Let’s Do Great Things – Why I Joined Lightstream

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”  — Richard Branson

If necessity is the mother of invention, then the cybersecurity community hasn’t been doing a very good job of listening to mom. Our industry is rife with complexity, rising costs, and let’s face it – failing efficacy. We spend millions upon millions of dollars on security kit, and yet the size and scale of critical data breaches continues to grow. We argue about the reasons, and who could have done more or spent more, or hired better staff; but in the end we’re all just living in a giant glass house, rock in hand. As a realist, this is disappointing on a number of levels.

I believe we are at an inflection point in the history of the industry. We stand on the precipice of a great divide. The strategies and outcomes of yesterday are no longer valid. Things have to change, evolve, and frankly grow up. Hyperbole aside, the cyber security community must realize things have to change dramatically. There is urgency in this moment.

Rising budgets have suddenly hit a brick wall, as a global economic full-stop has forced the re-evaluation of spending and priorities. And yet, we can’t just say we’re going to ignore safety and data security. So now what?

This is where I believe we, collectively, have an opportunity. Security leaders and their peers in technology are struggling to solve problems in their own individual domains, but therein is an opportunity. Security can’t just be something we add on as a step in the assembly line. It has to be foundational, fundamental, and pervasive in our companies and strategies.

Enterprise IT leaders have three key priorities. Connect, protect, and optimize. Connecting people, offices, applications, and business processes is key to agility and resiliency in times of turmoil. Protecting the right things, with proportionality, while allowing creativity and agility is something that has alluded cyber security professionals since day one. And of course let’s not forget that this whole thing has to be continuously optimized, so that today’s strategy and delivery models evolve as our businesses do whether it’s in times of expansion or contraction.

If you buy into my line of thinking, you already know what’s coming next.

Most of your traditional security vendors aren’t set up to operate this way. They sell you each of these three critical pieces in silos, in ways that don’t work together well. It’s a two-thousand-piece puzzle where each 10 piece section is made by a different manufacturer without any regard to the others. And the worst part is you’re the one who has to put it together and make it great.

When I spent time understanding how Lightstream operates, the opportunity became clear. Connect, protect, optimize as a service platform in a manner that abstracts the delivery method from the business outcome. When the world went to cloud computing, we didn’t keep asking who made the chipset or the hard drive – we just added CPU and storage and expected it to work. Why doesn’t your IT strategy behave this way? Well … it can.

I’m joining Lightstream to add my knowledge and experience to help them continue to build out what is a world-class service platform that’s focused on delivering business outcomes as a partner to enterprise CFOs and technology leaders alike. When you can achieve security outcomes, save on your bottom line, and be more effective – that’s nirvana. That’s what we’re focused on. I’d love to tell you about it.

Understanding the AWS Savings Plans and Azure RI Contracting Programs

It goes without saying that in today’s economic environment, we all need to be more focused on savings. If you’re using AWS or Azure and haven’t leveraged their savings programs yet, there’s no time like the present.

On average, 75-80% of an organization’s cloud spend is eligible for some form of AWS or Microsoft savings program. AWS and Azure both offer savings plans that can save you up to 72% compared to pay-as-you-go pricing. In both cases, you will need to commit to a one-year or three-year term. These plans offer predictable discounts.

AWS and Azure often tout discounts as high as 80% but the reality of achieving that level of discount is rare and requires significant commitments with specific constraints. Instead, it’s reasonable to target an immediate savings of around 30% with one-year contracts and work to increase your savings as you perfect your use of the programs.

Unfortunately, while both savings programs are free solutions, they add an additional layer of complexity to cloud-cost management when juggling your day-to-day responsibilities. Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue against such important savings in the current environment so having a good understanding of how they work, when to use them and how to make informed purchases to take advantage of the potential cost savings is critical for cloud users.

