AWS Managed Services - What does that mean?

AWS Managed Services. Do you mean Managed Services? by AWS? Yes!

If you’ve seen today’s announcement and are looking for a product overview or technical details, I’ll refer you to the much more knowledgeable Jeff Barr. Instead, I’ll aim to leave you with some thoughts on what this means to AWS customers and partners.

This has been a few years in the making and represents another significant step in AWS’s journey to making everyone’s lives easier. The pace of innovation doesn’t slow down in Seattle and, most importantly, it continues to address the topics customers are crying out for. "Customer obsession", as Amazon likes to put it.


So, what is it exactly?

AWS Managed Services (MS) is an SLA-based service that allows you to offload to AWS routine infrastructure operations such as patching and backups, as well as IT management processes such as incident, change and service request management. AWS MS will allow you to implement operational processes and control through a combination of tooling (automation), people (AWS experts) and process (think ITIL in the cloud).

AWS MS will also allow your users to request new stacks via APIs or your integrated service catalogue, all supported by a rigorous change management processes.


Why do I need it?

Let’s start with the basics: this is not an offering for SMBs or startups, this is very much geared towards large enterprises who intend to move significant amounts of infrastructure to the cloud. This service is very powerful and effective if done at scale, since it ensures consistency and control across very diverse environments. Also, there’s a commitment from AWS to learn and improve the platform and processes accordingly so, as usual, you benefit from AWS’s scale too.

Over the last 12-18 months, we have all witnessed a big shift in large enterprises’ approach to cloud adoption. Conversations evolved from "why move" to "how do I move", as the cloud has in fact become the new standard. Most enterprises don’t struggle with building the business case or with overall technical feasibility. The main obstacles remain the lack of skills and cloud-ready tooling to migrate and manage cloud environments effectively, without reinventing the wheel every single time.

If you take a look at customer sessions at re:Invent this year, you will hear a lot about "landing zones", "cloud operating models" and the like. What this means is that organisations prioritise figuring out what the end state looks like and work backwards from there. If you work for a large enterprise looking to perform mass migrations to AWS, then AWS MS will be a huge accelerator to that journey as it takes away a significant amount of operational burden. Think about all the work involved in hiring and building teams, evaluating tools and implementing processes, and replace it with a solid, simple and scalable model from day one.

On a separate note, but worth mentioning, AWS MS will not be going after customers’ existing environments, which will likely a) have an operating model in place already; b) be focused on migrating more workloads to the cloud and less likely to spend time and effort migrating to AWS MS. In other words, yes, you will need to migrate to purposefully built AWS MS accounts, you can’t just apply it "on top" of your existing environments. This service is primarily aimed at workloads to be migrated.


Is this my Cloud operating model sorted then?

In short, no. Firstly you have to consider the types of applications you’d like to apply ITIL processes to and which would be a good fit for strict change management processes. If you’re familiar with Gartner’s bimodal concept, AWS MS is clearly a great option for Mode 1 operating models. Secondly, AWS MS will not cover all technologies under the sun, certainly not to begin with. Think about the long list of operating systems you currently have in place, especially supporting legacy applications, not all are likely to be supported by AWS MS.

Similarly, this is only for infrastructure management, so you will need to think about the rest of the stack (database, middleware and application layers). And, most importantly, you will continue to be responsible for the billing, cost optimisation and governance aspects of your cloud operating model. In both cases you can rely on AWS partners (yours truly, one of the finest!) to complement the offering and bring the full solution to you, including AWS MS as part of the package.


Will AWS Managed Service Providers (MSPs) go out of business?

Absolutely not! If you’re an MSP and think of AWS MS as a threat to your organisation, you are probably in the wrong business. AWS MS is another accelerator of cloud adoption in general. It allows MSPs to focus on even more added value services to customers, as well providing them with scale.

Think of it in simple terms, if you were an MSP before AWS launched RDS, you would be providing monitoring, incident management, patching and backups for the instances supporting that specific database. In a post-RDS world, you don’t need to do so and therefore AWS would have "taken" that business away from you. Then think of Lambda, AWS IoT, etc.

In my view this is what AWS is great at doing: remove heavy-lifting, repeatable tasks and sell it to you as a service. If that’s your business, then yes, AWS will come after you!

At Cloudreach, being an AWS Premier partner and next-gen MSP ourselves, we embrace it unreservedly. It’s another piece of a growing jigsaw that benefits customers and partners alike. We have in fact been actively working with AWS and contributing to the development of this project for the last couple of years.


What next?

If you’re thinking about migrating significant workloads to AWS, we recommend you look at AWS MS as the default operating model for your infrastructure. Include it as part of your assessment and definition of target architecture, deciding what applications are a good fit for AWS MS or other models (eg Mode 2 or other Mode 1 models). You will subsequently migrate different workloads to different landing zones.

I’d recommend using a "why not AWS MS" approach to maximise the biggest accelerator at your disposal: Yes, Managed Services. By AWS!