Ask any Managed Service Provider (MSP) migrating to the cloud what their top priority is, and the answer will almost certainly not be to achieve ‘operational excellence'. Yet operational excellence is no secret for MSPs: most do have all kinds of processes in place to continuously improve operations and processes. They just don't call it that.
The majority of MSPs are migrating parts of their legacy workloads to the cloud. Their priority at this stage lies with cost, reliability and security for a smooth and swift migration with minimum disruption for customers. Once the implementation is running successfully in the cloud, the next stage will focus on optimization and continuous improvement: operational excellence. A gradual process, expanding already familiar processes to the cloud.
When looking at best practices on how to achieve operational excellence for your infrastructure step by step and deliver business value to your company and your customers, monitoring is the first and most crucial part. A famous saying in IT service delivery is: What you cannot see, you cannot measure, and what you cannot measure, you cannot improve. While this is true in the on-premise data centre, it is true in the cloud as well.
Monitoring is a must to understand the health of your deployment, especially across multiple and multi-tenant environments as we see today. There are many operations, processes and procedures you can monitor to improve your deployment. Platforms, networking, security policies, third party services, etc. Therefore, monitoring and the associated metrics, logs and alerts are your first step towards operational excellence. All the big vendors like VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, AWS offer different kinds of tooling, checklists and procedures to structure your monitoring strategy.
The migration strategy for most MSPs – those not born in the cloud – is a lift-and-shift scenario: you migrate what you already have from on premises to the cloud. Once the infrastructure and workloads are up and running and being monitored, automation comes next as a logical step for continuous optimization and refinement. Where do you start? Well, simple: start with the results that emerge from the monitoring processes. That is the low-hanging fruit. Think of (repetitive) operational tasks, infrastructure implementation, configuration. Automation is a major step forward in achieving operational excellence, because it allows you to activate resources on demand, minimize human error and produce consistent and repeatable results.
Another best practice to obtain excellent operations is around patching. Patch management is everyday business for MSPs to update, fix, or improve software bugs or security flaws. What we see in our customer meetings is that, like monitoring, most MSPs start with manual patching during the initial migration steps to the cloud and then start automating once everything is running smoothly. The cloud offers a wealth of services and tooling for automatic patching and is a valuable asset to improve operations. You define what, when and where updates are needed and the tasks will be performed for you.
Many MSPs are finding new ways forward in the cloud. Their first concern is a successful migration, then come optimization and operational excellence. We encourage partners to take the cloud journey step by step and in line with known processes. And also to implement some kind of structural framework as offered by Microsoft, AWS or Google to optimize and make sure you meet SLAs, save expenses, increase business value and make customers happy. In this way, the cloud is not a daunting black hole, but becomes a friendly environment with even more opportunities to maximize results and achieve operational excellence.
There are many roads for MSPs to achieve operational excellence in their journey to the cloud. We at Insight have been working with partners like you across Europe for many years, providing valuable time, knowledge and support in many (hybrid) cloud scenarios. We can help you monitor and optimize your cloud cost, map it against your existing budget, and suggest on improvements that will lower your total cost
Contact one of our cloud specialists to find out how we can support you in optimizing your cloud costs in line with your business goals, whether you are designing your first workloads in the cloud or work entirely cloud-based.
This article is part of a series based on Microsoft’s WAF (Well-Architected Framework), where you find much more helpful guidance. WAF improves the quality of workloads operating in the cloud by focusing on a set of common architecture principles, including cost optimisation, operational excellence, performance efficiency, reliability and security.
As a multi-vendor software licensing, workload and platform specialist, we can guide you through all stages of your strategic cloud journey with a series of workshops, assessments, services and best practices, from the first exploration of cloud or hybrid opportunities and benefits to support and optimisation after migration. So no matter where you are in your journey, we help you find new ways forward and accelerate your business.