AWS DevOps

Article

Next Generation Managed Services in the cloud

Part 1

By Terence White - Specialist Lead, Consulting 

Deloitte’s Cloud and Innovation Next Gen Managed Services (NGMS) team often gets asked by existing and potential customers about what the difference between what we offer and the more traditional managed services that they are used to is. I will try to show you the difference and encourage you to consider hosting your servers in AWS and signing up with an AWS Next Generation Managed Services provider to take advantage of the features ahead.

What do I mean by a Managed Service? In this case a customer pays a vendor to abstract the maintenance of infrastructure away from them. My customer says “I want to be able to run my SAP or Oracle or bespoke applications on your servers without having to worry about things like patching, adding disks to database servers, taking backups and updating security certificates when they are about to expire.”

I know a lot of traditional managed service providers are making a good living doing those things in a hosted environment or data centre. So what makes a managed services provider Next Generation?

Next Generation Managed Services is about increasing collaboration between the customer and the provider's staff using modern communication tools, streamlining processes to get gains in productivity, reducing cost and increasing availability through automation and focusing on innovation to bring more value for the customer over time.

Think of our team at Deloitte New Zealand as a proactive strategic service provider that continuously improves the customer experience.

Deloitte New Zealand's NGMS team is set up with a big focus on DevOps techniques to enable capabilities with Continuous Integration / Delivery. We are doing basic manual steps with automation that is well tested and that applies changes that are needed consistently and automatically across multiple environments. There are less humans involved in the running of the processes and NGMS teams can manage larger server estates with less staff. Our staff do more development of automation than actual "log onto a server and do BAU" work.

Let’s take an example of a common process of storage capacity maintenance in a traditional managed services team.

If a DBA needed to add storage to a database that was growing full then the DBA had to make a request to the OS team to get disk capacity added. The OS team would have to make a request to the SAN team to add a new LUN to the server. The SAN team would see if there was capacity and allocate the disk to the server if there was. This might require a change to go through the customer’s change process which could take days or weeks. The OS team would have to prepare the disk for use by the database (another change) and then the DBA could allocate it to the database (yet another change). Hopefully this process was fast enough that the database did not grow to 100% full in the duration and cause a production outage.

How would this be different in an NGMS environment in AWS managed by Deloitte New Zealand? Here there will be advanced monitoring tools in place that will detect that the database is running low on storage by using machine learning on past growth to predict the future growth. These tools will raise an alert to a small well-tested piece of automation code that will automatically allocate storage, prepare it, add it to the database and then notify the team that it had done so or if there are any issues along the way. There is no need for a series of changes which take time and are implemented by humans that can make mistakes and cause outages or worse still data loss. The total time of the process will be minutes rather than weeks and therefore less overprovisioning needs be done, which also results in a lower running cost. Due to the extensive automation, the process will be followed consistently and repeatedly across databases, servers, environments and customers. 

Look out for part 2 in this series where I talk about security patching.

 

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