Why managed services are key to driving cloud results

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Managed services cloud resultsMany cloud hosting vendors have invested heavily in large-scale distributed data centers for cloud infrastructure as part of their business model. Over the last few years, the cloud model has become very efficient, being self-driven through websites for cloud provisioning. A lot of features and functionality are added regularly.

Numerous companies offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS), leading to a crowded marketplace. This has helped reduce prices at the infrastructure layer. Customers who are already on cloud and looking for additional savings may have few options.

One option is to move to a better and cheaper infrastructure play, but migrating applications from one provider to another can be a costly proposal. One needs to look beyond the initial infrastructure predicament. This is where cloud managed services comes in.

What are cloud managed services?

Cloud managed services encompasses the management and maintenance services performed on cloud infrastructure to make it functionally ready from a business user’s perspective. It enables companies to ensure that architecture, provisioning on cloud, migration to cloud, application and data deployment, and day-to-day management are performed by the cloud provider.

Based on which layer companies would like to outsource, there are three common flavors of managed services:

1. Managed through the application layer

Here, the vendor manages the application like e-commerce, overseeing Oracle ERP, SAP, Web-based, reporting and social media apps through to the application layer. It includes apps and DB patching, as well as the support of the corresponding echo system from a technical perspective. These plans usually offer service-level agreements (SLA) at the application layer. It includes everything in the options below.

2. Managed through the data layer

Vendor manages to the data layer — databases such as DB2, Oracle, SQL-SVR, and MySQL; their support, and backups are part of the services. It includes what’s in option three also.

3. Managed through the OS layer

Here, the vendor manages only through to the operating system layer. This includes the OS installation, support, virus protection, provisioning and so on.

A service description for managed services should clearly list the roles and responsibilities that the managed services provider offers. Cloud providers have varying scopes related to managed services, so you have to read the fine print.

To a certain extent, some managed services can be automated. Items including shutdown, startup, patching, cloning of the application, databases and operating systems already have been. An automated tool along with seeded functionality of apps and the database may do this job.

Yet items such as troubleshooting, performance issues and user issues require due diligence and require the care of specialists such as DBA, OS admin, storage and network experts. There is so much that goes on in the background to make the system run. This is sometimes a thankless job for the specialist who works hard to make it run.

This is where the advantage of managed services lies. The team uses lessons learned from one environment and apply them to another. The expectations are that the cloud provider would use economies of scale when providing similar services to multiple clients and provide a cost-effective, efficient and professional way to manage the application and data on cloud. It’s a win-win situation for all.

The next big outage may be around the corner without a good managed services team. Infrastructure is no good until the application on it runs properly, and users can use it to effectively run business transactions.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Managed Services.

IBM Cloud

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