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Category Archives: Azure Networking

The Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) helps more than 85,000 homeless, abused and unwanted animals each year. Promoting animal welfare and providing public education on the proper care and treatment of animals, the HSMO operates from multiple locations including its Macklind Avenue Headquarters Center in St. Louis City, Chesterfield Valley Center, Westport Area Center in Maryland Heights, Longmeadow Rescue Ranch and even the Carol Gates Throop Memorial Park. These various facilities offer a diverse range of services, including adoption centers, veterinary medical centers, animal-themed gift shops, pet behavior and obedience classes, animal rescue and investigation departments, and receiving services for unwanted animals.

As a private, non-profit organization has a mandate to maximize its funding to serve its core mission, though still requires a secure IT infrastructure to support its increasingly complex operation. This environment includes a number of sensitive virtual machines on its existing on-premises infrastructure based on Microsoft Hyper-V.

To ensure security and availability of this environment, while minimizing the IT burden on its management, the HSMO sought to secure them on Azure, using the provided backup and disaster recovery services and using Microsoft Azure as a Hybrid cloud extension via a VPN connection.

As a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in cloud deployments leveraging Microsoft Azure, The Henson Group was selected by the HSMO to secure the existing on-premises IT Infrastructure to Azure through the implementation of Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup.

 

Solution

HSMO has chosen Henson Group because they wanted an experienced partner to guide them through Azure best practices and help them with a seamless implementation of disaster recovery and backup on the Azure hybrid cloud.

HSMO sought to secure 16 Virtual Machines (VMs), including a mix of Web Servers, Database Servers, Mail Servers and File Servers.

After an initial assessment and comprehensive evaluation of HSMO’s Active Directory File Server (ADFS) configuration, Henson Group implemented a disaster recovery solution using Azure Site Recovery for 15 of the given 16 VMs. That choice guarantees to HSMO to be able, in case of local infrastructure failure, to switch to the Disaster Recovery Site in seconds.

 

For the file server, the Henson Group’s lead Azure engineer determined the environment was too large to be efficiently replicated to the cloud, and therefore adopted a solution based on the Azure Backup service to allow HSMO to restore any file on a two-week’s time window.

 

Results & Benefits

Henson Group leveraged Azure Site Recovery to establish a viable business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy by orchestrating replication of HSMO’s on-premises servers and virtual machines to Microsoft’s Azure cloud environment.

This eliminates HSMO’s need to manage a secondary datacenter. Site Recovery can automate replication between datacenters, but it also provides the opportunity to forgo a secondary on-site location by replicating to Azure. Today, HSMO’s replicated data is stored in Azure Storage, with all the resilience that provides. Site Recovery handles the replication, and moving forward HSMO can engage failover and recovery with a simple click.

Azure Disk Encryption helps HSMO address organizational security and compliance requirements, by encrypting its VM disks with keys and policies that HSMO controls in its Azure Key Vault. Azure Disk Encryption enables you to encrypt your virtual machine disks, including the boot and the data disks. The solution uses Azure Key Vault to help you safeguard your disk encryption keys, manage key access policies, and audit use of your keys. All the data in the VM disks are encrypted at rest using industry standard encryption technology in your Azure storage accounts.

Azure Virtual Machines are certified for FISMA, FedRAMP, HIPAA, PCI DSS Level 1, and other key compliance programs—which now makes it easier for HSMO’s own Azure applications to meet compliance requirements and for the business to address a wide range of regulatory requirements.

Henson Group met HSMO’s core deliverables for this engagement, including:

  • Automated protection and replication of virtual machines
  • Remote health monitoring
  • Customized disaster recovery plans
  • Encryption of sensitive data
  • Security of network traffic
  • Achievement of internal compliance requirements

The project was completed within two months.

 

Products

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Azure Site Recovery

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call 1.800.980.1130.

Based in New York City, automotiveMastermind was founded in 2012 on the idea that there are patterns in people’s behavior, and that the right logic can be used to predict future outcomes. automotiveMastermind’s core dealer team consists of high-volume sales experts and executives with an intimate understanding of the complicated automotive sales process and the unique pain points dealerships and sales teams experience.

Its core technology, automotiveMastermind® is a cutting-edge behavior prediction technology that provides a clear, structured overview of each customer, what he or she is most likely to buy, and why.

automotiveMastermind’s environment is supported by Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed and Microsoft partner hosted datacenters.

automotiveMastermind approached Microsoft to ensure it would leverage the latest Azure-related innovations, approaching Microsoft. Microsoft enlisted The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in Azure and a long history serving the IT needs of the technology providers.

Today, more and more Microsoft customers seek such guidance on how to make the most of Microsoft Azure.

