Surgent (formerly known as Surgent McCoy) is a leader in the field of continuing professional education (CPE) for CPAs and other financial professionals. Surgent (www.CPENow.com) provides thousands of CPE webinars, self-study courses, CPE packages, and live seminars annually for accounting, tax preparation, and financial professionals all across the country. For more than 30 years, Surgent has partnered with nearly all state societies of CPAs and hundreds of the nation’s top accounting firms. Surgent also offers a variety of continuing education and exam preparation courses for non-CPAs, including Enrolled Agents, tax preparers, Certified Financial Planners, and CPA candidates. With its IT infrastructure built primarily on Microsoft and related technologies, Surgent approached Microsoft to recommend a cloud-based solution, based on Microsoft Azure technology. Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web—for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money. Microsoft enlisted the assistance of The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in solving the IT challenges of modern professional services organizations like Training Consultants. Surgent’s IT environment is supported by Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform and infrastructure. Azure was created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed and Microsoft partner hosted datacenters. Anticipating an upgrade its existing Azure environment, Surgent recently sought an external, expert review and analysis, including recommendations for how to adopt the latest Microsoft-endorsed best practices and Azure improvements. Moreover, Surgent IT leadership wanted an experienced, certified Azure partner to guide them through Azure best practices with specific emphasis on advanced scenarios. The company enlisted Microsoft and The Henson Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with extensive experience in Azure and a proven history providing expert-level assessment services to professional services organizations, such as Surgent. Solution The Henson Group launched Surgent’s assessment by staging a series of comprehensive review sessions, fully engaged with Surgent IT leadership, to capture the existing configurations and complexities of the Azure infrastructure. Surgent’s deployed its infrastructure on Azure and is using it as hybrid cloud – a cloud computing environment leveraging a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms. Surgent’s objective was two-fold. First, Surgent sought to ensure that the Azure-based hybrid environment had been configured properly and accordingly to the Microsoft Azure’s best practices. Secondly, and equally important, Surgent wanted expert-level advice for adjustments to enhance their already highly flexible and available environment even more robust and reliable. The Henson Group provided a comprehensive scope of assessment and best practices knowledge transfer, with extensive documentation to enable Surgent to optimize its Azure environment. Among its various recommendations, Henson Group proposed that Surgent implement adjustments to the Backup and high Availability features of Azure. This also included, among other measures, implementing Azure Backup for Virtual Machines and SQL Servers and setting up the Auto Scale feature for Virtual Machines. Meanwhile, Henson Group proposed Surgent upgrade its existing SQL Server’s Virtual Machines to adopt the new Azure Premium Storage service in order to increase the performance of databases. Azure Premium Storage delivers high-performance, low-latency disk support for virtual machines running I/O-intensive workloads. Virtual Machine disks that use Premium Storage store data on solid state drives (SSDs). Henson Group recommended Surgent migrate its application’s VM disks to Azure Premium Storage to take advantage of the speed and performance of these disks. Moreover, Henson Group also assessed the Surgent Azure environment’s security profile, and subsequently proposed Surgent deploy an Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) proxy, to add Access Control Lists (ACL) for the configured endpoints and to set up a network Intrusion defense systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) system. Results & Benefits Henson Group provided thorough knowledge transfer, reinforced by comprehensive documentation. And, to ensure the Surgent had the post-migration assessment support it needed to advise on implementing any of the recommendations provided, Henson Group assigned a resource associated with the migration and therefore knowledgeable of Surgent’s environment to provide on-demand guidance. 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.