"There are so many considerations when enterprises migrate to the cloud. Azure NetApp Files takes care of secure file migration, infrastructure architecture, and application performance. That gives organizations one less thing to have to think about.” – James Farhat, CEO, ACTS
Partnering with some of the largest financial service, retail, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) firms, all striving to meet a cloud-first mandate, James Farhat, CEO of ACTS and his team have been front and center at some of the largest migrations and transformations happening in business today.
“What we see is that, while companies try to prepare technically, it’s culture, process, governance, training, and other elements that are significant barriers to success,” says Farhat. “I think a lot of the challenge around cloud transformation is retooling as an organization. It’s not necessarily being able to digest the technology that presents a problem, but becoming operationally and organizationally ready to take full advantage of the cloud’s potential.”
Senior Cloud Architect Mark Moore agrees. “We know that Azure education, governance, security, ITSM, and DevOps all require changes when organizations move to the cloud.”
Farhat and Moore are supporting organizations at all stages of their cloud transformation journeys. Some companies have already moved significant processes to the cloud, while others are still rationalizing or enabling their movement towards full or hybrid cloud adoption.
As Farhat points out, “It’s still early days, and the financial services and retail industries are only really beginning to move large amounts of their workload from on-premises to the cloud.” Farhat knows that cloud transformation presents a unique set of challenges that can feel overwhelming to organizations. Overcoming those road bumps is ACTS’ specialty.
Value Extraction Through Cloud Transformation
“The cloud brings a whole new set of capabilities, tools, and technologies that are all considered very technology-centric. To really take advantage of them, you have to have the right people with the right capabilities in place. And you have to have the right processes enabled. If you don't transform those people and processes, then you don't drive the value extraction,” says Farhat.
Value extraction is the primary reason why a company makes a decision to move to cloud. Farhat explains, “If you don't align, then you don’t get those intangible benefits that hit the bottom line: the capabilities of driving speed-to-value closer to the customer, of releasing better agility, and providing differentiation with whatever you're trying to serve to your endpoint.”
“One of the reasons we work so closely with Microsoft is that we enhance their sales and delivery teams. We can help rationalize an outcome, put the pieces together, and integrate those pieces. In a cloud transformation, it requires the ability to take multiple silos within the IT department, and also in the business, and find a way for them to all work together for that outcome, because you're truly transforming the business.”
Farhat and Moore chose Microsoft over competing cloud service providers because, as Farhat says, “we are driven by the business. And, at the end of the day, no other company has had the voice of the enterprise as much as, or for as long as, Microsoft.”
Microsoft, a Better Cloud Transformation with a Better Cloud
Farhat works only with Azure. One reason, he says, is “Microsoft’s number of adjacent resources. We believe that there's a lot of things tied, from Microsoft business applications to the Microsoft Office and M365 Suite, along with the adjacent capacities of the Azure cloud, from data to infrastructure, to the platform-as-a-service. There's just such a breadth of capabilities. For our organization to truly transform enterprises from a people and process perspective, and to really get those intangible benefits, we invest in the Microsoft technology fabric.”
Farhat believes it's far easier to align the talent with one technology company's capabilities than to mix-and-match products and vendors. "If you understand how Office and M365 work, it makes you understand a lot of things in Azure better.”
Azure NetApp Files: Superior Performance in the Azure Cloud
In financial services and retail, some workloads would really benefit from Azure, but they require a high-performance file migration solution that just hasn’t been previously available. With Azure NetApp Files, a Microsoft Azure native service built on NetApp technology, customers can benefit from fast and secure file migration and performance that is better than an on-premises data center.
Moore says, “From a performance standpoint, customers who have experienced tier-one NetApp on-premises have been anxious about making the change to the cloud because they need those same response times in Azure. But, with Azure NetApp Files the experience is far superior. Not even comparable to what they know now. And for customers who have never used NetApp, they don’t need any special skills to access Azure NetApp Files in the cloud. It’s a game-changer for every enterprise.”
Farhat points out that the financial sector has been slower to transform than retail and CPG due to security concerns. However, with Azure's built-in continuous encryption capabilities and point-in-time data copies, and Azure NetApp Files performance, security and agility, the shift to cloud for the financial sector will now be safer than ever.
Farhat recognizes the benefits of Azure NetApp Files’ capabilities for his clients. “I mean, it’s perfect for anything that needs high amounts of performance; so, for instance, making a migration window, or transactional data, which needs really high performance across a large number of files; being able to provide replication for disaster recovery or business continuity. Anything, like migrating large amounts of data much faster, and running a lot more transactional-type performance against storage is a huge benefit. There are a lot of scenarios that people could see Azure NetApp Files as the endpoint from a current on-premises device.”
The best part is that Azure NetApp Files is just another Azure service that ACTS’ clients can consume effortlessly – giving them one less thing to worry about.