If your organization is new to the cloud or has already gotten your feet wet with the cloud concept, managed services can mean a shift in the decision in several key areas. The management of a cloud offering allows your application or service to be the focus in your business. Ultimately, having a management partner means that some of the risk is moved to that partner.
Management: What does the actual management in a managed service look like?
When a managed service builds or takes over an existing Azure offering, the managed service will take over the staff requirement for all the infrastructure components. Monitoring requirements are established with the responsible groups and a 24-hour support team becomes engaged in keeping all services working as expected. The company requirement to have staff that know azure operations during all hours of the day is shifted to the partner.
Backup and recovery requirement for the services, virtual machines, and data is handled by the cloud partner. Often cloud deployments have complicated recovery processes, but having a knowledgeable team means that many of the recovery scenarios have already been explored, making decisions on how to get a service back up and running easier. Management companies will have an emergency plan already created for common service offerings and have the experience to customize the recovery plan with the teams that manage your application or service. Additionally, a potential partner will know all of the latest methods of redundancy to maximize availability. Having the critical staff available to recover a service with minimal data loss exactly when you need it is what managed services specialize in. A core requirement is having and maintaining a good RPO (Recovery Point Objective – amount of potential data lost), RTO (Recovery Time Objective – amount of time from failure to recovery).
When a company is using virtual machines, updating the core operating systems and critical components can become a large part of keeping those services safe from external threats. Having a partner that will update the operating system with the experience to tackle common issues removes the need for the company to have staff do that activity in the outside of normal business hours that are hard to staff.
Expertise: What kind of knowledge should a managed service have?
A professional Azure service management company will have the knowledge and know how to run an Azure environment, regardless of the services your organization is utilizing. Microsoft certifications for Azure services show that the partner is trained in the fundamentals necessary to work with all services, using the documentation offered. This allows your organization to focus on core competencies.
Security compliance is a requirement of cloud solutions either from internal departments or from those entities using the service. Having a managed azure environment means that all the recommended settings are running for the services that you are using. When compliance concerns are discussed; a managed partner has someone available to keep everyone informed, allowing all parties to be comfortable with the methods and protections that are in place. This availability allows decision makers to use a cloud environment for cloud services without concerns for the infrastructure.
Risk Management: What risk does a managed service assume?
The primary goal of having an Azure managed service partner is to allow the organization to focus on what it does best and allow concerns of how everything works to be handled by the managed partner. A managed service means that the cloud partner assumes the Service Level Agreement liability for everything supporting your offering. The details of how the data is protected both from a disaster recovery aspect, as well as from a security aspect, are shifted so that the Azure service provider carries a much larger portion. Managed Azure Services means that your organization can have peace of mind on how Azure is being operated and a degree of risk management in the event there are issues with the offering you are bringing to market or your internal company systems.
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