What does Amazon’s move into Managed Services mean for MSPs?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently introduced its suite of managed services called AWS Managed Services (MS). In a blog post announcing the launch, AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr states that this new offering from AWS is designed for the Fortune 1000 and the Global 2000 to accelerate cloud adoption. It simplifies deployment, migration, and management using automation and machine learning, backed up by a dedicated team of Amazon employees.

AWS Managed Services delivers consistent operations management and predictable results following ITIL best practices and provides tools and automation to increase efficiency and reduce operational risk and overhead.  It comes with tools for

  • Change management – ability to simply and efficiently control changes in the AWS infrastructure
  • Incident management – alarms and incidents raised and using automation within AWS to reduce service interruptions
  • Provisioning Management – Automated deployment of cloud infrastructure
  • Patch management – OS patching on as needed or scheduled basis
  • Access management – Simplifies Access Management
  • Security management – Include anti-malware protection, intrusion detection, and intrusion prevention systems
  • Continuity management – backups for the AWS stack at scheduled intervals
  • Reporting – Access to Amazon S3 logs, CloudTrail logs, instance logs, and real-time data from AWS MS APIs

The Up Side

The great thing about this AWS offering is that it provides customers the functionality to offload some of the mundane cloud management tasks. These tasks take advantage of the automation announced and is expected to minimize maintenance actions that require human intervention.

The Flip Side

The blog post goes on to say “AWS MS builds on AWS and provides a set of integration points (APIs and a set of CLI tools) for connection to your existing service management system.”  If one of these large companies wants to use AWS MS, this is something they should investigate quickly.  The limited ITSM environments supported by AWS MS do not cover all of the ITIL processes that most corporations typically use today.  The ITIL processes that are provided by AWS MS are focused on the AWS infrastructure.  For corporations to adopt AWS MS, they will need to build integrations from their existing ITSM system(s) and processes.  These integrations will provide the enterprise-wide view and reporting required by these large customers.

With the new service, Amazon is pushing hard to convince large corporations to abandon their existing data centers and move everything into its own infrastructure. The new service will remove some of the barriers that these large corporations have seen in moving to the cloud.  Will Amazon be successful in this endeavor?  Historically, when Amazon provides a new service, they have been successful with it. Maybe not with the first release, but as it matures and gains new features, you will see a greater adoption of AWS in the market they are looking for.

What does this mean for Managed Service Providers?

The majority of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are focused on businesses outside the Fortune 100 and Global 2000 so there won’t be any immediate impact.  However, this is a shot across the bow for MSPs that are only providing these types of services for their customers. These providers will need to move to differentiate themselves from what Amazon is selling. Amazon’s new service only deals with managing operations across infrastructure services like storage and computing. It does not include areas that are frequently the bread and butter of MSPs like the management of databases or so-called middleware, essentially the software glue that connects various corporate software together.

The largest barrier to expansion of this service is the part of Jeff Barr’s statement “backed up by a dedicated team of Amazon employees.”  This tidbit makes it unlikely to be scalable to the SMB market in the near term.  However, Mr. Barr also states that the service uses “automation and machine learning”.  Should this automation and machine learning be sophisticated enough, requirements for human intervention may decrease which might allow the service to become extremely scalable.

Since the current AWS focus for the managed services offerings is the Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 market, most MSPs will not be immediately affected.  Like all new software releases, this is a v1.0 release of this feature.  Undoubtedly there will be new features added and incremental additions to existing features made.  MSPs need to pay close attention to the evolution of this service in the event Amazon continues to expand this managed services program down into midmarket; small and medium businesses.