3 key considerations for building your Azure business case

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When it comes to moving to Microsoft Azure, it’s safe to say the public cloud’s many proven benefits - huge cost-savings, infrastructure modernisation and competitive advantage - are undisputed in 2019.

These days, the focus for enterprise needs to shift from highlighting the cloud’s capabilities towards building a full-proof business case that helps leaders, IT and users across the organisation understand the costs, risks and outcomes that come with migrating processes. However, there’s still a long way to go on this front, according to Gartner.

Despite a huge uptake in public cloud adoption, many companies still find it difficult to understand the full return on investment (ROI) of the Azure Cloud platform, or articulate how its capabilities align with their exact business needs - leading to loss of support for cloud initiatives.

Without an Azure Business Case - or one that’s fully understood - to guide your transformation, a number of challenges have arisen for organisations moving to the cloud.

  • Many organisations are jumping straight into Azure with few best practices in use.
  • Efforts are uncoordinated, and while they are providing some level of new agility and innovation, there’s also inefficiencies, hidden costs and lack of governance.
  • Inconsistent and inaccurate definitions of what Azure Cloud means to the business, fostering unrealistic expectations on the technology and outcomes it can provide.

Ultimately, this results in a less than compelling conversation for moving to or staying with Azure. Unless cloud infrastructure is appropriately aligned with long-term business needs and strategy, moving will unnecessarily waste resources, introduce avoidable risk, and create confusion. Worst of all, you’ll have a warped view of Azure’s true ROI.

Our blog covers 3 key considerations to building your Azure Business Case that can help you demonstrate ROI - and why a case is important to drive successful outcomes.


#1 - Define Azure’s benefits and challenges for your business

Knowing exactly how Azure is suitable to your company’s key goals and business needs requires clear definition and articulation of the public cloud’s benefits and challenges.

Business leaders that want to drive the business case for adopting Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure must be able to answer, “Why cloud?” and educate stakeholders and employees before even stepping into considerations such as how to begin implementing the cloud.

The public cloud offers many potential benefits and challenges, no matter the type of business or industry. While there are varying opinions and differing scenarios, some of the most common examples to identify, discuss and understand in detail to build a better business case include:

 

Business Benefits IT Benefits Business Challenges IT Challenges
  • Faster time-to-business impact
  • Improved visibility of compute usage, licensing and spend
  • Educating stakeholders and employees on new processes and strategies
  • Governance and monitoring of usage
  • Lower barriers to experimentation
  • Greater opportunities for IT-led innovation
  • Meeting compliance requirements
  • Re-training or hiring new skilled staff
  • Pay-what-you-use, fully managed infrastructure
  • Stronger backup, DR and security levels
  • Cultural resistance to new digital transformation initiatives
  • Potential overspending and excess consumption
  • Scalable resources as needed
  • Reduced complexity with streamlining
  • Managing cloud spend and consumption
  • Integration with legacy apps

There absolutely needs to be alignment with your business strategy and your cloud initiative, starting with the definition of each part of the project, your IT strategy (and whether it needs evaluation and revision), strategic plan for migration and your eventual operational plan.

It may seem like a given, but Gartner reports a significant amount of companies around the world still fail to take the time to plan their adoption roadmap before jumping in.

There also needs to be extensive analysis into re-use and leveraging of existing enterprise strategic planning capabilities and skill sets within the business to give your business case the best possible chance and hit the ground running.

 

#2 - Leverage migration-specific Azure Cloud cost calculators

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Determining the potential ROI for moving to Microsoft Azure in your unique business case doesn’t have to be a guessing game - especially with all of the (free) cloud calculators on offer.

Regardless, we encounter many customers who are unprepared for why running things in Azure aren’t immediately cheaper, or still surprised by high run-time costs. All of this can be avoided with a variety of tools offered by Microsoft - in addition to the help of consultancies like Xello.

