Whether you’re migrating to the cloud or improving existing cloud-based assets, it’s a good idea to follow the latest best practice principles. But with cloud providers’ technology ecosystems continually growing and evolving this is easier said than done. Staying ahead of the game requires a level of passion, dedication and commitment that few organisations have time for.
From an AWS perspective, best practice is exemplified by AWS Ambassadors. This exclusive global network comprises fewer than 250 people, 53 of whom are based in the EMEA region.
We’re fortunate to have two AWS Ambassadors here at DevOpsGroup. Cloud Solutions Architects Colin Barker and Greg Heywood were both accepted onto the program in 2021.
We asked them what it takes to become an AWS Ambassador and, more importantly, how it benefits the work we do for customers.
AWS Ambassadors’ cloud credentials
As a minimum, AWS Ambassadors must hold two AWS technical certifications. They’re also expected to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of AWS, developing public content such as technical blogs and opensource projects. In this way, they contribute to the wider AWS community as well as furthering their own professional development.
Colin and Greg currently hold 15 AWS certifications between them, covering everything from cloud practitioner and DevOps engineering to database and security specialities. In 2021, Colin was also ranked the world number one in subject matter expertise for exam development events.
Greg has been publishing his own IT blog since 2016, regularly posting guidance on AWS tools and services.
“When I come across a smarter way of doing things, or figure out how to overcome a challenge, I like to share what I’ve learnt in case it helps others in a similar position. I also enjoy road testing new updates and releases from AWS. It keeps my skills sharp and allows me to share the learnings with colleagues and clients as well as the wider AWS community.”Greg Heywood
Selecting the best cloud approaches for customers’ needs
All new developments from AWS are intended to improve customer experiences. But not every update is applicable to every situation. Best practice involves choosing appropriate tools and approaches that will make a meaningful difference. This demands a combination of technical skill and business acumen.
To support customers’ cloud strategies, Colin and Greg draw on relevant experience from their work with regulated industries, large enterprises and fast-growing scale-ups. Blending this with AWS insights enables them to devise effective solutions for the most complex cloud challenges. In fact, much of the time they are able to anticipate potential problems, meaning they can be bypassed altogether.
According to Colin, it’s important to listen to customers’ specific needs and take time to understand their existing technical set-up as well as having an awareness of common pain points.
“As AWS Ambassadors we apply the principles of cloud computing to make a positive difference in real-world scenarios. Technical knowledge and practical experience are just part of the equation. We also get to know customers’ business goals, requirements and challenges. Then we agree target outcomes and work collaboratively to achieve them.”Colin Barker
Technical insight and more
Challenges associated with largescale cloud adoption or migration can be cultural as well as technical. As AWS Ambassadors, Colin and Greg bring a depth and breadth of insight to help overcome issues that might otherwise hold up decision making.
For instance, organisations in heavily regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare can be especially reticent to adopt new cloud-based approaches. There are too many ‘unknowns’ and fear of non-compliance stalls progress. Ultimately, this may lead to commercial disadvantage as competitors gain ground and benefit from the quicker, more agile and adaptive ways of working that cloud enables.
In situations like this, Colin and Greg can help orchestrate a phased approach that wins the hearts and minds of key decision makers. They use their skills and experience to develop a stepwise methodology demonstrating how cloud best practice leads to security and governance improvements, for enhanced regulatory compliance.
The same principle applies to organisations dealing with contentious issues related to cloud cost management following a lift and shift migration. Business leaders might be ready to write the migration off as a failure, but remedial action can be taken. A pragmatic, methodical approach makes the journey to cloud-native more manageable and ensures benefits are more achievable.
As AWS Ambassadors, Colin and Greg have dealt with challenges like these many times. They quickly instil calm and confidence as they implement effective strategies based on business priorities.
An ongoing cloud journey
Cloud migration and adoption is not a once-and-done task. As tools and technologies evolve, new opportunities emerge to improve cloud-based assets. Conducting Well-Architected Reviews on a regular basis helps identify critical areas where changes should be made. Having an AWS Ambassador on-side to prioritise tasks and advise on relevant technologies and approaches keeps you at the forefront of cloud best practice.
Colin and Greg are currently working on a series of technical blog posts and podcasts looking at cloud best practice and practical ways to derive value from the AWS Well-Architected Framework. Scroll to the bottom of this page to subscribe.