Solution

automotiveMastermind was interested in exploring implementing a series of optimizations based on best practices related to a shortlist of powerful technologies.

Essentially, automotiveMastermind needed Henson Group to perform a comprehensive review of its existing Infrastructure hosted in Azure and provide analysis and recommendations. The deliverables included crafting Best Practices Recommendations, relative to automotiveMastermind’s environment, for the following:

Application Migration – Azure Virtual Machines to Azure Web Applications:  The comprehensive document highlighted the key aspects required to achieve High Availability for Azure Web Apps, as well as requirement for scaling the environment.

Console Applications: Essentially, best practices for the optimal operation of background jobs being run as a console applications to be converted to Azure Web jobs, including the use of the Azure queue in this scenario.

Failover Strategy Enhancement: Recommendation document for failover strategy for Azure Web Applications and custom domain and https best practices.

Backup Best Practices:  Recommended enhancement to improve strategy for Microsoft SQL Server backups and Virtual Machine backups.

SQL VM to SQL PaaS: Best practice analysis based on a review for SQL server and SQL Azure DB differences that would help in decision making in SQL VM to SQL PaaS movement.

Additional Scope of Recommendations:

  • Best performance (IOPS, throughput) for SQL server on Azure VM.
  • High availability and DR solution for SQL server on Azure VM/SQL Azure DB (PaaS).
  • Architecture recommendations document for scaling SQL server on Azure VM/ SQL Azure DB (PaaS).
  • Best practices for basic monitoring for Azure VM’s.
  • Security implementation using Azure VNET for Web apps and SQL server on VM/ SQL Azure Db (PaaS)

Results & Benefits

Following an extensive review, The Henson Group delivered its recommendations, provided the Knowledge Transfer and documentation necessary to make the analysis actionable for automotiveMastermind to implement the best practices for the optimal performance of its Azure environment.

This documentation and Knowledge Transfer was especially critical to empower Automotive Mastermind to go at its own pace, staging the implementation in a manner that ensured it would not disrupt business operations.

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call +1.800.980.1130.

About the Client MCAT has built business partnerships aimed at an organized statewide solution for administering industry-standard utilities for use with CAMA software. Those include Marshall and Swift, Apex Sketch, SPSS, NCSS, and ESRI-based GIS solutions. Some utilities are in-development, but all should be made available within the organization’s official CAMA solution, PUMA. In some cases, these solutions may be made available as separate components to existing CAMA systems. Business Situation To aide in its mission to provide the best available information at the best possible price, MCAT enlisted the help of Microsoft in developing a cloud based solution, based on Microsoft Azure technology.  Microsoft Azure is an expanding group of cloud based services that allow companies to work more efficiently while saving money. To implement this project, Microsoft chose Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience assisting companies configure Azure and other cloud services. Solution Henson Group worked with MCAT to develop a virtual network strategy with respect to existing and future servers.  In addition, Henson Group trained the client on Azure PowerShell and related concepts.  The solution entailed ExpressRoute, virtual networks, static VPNs, several VMs and PaaS services, redis cache, and blob storage. Objectives The priorities for this project were • Upgrading MCAT’s IT infrastructure to increase its security and stability. • To create an environment that would respond quickly and efficiently to future business growth. • Lower existing IT costs. • Complete knowledge transfer and documentation. Results and Benefits Henson Group worked closely with MCAT to develop a plan to migrate and update its system to the newest version of Microsoft Azure.  During the transition, Henson Group worked to transfer knowledge and practical skills to the client.  This transfer ensures MCAT is able to optimize the performance of its Microsoft Azure system. As part of the project, three servers were upgraded and the client is now using a more stable and secure IT environment.  With the transition complete, MCAT is now using a system that can grow with the company. MCAT is now experiencing an increase in infrastructure performance thanks to the upgrades Henson Group enacted.  With Microsoft Azure, servers are only used when they are needed. The migration to the Azure increased the security level of MCAT’s servers, applications, and infrastructure. MCAT also increased cost savings by 20% as they only pay for the services and servers they need. However, the client is able to increase their use of servers and applications as the business grows with speed and efficiency.  With per-minute billing and a price-match guarantee, MCAT is able to easily manage the costs associated with maintaining and operating its IT environment. Products • Microsoft Azure • Windows Server 2012 • ExpressRoute • Redis Cache • Blob Storage • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit • Microsoft System Center 2012 To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com.

About the Client
Based in Irvine, CA, ADC Technologies is an innovative provider of supply chain execution solutions to the mid-market using automated data collection technologies.

Business Situation
Technology is an important part of ADC Technologies operation and has been integrated into nearly every aspect of the business. The client began experiencing problems with connectivity and network downtime that its previous service provider could not solve. In addition, the technology needs of the company had increased substantially over the past few years, increasing the need for IT capacity and data storage. ADC Technologies sought a solution that would address its need for high availability and increased bandwidth.

