The Evolution of Managed Services in Hyperscale Cloud Environments
This is a guest post from Barbara Kessler, MSP Business Development Manager, AWS
The widespread adoption of AWS and the corresponding shift from traditional on-premises data centers to hyperscale cloud solutions has created a significant new paradigm for managed service providers (MSPs). Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of cloud services. With this heightened awareness comes the desire to partner with providers who can guide them toward innovative business solutions and high performance environments. What we’ve observed is that customers are looking toward dynamic, business outcome focused solutions. We believe that the service providers best positioned to deliver this are those who have built or revamped their businesses to enable their customers to take advantage of cloud native functionality and who are able to deliver a full customer engagement lifecycle: plan/design >> build/migrate >> run >> optimize.
Today, I’d like to walk you through the shift that we’ve observed from on-premises managed services to cloud managed services, and what we feel it takes to be successful as a Next Generation MSP. This post kicks off a new monthly series on Next Gen Hyperscale Cloud Managed Service.
The shift from on-premises
The shift from on-premises to cloud has opened new doors for Next Gen MSPs to create high value solutions and to uniquely position themselves as trusted advisors to their customers through their full lifecycle capabilities.
“Your mess for less” >> Design, architect, automate
The traditional role of an MSP has emphasized the running and operating of existing environments, but this, in our opinion, is no longer the right model for AWS customers. As customers become more experienced and knowledgeable in their use of these services, they are moving beyond just the most obvious benefits of using the AWS Cloud, and are looking for experts to help them optimize for the cloud to unlock agility and innovation in their business. These customers are looking for MSPs with deep expertise to consult, then design and implement highly automated and intelligent solutions, and continue to ensure that those solutions deliver an outstanding experience on an ongoing basis. We find that customers are looking for a provider who can individually manage their full experience.
Hardware-based solutions >> Software/Cloud-based solutions
MSPs are no longer tied to hardware-based solutions with capacity planning needs and lengthy equipment refresh cycles. Next Gen MSPs are instead approaching their customers’ needs with a cloud first strategy. They understand that the value of AWS expands well beyond the early dialogue about cost savings and CapEx versus OpEx, and they are focused on delivering rich solutions that allow their customers to leverage the full advantages of the AWS Cloud to rapidly meet the needs of their businesses.
Centralized operations >> Distributed operations and resources
The operational needs of Next Gen MSPs has also evolved significantly from the earlier days of the fishbowl style NOC, staffed with a centralized team, or even onsite resources at a customer’s location or data center. They are moving away from a management-by-exception approach, with significant requirements for human intervention when an issue arises, to a truly proactive approach with cloud native solutions that are well designed from the start. These solutions are highly automated and increasingly self-healing. When manual processes are needed, these MSPs are able to implement fixes by manipulating code from any location where they can access the internet. This is a significant value to the MSP, who has reduced staffing needs and complexities, as well as to the end customer whose resolution is achieved more rapidly.
Device-based SLAs >> Solution/Application-based SLAs
Traditional MSP SLAs have been focused on the performance of hardware and infrastructure, as well as data accessibility and support response times. This changes in a cloud-based model, as AWS manages the underlying infrastructure. Next-gen MSPs are instead able to create SLAs based on the performance of the application and the business outcomes which are best aligned with meeting the ultimate needs of their end customers.
Complex, manual change management >> DevOps – CI/CD
Change management has traditionally centered on capacity management, updates, and security, and has often included manual processes that were both time and resource intensive. Next Gen MSPs are adopting DevOps tools and practices that allow them to continually assess, implement, manage and track changes in exponentially faster timeframes. They are able to utilize infrastructure-as-code in place of manual hardware and resource deployment and possess a CI/CD skillset that their customers can leverage. This facilitates an accelerated speed to production, allowing MSPs to significantly improve their customers’ agility and deliver exceptional value.
Static monitoring with fixed thresholds >> Dynamic monitoring with anomaly detection
Monitoring is an area of significant evolution for Next Gen MSPs. Gone are the days of monitoring fixed thresholds in static environments. This approach addressed challenges of capacity planning, alerting of performance issues, and facilitation of root cause analysis. Well-designed cloud environments will leverage infrastructure as code to auto scale and self-heal, allowing infrastructure to be treated as a disposable resource. We are now in an era of dynamic, highly scalable environments with monitoring tools that leverage machine learning and predictive analytics to understand a customer’s environment and detect anomalies before performance is impacted. Top performing MSPs are embracing this approach and delivering significantly improved performance and intelligence to their customers.
Security risk mitigation >> Security by design
Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) no longer have exclusive purview in the outsourced management of security devices and systems. There is an increasing convergence of the role of the MSSP with that of the broader MSP in cloud-based and cloud-native environments. We find that customers expect their MSP to have strong security expertise and the ability (and experience) to meet the regulatory and compliance needs of their business – including reporting capabilities for continuous compliance. The Next Gen MSP is able to design customer solutions from the start to meet these needs, then implement and continually manage the workloads.
Outsourcing vendor >> Trusted advisor and partner
The paradigm shift in how Next Gen MSPs are evolving their businesses to address the needs of their customers and their ability to deliver in all phases of the customer engagement lifecycle has allowed them to move from being one of many outsourced vendors, supporting a finite portion of a solution. They are now able to move into a position of a truly trusted advisor who consults, designs, implements and takes ownership of the customer’s environments and experience. This allows the MSP and the customer to function as partners with long-term and rewarding engagement potential.
AWS customers are looking for cloud experts who understand their specific industry, their regulatory and compliance needs, their business needs, and their workloads. They need an MSP who can marry that understanding to a deep expertise in AWS, and deliver agile solutions to meet those needs. A Next Gen AWS MSP can deliver this full experience in a way that has been elusive in traditional models. The AWS Managed Service Provider Program has been designed to help APN Partners achieve this level of service capability. Additionally, we strive to highlight to our customers the APN Partners who can best deliver these well-rounded experiences.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of managed services in the hyperscale cloud. Future topics for our series include:
- DevOps in your Managed Service Practice
- Monitoring through Machine Learning and Anomaly Detection
- Continuous Compliance in the Cloud
- Evolving Business Practices for a Transitioning MSP
- Deep Dive on MSP Program Requirements
- The Value of the AWS MSP Audit
Don’t see a particular topic you’d like to have covered? Let me know. I invite your comments regarding additional topics you would like us to discuss.