Replicating and Improving your SharePoint Farm in Microsoft Azure

For many organisations, the main reasons for adopting a cloud hosting solution for SharePoint are the cost effectiveness and reliability that is offered when compared to legacy on-premises hosting solutions or traditional datacentres.

Unfortunately, many businesses do not get the performance enhancements that they expect when migrating their SharePoint hosting to Azure. This is usually due to mistakes in the architecture process that lead to insufficient resource being used.

Proper Planning Prevents Performance Problems

Prior to any migration of SharePoint to Azure, it is essential to conduct a thorough review of the existing solution you are using. This involves auditing the specification of all aspects of the hosting including all the application and database servers, as well as the connectivity in and out of your data centre.

In some cases, a SharePoint cloud deployment is simply configured at the basic recommended levels rather than considering the specific needs of an organisation. While this may save money on your existing hosting, it can also create massive performance issues if the existing solution is more powerful.

One reason for this approach is that Azure makes it so simple to deploy an off the shelf SharePoint farm straight from the dashboard. While some configuration is still required, it is often overlooked and needs are not thought through. This leads to an unsatisfactory outcome for staff.

Valto’s approach is to fully audit the performance and requirements of your organisation through analysis of log files. This informs us about the number of connections that are required and the likely throughput of data and server requests that need to be accommodated.  We provide a full service that is designed to complement your IT Strategy.

Once this review has been conducted, it is important to review the current hosting arrangements that you have. In some cases, existing solutions may be over-engineered – more powerful than is needed to handle the application. This may be because of previous planning which sought to ensure that the solution deployed would be futureproof by building in additional capacity.

Given that Azure offers more flexibility than traditional data centre solutions, over capacity is not essential – the specification of the farm can be managed in real time – adding capacity when required and scaling back at other times if necessary – this reduces costs.

Similarly, if the existing farm is under-specification, then a plan can be put in place to architect a solution that is in keeping with current needs along with a roadmap for additional capacity as required.

Ongoing Support and Analysis

As noted above, a key reason why legacy systems can appear expensive is that they are often over-engineered to provide future proofing. This is not necessary with Azure and SharePoint, as the virtual machines can be altered as required. This means that ongoing support is essential.

Regular audits of usage levels will help to ensure that the correct range of machines to meet your business’ SharePoint requirements are in place as required.

Find out More

For more information about Valto’s approach or to talk to one of our qualified Azure Consultants about hosting SharePoint in Azure, please call us on 0207 240 1440.

Why SharePoint Online is the Right Choice for Your Intranet

In the past, SharePoint was primarily seen just as a platform for collaboration – largely because of its integration into the rest of the Microsoft Office Productivity Suite, however with the addition of custom development and the flexibility that it offered, it also became a popular choice for a company’s intranet solution.

With SharePoint Online, there is even more integration with both Azure as a platform and Office 365. This coupled with the collaboration tools offered in the latest Office Applications makes SharePoint an even more powerful tool for making a workforce more productive. A further benefit of the architecture of SharePoint online is the adoption of an App based model for extending functionality.

SharePoint Intranet

While previous versions of SharePoint could be extended with added functions to support services such as Holiday Bookings or Expense Management, these needed to be developed and integrated into SharePoint. It was possible for SharePoint development companies to deploy a preconfigured intranet type solution “out of the box”, however this was usually a one size fits all solution that required substantial additional work to configure the intranet to work as required.

With the newer App based model, the extra services are de-coupled from SharePoint, which means that they are easier to install and maintenance becomes more straightforward – a patch for SharePoint will not break connections or end functionality with an app as they sit separately.
The availability of SharePoint apps to handle much of the extra functionality that businesses require makes the management of an Intranet more straightforward and allows companies to get what they want more easily.

Adding Social features to a SharePoint Intranet

One of the biggest challenges for an organisation adopting a SharePoint Intranet is to encourage staff to use it. There are some core functions that all staff will need to use – booking holidays or working together – but for the intranet to fulfil its potential, it’s essential that staff use it as a means of sharing information with their colleagues.

Integrating Yammer and Skype within SharePoint can be done using the app model – this encourages staff to communicate via the intranet. As more content is shared and organised through the Intranet, it becomes a more important part of workflow within the business, and this – coupled with the ability to manage a user’s profile as part of an internal social network makes it a more user-friendly environment that provides real value for all staff.

Single Sign On

Perhaps the biggest advantage of choosing SharePoint online as an intranet platform alongside Office 365 is the integration of a single user identity across the different applications. A user no longer needs to sign in to multiple applications to do different things – they can access their stored documents, manage their HR and training, and communicate with colleagues. With SharePoint Online and Office 365, this is functionality that requires little custom development, whereas a third-party platform would require substantial development time to integrate.

Find out More

If your organisation is planning to update your intranet, need reliable SharePoint Support or you’re considering an Office 365 Migration and want to find out more about the benefits of integration that SharePoint brings, please contact a member of our team on 03335 779 009 and we’ll be happy to help you.

Is Azure Compliant with ISO 27001

An essential part of the procurement and compliance process for both public sector bodies and larger enterprises is ensuring that software and services that they use meet any ISO requirements that they are subject to.   The question of “is Azure compliant with ISO 27001” is hugely important to businesses when selecting a vendor for cloud services.

As the world’s leading provider of both operating systems (Windows) and productivity software (Office 2016 & Office 365), Microsoft provides the software backbone of the majority of global businesses.

is azure compliant with ISO27001

The pace of change in larger businesses can be slower due to regulatory burdens including compliance with international Standards. The availability of certification of compliance with ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 for Azure is helpful in allowing businesses to manage their IT strategy and cloud migration and enable faster adoption of technologies.

Is Azure Compliant with ISO 27001

For the most part, businesses work with approved Microsoft Partners and Technology Specialists like Valto rather than Microsoft themselves.

This gives access to local experts who can provide a service that recognises the specific needs of an organisation rather than being subject to multiple relationships within Microsoft itself.

To facilitate the compliance process, Microsoft offers their Service Trust Initiative. Under this scheme, all software for business is assessed by independent third-party auditors to ensure that it meets both ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 standards for Information security.

As the UK adopts the GDPR in 2018, adherence to the standards laid out in the two ISO certifications is increasingly important. To help businesses meet their requirements, the auditors have published information on several pertinent areas including:

  • The Security Risk Management Programme run by Microsoft
  • The Protections that are in place for Personally Identifiable Information
  • A framework for developing compliant applications

Ensuring compliance with ISO standards is important – and increasingly with the introduction of the GDPR, businesses will need to be ever more vigilant about how and where their information is stored. Properly configured and managed, Azure is compliant with ISO 27001.

Find out More

To book an assessment of your current implementation, or to speak to one of our experienced Azure Consultants about how the platform can be tailored to your business, please contact Valto today on 03335 779 009 and we’ll be happy to help.