As a service provider for college acceptance notifications, Serverworks began as an AWS customer. The company’s leadership quickly gained AWS expertise and became passionate about the impact they believed AWS would have on the future of Japanese business and market innovation.
“We began our journey with AWS as a customer,” says Ryo Oishi, CEO of Serverworks. “As we started to use AWS and began to understand the benefits of the technology, we felt AWS was going to change IT and impact the way business could be done, so we decided to become an AWS solution provider to help other companies migrate to and take advantage of AWS.” Serverworks began by transforming its business model to focus on providing AWS cloud integration services for companies. “We wanted to become an APN partner so that we could continue to mature our practice and capabilities and promote AWS to companies in the Japanese market,” says Oishi.
As early adopters of AWS, the company’s expertise and technical capabilities have made it a cloud integration leader in the Japanese market. The company is an APN Premier Consulting Partner and currently works on over 600 professional engagements annually. As its customers started to request more end-to-end capabilities from Serverworks—including the management of AWS environments, operating systems, and applications—the company transitioned to offering managed services along with its cloud integration, migration, and resell services.
“In Japan, enterprise customers don’t always have many engineering resources within the company working in the IT department, so they need outside support to help them manage their AWS environments,” says Oishi. “It was a natural move for us to build an MSP practice so that we could support the full customer lifecycle on AWS and take the burden of management off of our cloud integration customers.”
With no prior MSP capabilities internally developed, Serverworks began to build its MSP practice from scratch.
Serverworks decided to build a comprehensive MSP practice that would provide the resources, tooling, and support the company’s cloud integration clients had been requesting. “It took a lot of hard work to build our MSP practice from scratch,” says Oishi. “We’re focused exclusively on AWS because we believe it’s the market leader in cloud. And what’s been invaluable for us is building deep AWS-specific knowledge and know-how. Building an AWS-focused MSP practice is very different from an on-premises MSP practice, so it took time to ramp up and continue to build our expertise along the way.”
The company focused on building the right team of experts to support cloud managed services on AWS and emphasized AWS Certification for all of its MSP-focused staff. “Even our MSP support staff, who are available 24-7, are AWS Certified,” says Yuji Tamaki, general manager of the managed service division at Serverworks. “They’re not just there to receive, monitor, and direct calls; they’re available to support the customer with the knowledge they need right away.”
A top priority for Serverworks as it built its MSP practice was to automate as many internal processes as it could and help its customers drive automation throughout their environments. The company developed a proprietary software-as-a-service tool called Cloud Automator that automates AWS resource management and provides job automation functionality for various operations within AWS. The tool also conducts an automatic AWS configuration check to ensure AWS resources are configured according to predetermined rules.
While the tool was originally built for internal use, Serverworks now provides the solution to its customer base for those who would like to create automatic processes without having to write scripts. “As many companies request us to manage their environments, we use our Cloud Automator tool extensively within our MSP practice,” says Tamaki. Serverworks also makes use of other third-party tooling from ISVs in the AWS partner community, including Datadog for infrastructure and security monitoring, Salesforce for customer relationship management tooling, Zabbix for network and application monitoring, and Zendesk for customer service and support.
The company strives to help its clients continuously optimize AWS usage and holds periodic meetings with each client to go over usage reports, new tooling options, and other opportunities they may have to take advantage of AWS. “We meet with customers to discuss how they can improve their usage via new tools or decrease spend based on what we’ve been seeing within their environments,” says Tamaki. “We also provide training sessions to customers and promote the different ways they can use AWS tooling to gain a bigger benefit from using AWS.” Because detailed reporting and accessible monitoring logs are top priorities for Japanese customers, Serverworks provides its MSP customers with detailed reports on a regular basis.
Among the top priorities on Serverworks’ business roadmap is implementation of Amazon Connect to provide text-to-speech solutions and capabilities for enterprise customers. “We look forward to using Amazon Connect to address the contact center market and serve enterprise customer needs across many other areas,” says Oishi. “The Amazon Connect implementation will provide us with an interactive voice response feature so that a customer call will be directed to correct person. It will also record voice data and deliver a speech-to-text feature to store voice data as text data for our internal knowledge database so we can use the data to improve our customer support as well as share with our customer to improve mutual and collaborative interactions.”
The company also seeks to provide end user computing support and managed services (for solutions such as Amazon WorkSpaces) and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain predictive analytics capabilities that can help the Serverworks MSP team respond to common support questions and other requests in a more automatic and scalable fashion.
“We want to automate each and every process we have within our MSP practice,” says Tamaki. “To that end, we’re currently evaluating how we can implement AI and machine learning capabilities into our internal systems so that we can automate more processes and even more promptly react to and provide solutions to customer inquiries.”
Serverworks finds that nearly all of its MSP engagements come out of an initial cloud integration and migration engagement at the beginning of a customer’s cloud journey.
“All of our MSP customers are originally cloud integration customers,” says Tamaki. “As an AWS Migration Competency Partner, we first engage with customers when they want to migrate to AWS, and then we move into a role as cloud managed service provider. More and more, customers are coming to us looking for both cloud integration support and expertise and managed services support.” As the company typically provides AWS resell and MSP services to customers after it has built a relationship with the customer through cloud integration, Serverworks develops a deep understanding of the customer’s needs and areas for optimization.
Building a next-generation MSP practice has benefited Serverworks’ bottom line and contributed to overall company growth. Serverworks’ MSP business constitutes 15 percent of its overall business and is growing at a rate of about 30 percent year-over-year.
“A lot of Japanese customers are still getting started with the cloud and we’re also seeing many existing customers migrate bigger and more business-critical workloads to AWS,” says Oishi. “We anticipate a substantial business opportunity will continue to develop focused on providing support for customer AWS migrations and management.”
“This is an exciting time for us. We believe in AWS and we’re really excited to be a part of its growth in Japan.”
Marubeni Corporation, a major Japanese integrated trading and investment business conglomerate, worked with Serverworks to migrate its IT footprint from an on-premises environment to AWS and to then automate its operations and infrastructure.
Serverworks helps Marubeni overcome the shortage it faces with internal engineering resources by providing the company with ongoing management and support while helping achieve better development and operational efficiency by using Cloud Automator. Click here to learn more about Serverworks’ engagement with Marubeni.
Learn more about AWS MSP partners.