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MSPs handle complicated cloud management services

Managing the gamut of AWS products from end to end requires skilled hands, and IT teams can struggle. Managed service providers apply their cloud knowledge at the behest of the business.

Many believe that managed service providers and public clouds live in very different worlds; but nothing could...

be further from the truth. Consulting companies and managed service providers understand this, often acting as the middleman for ongoing management in AWS. And this trend was validated at AWS re:Invent 2015, when the public cloud provider announced its partnership with Accenture -- a management consulting firm -- to migrate and run cloud applications.

In the past, managed service provider (MSP) was a term used to describe infrastructure services delivered on a subscription basis. With the advent of cloud computing, however, managed IT services and cloud management services have become synonymous. Indeed, most MSPs are very cloud-like; many even provide auto-provisioning and self-provisioning capabilities, as well as some elastic scaling features. But as MSPs -- and cloud computing -- continue to grow in popularity, best practices are emerging around how to use the providers as management layers for cloud-based resources.

Simply put, MSPs can act as a point of abstraction, allowing companies the ability to use a tiered model to deal with public clouds.

While this may sound complicated, it's actually not. MSPs offer sets of cloud management services that enterprise IT can use as if the services existed in-house. This is typically a more cost-effective approach than building and managing these services in-house. Many enterprises find that it's more cost-effective and efficient to use an MSP as a management layer to access public cloud-based services.

When doing so, the MSP typically can remove IT teams from some or most of the underlying complexity that comes with accessing public cloud resources. In addition, MSPs can provide consistent access to any number of disparate public cloud resources. But the tradeoff is that IT teams may not have direct access to some native public cloud resources.

Deciding factors for cloud management services

Is outsourcing AWS management right for your enterprise? To decide, you need to consider the approach.

Are you going to use a team of consultants to provide human services for management? Will you use an MSP? Or will your IT team do it themselves? The answer your enterprise chooses typically comes down to cost -- not just the cost of the initial migration but also, and more importantly, the ongoing cost of management.

The best way to decide is to model your AWS workload management processes and tasks when using an MSP versus not using an MSP. You'll quickly determine the business benefit, considering that you don't have the money to hire a staff of AWS experts or buy more equipment. If the MSP is worth its salt, it will handle the physical configuration of servers and other data center resources.

This is often a difficult choice for enterprises, especially because they need to put trust into two separate service providers: AWS and the MSP. However, it's important to get over that if you want to take advantage of cloud computing -- regardless of who manages your cloud.

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This was last published in November 2015

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Does your enterprise use cloud management services? Why or why not?
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This is one of the first places that companies should look to start cloud projects. Leverage these tools and platforms to augment the operations teams, where a large majority of the cost resides. And these tools are often SaaS based, so getting started is very easy and low-cost. 
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