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Overview

A midwest trucking company looking to enhance their data analytics services for their business worked with Zirous on a Catalyst assessment to develop a roadmap and strategy for implementing analytics. After an in-depth review of their data needs, the company decided to leverage Zirous to design and implement a foundation for their Azure cloud platform, starting with data analytics. The customer had specific goals to meet:

  • Ensure the environment was scalable to meet growing demands
  • Provide a solid platform and architecture from which to build additional cloud services
  • Ensure best practices and standards were implemented and enforced
  • Fully understand cloud costs and how to properly manage them ongoing

With these goals in mind, Zirous needed to know more about the company’s current state and the challenge at hand.

The Challenge

The customer had specific goals, which stemmed from challenges that existed within the on-premises infrastructure and a desire to have a best practices analytics platform at the start. Lack of proper naming standards, role based access controls, and general cloud implementation and scaling of resources were some of the obstacles that were concerning the team and management. They engaged with a partner from the start, to avoid having unnecessary costs, both with resources and cloud services. This company realized their lack of proper skills and experience and engaged Zirous to ensure they were successful from the beginning.

The Solution

Set Up a Cloud Foundation

Zirous’ experts in Azure developed a cloud strategy for the Midwestern trucking company to move and grow in Azure. This entailed:

  • Setting up a scalable, understandable hierarchy with Management Groups, Subscriptions, and Resource Groups
  • Creating a Hub and Spoke network design that fits within the hierarchy
  • Coming up with a clear naming and tagging standard that Zirous and the Midwestern trucking company will use for every resource — and that can be easily referenced in the future
  • Creating scripts to help complete repetitive tasks and rebuild environments with ease

Hierarchy & Network Design

Zirous worked with the company to create a hierarchy that laid out management groups and subscriptions by different business functions. This design allows the business to better understand where cloud costs are going and how to better manage them. From there, Zirous developed the structure of the resource groups by the resource’s function, so you can easily identify whom the resource belongs to and what it does. Along with the hierarchy, Zirous designed a hub and spoke network that satisfied the immediate needs, but also set up the environment for expansion. By using a hub and spoke design, the company will get the most usage out of the resources they are paying for because it centralizes services to be used by multiple workloads.

Naming & Tagging Standards

After the base hierarchy was designed, Zirous utilized Azure best practice to come up with naming and tagging standards. By creating naming standards, all of the trucking company’s Azure resources will follow the same structure for clear identification. Zirous also utilized Azure Policy to enforce the naming standards in all subscriptions. With tagging standards, the Midwest trucking company is able to see additional information at a glance from the resource owner to the creation date, while also being able to quickly identify resources that are no longer needed.

Automation with Scripting

Zirous made use of powershell scripting and automation to help build the new Azure environment. In particular, Zirous made scripts for their analytics environment that allowed us to easily create production and development versions of the same environment. The utilization of scripts also helped recreate environments when naming standards were changed or updated.

Monitoring & Alerting

Once the environment was configured and running, Zirous created custom dashboards with specific metrics that provide visibility into each of the resources. This allowed users of the new Azure environment to see how the environment is functioning from a single location. Zirous was able to make use of Azure Alerts to notify the appropriate people when metrics crossed predetermined thresholds. Zirous also set up numerous budgets on the various subscriptions to give the Midwest trucking company alerts on their current spending. This provides much needed visibility on their cloud costs while avoiding any surprises on their bill.

The Impact

Zirous worked closely with the customer’s team to design the environment, collaborate on standards, and to mentor them on the services and design implemented so the team can manage the environment going forward. That management will require less time and effort with monitoring and alerts in place, so the team can focus on value added services for the business. Cost management also becomes more clear with properly defined resources and budgets in place, even as their cloud footprint grows with their cloud initiatives. By implementing the proper Azure tools and services along with Zirous’ expertise, the customer has a strong foundation that was designed to align with Azure best practices and set up for scalability as they grow their cloud presence and expand into further cloud capabilities like advanced data analytics.

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