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Azure Expert Tells All

“You cannot take an approach to supporting cloud the way you have always supported on-prem infrastructure,” says Unitas Global VP of Cloud Architecture, Chris Smith. With five Microsoft certifications and counting, Chris is the Unitas in-house Microsoft and Azure expert. In this post, Chris shares his thoughts on how Unitas clients benefit from leveraging our Azure expertise.

 

Complexity of Cloud Requires Expertise  

Cloud is big. Cloud is complex. Just looking at the marketplace alone there are hundreds and hundreds of tools, applications, and areas to use. I hold three certifications in Microsoft Azure and there are parts of it that I’m still learning. Within Azure, you need to find areas of expertise, and that is why companies find difficulty in providing Azure management.

It takes a team of architects and engineers to understand cloud. If you’re going to build a truly great strategy in the cloud, to be in Azure, you need a team of individuals who understand all the nuances. That’s why you need to partner with a managed service provider.

 

Insights from Microsoft Inspire 

The most in-demand solutions are end-user security and end-user support with Microsoft 365. Other popular areas are in analytics and AI. Partners and reps I had discussions with always seem to turn toward analyzing the data. 73% of the world’s data is not being analyzed.* There’s a big opportunity for cloud service providers (CSPs) to help their customers analyze their data and build a better story around that data. Another big topic was migration—to truly migrate to the cloud and understanding what that story looks like.

 

 

Unitas Solutions Are Built on Relationships & Client Needs  

How do we select the areas of technology we want to build out? Does it come from Microsoft, the customers themselves, or internally at Unitas?

At Unitas, we’re in the relationship business. We build relationships with our partners and with our customers. We build on that trust and have ongoing conversations. It’s not just understanding what Microsoft is saying we should do, it’s not looking at who’s saying “hey, this is the biggest trend.” We use some of that data, but we build an area of trust with customers and partners and bring in our experts to help understand what our customers’ needs are.

After we’ve evaluated their needs, we build solutions to meet those needs, and we pull in technologies from our areas of expertise. If there’s a need we can’t meet, we will bring in a partner to strengthen the solution.

Unitas Global isn’t just a Microsoft partner; we’re also a partner of AWS and Google.

I’ve always taken the stance that there are things that each hyperscaler does really well. So when we talk about a hybrid approach, we’re talking about multiple clouds—not just Microsoft or one or the other. Those are some of the other partnerships we’re developing. We still have partnerships with VMWare and other technologies as well, like Citrix, and we continue to build those partnerships. We are a true solution provider, and that’s what we do with clients: we look at the problem and we solve it using the technologies and the partnerships we’ve built. 

Our connectivity department has continued to build partnerships with network service providers globally, utilizing other data centers and our own POPs to build out a network connectivity platform.

 
How Microsoft Is Supporting Partners Like Unitas 

Microsoft has a requirement for CSPs to purchase a premiere support agreement. The agreement provides us with emergency tickets which allow us to immediately get on the phone with Microsoft engineers. By having a direct relationship with our partner manager at Microsoft and a direct line to their technical resources, we are fully partnered with Microsoft and best able to support our customers.

We are very serious about our partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft understands partners are what makes their ecosystem strong, and it does nothing but help us become stronger for our customers.

There are challenges around the technology and the areas of expertise you need to truly have a strong Microsoft Azure support practice. You must have investments from your company not only in Microsoft itself to get the help, but you need to invest in Microsoft engineers at multiple levels to be able to properly support Azure.

 

 

*Source: Microsoft, as presented at Microsoft Inspire conference, 2019