Why We Added Azure Management After a Decade of VMware Expertise

Written by Thomas Burns on Friday, March 30th 2018 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Cloud Storage, Hybrid Cloud, Azure, Managed Services, Cloud Hosting, Cloud Storage, Hybrid IT, Microsoft, VMware

Green House Data announced the addition of Azure cloud to our stable of managed cloud services this week. For some, this may come as a bit of a shock. We’ve been a VMware shop since the company was formed, with the gBlock Cloud hosted within our data centers on the vSphere platform.

We’ll continue to offer our own hosted VMware cloud as well as VMware cloud management on behalf of our clients, but we’ve expanded our scope to include Azure managed services. There are a number of reasons for this shift in strategy, which ultimately allows clients a wider breadth of service options to best suit their IT infrastructure goals.


A Decade of Cloud Evolution

We like to say Green House Data was born in the cloud. While colocation remains a strong contributor to our business model (one we expect to keep growing alongside cloud services), we have offered hosted VMware cloud from our hardware since our founding in 2007. That places us among the first data center providers also offering cloud computing. Many of our engineers started on VMware Infrastructure and jumped to the first versions of vSphere as they were released.

The cloud landscape has changed. VMware itself began offering vCloud Air, a self-service hosted platform. AWS took over the scene, especially for software developers. Microsoft and Google started catching up with their own self-service, large scale platforms. Automation and massive scale are here to stay, especially as organizations face ever growing datasets and an increasingly mobile workforce.


Making Lives Easier

Not every customer is an ideal fit for Azure. Nor is every customer built on VMware. Ultimately adding Azure is all about adding more choices for our clients and continuing to remove the pain points of managing a cloud platform from their list of responsibilities.

You turn to a cloud provider so you don’t have to manage hardware. You turn to a managed cloud provider so you don’t have to manage a cloud platform, either. Your infrastructure just works. The scale of that can go all the way down to your applications, or it can stop at the platform itself. Either way, you’re left with your core responsibilities as an IT manager, which are providing the business applications needed for your company to profit.

We discovered more and more in recent months that to meet these goals, we would have to embrace a hyperscale platform like Azure. Starting with Microsoft made the most sense as we are already a member of their partner program for both Data Center Competency and CSP for SharePoint and Office 365. We provide Microsoft licensing for many of our clients and also help manage Microsoft operating systems and databases as well as productivity apps. Our managed services and cloud services teams were already familiar with many of Microsoft’s offerings and it makes sense to bundle where possible.

Launching on Azure allows us to offer multiple hypervisors, while simultaneously expanding the reach of our client infrastructure. Although we have nine nationwide facilities, it is always helpful to have additional sites for disaster recovery or site-specific workloads.

Speaking of DR, part of what led us down this path was the introduction of cross-platform DR using Zerto. A year or two ago we began testing failover to/from the gBlock Cloud and Azure VMs. It worked great. If there was a problem with one platform, we could spin up VMs on the other, helping to mitigate one of the biggest sticking points with cloud and vendor lock-in.


Managed Cloud: A Strategic Shift

And that brings me back to the biggest benefit: removing those sticking points. Green House Data is all about helping our customers reach business goals through the use of IT infrastructure. That entails performance, reliability, and long-term strategy.

We’re a partner here to make your cloud resources a reality, one that you don’t need to think twice about, regardless of platform or physical location of the servers themselves. It might make sense to place one application on Azure while hosting another on the gBlock VMware cloud. It might even make sense to colocate your DR infrastructure.

So much depends on the individual client situation. There is no one size fits all cloud package. Everything at Green House Data is custom-quoted, custom-built, and custom-serviced on behalf of our clients. And now, that includes Azure cloud resources.

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