Our Thinking
Managing the cloud
11 February 2015 | Posted by Trevor Rea

As part of my role in Kainos I am involved in our Managed Cloud projects. I have written this blog to give an insight into what we actually do in one of these projects and the benefits for customers of working with us.

The reason our Managed Cloud offering exists is that cloud services such as Skyscape Cloud or Amazon Web Services typically provide the basic building blocks for customers to provide services to their end-users. But the cloud providers are clear about where their services stop. We find that customers quickly identify gaps in terms of monitoring, security patching, backup and general management of the infrastructure once it’s up and running. These are the gaps that Kainos helps customers to fill.

Increasingly, customers ask me to help with design and deployment. I’ve been building cloud environments for several years, so lots of our base infrastructure builds are automated, which is a godsend when it comes to getting things done quickly and minimising errors. Also, by working closely with customers we help them make decisions about the infrastructure that ensure that they get an infrastructure that works. By getting us to monitor and support their services we can make sure it works at go-live and in 6, 12 or 18 months’ time.

In a recent example we helped a Government body with the migration of a WordPress blogging platform with over 140,000 blogs from an incumbent hosting provider to Skyscape Cloud.  The customer was relatively new to cloud so our role was to assist them in automating the build of the infrastructure and also to help them in transferring the data securely from the existing platform.

Throughout the project we worked closely with them and their WordPress partner supplier. We used daily stand-ups to ensure that the migration, including all testing and security steps, met their very aggressive timescales (it actually came in early!). It was a real team effort, it certainly wasn’t easy and there were hurdles to overcome along the way but it’s been very satisfying to work closely with a customer on a service that is used by so many children and young people.

We have deployed a monitoring infrastructure which gives the relevant performance information needed to identify changes and improvements. This means if the service isn’t running as it should be, we can tell the customer before their users do. We have the relevant data available to help the customer make informed decisions on how to improve things.  We perform all the security patching and gave advice around the design of the service so that the process of patching is simplified. We also look after backups and restores of virtual machines. The goal of this is that we can all sleep well at night in the knowledge that the data is being backed up and also – more importantly – can be restored as expected.

For me, while the benefits of the cloud in terms of flexibility, speed and reduced cost to the organisation are well known, there are more intangible benefits which in my opinion are just as important. The most satisfying part of my role in working with customers is watching them move from being passive consumers of services managed by an external supplier to a situation where they are much more confident about making and designing and running the services themselves. Once they do one successful deployment, most customers don’t look back…

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