We’ve provided three top considerations and some tips to help you get started on your journey to cloud savings:

  1. Know What You Have

Some of our customers are not always aware of what’s going on in their environment, or maybe more fairly, simply don’t have the time to deep dive into the challenge.

The first step to reducing spend is to gain visibility across your entire environment. Identify areas of high or rapid growth then use best practices to optimize and contain your costs. Three quick tips to help you get started include:

  • Delete Unattached Disk Storage
    • When a Virtual Machine (VM) is launched, Disk Storage is usually attached to act as the local block storage for the application. However, when you terminate a VM, the Disk Storage remains active. By continuously checking for unattached Disk Storage in your infrastructure, you can cut thousands of dollars from your monthly cloud bill.
  • Delete Old Snapshots
    • Many organizations use Snapshots on Blob and Disk Storage to create point-in-time recovery points to use in case of data loss or disaster. However, Snapshot costs can quickly get out of control if not closely monitored.
  • Terminate Unused Assets
    • Unused assets, sometimes called zombie assets, are infrastructure components that are running in your cloud environment but not being used for any purpose. For example, they could be VMs that were once used for a particular purpose but are no longer in use and have not been turned off. Zombie VMs also can occur when VMs fail during the launch process or because of errors in script that fail to deprovision VMs.
  1. Use Procurement Best Practices

Once you have done an initial analysis and some quick clean-up, you can start taking advantage of savings programs. Both AWS and Azure provide recommendations based on your historical cost and usage data and will recommend savings plan types, terms and payment options.

Make sure you understand the difference between standard and convertible reserved instance contracts and savings plans for reserved instances in AWS. Standard contracts are less flexible and higher risk but offer greater savings. Convertible contracts are the opposite, offering lower risk and savings but higher flexibility.  AWS Savings Plans provide the best of both worlds, higher savings with flexibility even greater than convertible contracts.

In comparison, Azure’s approach is much simpler.

Side-by-Side Comparison of AWS and Azure Reserved Instances

Term AWS Standard AWS Convertible Azure
Payment Options 1 or 3 years 1 or 3 years 1 or 3 years
Reserved Instance Sharing Upfront, partial or no upfront Upfront, partial or no upfront No upfront
Exchange Options Availability Zone, instance size and networking type only Full Flexibility Full Flexibility
Cancellation No No Yes
Priority Access to Spare Capacity Only when scoped to an Availability Zone Only when scoped to an Availability Zone Yes
Auto Scaling Support Yes Yes Yes
Maximum Discount 75% 54% 72%


When making your decision, you should also either evaluate each instance for contracting eligibility or use a frequency analysis and coverage approach. In the latter, your goal is to understand your environment activity on an hour-by-hour basis for each RI contracting cluster to maximize savings.

Finally,  it’s important to validate your environment before you make your purchasing decisions. We helped one customer who had accidentally purchased reserved instances for the wrong region and ended up paying for both discount pricing and on-demand pricing at the same time.

  1. Continually Monitor and Improve

Both AWS and Azure have tools to help you with this such as the AWS Cost and Usage Report and Azure Alerts. You will also need to stay on top of changes as you evolve your environment that may affect cost, such as moving from T2 to T3.

As many of us can attest, it’s often not about whether you have the skills and knowledge to stay on top of the cloud-cost management but more about manpower. In some cases, it’s both.

If you’re looking for some guidance, analysis of your environment and recommendations, talk to us. Lightstream is a proven leader in cloud optimization that saved its customers millions of dollars in 2019.

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Cloud Foundation in Your Cloud Journey

As the year kicked off, you may have thought that it’s finally time to start moving workloads (or more workloads) to Azure or AWS. But, you are wondering, will I need some help warding off those predictable mistakes that can cost time and money down the road?

The truth is that if you skip building a solid Cloud Foundation in your cloud journey, those mistakes may eventually nab you — and the results could be more annoying than you think.

