How do we get into cloud and what’s in it for my business?
There are many paths into the cloud for partners of all shapes and sizes. Whether you are a Value-Added Reseller (VAR) or a Managed Services Provider (MSP), the journey to success should begin with the end in mind. Mapping out a strategic business plan by working backwards based on expected results and outcomes is the standard operating procedure everyone knows needs to be followed—right?
The reality is that most practices engage in cloud sales opportunities reactively, responding to customer queries with little planning to tackle issues like solution readiness, sales organizational structure or compensation and billing models. Consulting partners are busy putting out fires and keeping up with responses to customer needs, keeping the best of us in a reactive state.
Through hard won insights gained from serving a robust global ecosystem of partners, Ingram Micro Cloud has been building out foundational strategies for our cloud partners since 2006. At the heart of these strategies, Ingram provides partners with people, processes and platforms that remove a lot of the operational and administrative burdens from delivering customer results.
Our IaaS Partner Growth Journey
To help partners navigate the many complexities involved in building a thriving IaaS practice, Ingram enables partners through four key foundations of partner enablement.
The first is Optimize, which is all about enabling partners to help customers maximize the value of their current investments in the cloud. Next is Secure, which is dedicated to helping partners and their customers navigate the complex security landscape and ‘secure’ their growth in the cloud. Then comes Transform, covering everything from the review process to rearchitecting for evolutionary transformation of a customer’s cloud business. Lastly, is Innovate, which empowers partners and their customers to develop innovative services leveraging the latest technologies to solve unique business problems that customers face today.
We can go deeper into each of these foundations but for today, we will focus on a key element in Optimize and why it is a critical first step.
What’s wrong with data centers and traditional workloads?
When well-planned and maintained, traditional data centers are reliable and consistent. They can be built to handle any workload challenge with the right systems and seasoned teams in place. All these things are true of a well thought out data center deployment and all these things are also true of grandpa’s old truck that he refuses to give up as it continues sputtering along. As long as there is no need to enter the Friday night drag race against your grandkids, the old truck gets the job done.
The same is true for managing server hardware, building small data centers, or housing and managing equipment in a co-location. If your competitors are doing the same traditional business, you are fine.
In the real world of IT infrastructure, we know that this is not the reality for 99% of businesses. Business requirements demand constant change, flexibility, and adaptability under the pressures of faster market conditions. To meet the increasing demands for speed, lower costs, greater flexibility, and the ability to adapt, businesses in all markets are moving to cloud-based solutions with ever increasing frequency.
Cloud computing provides builders with a platform supported by unique services, features, and functions that can be used to configure almost any workload to deploy and manage applications at scale. New and constantly evolving technologies requires teams to continue learning and stay updated. Areas of remediation must be monitored and tested to lead to true growth and value of choosing digital transformation in the cloud. Everything stated above equals a massive opportunity for IT Consultants, Managed Services Providers, Value Added Resellers, and ISVs.
Enter the Well-Architected Framework
Through over a decade of helping customers achieve business results in AWS cloud, a framework was created to help customers make consistent and logical choices. The learnings and principles generated in these engagements later became the AWS Well-Architected Framework. The purpose of the Well-Architected Framework is to guide business stakeholders and IT professionals towards making meaningful cloud solution trade-offs, that align with desired business goals and outcomes.
Organizations that have adopted the core principles of the Well-Architected Framework’s five pillars (Cost Optimization, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Operational Excellence) have realized key advantages in the cloud. This framework allows organizations to scale workloads up and down with changing demand, automate systems to achieve consistency and reliability, test at scale to increase predictability, and make informed decisions with accuracy and reliability—unlike what is achievable with on-premise environments. Well-Architected Framework has become so critical for cloud infrastructure that, more and more, what Well-Architected is for cloud is becoming what Agile is for software development.
Most businesses, however, do not see this value without a highly trained cloud team or Consulting partner to guide them through these processes. Moreover, Well-Architected Reviews (WARs) are meant to be part of an on-going, evolutionary process for infrastructure that grows with the needs of the business, while increasing its capabilities to deliver value to customers more efficiently.
The review process in its current form can add considerable administrative burden. The Well-Architected Review is made up of 52 questions, 5 pillars and 23 subject areas that must be answered with the business stakeholders, IT teams and data from the current infrastructure. The process can take several hours—which is an improvement from the days of on-premise IT reviews that used to take weeks—but taxing on organizations, none the less.
How can we do WARs better?
At Ingram, we are continuously looking for better ways to enable our partners and drive greater value for their customers. Just last week, we announced that we are teaming with nOps, a leading cloud management and intelligence platform that accelerates partner execution of the AWS Well-Architected Review process. With nOps, partners can now deliver more streamlined, automated AWS Well-Architected Reviews designed to help build an efficient, secure, and high-performing AWS infrastructure for their applications and workloads.
The nOps software extends the automation and predictive abilities of managed services teams by continuously monitoring the target environment to help maintain and modernize a customer’s Well-Architected status. nOps auto-discovers gaps in the customer’s infrastructure based on the AWS Well-Architected Framework across all five pillars (Cost Optimization, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Operational Excellence), plus other industry guidelines like HIPAA and SOC 2. nOps provides resource-level drill down capability to support rapid root cause analysis for Solution Architects and DevOps teams.
One of the key features we like about this new offering is the ability to access ongoing, real-time scoring and remediation recommendations of infrastructure health and industry benchmarks. nOps monitors infrastructure changes continuously to optimize resource utilization and cost – across AWS accounts, regions, projects, workloads, and employees. With instant visibility to infrastructure changes, our partners can now track by user, resource, or an event and integrate with Jira, Slack and email notifications. Real-time notifications for security risks, non-compliance alerts and audit trails make securing and monitoring workloads easier for multiple customer environments.
A major pain point our partners face in executing WARs, as mentioned earlier, is that it takes hours and requires multiple team members. With nOps, our partners can now efficiently complete reviews in minutes and gain the benefit of a repeatable and consistent platform. Not only that, it helps drive services revenue with rapid workload assessments to auto-discover risk and generate fact-based remediation proposals that drive higher project win rates. By adding nOps to our robust cloud services portfolio, we can solve our partners’ biggest challenges around WAR and empower our partners to build next-generation MSP practices that drive greater value and revenue opportunities.
Now that we have a clear picture of the road ahead, let’s pull it all together. Ingram Micro Cloud provides the people, processes, and platforms to help partners do more in the cloud with less. To embrace growth in the cloud, we guide partners through our four foundational stages: Optimize, Secure, Transform, and Innovate. To accelerate business growth, you have to start with optimizing the utilization of your resources, and processes like the Well-Architected Framework become critical for having the right foundations for long-term success with your customers.
To learn more about our IaaS Growth Journey, join our AWS Illuminate partner program and take advantage of all the benefits through Coaching, Marketing, Sales and Technical Enablement.