Harnessing the Benefits of AWS

Author: Daniel Lassell
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Harnessing the Benefits of AWS

By Daniel Lassell | April 8, 2020

The AWS cloud is a solution for many of technology hurdles, such as meeting requirements for evolving security and compliance standards, addressing data privacy concerns, and gaining increased elasticity in the world of a growing remote workforce. In addition, many companies experience benefits that include:

  • Time and cost savings
  • Disaster recovery preparedness
  • Increased scalability and speed

But for some, challenges emerge in getting crucial datasets and workloads to the AWS cloud. Indeed, it can be much easier said than done, especially when each industry has its own nuanced requirements.

Why Stalled Migrations Happen

In a recent podcast episode, John McMillan, Senior Partner Development Manager at AWS, delves into the disconnect companies can experience between realizing the benefits of AWS cloud and the too-often cumbersome journey of getting there. He says that AWS sees many companies pressured to accomplish a fast migration but aren’t fully prepared for the move.

He explains that AWS went down the path of creating its own managed services arm, AWS Managed Services (AMS), because they noticed a lot of companies had strong “cloud first” strategies but were getting stalled along the way to the cloud, trying to migrate and manage existing operations with the same team. AWS noticed these companies really wanted to excel their initiatives but lacked the skills to fully migrate to their rigorous environments.

McMillan shares that stalled migrations usually cost companies more than meets the eye, saying, “86% of infrastructure spend is still dedicated to technology that’s still on-premise…it’s not fulfilling their cloud ambitions and ultimately their digital transformation vision.” The organizations that struggle most with cloud migration often have a lot of operational and compliance needs that need cleaned up before they can successfully operate in the cloud. On top of this, they can’t figure out how to best leverage cost savings once in the cloud.

Common challenges organizations face when trying to migrate to AWS on their own:

  1. Using the same labor for migration and daily business operations
  2. Implementing a repeatable process for the technology lifecycle
  3. Migrations are taking too long
  4. Suffering from a lack of specified cloud expertise
  5. Interdependencies with operational, security and compliance needs

A lot of times, there’s a long timeline for production workloads to run in the cloud. “[Businesses with a lengthy runway to the cloud] don’t usually see return on investment for at least 12 months,” McMillan shares. The longer runway a company has in taking critical operations to the cloud, the more the business could be spending over the long run. The goal of AMS is to shorten the timeline for cloud migrations, so that companies can begin seeing a return on investment much sooner than 12 months. McMillan explains that the AMS service has sped up the cloud adoption lifecycle substantially, “Usually with [the AMS] service, customers get their landing zone within 2-3 weeks…so applications are rolled out in the first three months.” By the sixth month, AWS typically shares recommendations for cost reduction.

“Usually with [the AMS] service, customers get their landing zone within 2-3 weeks…so applications are rolled out in the first three months.”

—John McMillan, Senior Partner Development Manager at AWS

AMS is Built for Security and Compliance

Indeed, security and compliance are among the biggest concerns many organizations express when going to the cloud. “A lot of industries have a steep [fines] if they breach compliance,” McMillan states, “What we’ve done to meet that [concern] in one way is our landing zone [has been] designed to meet compliance with several industry attestations including PCI, HIPAA, GDPR in Europe, FedRAMP SOC 1, 2 & 3, and so on…We achieve compliance through the operational processes that we have built into the platform.”

AWS has a unique approach to their AMS change management process to ensure ongoing compliance standards across so many frameworks. McMillan explains, “Inside AMS, it’s a different way of working, in that customers will use our console to submit changes to their environment and nobody gets dedicated access to the infrastructure. Everybody needs to open up a ticket to make a change and they’re granted access for up to 8 hours. By doing that, we’re able to track all of the changes that happen inside the environments…it can provide customers with compliance reporting to show who went into the infrastructure [and] who changed the infrastructure.”

Not only does the AMS environment embrace rigorous change management processes for security; it also emphasizes speed with the use of automation, a balancing of two seemingly opposites for a happy win-win scenario. “Because the platform is also built on automation, we’re able to move a lot faster. What I mean by that is over 90% of the ‘request for changes’ inside AMS are done through automation, so when somebody logs into and says they want to change from one EC2 instance to another, they can go into our automation library, request that change and it automatically changes inside their environment,” McMillan explains, “[The process is] fully tracked from a compliance perspective and you’re not waiting on somebody to make the change for you; you just have to execute it, hit send, and that change is made inside their environment.”

AMS for Mid-Market Companies

AWS is taking the AMS service to InterVision, due to our unique ability to cater to mid-market company sizes, wrap managed services around the implementation process, and address the needs of industry-specific pain points. They approached us to partner in offering the service because of our deep expertise as a Premier Consulting Partner with competencies in Storage, DevOps and the Education and Government industries.

McMillan states, “Part of what I do is reach out to partners who are interested in doing this model with us…the partner stands in front of AWS and they become the front end; they execute the changes on behalf of the customer, they work on the day-to-day relationship with the customer and what changes they want to see in their environment. And then they go ahead and execute that. So, they kind of take that learning level of work away from the customer, so the customer can focus in on innovation and not the day-to-day management activities that flow out of AWS. [The partner owns the] optimization and modernization of the workloads [the customer has] inside the cloud.”

An additional appeal of third-party providers for AWS also is the ability to secure not only the AMS environment, but also the IT ecosystem that exists outside of AWS. “Working with partners, they can bring together all of these other services, wrap them up and sell them to the customer and manage them across all of these different components and deliver a single experience to the customer, whether that’s networking, advanced security, what have you,” McMillan explains.

AMS Commonly Recognized Outcomes

AMS has many benefits for businesses beyond a fast migration to the AWS cloud. Many organizations are realizing the following tangible, measurable benefits of switching to AMS:

  • Accelerate adoption of AWS
  • Extend cloud expertise
  • Reduce operational cost – 243% ROI (Forrester)
  • Reduce TCO
  • Enhance operations
  • Harden security and compliance

“The level of automation is really a key example of what customers are taking advantage of, McMillan shares, “We had a customer that joined us about a year ago and they took six months to completely onboard all of their workloads and we started to see [an increased] level of changes in their environment…In one month they submitted over 30,000 changes and 97% of those changes were completed through automation…It’s allowed them to be more creative and allow that creativity to flow faster than they thought it could.”

McMillan also references a recent Forrester report that AWS commissioned, showing that after interviews with six customers, those companies saw an average ROI of 243%.

Addressing the Future with an Optimized Stance

To goal for adopting any new technology solution is to evolve for the future. To ensure a successful and smooth transition to AWS, it’s best to understand the full picture of your technology and business interdependencies, and the value that managed services can bring your IT staff. Do a migration readiness assessment to scope the outcomes you could achieve in the AWS cloud.

To learn more about AMS by InterVision, click here.

Listen to the full podcast episode