Lightstream Cloud Foundation is the first step towards true digital transformation because it doesn’t just look at technology but also at the people, data and processes that must be brought together to create value for the business. For a successful cloud deployment to occur, organizations must consider how the technology is implemented, supported, optimized and updated on an ongoing basis.

Luckily, Lightstream, a Microsoft Gold Cloud Platform Partner and an AWS Security Competency Partner, can successfully perform your Cloud Foundation workshop — and provide the blue print for cloud adoption that you’ll need to succeed.

Here are some examples of issues that Cloud Foundation addresses:

Which workloads make sense for cloud?

Cloud Foundation can help you determine if cloud is the best option for a specific workload or application. This depends on the application itself, the nature of the workload, the data, and industry regulations or business requirements.

Taking a systematic approach to your organization’s workloads, applications, and requirements for the cloud will help you save time and money down the road.

Finding the right fit with Azure, AWS, or both

With extensive experience deploying solutions in both Azure and AWS, we understand the benefits and challenges of both platforms. Choosing one platform over the other often depends on your business goals.

Cloud Foundation will help you consider factors important to your business, including ease of integration, security, compliance, post-sales service, consumption and ongoing support requirements.

Preparing for Transformation

Most importantly, Cloud Foundation will help you build the right foundation for success. Over the years, we unfortunately have witnessed cloud decisions based on technology alone. It’s easy to skip over the organizational changes that are needed for deployments to succeed.

For example, many routine tasks once performed by in-house staff — such as provisioning compute resources, performing system backups, and other administrative functions — will now be the responsibility of the cloud provider. You’ll need formal change management procedures and effective communication with your cloud provider.

Another example is post-sales services. You’ll need to purchase these services to support your cloud, and they should include deployment plans, consumption plans, support services, major incident response plans and cloud services dependency mapping.

Don’t Skip—and Fall!

Cloud Foundation walks you through all the major considerations for your cloud deployment, providing a blueprint for success and needed education to help you understand your environment and service provider better. Skipping Cloud Foundation in your cloud journey can bring some unpleasant surprises you can easily avoid through preparation.

Let us help you create a strong foundation for your cloud success so transforming your organization isn’t such a scary proposition.

Ready to Get Started?

Lightstream’s Cloud Foundation takes a comprehensive view of your cloud environment and addresses key areas such as core cloud platform, disaster and backup recover, scaling and automation, data platform, devops/devsecops and workload migration.

To learn more, click here.



5 Reasons Your Contact Center
Should Be in the Cloud

As smart enterprises tap digital technologies to improve their business outcomes, they also have to ensure that customers remain at the forefront of their transformation.

Simple, right?

Today, customers demand almost instantaneous access to information, so your contact center has to be one step ahead.

Paramount to getting ahead is connecting agents with real-time knowledge sources about your products and customers and being able to rapidly respond to customer requests across all channels including web, voice, email, chat and social.

Because in this era of digitization, businesses must be able to connect with digital-savvy customers in a digital manner.

That’s means surpassing customer-service expectations on digital channels or risk losing them to competitors altogether.

For smart businesses, this isn’t an option.

That’s why they’re going all in on moving their customer contact centers to the cloud.

In fact, 62% of organizations already have migrated to a cloud call center solution, according to DMG Consulting, while 46% of the companies that haven’t migrated their call-center service are considering moving to the cloud soon.

Here are 5 reasons your business needs to abandon its legacy on-premise system and begin delivering state-of-the-art customer-care solutions.

1. Accelerated deployment

Since you’re moving the solution to the cloud, there’s no hardware to install or maintain, no need to set up infrastructure or find compatible software typically required for legacy on-premise systems. Let’s face it, dealing with old PBX systems can be more frustrating than trying to put together an IKEA coffee table. Thankfully, setting up cloud-based call center software is usually no more difficult that installing an app on a computer. It’s an out-of-the box solution – no assembly required!

