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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
  • flexible contractual terms
  • to make connectivity options broader, simpler, and far more streamlined.

“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 for Serviceteam IT is the shared commitment to a vendor-agnostic vision of the cloud. By consolidating multiple cloud vendors, 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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Cloud Connect Explained | An Introductory Guide

Cloud Connect uses the latest in fibre hardware technology to create a physical link between your network, and the cloud. While most data will travel across the public Internet, Cloud Connect is a dedicated connection between your network and your cloud services. Learn what it is, how it works, why you need it.

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Cyber Security: Office 365 as 802.1X RADIUS Password Authentication

Cyber security is critical. Secure your wireless network via 802.1X RADIUS using Office 365 with Azure AD for password authentication delegation with directory sync. Implement 802.1x RADIUS on almost any access point in minutes and for free.

If you purchase new, or renew existing, Office 365 licences:

SAVE AT LEAST 5%

This includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business and the entire suite of Office 365 pricing.

Cyber Security Office 365 and 802.1X RADIUS

Security is paramount for any business, especially given the rise in cyber attacks, data thefts and major network breaches. I won’t list the major names, as that’s been done, but you can read the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2016.  Much of that research was aimed at larger organisations, even though it’s far easier for enterprise-level companies to secure their resources. But what about the rest of us, Startups, Micro-Businesses and Small to Medium sized organisations?
We ourselves use Foxpass for network access control and cyber security, and have deployed this service for our customers. Foxpass has a mission to foster better identity management in the workplace, whilst being easy to deploy and cost effective to acquire. It’s a service organisations of any size will be able to use to get the exact same level of infrastructure security that large enterprises enjoy.

Why is wireless a cyber security issue?

In many of the companies I talk to, employees, contractors and one time visitors share the same login credentials when it comes to accessing the Internet via wireless. So far so good, however, virtually every startup or small business uses that same wireless access point to connect to internal systems. Be that a file server or individual user computers. In all honesty, I’m by no means an authority on 802.1X Radius, but my opinion is the benefits of using 802.1X RADIUS security with Office 365 and Azure AD for authentication far outweigh the disadvantages.

How hard can it be to hack a WiFi network?

https://null-byte.wonderhowto.com/how-to/hack-wi-fi-get-anyones-wi-fi-password-without-cracking-using-wifiphisher-0165154/


Why should we use 802.1x RADIUS for security?

  1. When a user authenticates to an SSID using 802.1X RADIUS that session is encrypted between the user and the access point.This means that another user connected to the same SSID cannot sniff the traffic and acquire information as they have a unique encryption key for their connection. With a Pre-Shared Key (PSK) network, every device is connected with “shared encryption”, meaning they can all see each other’s traffic.
  2. If you need to remove or disable a specific user or device, 802.1x RADIUS makes this far simpler as you disconnect a single user or device.This means you will not need to change the key for everyone, or all devices, closing the security risk of that user or device joining the network again.
  3. You can assign specific network permissions and policies such as VLAN, firewall, QoS, tunneling, schedules, access control lists.This means everything within a user profile can be dynamically assigned to users based on their identity or groups where users are members. With a Pre-Shared Key, you get a single profile that is shared. Using 802.1X RADIUS, different permissions based on the attribute returned from the RADIUS server are assigned.
  4. With 802.1X RADIUS each user gets a new unique key every time the user authenticates. This key continuously changes while the user is authenticated to the wireless network.This means If it takes a cracker one hour to crack the key, but the key is regenerating every thirty minutes, by the time the cracker has the key it is useless.

Why use Office 365 and Azure Multi-Factor Authentication?

The geo-distributed, high availability design of Azure AD means that you can rely on it for your most critical business needs. With the prevalence of smart phones, tablets, laptops, and PCs, people have far too many different options on how they are going to connect, and stay connected, at any time. Azure Multi-Factor Authentication is an easy to use, scalable, and reliable solution that provides a second method of authentication so your users are always correctly authenticated.
People can access their accounts and applications from anywhere, which means that they can get more work done and serve customers better.

