Pitfalls of Using a Public Cloud Provider’s Professional Services

Lee Hylton / May 24, 2022
cloud provider proserv

Public Cloud Providers such as AWS, Google or Azure have become essential infrastructure for just about every organization. However, evaluating their products, choosing the best provider(s) for your needs and executing a digital transformation strategy is far from simple. All public cloud providers offer in-house professional service teams to help organizations migrate and utilize their particular cloud platforms. But how do you know if a public cloud provider’s in-house team is the right fit for your needs? Additionally, as many organizations pursue multi-cloud strategies, it is important to find a professional services team who can give you objective advice and ensure coordination among and between multiple cloud platforms.

While Public Cloud Providers’ in-house Professional Services teams (“ProServes”) have expertise on their own platforms, they often lack the expertise and perspective to manage complex cloud initiatives, particularly when knowledge of other cloud providers’ products and third-party applications is required. This partially explains the average 60% failure rate of enterprise cloud initiatives. 

How can you avoid failure and ensure that your cloud initiative has the best chance of success? First, there are some key points to consider.

What should you know before engaging a public cloud provider’s in-house professional services group?

1. Understand their bias

ProServes are employed and trained by the individual cloud provider. Their job is to promote their company’s specific products over those of their competition. For some use cases, a sole cloud provider can be the right solution. But many times a combination of cloud providers and/or third-party applications is the best solution for a client. However, in the case of a single cloud provider’s ProServe, their first recommendation is often to use only their own products and services regardless of whether those services are the best solution for your needs. Sometimes, this works in your favor. For example, Microsoft can offer preferential pricing on products like MS SQL Server because they control the licensing model and can discount costs in order to make Azure more attractive. Microsoft SQL Server is also more scalable on Azure versus AWS.  AWS excels at hosting complex environments and solutions that require a build out of new application stacks since the native design of AWS lets you build quickly using a variety of tools.  The downfall of ProServes, however, is that they can limit your options to only those services that they provide. This can lead to increased costs and suboptimal product choices. For example, AWS ProServe might recommend CloudFormation when Terraform is more appropriate for your project. Or push you to use the AWS code series (CodePipeline, CodeDeploy, and CodeGuru) when there are much better third-party solutions for an SDLC pipeline, such as Jenkins, CircleCI, and Azure DevOps. Understanding a single ProServe’s biases upfront can save you time and expense in the execution of your cloud initiative.

2. Know whether they have the expertise to integrate multi-cloud environments and third-party applications

Bias aside, a given ProServe’s expertise is focused on their own products. This often means that they have limited knowledge of, and/or experience with, other public cloud providers’ products and third-party applications, some of which you may already use or plan to use post-migration. 

Each public cloud provider has certain strengths that stem from the parent company’s focus. Migrating a workload to the public cloud and optimizing its performance requires a full understanding of your business objectives and the workloads that you need to migrate. Once your objectives are established, you should expect a plan that considers the best technologies to meet your goals, as well as a delivery team with expertise in the products that are best suited for your environment. Otherwise, you run a higher risk of failure and may even need to hire additional outside consultants to achieve your objectives. 

Whether or not you are considering a multicloud strategy, your chosen cloud solution should be architected to avoid vendor lock-in. If you need to add or switch to a new public cloud provider in the future, you should have the flexibility to do so without high fees to move data or being restricted by proprietary tools. 

3. Evaluate the value and flexibility of their billing model

Regardless of technical requirements, CIOs must evaluate the costs and benefits of any given initiative. ProServes price their services like traditional consulting firms. Their work is based on defined outcome SOWs, which tend to create a “cycle of dependency” and the need for follow-on engagements. The client never becomes self-sufficient and is perpetually dependent on the ProServe’s services. Additionally, like traditional consultants, ProServes have a large number of junior resources that they need to bill. Therefore, each engagement involves a few senior resources who are supported by a larger number of junior resources, ultimately costing the client more than necessary and taking longer to complete projects.

4. Know your options

An alternative to using a public cloud provider’s ProServe is to work with an experienced third-party cloud consultant that can provide unbiased advice and a team with broad skill sets and knowledge of all cloud providers’ products and third-party applications. The cloud consultant should have a flexible engagement model that meets your needs for delivery, pricing, and the upskilling of your own team. 

A new type of technology services firm is emerging. One that is nimble, expertly focused on new technologies and has a “roll up your sleeves get it done” focus. Traditional consultancies, and the public cloud providers’ Proserves which use the same model, work well if your desired work product is a PowerPoint presentation to establish organizational buy-in for your cloud strategy. If, on the other hand, you are ready to move quickly and tackle your complex cloud project, a different type of cloud consultant could be a better choice.

Blue Sentry Cloud offers a unique engagement model that helps enterprises become self-sufficient in cloud quickly and cost-effectively. Its Agile team consulting model eliminates the headaches and risks associated with SOWs and hourly billing. Instead of time wasted with large numbers of junior resources, Blue Sentry Cloud’s densely-certified teams of cloud experts can deliver results in less time and at a much greater value than traditional consultancies.


Author: Chad Prosser – Blue Sentry Cloud Chairman / COO