DevOpsGroup Blog Cloud managed services: find a partner, not a provider

Cloud managed services: find a partner, not a provider

Getting the most from your investment in cloud-based systems requires a deep and dynamic understanding of modern operations best practice. Increasingly, organisations are appointing third parties to take care of this. But what are the benefits, and what qualities should you look for in a potential partner?

Here at DevOpsGroup, we believe there are four core factors to outsourced operations best practice. The secret is to partner with a supplier that enables you to address them all.

The four Rs of modern operations best practice

1. Reduce unplanned work

Reducing unplanned work should be a core goal for any modern operations strategy. When product teams frequently drop new feature development to deal with urgent platform issues or outages, it has a detrimental impact on the speed of innovation. Over time, this harms an organisation’s ability to adapt to customer needs ahead of the competition.

A digital-native operations partner can turn this situation around. Monitoring and remediation work become more focused and effective. Potential problems are identified and rectified before they escalate. And platforms are optimised for seamless handling of change.

This creates a virtuous cycle of performance improvement, meaning work becomes more predictable and manageable. So, in-house developers and operators have more headspace for product changes that add value to the business and customers.

2. Resolve critical issues fast

Inevitably, there will still be times when production issues arise. Working with engineers that specialise in cloud-based operations ensures they are resolved quickly.

This is partly about technical capability, but it’s also about understanding the risks that accompany rapid change. Maintaining reliable performance of business-critical applications in the cloud demands up-to-date engineering expertise.

When you’re talking to a prospective partner, ask how their engineers stay on top of the game. What measures are in place to keep track of the latest methods, tools and best practice for major cloud platforms and opensource solutions?

3. Reach out for support 24×7

If you’re a scale-up, you’re almost certainly working though issues related to 24×7 platform availability and support. You need to know that your online offering is accessible and stable whenever and wherever customers need it.

However, unless you have more than four operate engineers in-house, this places an inordinate amount of pressure on people. They will need to be on-call during evenings or weekends at least once a month.

You can quickly find that the entire team is working unsociable hours far more often than you would like, especially if performance issues escalate. The alternative is that mean-time-to-recover (MTTR) rates soar, system availability is compromised and customers become increasingly frustrated.

Partnering with a modern operations specialist can both reduce the 24×7 burden and improve your 24×7 performance.   

4. Retain cloud platform access

Before you appoint a cloud-based operations specialist, be sure to understand the implications of the arrangement.

Some managed services providers take over the entire cloud platform, so your in-house engineers only get to work with a locked down version.

Others offer an operations service that sits on top of the native cloud platform.

The latter is preferable for many organisations. Full platform access is maintained, and you retain the commercial relationship with the cloud vendor.

A partner, not a provider

A few weeks back, my colleague Rael wrote a blogpost considering whether outsourced operations is a DevOps anti-pattern. For some people, any IT managed service is reminiscent of the largescale outsourcing that often struggles to deliver ROI. But traditional, functional outsourcing is worlds away from modern operations support.

With cloud-based operations services, you should be looking for a partner, not a provider.

Choose an organisation that understands the way you work and has a culture that aligns well with your own. Meet the people you’ll be working with, and see how well they engage with your in-house developers and engineers.

A modern operations service should feel integral to your team, not bolted-on.

Find out more about cloud platform support services from DevOpsGroup.


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