ADC Technologies had IT infrastructure that was based on Microsoft technology, so the client asked Microsoft to recommend a cloud based solution that was based on Microsoft Azure technology. Microsoft Azure is a group of cloud services that help companies work faster, accomplish more, and save money.

To accomplish this task, Microsoft engaged the services of Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in solving the IT challenges of organizations like ADC Technologies.

Solution
ADC Technologies worked closely with The Henson Group to determine the best solution to these problems. After careful review, a decision was made to move the ADC Technologies infrastructure to Azure. This process would include:

  • Creating several virtual networks
  • Creating serval PaaS Azure SQL Databases
  • Creating multiple Web Servers in multiple Geos
  • Migrating a dozen Web Apps from on premise to Azure
  • Migrating databases from on premise SQL to Azure SQL

Objectives
The goals of this project were to provide ADC Technologies with an IT infrastructure that was would save money while increasing security and stability. To accomplish these aims, The Henson Group recommended the client move to an Azure solution.

Results & Benefits
The Henson Group designed, implemented, and migrated ADC Technologies current software to Microsoft’s Azure “cloud” services environment saving ADC $30,000 per year in TCO. The migration of the client’s software included moving the applications from the client’s old server to multiple Azure VMs, installation of the existing software, software upgrades, troubleshooting, general configuration, and support.

The Henson Group preserved the client’s internal domain and VPN connectivity, but provided secure (https) access to all applications.

Each Azure VM was sized to meet the specific application running on it. This was done with only minimal changes to the applications.

The project was completed with two months.

Benefits
Today, ADC Technologies is experiencing much better infrastructure performance with the Azure cloud solution. The client does not have to support or maintain hardware anymore as the modern hardware is maintained by Microsoft and kept up to date. The solution allows the VMs to grow as the business grows.

Thanks to the migration into Azure a much higher level of securing the servers and data of the company was achieved. Meanwhile, ADC Technologies now has its IT infrastructure accessible at 99.9 % without any investments into hardware.

In terms of cost efficiencies, the client shed its cumbersome managed services contract in favor of Azure’s pay-as-you-go services that it can now more efficiently and quickly scale up or down to match the growth demand for its business. Per-minute billing and a commitment to match competitor prices for popular infrastructure services like computers, storage and bandwidth mean ADC Technologies will consistently achieves cost-effective expense management of its infrastructure.

Server administration for the client was significantly simplified and became more effective. Only servers, which are necessary, are used, and that only in the time when it is necessary. Developers can install servers according to their need and requirements of their work.

Significant benefit of Microsoft Azure lies in the possibility of scaling operation. The solution enables flexible increase in IT server capacities. The original hardware limitations thus no longer exist. Improvements include:

  • Improved agility
  • Increased elasticity
  • Improved quality
  • Redundancy and resiliency
  • Risk reduction
  • Greater efficiency
  • $30,000/year cost savings

Products

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Azure SQL Database
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 R2
  • Windows Azure Pack for System Center

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call +1-800-980-1130.

Syvantis Technologies Inc. was founded in 2000 as a managed services technology provider dedicated to helping small companies manage their complex system of servers and business programs.

Syvantis’ IT environment is supported by Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed and Microsoft partner hosted datacenters.

Syvantis recently sought to upgrade its existing Azure environment by adopting the latest Microsoft-endorsed best practices. The company enlisted Microsoft and The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in Azure and a long history serving the IT needs of professional services organizations.

SOLUTION

The Henson Group commenced the Syvantis’ engagement by launching a comprehensive assessment of the current Azure infrastructure. Based on its experience supporting numerous professional services organizations, Henson Group Azure architects reviewed the environment and produced a detailed report with suggestive actions for optimization. For this process, Henson Group also leveraged the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Readiness Assessment tool, to scan both non-virtualized and virtualized assets and provide a report on Active Directory, SQL, and other components of the architecture with plan for improvements and scale.

Next, based on its analysis produced through the assessment process, Henson Group provided best practices for optimizing SQL Server performance in Syvantis’ Azure environment. With Syvantis running SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines, Henson Group recommended database tuning options to enhance the performance of a relational database in Syvantis’ cloud environment, relative to many factors such as the size of virtual machines, and the configuration of data disks.

Henson Group then provided a detailed “Backup / Recovery Plan (within GEO) Assessment and Proposal.” This assessment and proposal process produced a plan designed to ensure the continuation of Syvantis’ vital business processes in the event that a disaster occurs. This included the development, maintenance and ongoing testing of a Disaster Recovery Plan, as well as addressing employee education and management procedures to insure provable recovery capability.