  • Azure Pricing Calculator: It’s standard for all major cloud providers to provide free calculators to help businesses estimate their upcoming cloud investments, and Microsoft Azure is no exception. Azure Pricing Calculator configures and estimate the costs for all current Azure products and services - whether it’s compute (virtual machines, container instances, cloud services), networking (VPN Gateways, Bandwidth, Virtual Networks), Databases (Azure SQL Database, Azure Database Migration Services). You can break down estimates by region, pricing tier and instance, and access helpful documentation in the same window. With this tool, you can determine, for instance, whether running workloads on Azure SQL Server versus an always on
  • Azure Total Cost of Ownership Calculator: This free tool helps businesses estimate the potential cost savings by migrating workloads to Microsoft Azure in three steps: Defining on-premises workloads to be moved (Servers, Databases, Storage and Networking), adjusting key assumptions (Software Assurance Coverage, geo-redundant storage, electricity and storage costs, IT labour, etc) and finally region. You can get a full high-level visualised report on your estimated cost savings over 1 - 5 years, and easily share the report with stakeholders to illustrate total on-premises costs vs total Azure costs over the same time period, as well as a summary of each element.

If you needs more detail or assistance in determining ROI and costs for your Azure Business Case, consultancies like Xello offer more detailed cost analysis services.

Our Azure MasterPlan includes a 3-Year Cost Projection Report that can help you know how much you’ll spend with a cost analysis of existing services and infrastructure and a detailed Total Cost Analysis (TCO) calculating how much you save over a 3 year-period with the cloud.

Learn more with our free-to-download white paper, "Why you need an Azure MasterPlan."

 

#3 - Separate fact from fiction with Azure Cloud

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Developing a business case to move to Azure can easily be derailed by misunderstandings about what it brings, creating unrealistic expectations about ROI for a migration.

It’s key to dispel the myths about moving to the cloud, but first you have to get yourself up-to-date with common misconceptions that still plague every Azure migration.

  • Azure Cloud is cost-effective and always cheaper: It’s well-established that hosting applications and operating workloads in Microsoft Azure brings significant opportunities for cost-savings and spend optimisation, but it isn’t always or automatically cheaper than on-premises. Common mistakes that cripple businesses with unexpected costs include poor governance, process duplication and unoptimised system architectures.
  • Azure migrations are fully automated and don’t need major oversight: Yes, it’s true there are many new tools offered such as the Azure Database Migration Service that greatly simplify the move from on-premises to cloud - but that does not mean migrations are a simple affair. Migrations require full technical attention and management oversight to ensure optimal transformation - applications testing, database readiness, performance requirements, bandwidth limitations, and execution timelines are just some of the aspects that need to be recognised, especially if the initiative is time sensitive.
  • Everything should be run in Azure: Older legacy applications built on-top of specialised servers are most likely not ready to run in the cloud out of-the-box, yet this is still a common misconception. It’s keyl to take the time to identify, plan and analyse workloads or apps with dependencies or could result in potentially more expensive costs in the cloud - and whether a hybrid solution may be more appropriate for your business.

While these myths and many more still persist in common cloud transformation conversations, all of these problems can be avoided with a comprehensive business case to unlock early ROI with Azure - so long as myths are dispelled early and key stakeholders are educated promptly.

Remember, maximising your cloud readiness requires firm alignment between cloud suitability and business outcomes. By taking the time to emphasise the facts, it’s easier to enlist support when other unforeseen problems such as technology incompatibilities delay your move.

 

Building Your Azure Business Case: What’s the next step?

Do you need more expert insight into how to ensure your Azure Cloud business case stacks up?

Part 1 of Xello’s new Azure Aligned Webinar series takes attendees through the four essential items to consider as part of the business case to migrate all services to Azure Cloud - so you can better demonstrate ROI to your business and get the move up-and-running faster.

Stop guessing and start building your Azure business case - watch our webinar today by clicking the 'Register Now' button below.

Aligned Aligned Webinar - Building an Azure Business Case

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