Managed services in the cloud
The importance of managed services in IT infrastructure, platform and applications
Managed services as a term basically means outsourcing the responsibility of the maintenance and management of a company’s IT infrastructure, platform or applications to an external service provider. This is clearly becoming increasingly popular among businesses of all sizes, as it offers a number of benefits that traditional IT support models do not provide.
Some of the benefits of managed services in terms of IT, infrastructure, platform and applications
By outsourcing the management of IT services, businesses can free up their internal IT team to focus on other strategic initiatives. This allows them to maximise resources in other areas and increase overall efficiency.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have a better understanding of the latest security threats and how to mitigate them. They can provide proactive monitoring and maintenance, fault management and regular security updates to ensure that your company’s infrastructure, platform or applications are always properly secured.
Managed services can provide a cost-effective solution for businesses to manage IT services. MSPs typically charge a flat fee or per-user fee, a model that is usually cheaper than employing a full-time, often three-shift IT team.
The content of managed services, the range of managed products and services, can be increased or decreased as the business grows or as the business needs change. This means that businesses can easily add or remove services as required, so the skill mix and size of the managed team can change continuously without businesses having to worry about the cost and logistics of hiring or firing additional staff.
Managed service providers are experts in their field, with a very deep professional knowledge of the latest technologies and a daily routine of best practice. They can provide businesses with access to a wide range of skills and expertise that are not necessarily available in-house.
The place and role of MSP in cloud computing
When customers move to the cloud, or companies use only cloud environments and solutions, the need for MSPs arises.
As more businesses move to the cloud, managed service providers will become increasingly important. In fact, MSPs are often seen as a key partner for companies that rely heavily on cloud environments and solutions.
Why are MSPs so important for cloud environments?
Many companies lack the expertise to effectively manage cloud environments and solutions. Agile business needs often require very rapid development, and the fastest and most efficient way to meet and support these needs is to use cloud technologies. As with sudden changes and growth, existing staff should be trained or expanded dynamically. This is almost impossible. MSPs, on the other hand, are well staffed, responsive and have extensive experience in managing cloud infrastructure, platforms and applications. They know best practices for managing cloud environments and can provide valuable insight and guidance to businesses looking to optimise their cloud environments. There is no doubt about what they will choose in today’s time-pressured dynamic environment.
One of the key benefits of the cloud is scalability. However, managing a rapidly growing cloud environment without adequate resources can be a challenge for businesses. MSPs can help businesses scale their cloud environment to meet their needs without worrying about the complexity of managing infrastructures and platforms.
Cloud environments, while highly secure and regulated, can also be vulnerable to security threats such as data breaches and cyber attacks. MSPs have extensive experience in managing cloud security and can provide businesses with the expertise and tools they need to protect their cloud environments.
Moving to the cloud can be costly and many businesses are looking for ways to reduce costs. MSPs can help businesses optimise their cloud environment to reduce costs and maximise efficiency. This can include things like identifying redundant resources and implementing cost-cutting measures.
MSPs are critical for businesses that rely heavily on cloud environments and solutions. They can provide businesses with the expertise and scalability needed to effectively manage cloud environments.
AWS MSP support is based on the Well-Architected Framework methodology
Continuous optimization activities based on the Well-Architected Framework (WAFW) pillars, which proactively help to keep environments in optimal condition, are essential to properly perform MSP activities.
WAFW, the MSP methodology proposed for use with AWS, is a highly effective approach to managing cloud environments because it focuses on the five pillars of the Well-Architected Framework: operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency and cost optimization.
Advantages of the WAFW methodology
Continuous optimization activities based on the pillars of the Well-Architected Framework ensure that AWS environments are proactively optimized for performance, security and cost-effectiveness. This approach helps identify potential problems before they become serious issues, resulting in more reliable and efficient cloud environments. Equally important is the early detection of unnecessary resources and services. By continuously monitoring and cost-optimising AWS environments, businesses can ensure that they get the most value from their cloud investments.
The Well-Architected Framework is based on AWS best practices and provides comprehensive guidelines for building and managing cloud environments. By following these guidelines, businesses can ensure that their AWS environments are secure, reliable and performing well, while also optimising costs.
Automation is a key component of the MSP methodology. By automating processes such as monitoring and reporting, and automatically collecting the information they require (alerts, logs, metrics, costs…), enterprises can save time and resources while ensuring that their AWS environments are running optimally.
AWS and MSP services in Hungary
There are a number of reasons why Hungarian AWS users and companies should use MSP services, and why they may be more compelled to do so than their Western European or US counterparts:
Lack of in-house expertise
Many Hungarian companies may lack the in-house expertise needed to effectively manage cloud environments. MSP services provide access to a wide range of skills and expertise that may not be available in-house. Clearly, the penetration of cloud skills in the home country is significantly lower than that of their counterparts in Western Europe or in the US.
Many Hungarian companies are also growing rapidly and need to scale their cloud environments quickly. MSPs can help these companies scale their cloud environments to meet their needs without the complexity of managing the infrastructure.
Cybersecurity threats are a growing concern for businesses around the world, and Hungarian companies are no exception. MSPs have extensive experience in managing cloud security and can provide Hungarian companies with the expertise and tools they need to protect their cloud environments. Lack of expertise in this area can be a significant risk.
