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Empower Users with Self-Service Password Reset

Across the globe, first line support teams spend swathes of their time dealing with users needing a password reset or an account unlock but wouldn’t it be great to save time for the end-user, improve their experience for this day-to-day, repeatable task, and free up time on your Service Desk to deal with the bigger fish you have to fry? You could even make the process more secure too!

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Resize Azure VMs to Meet Business Demand

It the physical and virtual worlds, we designed around peak capacity but in the public cloud that comes at a cost. With Microsoft Azure, we can reverse habit this by building for daily capacity and resize as we need it for maximum cost efficiency.

So what exactly do we mean? Imagine you have a financial system. On a typical day, the system is lightly used and doesn’t need too much horsepower. At the end of every month, your finance team work like busy bees to get the month end data pulled together and the system needs extra compute power to cope with the demand. In the physical world, we would have had to build and engineer these systems for the peak demand; on a daily basis, the system would have been underutilised.

Designing for peak demand

If we built a financial system based on the example above to cater for the peak demand as we would have traditionally done, we might have needed to deploy the system on a General Purpose D12 IaaS VM giving us 4 CPUs and 28GB RAM and that carries a monthly cost of £316.11 per month for our example.

If we design the system this way, the cost is flat and there’s nothing else to consider.

Designing for typical usage and peak bursts

If we flip the design above on its head, in this example, we design for the typical requirements of the system day-to-day. Based on some analysis, we determine that the system only requires a General Purpose D11 IaaS VM with 2 CPUs and 14GB RAM for this daily usage for 29 days of the month but we need the extra power of the D12 VM on the last day of every month.

In this scenario, the D11 for 706 hours per month costs less than half that of the D12: £152.99 per month. To do this, we add the cost of a D12 for 24 hours which is £10.39. We add the two together giving us a total monthly cost of £163.38 which, compared with the peak demand example, is a 48% saving per month. To put a real number on it, over the course of a year. peak demand design would come in at £3,793.32 per annum while the typical usage design comes in at only £1,960.56.

How do we manage the resize the VM?

It goes without saying that this isn’t something that Microsoft Azure does out of the box. Arcible have a solution for this which works on the same premise as our solution for shutting down Azure VMs out of hours by leveraging the Azure Job Scheduler and Azure Automation. This allows us to resize the VM automatically each month when you need it and change back when you don’t.

Arcible can help you to assess your current environment, where you may be able to leverage the resize capability and we can help you to identify the cost savings you can expect to see. We can work with you on this as a standalone consultancy engagement or as part of our Cloud Platform and Service Modernisation solutions.

Shut Down Azure VMs Out of Hours

Public Cloud is great for many reasons but two aspects of this greatness can also be a serious fall. Number one is the ease of which it can be consumed which means if allowed to, things can run away and spiral out of control. Number two is that you pay for what you use (pay-as-you-go). In normal circumstances, once you create a start an Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Virtual Machine, it will stay running until you tell it otherwise. When it comes to paying for what you use, that means paying 24 by 7 for that server, but the question is: do you really need that server 24 by 7? Could you cope with that server shut down the rest of the time?

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Introducing HTTP/2 and Support in Azure Web Apps

HTTP/2 is the latest upgrade for the internet offering us advantages in performance and reduction in wait times, server resource usage and network resource usage. In this article, we explain what HTTP/2 is and why you want to use it over and above HTTP/1.1, some of its advantages and some things you need to consider before thinking about using it.

Once we get past the introduction, we’ll talk about how we can support HTTP/2 in Azure-hosted websites.

If you run a website then performance is one of the key metrics that you must consider: how does the site perform for end-users accessing the page; how many connections the website can handle at once (concurrent connections) before things start to go a bit haywire; how does the load generated by end-users impact the performance of the server and more. For a long time now, the web has relied on HTTP/1.1 as a protocol for delivering content to end-users.

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Get Office 365 and Azure for Free as a Charity

Did you know that as a registered charity you can get some of the best bits of Microsoft Azure and Office 365 for free? We didn’t think you did because it’s not something Microsoft advertise very well and the registration process is just as confusing and undocumented. Luckily for you, here at Arcible, we’ve been through it all before and know what to expect and when to expect it.

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PCI DSS Changes to Supported Security Protocols

Do you run a website? Is your organisation required or meet or have you opted to voluntarily meet the requirements of PCI DSS or do you just like to keep up with good security practices?

Starting on 30th June 2018, the PCI Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) has given organisations who must comply with PCI requirements until this date to move away from insecure web security standards. This means that if your organisation is running a website or have any web-based services which use a secure connection, they must use the TLS 1.1 or above protocols; the web service must reject connections over SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 protocols. There is a handy PDF guide at https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pdfs/PCI_SSC_Migrating_from_SSL_and_Early_TLS_Resource_Guide.pdf.

For most websites and web services, this is a simple change to implement, however, some platforms will not allow you to make this change and some application development languages may not even support these newer versions.

For big businesses, they may have teams dedicated to managing these requirements but for small organisations or start-up businesses offering online web fronts and check-out shopping services, you may not. Why not get in touch with us about consulting and we can help you investigate whether you can simply make this change or whether there is more work in store to get yourselves ready for the change. Now may even be a good time to take a look at modernisation such as Azure Web Apps for your website.

Moving to a Secure Web World

The internet and digital communications are evolving. In recent years, there is momentum and support for stronger internet security and adherence to best practice and industry standards. Part of this is for more websites to deliver their content over secure channels even if the website is not transacting payments and orders or accepting input of personal data. If you are transacting and taking online payments or orders; if you have people entering their details such as a contact or subscription page on your website then you definitely should be using secure connections.

According to Scott Helme, a British security researcher, in 2017, the number of websites from the Alex Top 1 Million Websites using secure communication as standard reached 38% which is still a remarkably low number. Google now provides preference to websites which use secure channels in their rankings and modern web browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox all now clearly show you if the website being browsed is not secure.

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Free Support and Advice for the Scout Association

We love the work that The Scout Association do and we love contributing to it and it’s members which is why we offer free support, advice, and guidance on digital and technology services to The Scout Association and Groups within in. Read on to find out what we can offer you and how to access our offers. Hopefully, you’ll understand that we can’t give away everything for free but we promise to do our best.

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