2. Cost savings – Ka-Ching!

Tired of replacing your onsite system every five to 10 years because of aging hardware and obsolete software? It’s time to bring on the cloud. With a cloud-based system, you can forget about account-emptying investments on unneeded servers, storage or pricey software licenses. Instead you will typically work with flat-rate billing for a monthly subscription. Yes, you’ll need to invest in  quality bandwidth to ensure rapid action from your call team, but your overall cloud savings will more than mitigate any needed capital expenditure. With the cloud, you only pay for what you use — nice!

3. Flexibility and scalability

Since you’ll ditch your legacy on-premise system and its chunky hardware requirements, enjoy knowing that your cloud-based contact center has the flexibility to add new phone lines and features as needed to deal with the up-and-down cycles of call volume. Having seasonally high phone traffic is great, but you’ll need additional hard phones and computers with an on-premise solution. When calls slow on a cloud-based solution, you’ll be able to scale down without boxes of costly and unused equipment taking up space in the office closet.

4. Outsourced maintenance = less stress

You’ve called vendors, the Maytag repairman and even asked the office administrator to jiggle some wires in a desperate effort to fix the bug in your on-premise contact-center software. Meanwhile customers are going bye-bye. Sound familiar? By taking to the cloud, you outsource the daily maintenance requirements to just one vendor, allowing you to optimize your internal IT resources and ensuring your customers are on the phone making orders instead of being dropped. That’s a win-win for everyone!

5. Security and compliance

Not many organizations can afford the resources or time to acquire the latest security measures that meet today’s increasingly strict privacy regulations. Maintaining strong physical security across many business locations—each with its own on-premise system—simply is not practical or cost effective.

With a cloud solution, you’ll have access to greater security measures to protect customer information than with traditional premise-based systems. What’s more, with complicated compliance requirements, flexibility to adapt to new regulatory changes with a centralized platform for recording, archiving and deleting calls is key in controlling risks. Cloud technology allows you to significantly lower the cost of adding new features to meet emerging compliance requirements.

Ready to learn more how migrating to a cloud-based contact center can transform your customer care and your business? Then, think about Amazon Connect.

Amazon Connect is a pay-as-you-need, cloud-based contact center that delivers better customer service at a lower price. It includes self-service, CRM integration, Alexa functionality, is scalable and elastic and includes custom reporting on an open platform that is AI-enabled for translation, transcription and sentiment analysis. There are no upfront payments or long-term commitments and because it runs on AWS, there is no infrastructure to manage.

As an Amazon Connect Service Delivery Partner, Lightstream can help you with an end-to-end contact center solution. Through our unique engagement model, we’ll envision, design and help you implement an Amazon Connect solution that’s right for you, including ongoing management and support services to keep your customer care center operating optimally.


AWS Cloud Migration:
A Checklist for a Successful Journey

Progressive enterprises understand that migrating their business applications to the cloud is no longer a question of “if,” but “when.” If you’re ready to make the move with AWS, the benefits are clear:  It drives business value.  Customers that migrate to AWS can experience a 20% drop in the costs of operations, while increasing IT staff productivity by 29% with 69% reductions in downtime.

Still, for IT professionals at these organizations, the task can seem daunting or flat-out intimidating.

That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to have a well-planned strategy in order to execute a smooth and successful transition to AWS.

Lightstream’s Cloud Foundation helps ensure this strategy is in place with a blueprint for cloud adoption that discovers and analyzes your environment to ensure your AWS cloud readiness.

Lightstream is also certified to deliver an AWS Well-Architected Review that includes strategies to help you compare your workloads against best practices and obtain guidance to produce stable and efficient systems.

To be sure, everything works smoother when there is a roadmap to follow. Use this AWS migration checklist to help you get started:

 1. Target internal stakeholder buy-in early in the process

The more knowledgeable your teams are around AWS, the smoother the transition; the more internal evangelists you have on your side, the easier it will be to break down barriers. This process needs to happen early in the journey, before you make organizational-wide decisions on the future state of your IT landscape in AWS.

