine images, software and databases.

Trusted Advisor – this is an online resource which enables you to reduce costs, increase performance and even improve the security of AWS. It uses an automated scan to find such information.

Application Services

API Gateway- this is a fully managed service that makes it easier for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor and secure API’s at any scale.

Appstream – this is a fully managed, secure application streaming service that allows you to stream desktop applications from AWS to a range of devices.

Cloud Search – this is a managed service in the AWS Cloud that makes it simple and cost-effective to set up, manage, and scale a search solution.

Elastic Transcoder – to put it simply this is a media transcoding service within the cloud. It allows developers and businesses to convert media files from their source format into versions that will playback on a wide range of devices.

Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) – this is a simple email service that allows users to send and receive emails with no required commitments.

Simple Workflow Service (SWF) – this service allows users to build, run and scale background jobs that have parallel or sequential steps.

Developer Tools

CodeDeploy – this is a deployment service that automates application deployments to Amazon EC2 instances or on-premises instance in your own facility.

CodePipeline – this is a continuous delivery service that user can use to model the step required to release software.

Mobile Services

Mobile Hub – this service guides users through feature selection and configuration, automatically provisions the AWS services required.

Cognito – this is a product that controls user authentication and access for mobile applications on internet-connected devices. It also saves mobile user data in the cloud.

Device Farm – is an app testing service that allows people to test and interact with your Android, iOS, and web apps on many devices at the same time.

Mobile Analytics – with this service users can measure app usage and app revenue. You can view key charts and export your app event data to your Amazon S3.

Simple Notification Service (SNS) – this is a flexible, fully managed sub messaging and mobile notification service for coordinating the delivery of messages to subscribing endpoints and clients.

Enterprise Applications

WorkSpaces – this is a fully managed, secure Desktop-as-a-Service solution which runs on AWS. It is the AWS version of VDI.

WorkDocs  – this is a fully managed, secure enterprise storage and sharing service with strong administrative controls and feedback capabilities that improve user productivity.

Workmail – this is a secure managed business email and calendar service with support for exiting desktop and mobile email client applications.

When broken down, the mystery of Amazon Web Services and the technical phrases that come with it are more understandable than expected. Especially with AWS, there are a lot of terms – as you can probably see for yourself – however I must stress that these do not need to be committed to memory, and you certainly don’t need to know the ins and out of every detail. As long as you are able to build a basis for your knowledge, the purpose of this glossary has been achieved.

I have found that this glossary has saved me on more than one occasion, whether it was to learn something new, or to refresh my knowledge, it has helped me feel less like a fish out of water. I hope you will also benefit in a similar sort of way.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

We’d love to hear from you!