Lastly, Henson Group managed the migration of a sample set of three Virtual Machines (VMs), migrated from the current Azure subscription to a new subscription. Henson Group thoroughly documented the migration process, while providing knowledge transfer, to enable Syvantis’ support IT personnel to replicate the process for future migrations.

RESULTS & BENEFITS

The Henson Group provided a comprehensive scope of assessment and best practices knowledge transfer, as well as the sample VM migrations, achieving the objectives of this engagement for Syvantis to optimize and maintaining its Azure environment.

Syvantis is experiencing much better infrastructure performance with the Azure cloud solution. The client does not have to support or maintain hardware anymore as the modern hardware is maintained by Microsoft and kept up to date. The solution allows the VMs to grow as the business grows.

PRODUCTS

• Microsoft Azure
• Microsoft Azure Readiness Assessment and Planning Toolkit
• SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call +1.800.980.1130.

Based in Riverview, FL, BlueGrace Logistics is a technology, transportation and logistics company providing logistics technology and transportation management services. Priding itself on putting customer needs at the forefront of its business, BlueGrace fields a seasoned team of industry experts and best-in-class technology to drastically innovate and improve shipping processes. As such, BlueGrace invests in maintaining a state-of-the-art technology infrastructure to streamline and transform its customers’ logistics and shipping functions. BlueGrace’s environment is supported by Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed and Microsoft partner hosted datacenters. It provides both PaaS and IaaS services and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. As part of its ongoing IT diligence, BlueGrace sought to adopt the latest Azure-related innovations, approaching Microsoft. Microsoft enlisted The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in Azure and a long history serving the IT needs of the shipping and logistics industry.   Solution BlueGrace sought to implement optimizations based on best practices related to a shortlist of powerful technologies. This included Azure Redis Cache, based on the popular open-source Redis cache. It gives you access to a secure, dedicated Redis cache, managed by Microsoft and accessible from any application within BlueGrace’s Azure environment. Henson Group also provided extensive guidance on implementing best practices for the Web Apps feature in Azure App Service, which would enable BlueGrace developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage powerful websites and web apps. This includes building standards-based web apps and APIs using .NET, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Java. Part of BlueGrace’s mandate was leveraging the latest best practices and optimization methods for Microsoft Azure Traffic Manager, allowing BlueGrace to control the distribution of user traffic to specified endpoints, which can include Azure cloud services, websites, and other endpoints. Traffic Manager works by applying an intelligent policy engine to Domain Name System (DNS) queries for the domain names of your Internet resources. BlueGrace also requested optimization of the “Azure: Windows Azure Pack” featuring SQL Always on Availability Groups. This service supports SQL Server in high availability using AlwaysOn, so when a tenant in BlueGrace’s Azure environment uses the service, the database is automatically placed in an AlwaysOn Availability Group.   Results & Benefits The Henson Group helped BlueGrace implement best practices for the optimal performance of its Azure environment, including Azure Redis Cache, SQL Server Always On, and several other innovations. This included:

  • Comprehensive Azure Environment Review and provide knowledge transfer for maximizing performance and high availability
  • Guidance and recommendations for Azure Web apps and Traffic Manager best practices
  • Knowledge Transfer explaining and imparting Azure VM Disks best practices
  • Deep dive into SQL Server Always On on Azure VM best practices
  • Step by step guidance for automating UAT / QA environments using CD/CI of TFS 2013
  • Azure Redis Cache discussion and implementation guidance
  • Assessment study of application source code to identify and replace SQL server functionalities by Storage or Service Bus queues in worker role
  • Pilot run – Host sample application and capture and compare the Performance parameters using New Relic (or similar tool) and compare against Rackspace
  • Pilot run – Azure backup vault configuration for VM and restore across different region. Implementation details documentation if this approach suited for the current environment.

Today, BlueGraceis experiencing much better infrastructure performance with the Azure cloud solution. The project was completed within two months.   Products

  • Microsoft Azure Redis Cache
  • Azure Web apps and Traffic Manager
  • Azure: Windows Azure Pack” featuring SQL Always on Availability Groups.

To request a free consultation to learn how your organization can realize similar benefits and gains with Microsoft Azure deployment services provided by preferred Microsoft Gold Partner The Henson Group, please email Info@HensonGroup.com or call 1.800.980.1130.

This Azure 101 series presents a set of core competencies of Microsoft Azure for IT professionals and serves as prerequisites (http://aka.ms/Prerequisites) for attending Microsoft events relevant to Microsoft Azure. In document, we walk through the specifics of processes and steps with screen-to-screen details of examined scenarios. This post is specific to creating and configuring a Microsoft Azure virtual network including exporting/importing self-signed certificates, generating Azure VPN gateways, etc.

Download: Azure101-VirtualNetwork