It's easy to forget that when enterprises first started moving to the cloud, it was a largely simple process that saw only a handful of people within an organization using the technology. But as its usage has become more prevalent, on-site infrastructure and IT operations teams have found themselves having to manage cloud environments, which has not only created a skills gap in many enterprises, but also given rise to cost inefficiencies as teams have either become spread more thinly, or, more likely, organizations have had to hire additional staff to manage their cloud environments. All of this can be compounded by trying to successfully integrate a cloud environment into an existing operation's security structure.
The good news is that as cloud offerings have developed, all of these challenges can be addressed by managed cloud services. They help remove additional costs by negating the need for additional staff, as well as removing the complexity of trying to run a cloud environment for a large enterprise that wants to focus on running its business rather than running its infrastructure.
As managed cloud services continue their reach into the mainstream, customers will need to be educated on the myriad benefits the offering presents. Services such as AWS Managed Services (AMS) can offer enterprises a much easier cloud experience that doesn't have to impinge upon the day-to-day running of the business.
Why managed cloud?
For clients questioning why they would benefit from a managed cloud offering, the first thing to note is that there is a clear reduction in the operational costs of cloud to be found. Enterprises no longer have to hire staff or spend time training existing staff to manage their cloud infrastructure. Alongside this, with a managed cloud services offering, enterprises have direct access to a team with a high level of skill set in cloud services and who will handle that portion of the organization's infrastructure. Aspects like logging, monitoring, event management, continuity management, security and access management, patching, provisioning, incidents and reporting are all included in a managed cloud service offering.
AMS in particular is a highly automated offering, meaning that implementation is straightforward and much quicker than regular cloud implementations. It also features out-of-the-box compliance, such as PCI, HIPAA and GDPR, meaning that security postures won't be disrupted during or after implementation. The service's automation also allows for requests for change to be done within minutes, versus having to wait for an in-house IT infrastructure team to approve something before it can be changed.
And managed cloud services can have a significant impact upon an enterprise's operations. For example, one of our clients - an ISV - was experiencing considerable challenges when evolving its product into a SaaS offering. While it was able to service the product, it wasn't able to service the cloud infrastructure hosting the SaaS product. Using a managed cloud service - in this case AMS - meant the organization no longer had to manage that infrastructure itself and has since been able to decrease its time to resolution, as well as its cost of operations.
Further, the change enabled the ISV to be able to better predict their cost of goods sold given that AMS is a relatively steady monthly statement. This allows ISVs to consistently measure margin on their SaaS product offering.
Making the move to AMS
Migrating to AMS from on-premise infrastructure or an existing AWS environment is a straightforward process that consists of four key stages:
- Discovering what exists today and what needs to migrate
- Identifying the architecture to migrate (single account or multi-account landing zone)
- Identifying the migration plan (scheduled app migration in ‘waves')
- Migrating to AMS
For customers on alternative cloud infrastructures, such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure, the migration to AMS is similar. The only bit of heavy lifting (for customers on any cloud platform) can come in integrating an existing operations team with the AMS operations teams so that they know how to work together if there's a request, an update, or a problem.
Preparing for and performing this people-and-process integration upfront considerably reduces the complexity of cloud operations. This merger of operations usually flows from discovery and doesn't end until the migration has been tested and the team is operating efficiently.
The path to AMS is a very structured, concrete process, which means clients don't have to make myriad new decisions on their own. The onboarding process is streamlined and enables us as AMS partners to provide a true timeline for onboarding - something that can often be difficult when you're dealing with a very large cloud migration.
For example, with AMS we know that discovery and planning take about three weeks, and building out the AMS landing zone takes about three weeks, and you can't run these steps concurrently. We've received client feedback telling us that offering these timescales has been key to their comfort in engaging with this process and knowing they can get it done - clients don't want an open-ended project that takes six years to migrate.
When it comes down to it, the cloud goals for the majority of customers is to streamline business processes and, ultimately, improve their bottom line. Using a managed cloud service like AMS can reduce costs, reduce operational challenges and increase security, making for a much smoother and easier experience for the enterprise, and a lucrative, open-ended opportunity for channel partners.
Stefana Muller is a senior product manager at CSP 2nd Watch
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