When companies first move to AWS, they assume it will dramatically reduce the amount of time their Operations team will spend on day-to-day server management. However, six months to a year later, they find their team is overwhelmed and can’t focus on migrating additional workloads to AWS. Add to that the additional pressures that IT teams are facing from the current world situation, and it’s no wonder many companies’ 2020 cloud plans are stalled.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent study found that 76% of IT leaders underestimate the time and effort of cloud management. So what are your options? How do you unstick your team from time-consuming (and mostly non-differentiated) tasks?
Option 1: Automate
One of the many reasons why IT leaders tend to underestimate cloud management is stories of multinational technology companies who manage millions of dollars of AWS resources with only two engineers.
How do they do it? The answer is that they automate everything. From provisioning, deployment, and user creation to incident response, everything is self-healing. pending their time maintaining the automation, not maintaining the servers.
Building this automation takes a lot of time and a unique skill set that most IT teams simply don’t have. Plus, some automation tasks are only possible for cloud-native applications. (Interested in how they do it? We talk extensively about cloud automation here, here, and here.)
For the vast majority of companies, however, it is more reasonable to balance automation and manual work. Companies can automate a few fundamentals, like using AWS CloudFormation and some “managed” services like Amazon RDS, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense to automate DR, patching, and provisioning when your cloud environment doesn’t change that often or load is relatively static.
The end result is AWS management requires very similar management tasks as their on-premises environment. You still need to patch, respond to alarms, add new users, update configurations, manage certificates, etc.
Several AWS tools make these tasks easier. If you’re curious, check out AWS Systems Manager, a tool that allows you to automate many of the operational tasks listed above. But even at a company like Logicworks, we have an entire team of people managing the automation in AWS Systems Manager.
Option 2: Hire More Engineers
Another option is to hire more engineers to offload some of the IT work. In a perfect world, this is the ideal option – more engineers, more work accomplished, less strain on your existing team. But chances are, you’re already trying to do this and realize how difficult it is.
86% of IT leaders say that a shortage of qualified cloud talent is slowing down cloud projects. 63% say it’s harder to find a qualified cloud engineer than it is to find Bigfoot. Globally, almost every company is in need for cloud talent right now, and it’s only going to get harder.
Turnover in these jobs is incredibly high. Can you imagine losing the engineer who built all of your automation, as described in the previous section? That’s not an easy skill to replace.
Nothing beats a world-class in-house team to manage and grow your cloud. But what if you don’t have the budget, or want to ensure your cloud maintains stable even as your team changes?
Option 3: Outsource
The final option for reducing in-house management is to outsource to an external partner.
40% of IT leaders plan to hire outside cloud experts in 2020, according to a recent survey. Among those who say that they underestimated cloud management, 85% plan to hire an external partner.
Companies that want to reduce the IT management burden on their in-house team hire a Managed Services Provider (MSP). An AWS Managed Services Provider performs ongoing tasks like monitoring, patching, cost management, and provisioning.
So, how do you choose the right partner?
The most important criteria include AWS certifications, customer satisfaction (ask the company for their NPS scores and retention rate), and customer references. But, there’s one important standard that few companies think about: Can the MSP easily takeover management of existing AWS accounts?
It’s not discussed often, but most MSPs are unable to takeover your current AWS account and provide critical services. They must rebuild your entire AWS account in order to manage it, then migrate your existing apps over to the new target environment.
That’s not an attractive option for many companies.
So before you engage a partner, make sure that they can manage the accounts they takeover, sometimes called “brownfield takeover”. It’s an often overlooked but crucial feature than very few AWS MSPs offer.
Many companies are struggling to maintain their cloud environments, not because cloud management is harder than traditional server management, but because they either underestimated the time and effort of cloud management, don’t have enough staff, or haven’t automated common management tasks.
If you’re interested in speaking to an MSP that can takeover your current AWS environment, contact Logicworks. We can help share the burden of 24×7 cloud management and enable your in-house team to focus on differentiating activities.