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Say you’re a rancher. Now, for most of you reading this blog, you will have to use your imagination to picture life on the open plains, proudly riding your cattle herd and knowing that your livelihood depends upon these beefy, bountiful steeds.

Somewhere along this journey, you’ll be faced with a critical decision: One of your prized cattle has come down with a contagious illness. Though you are loyal to your herd like many cowpokes are to their mommas, you know that putting down the diseased cow – rather than shooting it up with drugs and hoping it will recover – is the best way to keep the herd in good health.

Now, imagine if you will, a different kind of hired gun. These “computer cowboys” inhabit your data center, and like our horse-riding counterparts, will do whatever it takes to keep the server running smoothly.

Unlike the wizened ranchers of the cow-poking world, a lot of sysops types are themselves prodded to tinker with the server to nurse it back to health. Before long, the “herd” is infected, and downtime becomes a given.

In the world of next-generation cloud managed services as adopted by Blue Sentry, we tend to think of ourselves as grizzled, expert ranch-hands that have learned a better way to keep the heard moving in the right direction.

By combining next-generation managed services practices with Amazon Web Services’ reliable, scalable and secure cloud environment, we can ensure healthy herds, for as far as the eye can see.

The quantum leap in computing health made possible by AWS has led a significant expansion in corporate cloud migration. With more than 60 percent of enterprises having deployed workloads to the cloud, and a significant majority of those reporting savings and improved performance after migrating, it’s easy to understand the attraction.

But unfortunately many companies that are forward thinking enough to move to the cloud still bring with them the traditional “on-prem” thinking. What’s worse, many managed service providers are managing cloud workloads with the same thinking they use to manage workloads in traditional datacenter environments. And without a next-generation managed service provider (MSP) to help you properly migrate, optimize, and manage your IT environments in the cloud, you may find that you’re ranch is not producing the rewards that it could be.

But what exactly do we mean by “next generation” managed services? Well, let’s highlight three big differences between traditional managed services and next generation practices:

  1. Know what’s going on inside the cow — go deeper with machine learning: For generations, sysops engineers have been trained to focus on monitoring metrics at the infrastructure level – gauging things like disk space, processor utilization, RAM utilization and the like. For a rancher, this would be like sitting on a fence post and watching to see if one of your cattle has developed a limp. Though the traditional sysops approach may be helpful for diagnosing the health of your hardware, a next generation MSP drills down to the application level—using machine learning, both to establish normal states for each application and then to detect anomalies BEFORE problems loom large enough to affect infrastructure – and, more importantly, your USERS.
  1. Thinning the herd: As in our example that led off this article, we are always considering the overall state of your IT infrastructure, and not just the individual parts. In our MSP processes, if we detect that an application state has strayed from the norm, we kill the instance and replace it, rather than try to diagnose and fix a sick machine.
  1. Let cows heal cows, with automated self-healing environments: The days of poking holes in your security structure to allow manual server repair are over. A cloud MSP arrives with our own sort of medical mysticism, in the form of automated self-healing. Instead of creating administrative access to your production environment, where possible, automate the replacement of instances through the use of pre-set Amazon Machine Instances (“AMIs”). This leads to better security, and higher availability, for users.

While it may be hard for some old dogs to learn new tricks, the rewards of adopting new ways of managing herds far outweigh the burden of the learning curve. With a next generation MSP to help guide you, healthy herds are in your reach.