The majority of Hungarian companies are particularly cost-sensitive due to modest capitalisation and are always looking for ways to reduce costs while optimising their cloud environment. MSPs can help these companies optimise their cloud environment to reduce costs and maximise efficiency.
Appropriately designed architectures
MSPs can help Hungarian companies take advantage of the Well-Architected Framework, which provides comprehensive guidance for building and managing cloud environments. By following these guidelines, Hungarian companies can ensure that their AWS environments are secure, reliable and perform well, while optimizing costs.
TC2’s experience – how do we see it?
There are currently around forty customers using TC2’s managed services (TC2MS), of which more than 90% are Hungarian customers, and the following findings relate to this segment.
There are two major groups. One group had less IT or maybe significant IT before the cloud, supported by a smaller or larger IT team. For the larger part, meaningful cloud-enabled solutions have been developed or procured; for the smaller part, existing environments are being gradually “migrated”.
The other group is new company founders and start-ups, where there was no existing IT and the company clearly intends to implement its IT backbone solely and exclusively in the cloud.
A common feature is that the business decisions behind the need are sudden, as the business has been hearing for years that IT is no longer a barrier, its agility is at unprecedented heights with cloud technology.
Why is there a more pronounced need for support?
The agility, mentioned before, is true in most respects. To translate business needs quickly, to start the digital transformation, internal and external resources are mostly assembled. They even get the necessary cloud infrastructure and platform done by an external specialist company, such as TC2. Should there be a resource shortage for these tasks, there may be a delay, or maybe the project is postponed, but something will be done. What customers don’t really expect is that these solutions will be with us for a long time, requiring care throughout their lifecycle. But who is to take care of what? The application is still fine, the developers, whether external or internal, are willing to support it. What about the infrastructure, the platform?
In the case of traditional environments, we bought the “hardware” as an investment, or rented it for 5 years, we also paid for the basic software and intermediate software in a lump sum or with an annual subscription, the latter are sometimes updated – mainly for security reasons – but we don’t really do anything with it. There is rarely money for expansions, degradation makes no sense, we cannot save. It’s an “established” system, no changes, and most of the time it remains untouched. Support is almost 100% limited to troubleshooting.
On the other hand, with cloud systems, as we have already written before, life is constantly changing. It is constantly changing because almost every aspect can be optimized for the current situation, which means that I can maximize the benefits of the cloud infrastructure and platform.
We constantly monitor the actual use and adjust the used environment accordingly. This can be done very efficiently using Infrastructure as Code (IaC), and mostly automatically. But AWS also constantly sends notifications to draw our attention to reasonable options for changes, more modern, higher-performance solutions, which may also be significantly cheaper. Moreover, a significant part of these modifications can be solved “on the fly” without disrupting the business process. Obviously, the situation is even more fortunate, if these changes are also supported by the application, and the application follows the changes automatically. All of this can lead to incredibly effective solutions that are worth taking advantage of.
The human factor
In order to be able to experience the efficient operation described above throughout the entire life cycle, a team of experts who understand operation and support would be needed. Not to mention that, according to ITIL regulations, in the case of a 24/7 support contract, this means 5 people per job.
Companies with a traditional IT support team and traditional IT knowledge do not know the new technologies or solutions (for example, IaC). Increasing the knowledge level of the team cannot be as agile as the business and the cloud solution that supports it. It takes months and years for a professional to reach a level where he can responsibly monitor the system entrusted to him 24 hours a day and, if necessary, intervene independently. In addition to the general shortage of IT professionals, companies using traditional IT are not attractive to young IT professionals, not to mention that operation is not the most prestigious job either. And the vendors of applications that require a cloud environment refrain from supporting the platforms when the customer logically inquires about it.
The new companies, the startuppers, are particularly focused on the solution, the application they have developed. In the early stages, when the minimal, still low-cost architecture fulfills its task, the full-stack staff at the companies are still willing to provide some kind of support, although mostly only during working hours. As the system grows, its use expands, costs keep rising, there are already three shifts required, there is no owner of the task. It is usually difficult to get full-stack developers to do this kind of work, even though they may have adequate professional knowledge.
The most appropriate solution to the lack of professionals here can be outsourcing, i.e. using an externally managed service. As previously mentioned, there is no question that using such a service is significantly more efficient in terms of having the appropriate professional knowledge, experience, and costs. Almost 100% of TC2’s customers think so. Where TC2 designed and implemented the cloud platform, we were entrusted with operation and support practically everywhere. Of course, we also have customers who, as described above, were left alone with their problem and thus contacted TC2. We see that all those who finally requested the service from us are very satisfied. There are organizations, whose systems we have operated for 5-6 years, practically without failure. Of course, this is largely due to the high-quality products and services of AWS, but equally important is the carefully designed architecture and the proactive support with which we deal with any potential problems.
Moving SAP to AWS? Not cloudy, just clouding
Nowadays, less and less decision makers in IT raise the question whether it is worth moving IT systems to the cloud or setting them up on a cloud platform, more and more companies are opening to cloud solutions. But is this journey to the cloud so obvious also for the SAP systems?
SAP on AWS
SAP systems play a key role in the everyday processes of many companies worldwide. They require special infrastructure platform and extremely high availability, being business-critical systems.