Lightstream’s Cloud Foundation has a thorough process for tackling adoption and ensuring your key stakeholders are on board.

2. Clarify the AWS account governance and billing processes

With AWS, you can have one master account or several accounts linked to each other. Many companies use separate accounts for different purposes (security versus administration, for example). Your choice depends on how you want your operation to function in the cloud. You can also segregate billing services to isolate specific costs per function or consolidate them into one. AWS offers flexible pricing options (on demand versus spot instances) that can change based on how you engage the cloud capacities.

To simplify the process even more, Lightstream offers Lightstream Connect as part of our Cloud Managed Services. Lightstream Connect offers a single pane of glass into your AWS spend and consolidates your orders, service inventory, usage and analytics in one place.

3. Assess security and access needs

Cloud computing requires constant access to cloud servers. To stay secure, you must adopt current, rigorous security practices and document your security requirements in the planning process.

AWS offers a series of access credential options so you can choose how to best manage your corporate security practices in AWS servers. Some of these include console passwords, symmetric access keys and multi-factor authentication tools.

Lightstream offers an AWS Cybersecurity Framework built on proven methodologies that takes the guesswork out of assessing your security needs and ensures your requirements are incorporated into your architecture.

4. Manage cloud-based assets

Plugging into the AWS cloud gives you access to the service-related metadata. You can combine your proprietary assets with the AWS cloud.

However, merging two separate sets of digital operations can be complex.

Amazon suggests developing an internal resource tagging strategy to clarify identification of proprietary resources and ease the integration with AWS resources.

Lightstream offer Reserved Instances management and tagging as part of our AWS Optimization and Containment Services.  We will help you create a unique tagging strategy, continuously align and optimize Reserved Instances and improve security- and network-related issues.

 5. Automate

The cloud’s agility is realized through automation. Spend time revisiting processes and establishing new ones that can take advantage of it as you migrate. If not all of your aspects can be automated, carefully determine which ones can, and empower your team to do so.

Be sure to keep in mind, though,  that if you’re going to automate, do it from the beginning. Add it in as early as possible and keep iterating. Automation does require extra effort so it’s important not to automate for automation’s sake.

Lightstream Cloud Foundation helps you make these types of determinations through our visualization and discovery processes that help your organization determine what types of technologies and approaches your organization will embrace and how to they will best work with your current environment.

6. Disaster Recovery (DR) and Backup Considerations

Planning for disaster reduces its impact. The AWS cloud offers DR options that will ensure your applications can recover when they fail and testing to confirm they’re functional after recovery has completed.

At a minimum, AWS recommends your DR strategy addresses global traffic management, regional redundancies, load-balancing and monitoring

7. Leverage Service-Provider Support

A good support team can be a critical ally during any cloud migration project. Cloud support staff are experts in the particular service they work for and they will be able to promptly answer technical questions or help you with any issues you have.

Look to Lightstream to be your trusted partner for AWS Migration and Management. We’ll help you implement Amazon EC2, Amazon Chime, AWS Lambda, Amazon RDS, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon S3 and many more.

To get started with a free AWS managed services consultation, contact us.

Lightstream Joins Select Lineup of AWS-Recognized Amazon Connect Service Delivery Partners

Lightstream was chosen today by AWS as part of a select group of Service Delivery Partners certified to deliver Amazon Connect contact center solutions to customers.

Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. It’s based on the same contact center technology used by 70,000 Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations.

The AWS Service Delivery Program identifies and endorses APN Partners with validated customer experience and a deep understanding of specific AWS services, such as Amazon Connect. These top APN Partners follow best practices for implementing AWS services and have proven success delivering AWS services to end customers.

Many companies that manage contact center operations expend much of their effort just keeping the infrastructure running. It takes time to develop specialized skills, attract and retain staff, and manage the procurement of software licenses and IT equipment that are complex, generally proprietary, and often not focused on helping customers.

