Managed cloud services should be more than just reactive

David Sharpe

David Sharpe

Head of Services, Versent

Managed cloud services continue to be a major growth industry, and it’s not surprising when you consider the rate of cloud adoption.  Not all cloud service providers are created equal, though, and gone are the days when providing a reactive 24×7 helpdesk and waiting for something to go wrong was a viable proposition.    

Today’s market requires managed cloud service providers to engage clients with flexible models leveraging deep skillsets and experience. Solutions need to bring together this expertise, together with an ‘in this together’ attitude to deliver cloud transformations that achieve good ROI quickly and safely.    

  

What does a successful managed services partnership look like? 

Building and modernising an organisation’s online presence requires a breadth of technical expertise and experience that’s hard to find and even harder to hire for. Collaborating with a cloud services partner is a more viable option in many cases.   

Ideally, a managed services consultant should give their clients confidence that they understand how their solutions actually work at a nuts-and-bolts level. This is something that can only come with deep experience in the chosen hyperscale cloud provider’s vast array of offerings. A black box product might appear to work fine from the outside, but how do you know if it’s built to withstand failure, is adequately secured or is costing you more to run than it should? For this, you need someone trusted who understands your needs and can “look under the hood” to tune your environment for optimal ROI.
  
You must have heard that old saying: “Give them a fish, and they’ll eat for a day. Give them a fishing pole, and they’ll never go hungry?” That’s not a bad analogy for the state of play in the world of managed cloud services. There are plenty of consultancies out there handing out fish – some of them even look quite appetising – but there are precious few distributing rods and reels or giving fishing lessons.  

In-house IT teams rarely have the expert skills or bandwidth to do the day-to-day management of a complex cloud environment.  So, a good managed services partner will be more than just a service management team. They need to improve their client’s platform and take the client’s team on that journey with them.    

The goal of any successful managed cloud partnership is to optimise the spend-to-outcome ratio. A component of that optimisation approach is actively reducing AWS spend.  This helps you achieve the desired ROI of cloud migration and freeing up capital for further investment in innovation for your organisation. AWS services are billed on a consumption basis, so needless use of resources can quickly result in unnecessary spending. 

Getting cloud cost optimisation right.

The first vital step in cloud cost optimisation is identifying unused or unattached resources. This is one of the easier ways to optimise cloud costs because inexperienced administrators can sometimes activate temporary servers to perform a function and then simply forget to turn them off. Equally, during a cloud migration, the focus can be on a successful migration and not on matching infrastructure capacity with demand.  The result? Big bills for resources that either not in use or underutilised.  

Idle computing instances are another major wastage area. CPU utilisation levels of 1-5% can still result in billing for 100% of a computing instance. Identifying such instances is, therefore a vital cloud cost optimisation strategy.  Administrators often choose to operate at low utilisation, so they’ll have headroom for traffic surges or busy times. But a much better solution, employed by more experienced operators, is to use autoscaling, load balancing, and on-demand capabilities that allow an enterprise to scale up at short notice without wasteful dormancy.   

Right-sizing is an essential formula for analysing cloud computing resources and trimming them to an efficient size. That’s not simple when cloud administrators have more than 1.7 million possible resource combinations to choose from. Again, experience matters. There are options for cloud servers optimised for memory, graphics, database, bulk storage capacity… the list goes on. Right-sizing, done properly, helps with cloud optimisation as well as efficiency. Achieving peak performance depends on how well you know how to tweak the system.   

Optimisation is critically important, but it’s just the beginning. Fine-tuning of a first-class cloud platform requires hundreds of carefully calibrated settings, and these need to be reassessed in real-time through automation.    

A lot of the cloud services consultants are selling packages that try to replicate old ways of doing things but transplanted to a cloud context. That might work OK to a certain extent, but it doesn’t support you on a cloud journey of innovation; it merely continues to patch the old problems. All they can give you is a “Datacentre in the Cloud.” An ideal managed services partner helps their clients develop a cloud strategy that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of migration and unlocks the innovation potential of the cloud whilst keeping a watchful eye on costs security.

Managed cloud services: what’s next? 

The old-school managed services model has been commodified to some degree by the major cloud platforms through self-service automation. But, these new capabilities have not always resulted in savings for end-users.    

At Versent, we’re doing things a bit differently, because we want our clients to get the full benefit of their investment ASAP. Versent Managed Services is injecting more substance into our partnerships by offering insights, strategic guidance and full-stack application management. We’re making improvements to our customer’s tech environments that directly drive business revenue. When new or improved AWS services come online, we want to make sure our clients get to use them, so there’s no set-in-concrete blueprint. The best operating model is whatever works best for our customers.

What do proactive managed services look like?

One aspect of Versent’s consultancy partnership that often surprises clients is that we join in their scrums and weekly stand-ups. But it makes sense for us. The higher frequency of communication gets us much closer to our client’s business and people giving us more insight into how to make them more successful.    

We’re not just working with the tech teams either. From start to finish, we collaborate closely with our client’s management and c-suite. After all, the CEO, COO and CTO are usually the players with the big vision for the future of the business. To get a good download of what the challenges are and what the business roadmap looks like, we need to have those high-level conversations. And we need to check in regularly as the relationship proceeds too, to make sure we’re on track and that the services we’re providing are helping to meet the business objectives.  

Versent’s cloud-native approach to problem-solving makes it easier for users to quickly adopt and adapt. Cloud-native approaches also tend to be cheaper, more flexible, and quicker to rollout.  

The Amazon cloud is in our DNA. AWS is right at the core of Versent implementations, but we also add a human approach: collaborative customer service, bespoke engineering, and managed services that integrate into our client’s teams seamlessly.  Versent is also one of only 18 managed services providers in Australia who are accredited with Amazon’s AWS MSP certification and the only service provider who are “born in the cloud” and wholly Australian owned.  

As a team, we’re proactive as opposed to reactive. Support means pre-empting our client’s challenges and making sure they don’t turn into problems. And working closely with our client teams, as we do, makes it easier to identify potential issues at the planning stage instead of further down the road.     

We don’t build off-the-rack solutions to sell; we tailor our IP to make individual client’s systems work better for their needs. At the end of the day, a client’s success is our success, and cookie-cutter often doesn’t cut it.

Working with Versent.

So, what’s it like partnering with us? If you bring Versent on-board as your managed services mentor, the first thing we do is ask a lot of questions about how your organisation operates today and where you’re headed tomorrow.     

As we move into the build phase of client partnership, we carefully select a group of Versent engineers who have the right skill set for the client’s specific requirements. Experience has taught us that this engagement approach yields the best combination of cloud expertise in an affordable operating model.  

As far as intensity of workload goes, it’s really all about what the client’s needs are.  Some months, no significant projects are in flight. But, in others, a customer might say, “In January, we have a huge implementation kicking off, and we need lots of support next month.” So, we’ll adjust our inputs accordingly.    

Most importantly, our work style reflects our cloud transformation philosophy: it’s a Yellow Brick Road paving the way to greater efficiency and productivity. Everything we do with our customers serves that end. The tools we use are important, but they don’t define us. In the end, the Versent team are about finding ways to do things better. We don’t just help organisations migrate to the cloud; we help them optimise, modernise and run more smoothly.

Versent Managed Services goes beyond the standard ‘run and operate’ model of more traditional MSPs This is why we call it ‘Modern Run.’ We help our clients leverage the full capabilities of their cloud platforms to be secure, save money, increase productivity and innovate relentlessly. Learn more.