Cloud computing has been around for a long time, yet 98% of companies continue to run their own on-premises hardware servers and infrastructure. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have begun migrating to the cloud and parting ways with their legacy systems to reduce costs and ensure business continuity.
Recently, Gibraltar had the pleasure of working with a client on a cloud migration and app development solution. This client has chosen to remain anonymous for this case study. The company is an engineering and manufacturing company that sells products through retail vendors. They rely on kiosks across Canada to sell their product at multiple store locations. These kiosks also provide the company with vital information that the client uses to ensure they are working correctly and have stock.
The company was looking to create a more robust and secure solution to ensure that its vendors could sell and distribute products consistently at any given time. With the help of Gibraltar Solutions, they migrated to an on-demand cloud solution that is scalable and elastic, and secure, while reducing overall costs.
The company had an extensive on-premises infrastructure of virtual machines (VMs) that were sized up with peak capacity in mind. Their infrastructure had limited resiliency, and they were also concerned with managing the security with such a vast attack surface. Not only did the client have security concerns, but they also had high costs for managing their on-premises, legacy infrastructure due to the necessary maintenance and management. Furthermore, due to seasonal influences, demand on their system resources was much heavier for short periods during the year, while the rest of the time, demand was much lower. To meet the higher demand, they were forced to increase their infrastructure to meet the highest level of capacity, despite only using maximum capacity two to three times per year. Thus, the client wanted a solution that would scale up and down with their network demands, while also remaining resilient and secure.
With this approach in mind, the solution would not only reduce their overall costs, but also would mitigate risk around redundancy, resiliency, change control, performance, availability, scalability, and security.
Gibraltar’s solution involved migrating the entire IT environment to Microsoft Azure Cloud and replacing the majority of their existing virtual machines. The solution consisted of Azure Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and Microsoft Azure SQL. Platform as a service is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable the delivery of everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications. Resources are purchased as needed on a pay-as-you-go basis and then can be accessed securely online.
Like infrastructure as a service (IaaS), PaaS includes infrastructure—servers, storage, and networking—but also middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems, and more. PaaS is designed to support the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating.
For the client, the PaaS solution allowed them to avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing software licenses, and all of the physical infrastructure and middleware that was costing them thousands of dollars to manage and maintain. Microsoft runs everything in the PaaS from the infrastructure down to the operating system, so the client’s IT team has much less to worry about. The cloud deployment is in an environment where the system automatically and dynamically scales to provide the required capacity. This means that the client no longer had to pay premium prices to match the highest level of required capacity year-round.
The solution met the client’s need for auto-scaling, cost efficiency, and comprehensive security. The PaaS solution eliminated a massive part of the attack surface that would normally be vulnerable in a traditional infrastructure solution. The PaaS solution eliminated patching vulnerabilities, firmware vulnerabilities and all other major problems that come with legacy infrastructure. As well, Microsoft includes features such as data encryption, certificate automation, and SQL database firewall which eliminates the need for the client to purchase additional security software.
Gibraltar not only architected and implemented the solution, but also will be managing it as a Gibraltar managed service, which allows the company’s IT team to spend their time dealing with more pressing matters.
By migrating to the cloud, the client was able to achieve the high availability, resiliency, and scalability that they aimed for. They also were able to significantly reduce the cost issues associated with their on-premises legacy environment by using autoscaling PaaS and reducing management overhead. Deploying the PaaS allowed them to eliminate a large part of the attack surface, and all vulnerabilities that come with physical infrastructure, drastically increasing the security of their IT environment. Gibraltar was able to achieve the client’s goals of reduced complexity, resulting in reduced effort to maintain and manage their IT solution; increased security, leaving them with less to patch, monitor and lock down; and rapid scalability so that their environment automatically adjusts to meet the demand with no concerns of over or under provisioning capacity.