As a cloud infrastructure leader you may be focusing on a variety of priorities at any one time. It could be scaling your cloud infrastructure, improving development lifecycle, building out your team, and controlling cloud costs.
All these initiatives, however are meaningless and pale in comparison to the key area of responsibility for a cloud infrastructure team: Uptime.
At the end of the day, you and your team have one key responsibility. Ensuring that your company’s services are available to your customers with minimal downtime.
This is where you can offload some of stress and de-risk your area through third parties. There are a multitude of services providers out there. All are capable of taking on the risk of ensuring the uptime of your business’s critical infrastructure.
But what exactly makes up ‘cloud managed services’? We’ll break it down in this article and by the end of this you’l have a better idea of what cloud managed services are, and how you and your team can leverage them.
We’ll cover the following topics:
- What are managed services and why are they important?
- What are the benefits of managed services?
- What types of managed services models are there?
Cloud managed services? why are they important?
Cloud managed services allow companies to outsource and offload the management of their cloud computing infrastructure to a third party. responsibility of support and maintenance from your in-house engineering teams. With a managed services provider, they’ll usually take care of tasks such as:
- Provisioning and configuration of cloud resources
- Continuous monitoring and visibility of the health of your cloud
- Managing patching and maintaining infrastructure versioning
- Surfacing security risks and subsequent implementation of remediations
- Managing the disaster recovery (DR) process and ensuring business continuity
and in some cases (if they’re awesome):
- Expert consultation and architecture recommendations
- Training and education for your in-house team
By taking these operational tasks off your engineering team’s plate, you’ll free them up to focus on adding direct customer value. Also, by outsourcing the management of your cloud, you’re also effectively offloading the risk of disruption of services. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Service Level Objectives (SLOs) related to cloud can now be passed onto your managed services partner.
What are the benefits of managed services?
Let’s talk about the benefits of bringing in managed services into your org to help ease the load on your engineering team. Here are just a few of the benefits of managed services:
Reduced IT Costs
Managed services providers should try to improve your cloud costs whenever possible. They’ll know the best practices to get the most cost efficiency out of your resources, and understand where the hidden cloud costs are. Whether that’s finding ways to leverage economies of scale, decommissioning unused resources, or using automation to shut down unused resourcesces. It’s in their best interests to reduce your cloud spend, because it helps to offset the cost of their services.
In the same way that they can find cost efficiencies, they should be specialized in finding performance efficiencies as well. Within cloud architecture, there are always efficiencies to be found. This could be as simple as making configuration changes to services or even proposing bigger and higher ROI efforts such as re-architecting.
Your managed service partner should be well-versed in cloud security best practices. Experienced service providers will have used tools such as the AWS Well-Architected Framework Review to surface security risks and provide you with visibility of your high risk areas. Couple this with the ability to implement fixes for these issues and you can rest assured your environments are secure.
Many businesses will have ‘peak’ periods throughout the year. This could be a Black Friday for e-commerce or an upcoming product release for a SaaS company. With these events comes (hopefully) a spike in demand on your cloud infrastructure through a massive influx of requests. Having a managed services partner that understands how to scale your environments to meet demand will ensure the uptime of your services. Depending on the provider, they could even work with you leading up to the event with load testing of environments and providing recommendations.
Yes, not going down during peak periods is great! But, what about the rest of the year? Well, for the majority of managed services providers – they will provide you some level of support. Many will provide you with 24/7 support, likely through offshore teams in different time zones. Or depending on your business model, you may just need full support during business hours 9 am to 5 pm. Which you will likely be able to get at a lower rate.
A less obvious benefit of working with a seasoned managed services provider, is that they should have some cloud experts on their team. An ideal managed services provider should be able to get your team unstuck if they were to run into any issues. Having experts on your cloud provider e.g. AWS, GCP, or Azure etc. or a particular framework e.g. Terraform can help you having to go out to the market to find a cloud consultant from scratch. Easy access to cloud experts will also be hugely valuable to raising the skill level of your entire in-house team. Depending on the provider, this may be wrapped into your services agreement or as part of a separate engagement package.
What type of managed service models are there?
Depending on the your in-house team’s size and capabilities, you’ll want to find the service model that best rounds out your team’s skill set and fill any gaps you may have. Typically cloud managed services structures will fall into one or a combination of these categories:
With this model, the services provider will be focused on managing your infrastructure and services. They’ll take care of servers, and storage, while monitoring performance. To ensure that everything stays compliant and secure they can also manage patching and updates to key services.
Here you can offload the security and compliance risk of managing a cloud environment. Most providers will take care of managing firewalls, intrusion detection, and even data encryption. If your business is in a highly regulated industry they can assist in making sure your cloud is compliant with standards such as HIPAA and PCI.
Some service providers will go even further and help you manage key applications of your business such as CRMs, collaboration tools, and email platforms. Further reducing the amount of maintenance overhead required from your team.
Disaster recovery and backup
A common use case for managed services is in outsourcing the disaster recovery and backup. This can include forming the strategy, implementing the architecture to support, and also managing the ongoing process going forward. Good providers will also stay proactive, ensuring that they’re continuously testing the disaster, failover, and restore process
Your managed services provider should also have expertise in your cloud domain and should be working with you to continuously give insights in where you can take your cloud strategy. Cloud technology evolves and iterates at such a rapid pace that having an expert at hand whose job is to keep up-to-date with the latest developments, helps to ensure that your architecture is future-proofed and can grow with the business.
So that was a quick overview on cloud managed services. Obviously there is a lot of nuance and every service provider will be different. But the key is really to figure out what is most important for your business model, understand where your team needs help, and finding the right blend of services to round out your cloud infrastructure capabilities.
If you’re looking to explore cloud managed services, feel free to reach out to us at Autimo. We live and breathe cloud technology and have worked with a wide range of businesses to help them offload the cloud management to allow them to focus on their priorities.
To learn more about our customer experiences, check out this managed services success story where we helped Concert Properties. We helped them migrate their website development platform to AWS, improving their development efficiency, drive down costs, and significantly improve their cloud reliability. And now we manage their environments ongoing as part of our managed services offering.