  1. Two-step verification, which requires more than one method of authentication.This means a critical second layer of security is added when a user signs-in. It works by requiring two or more of the following:Something you know, a password for example
    Something you have, typically a trusted device that is not easily duplicated, like a phone
    Something you are, such as biometrics
  2. It’s easy to use with a range of verification methods including text message, phone call, mobile app or email to alternate account.This means, due to the extra protection that comes with Azure Multi-Factor Authentication, users are able to manage their own devices and authenticate in the way they prefer based upon where they are.
  3. Azure Multi-Factor Authentication is simple to set up and use. Once enabled, in many instances it can be set up with just a few simple clicks by the user.This means the burden of implementation is reduced and users are keen to adopt.
  4. Verification with Azure Multi-Factor Authentication is scalable, using the power of the cloud whilst also optionally integrating with your on-premises Active Directory (AD) and custom applications.This means that protection is can be extended to your high-volume, mission-critical services.
  5. Azure Multi-Factor Authentication provides strong authentication using the highest possible industry standards.This means you are not just secure, but also compliant. You can monitor application usage and protect your business from advanced threats with security reporting and monitoring.
  6. With a guaranteed 99.9% Service Level Agreement (SLA) for availability, Azure Multi-Factor Authentication is reliable.This means you will always be able to authenticate. The service is considered unavailable when it is unable to receive or process verification requests for the two-step verification.

In a future post I’ll add some instructions of how to enable 802.1X RADIUS in a wireless network using Foxpass. In order to offer our clients complete peace of mind regarding cyber security, we’re a Silver Productivity Partner with Microsoft. We partner with select providers, such as Foxpass, targeting our customers specific cyber security needs.


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 0101use 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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Beat Office 365 Price Increases | 5% Off

If you purchase new, or renew existing Office 365 licences, you can avoid Office 365 price increases. We will offer at least a 5% reduction on the current 2017 prices for 12 months. This offer includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business and the entire suite of Office 365.

If you purchase new, or renew existing, Office 365 licences:

SAVE AT LEAST 5%

This includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business and the entire suite of Office 365 pricing.

Office 365 - Serviceteam ITOffice 365 price increases 22%

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Microsoft have yesterday announced a 22% price increase for their cloud services, including the Office 365 price, from 1st January 2017. If you are considering an Office 365 subscription, I highly recommend you complete your purchase for a 12 month commitment before 31st December 2016 in order to avoid Office 365 & Exchange Online price increases.

It’s obviously an inevitability of Brexit, and thankfully, we were proactive and forward thinking on behalf of our customers and protected their Office 365 price. We took the decision to add or renew all of our customer users with 12 month terms at the end of Q3 2016. We enable almost 5000 users, communicating across 4 continents and 15 time zones, who expect the best possible service with the least possible disruption.

 The bulletin we have received from Microsoft in full:

Office 365 Price: Important changes for customers buying enterprise software and cloud services in British pound.

We wanted to give you advance notification of some important changes to pricing coming in January 2017.

Effective January 1, 2017, we will be increasing British pound pricing to harmonise prices for enterprise software and cloud services within the EU/EFTA region. We periodically assess the impact of local pricing of our products and services to ensure there is reasonable alignment across the region and this change is an outcome of this assessment.  These changes are similar to the recent harmonisation adjustments to pricing in Norwegian krone and Swiss franc we made in April 2016.

From January, British pound prices for on-premises enterprise software will increase by 13% to realign close to euro levels.  Most enterprise cloud prices in British pounds will increase by 22% to realign close to euro levels.  Even after this adjustment, customers across the region buying in British pound will still find our cloud offerings highly competitive. For indirect sales where Microsoft products are sold through resellers, final prices and currency of sale will continue to be determined by them. In the EU/EFTA region, partners will continue to have access to prevailing prices in euro, Norwegian krone, Swiss franc, Swedish krona, and Danish krone, along with revised prices in British pounds.

For business customers, these changes will not affect existing orders under annuity volume licensing agreements for products that are subject to price protection. For example, customers with Enterprise Agreements have price protection on previously ordered enterprise software and cloud services, and will not experience a price change during the term of their agreement. Similarly, business customers with cloud commitment subscriptions such as Office 365 also receive price protection during their subscription term, which is normally twelve months from the start of paid subscription.

Prices for new product additions under existing volume licensing agreements and purchases under new contracts will be as defined by the price list at the time of order.  This pricing change will not apply to consumer software or consumer cloud services.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to someone regarding protecting your Office 365 Price please get in touch.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivitycommunicationcontinuity, 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 0101use 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!