Microsoft Azure – simple, flexible and affordable for SMEs

Posted on Monday, February 2, 2015

Every week, Mustard IT delivers new cloud solutions for London businesses and it’s not hard to see why this new technology is capturing the imagination of businesses of all sizes.

Microsoft Azure is one product that has been gaining popularity in recent months because it offers all the flexibility and functionality that companies need in a cloud computing solution. This cloud platform makes it easy to access your business applications from a range of remote devices, requires minimal upfront investment and offers easy budgeting with easy-to-manage month subscriptions that can be scaled up or down at a moment’s notice.

Last month, a new start-up company asked us to propose a cloud solution to get two users up and running quickly. As a small team of accountants trying to become operational with IRIS software during the self-assessment season, their main challenge revolved around timescales. But to compound matters, they had no office either, and were looking to start working from home before moving into premises just as soon as a lease had been secured.

This customer had already been quoted between £10,000 and £15,000 from traditional IT installation companies for network servers, routers, switches etc. with lead times of up to 4 weeks. Mustard proposed a Microsoft Azure cloud solution which required less than £2,000 upfront investment and we had them up and running within 2 days.

The absence of physical hardware provides the biggest advantage to SMEs looking to minimise the initial outlay on this kind of project. Mustard simply built a network in the cloud for this client using the Microsoft Azure platform, which is miles quicker and much cheaper than a traditional installation. In fact, the client’s business applications were ready to start installing less than 24 hours from receipt of order.

We configured two servers running Windows Server 2012 – one acting as a domain controller and the other a terminal server running SQL (not best practice, admittedly – but we were working to a budget and there are only 2 users. Once they’ve made their millions, SQL will get its own server!) Most importantly, we had already confirmed with IRIS that they were happy with this arrangement.

Azure provides greater agility and flexibility too. With physical hardware, all applications used to be installed on the terminal server and users would gain access to this server via a session window on their PC (essentially a remote desktop connection). Thanks to faster broadband connections and technological advances, it is now possible to ‘publish’ the likes of IRIS, Sage and other programs to the terminal server and access them remotely using the Terminal Services Remote App. Rather than working in a session window, you’re working directly from your desktop, laptop or tablet, which enables copying and pasting between applications in a way that Terminal Services previously did not.

In fact, this customer was using Microsoft Surface Pros to access IRIS, but Mustard has also configured Terminal Services Remote App on iPads.

Want to find out more about Microsoft Azure cloud computing solutions or speak to a Mustard consultant? Please call 020 3792 6988 today.