As an Amazon Connect Service Delivery Partner, Lightstream is ready to help you with an end-to-end contact center solution. Through our unique engagement model, we’ll envision, design, and help you implement an Amazon Connect solution that’s right for you, including ongoing management and support services to keep your customer care center operating optimally.

For example, Lightstream can provide an analysis of your current on-prem contact center, discuss current and future state requirements and map those to Amazon Connect. There are over 300 ISV partners building solutions that integrate with Amazon Connect, and we have deep skills in help identifying those that will provide new capabilities for your Cloud Contact Center.

Our team can integrate into your existing software development and DevOps processes and our team of certified CISSP experts will ensure your environment is secure and complies with your company’s cybersecurity policies.

Receiving an AWS Service Delivery designation for Amazon Connect is a high level of recognition by AWS of a partner’s skills for the AWS environment. APN Partners have gone through a service validation to verify they have successfully implemented Amazon Connect for customers and followed AWS best practices for the service.

If you’re ready to get started with Amazon Connect, ask us about a funded Proof of Concept for your organization.

AWS and Lightstream Whoop It Up at SPIN Chicago

AWS Event

Ever challenged a ping pong professional who used his iPhone as a paddle to a match?

Ever witnessed IT partners battle it out for glory in business casual attire?

That’s what happened in April when Lightstream and AWS got together in SPIN Chicago’s ping pong entertainment venue. AWS’s Central Region Territory and Lightstream, along with Lightstream CEO Jim Cassell, held a meet-and-greet and whooped it up.

AWS Central Territory Vice President Jonathan Leaf was more than happy to take on Lightstream in ping pong as well as strengthen the two organizations’ relationship. The relaxed atmosphere was the perfect way for AWS Territory Reps to learn how Lightstream helps its clients get better value out of their AWS products and services.

AWS Event

Experts in All Things AWS

Lightstream is an APN Advanced Consulting Partner and helps clients assess, design and manage their migrations to AWS. Lightstream’s deep engineering skills and knowledge of AWS products and services means companies turn to Lightstream to help with:

The AWS team was particularly intrigued by Lightstream’s success with AWS Cloud Managed Services. Lightstream offers expert advice coupled with managed services and easy-to-use tools that help organizations manage spend and optimize their AWS environments. The AWS team felt Lightstream’s proven track record of managing cloud spend, helping align IT and finance and enabling elastic cloud growth was a game changer (and in more than just ping pong!).

A Secret Competitive Sauce

One secret sauce in Lightstream’s Cloud Managed Services is Lightstream Connect.

Lightstream Connect solves the visibility problem organizations have into their cloud and telecom services by providing a holistic view into a company’s technology spend and network through a single pane of glass. It securely integrates with carriers, AWS and Lightstream’s service-management platform to consolidate orders, services inventory, usage and analytics into one place.

A Star is Born: Amazon Connect

A key new offering Lightstream supports is Amazon Connect. Lightstream’s recent success in implementing Amazon Connect at Los Angeles based start-up HopSkipDrive demonstrated Lightstream’s understanding not only of AWS and cloud networking but also telephony.

In this case, Lightstream analyzed HopSkipDrive’s call flows and application integration requirements. Lightstream engineered AWS Lambda to automatically retrieve the customer data based on the individual’s phone number and route the customer to the correct agent based on service request and the priority. Lightstream next configured the AWS environment and Amazon Connect with HopSkipDrive’s preferred Interactive Voice Response Solution (IVR), Kustomer. The environment was thoroughly tested, and the existing 1-800 number successfully ported over. The result was not only a smoother and responsive call-center experience, but an instant 50% drop in call-center costs.

Mission Accomplished!

This deep dive into Lightstream’s AWS capabilities and services provided tremendous value for both AWS and Lightstream. Vice President Jonathan Leaf told his team that when clients need additional value around AWS security, AWS Direct Connect, Amazon Connect or AWS Cloud Managed Services, they should hands (and ping-pong paddles) down call Lightstream.