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Sitecore & Azure cloud solutions

Most enterprise businesses are now moving towards hosting their websites and applications in the cloud.

The benefits are obvious. It means saying goodbye to rooms full of servers requiring large teams to maintain and update them. It frees up space, frees up IT professionals to focus on business-critical issues and it saves time. A recent Forrester report estimated an 80% reduction in IT administration resulting from adopting the cloud and a 50% reduction in the time required to deploy a new application solution. Finally, the cloud offers reach and the ability to reduce network latency without the need to have a physical presence in every country where a business operates.

So, the cloud makes total sense. But what solution should you be using?

At Kin + Carta Connect, we’ve experienced the transformation that cloud infrastructures can deliver first hand. As a Sitecore Platinum partner and Microsoft Partner, we’ve also seen how these two businesses have formed something of a dream team for those looking to embrace the cloud.

Since version 8, Sitecore has been working hard to update their platform with the cloud in mind. As it’s grown, so has the demands for increased performance, scalability and connectivity. Sitecore is based upon the Microsoft tech stack (.NET, SQLServer etc.), so Microsoft Azure is the perfect infrastructure provider.

Let’s look a little more closely at why Microsoft Azure is such a great choice to host Sitecore (or any other .NET application). 

 

Reducing IT overheads

Azure offers a couple of hosting options, each offering its own pros and cons. Your choice will depend on the nature of your business and how much control you want.

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) means that you only deal with the application layer and not the operating system (OS). This allows you to focus your attention on your application and code. However, you might not have access to some low-level settings in the OS that can be used to configure or tweak.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offers access to the operating system level, allowing more control over how the server itself behaves and its settings. The main issue is that you are responsible for updating and patching the server, creating a higher operational overhead.

Getting closer to customers

As the internet connects more and more people around the world, our potential audiences and marketing reach continues to expand.

Azure includes 54 hosting ‘regions’ around the world meaning you can host your Sitecore delivery servers closer to your audience. Smart traffic management delivers content from the nearest region servers, improving page load speeds, boosting conversion rates and enhancing the overall customer experience.

 

Deploying at pace and scale on demand

You can scale your web apps to deal with demand, perfect for those delivering big campaigns or dealing with high traffic periods like Black Friday.

WebApps are self-contained web server instances, much like having an individual site configured in IIS to host your application. They include a feature for scaling both horizontally (adding more instances) and vertically (more resources). This feature is ideal for your Sitecore content delivery servers.

WebApps also feature ‘slots’ which can be used to create blue/green deployments in your CI/CD pipeline. You can warm up a staging slot before swapping to production, reducing downtime in the application for each deployment.

 

Covering all database needs

Like many enterprise applications, Sitecore has a lot of database requirements. Azure SQL helps bolster Sitecore’s resilience using features such as Geo-Replication to ensure that data is backed up and maintained in a secondary region or optimising and allocating resources on a per-database basis. Administrators can focus on optimising the performance of the databases rather than spending time working on the database server itself.

 

The start of AI

Sitecore requires indexes of your content and data to improve search performance.

Azure Search offers the ability to connect your search data to AI powered services. You can use machine learning to enrich your indexes with additional metadata and facets using intelligent algorithms to provide search recommendations to your users.

 

Head for the cloud

If your current Sitecore implementation isn’t hosted in Azure yet, then now is the time to plan your migration. It’s also the ideal opportunity to upgrade to the latest version of Sitecore.

Kin + Carta has the knowledge and experience to help architect your Azure infrastructure and deliver the perfect Sitecore implementation. Improved performance, scaling, reduced hosting costs, lower support overhead, global potential and the very latest AI tech: it really could be blue skies ahead for your business.

If you’re an IT Director or CTO, Azure offers reduced management overheads and lower infrastructure costs. If marketing is your remit, then the time-to-market and scalability of Azure means you are ready to be there, 100% of the time.

Martin Paton - Chief Technology Officer, Kin + Carta Connect

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