The cloud is a strategic asset: that’s why you can’t delegate everything to us

In recent years, the adoption of cloud computing services has seen a high growth in companies, as many of the benefits offered – such as cost savings, security and flexibility – have been understood by technology decision makers within the companies themselves. And increasingly, the cloud is being chosen for new projects (such as Proof of Concept or greenfield projects) or as a destination for existing on-premise assets in partial or full migration projects.

Tackling any project involving cloud computing services requires knowledge, skills, professionalism and requirements that many companies don’t have (or can’t or don’t want to bring in-house), which is why they rely on the support provided by the cloud provider itself and its network of certified partners.

We are an Advanced Consulting Partner of Amazon Web Services, a leader in cloud computing services, and we provide companies with consulting and operational support in all phases of cloud computing services projects. From the experience we have gained with our customers, the cloud is becoming one of the most important assets for a modern company, but completely outsourcing the management of the cloud is not an optimal choice even for those companies that have in-house only some of the skills necessary to be autonomous in governing their own cloud infrastructure.

This might seem like a nonsense but it’s not. Why? Let’s start with the approach of the big player AWS.

With respect to security and compliance, AWS operates under the shared responsibility model, whereby:

  • AWS is responsible for protecting the overall infrastructure on which all services offered in the AWS cloud run. The infrastructure consists of the hardware and software components, networks, and facilities that run the AWS cloud services.
  • The customer is responsible for everything that is created and executed in the cloud services used (applications, data, security rules).
AWS Shared responsibility model

From this it becomes even more obvious that governance of the cloud infrastructure by the customer is vital: the customer must maintain control and visibility of this asset.

How did we choose to operate in this scenario, as a certified AWS partner?

In order to better understand our approach to collaborating with companies (customers), here is a recent experience we had with one of our customers.

The company in question decided to try to use AWS services to deliver its services, with the aim of evolving the infrastructure and application stack, optimizing costs, and being ready to meet the demands of its target market.

After getting directly in touch with AWS, we were involved by AWS as a Certified Partner. From this first contact an active collaboration was born, where we did some consulting and operational support sessions on the AWS cloud infrastructure set up by the customer.

During these sessions we agreed on these objectives:

  • analyze the existing situation,
  • identify intervention points to improve the situation, applying best practices from the AWS Well Architected Framework where possible,
  • apply the necessary changes to the infrastructure and resources on the AWS cloud environment,
  • explain to the customer the reason for the choices made, giving visibility of the changes made,
  • transfer knowledge to the customer so that they can become autonomous in managing the updated and improved infrastructure.

Regarding the last point, the customer expressed doubts and concern, not feeling sufficiently prepared to take charge of their own infrastructure management and keep up with the evolution of cloud computing services. In fact, in his previous experiences with other hosting providers, he was used to completely delegating the management and resolution of problems to the provider itself, managing activities through the classic ticket-opening assistance mode.

When the customer asked if they could replicate the same method with AWS and its partners, we gave them some food for thought:

  • It’s normal not to “know everything” about services as complex and vast as AWS’s,
  • AWS partners, like Flowing, are there to help companies make the best use of AWS services and stay current and competitive,
  • You can take training and certification paths on AWS so you can gain and take home skills and knowledge,
  • Flowing does not provide on-demand support or ticketing services but we offer consulting, bringing value, through infrastructure improvement and increased awareness in using the tools and services made available by AWS.

Basically, we believe that companies with cloud-based projects need to keep a firm grip on this very important asset, with the help of the right partners.

That’s why the cornerstones on which we base our interaction and collaboration with customers are:

  • Working together: with the client we plan remote coaching sessions (through special tools, such as Google Meet, Zoom or Slack) of appropriate duration (2/4/8 hours). The modality is based on confrontation and dialogue. The customer shares problems and wishes, Flowing analyzes them trying to provide feedback in synchronous mode, where possible. Possible complex topics may require an internal analysis phase and feedback to the client in a subsequent meeting.
  • Transferring skills. During consulting sessions:
    we explain why certain choices should be made and why it is advisable to choose certain services or design an architecture in a certain way.
    We give visibility of the best practices to be followed in the design and implementation of architectures and applications in a cloud environment. As anticipated, the basis from which we start is the AWS Well Architected Framework.
    We convey the importance of the documentation, training and certification resources made available by AWS, which enable sufficient levels of autonomy in service adoption.
  • Measuring the results: adopting an iterative approach – typical of the Agile methodology – at each coaching meeting we go back over the topics and activities previously addressed, evaluating whether what has been done satisfies the objectives set and the needs exposed by the customer. The way we approach the project is incremental: we achieve a few clear and concrete objectives at a time, rather than drawing up a long list of tasks and verifying the results only after completing them all.