The Annual Performance Review for your Cloud Environment

Where is your organization in its cloud journey? Perhaps you facilitated its migration to a cloud architecture several years ago and so far, it seems as though everything is operating like a well-oiled machine. Or maybe you’ve only recently begun moving applications to the cloud and are still discovering the features and benefits offered by the major cloud service providers (CSPs). Or like many enterprises, you may now be moving past cloud migration and on to strategy.

Regardless, our experience with a diverse mix of cloud users from across all industries and at varying levels of cloud adoption has taught us something all users have in common:

There is always room for improvement.

That’s right. No matter how smoothly you think your environment is running or how much you’ve managed to improve processes and increase your organization’s efficiency, you have the opportunity to do it even better. Here’s how.

Establish a Well-Architected Framework from the start

For those in the planning phase of cloud migration, you will want to partner with a provider that uses a set of standard best practices to plan and implement your cloud environment. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure have both labeled these best practices The Well-Architected Framework, which consists of five pillars of architecture excellence:

  1. Cost Optimization
  2. Operational Excellence
  3. Performance Efficiency
  4. Reliability
  5. Security

When architecting technology solutions on AWS and Azure, incorporating these pillars into your architecture helps produce the most secure, high-performing, resilient and efficient infrastructure for your applications. This not only allows you to focus on the other aspects of design, such as functional requirements, but it also helps ensure that you’re building a system that will meet up to your expectations and requirements.

Maintain the most stable and efficient systems

Your cloud environment is ever-changing. Between new instances, changing security groups, and updated service offerings, it can sometimes feel impossible to stay abreast of the latest and greatest. That’s why whether you’re a cloud newbie or a veteran, your business will benefit from conducting a Well-Architected Review every 12 months. The Well-Architected Review is a systematic approach to evaluating AWS and Azure architectures in order to identify and fix potential issues with the environment and guarantee that it is optimized for financial and operational efficiencies.

It can be difficult for time-crunched and overburdened IT departments to successfully perform these reviews. Outsourcing some of the more time-consuming and complex tasks of cloud management has become an attractive option for many organizations. Lightstream Cloud Managed Services offers its customers the annual performance of Well-Architected Reviews as a proactive way to shed light on any security, operational and performance issues, as well as to make sure that the organization is maximizing every opportunity for savings and automation.

Lightstream’s four areas of key management for cloud platforms are security, finance, technology and operational expertise. These key areas just happen to align perfectly with the pillars of architecture excellence that AWS and Azure abide by, which to reiterate are security, cost optimization, operational excellence, performance efficiency and reliability. The fact that Lightstream’s core values are so in sync with those of the major CSPs has become a major benefit to our customers.

Gain a competitive advantage

Ensuring that your infrastructure is optimized and up to date can give your business a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In general, Lightstream Cloud Managed Services customers are better positioned to achieve five business outcomes after undergoing a Well-Architected Review:

  • Reduce costs
  • Increase revenue
  • Ensure compliance
  • Go to market faster
  • Increase the quality of products or services

Harnessing the speed and agility offered by the cloud is the first step. But with those advantages come risks such as misconfiguration, security threats and financial and operational inefficiencies. If you’re not proactive about avoiding these risks, you open your organization up to multiple vulnerabilities that cybercriminals and competitors are waiting to capitalize on.  Therefore, the question is not “can I afford to maintain a Well-Architected Framework?” but, “can I afford not to?”

To learn about how Lightstream Cloud Managed Services can help your enterprise identify and remediate security vulnerabilities, improve compliance, technically right-size applications and reduce your cloud spend, contact us today or visit http://lightstream.tech.

A Global Automotive Supplier Implements SD-WAN, Lowers Costs, and Improves Service Delivery

Lightstream Managed Services designs and implements Fortinet SD-WAN and Lightstream Endpoint Defense built on Cortex XDR from Palo Alto Networks to help the company shift from MPLS, lower network costs, and improve endpoint security.

Business Challenge

A large global automotive supplier, like many organizations, faced uncertainty in March 2020. No one could predict the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic or estimate the effect it would have on the company’s global revenue. This put pressure on the company’s budgets, and leaders across the organization searched for ways to lower costs.

For the IT organization, this effort involved assessing the company’s global IT operations, identifying trouble spots, and exploring new technologies both to lower costs and to improve service delivery. One area that quickly stood out was the wide-area network (WAN).

The company relied on a private MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) wide-area network with centralized network-based firewalls, all managed by a large, global telecommunications provider. The provider staffed the network operations center (NOC) and owned service delivery for everything outbound from the routers at each site, including all network circuits and bandwidth.

When prioritizing projects to pursue, the WAN was a logical place to start. The MPLS network was expensive, and the company had been experiencing operational problems and network outages. For years, the company had two different service providers—one managing their WAN and another managing their security operations center (SOC)—and the two organizations often struggled to work together cohesively. Changes often were made by one provider without coordinating with the other, and these sometimes caused loss of service, degraded performance, or security gaps that lasted for weeks as the two providers tried to resolve the problems.

Solution

To address these challenges, the company sought proposals for an SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area network) solution. The company’s IT leaders believed SD-WAN technology offered many attractive benefits and would be a lower-cost alternative to their existing MPLS network.

At the beginning, the company wanted an SD-WAN proposal with centralized network-based firewalls similar to their current WAN configuration. But as Lightstream experts met with the company and discussed SD-WAN capabilities, they were convinced a centralized architecture wasn’t the best fit. Instead, the Lightstream team proposed placing firewalls at the edge. This allowed local access to internet and third party providers, as opposed to channeling traffic through a central site, which lowered the risk of bottlenecks and outages.

The company agreed with the design recommendation. Lightstream submitted a design placing Fortinet firewalls with SD-WAN at the edge in a high availability configuration, which included two firewalls and two circuits at each site, along with full managed services for the devices.

As discussions with the company continued, the topic of security came up. The company had struggled for years with problems caused by having two different services providers, one managing the WAN and the other managing security.

Lightstream solved this problem by proposing full managed services for the SD-WAN network. This included the network operations center (NOC), the security operations center (SOC), and the management of the firewalls. Doing this meant one provider would be responsible for coordinating changes, identifying problems, and resolving issues with the WAN.

The company liked the solution, and Lightstream was selected over several competitors. After six weeks of engineering work, the new SD-WAN architecture was implemented.

During this same time, the company decided to explore a new endpoint security solution for its 3,000 devices. Symantec was the company’s current provider. The contract with Symantec was nearing expiration, and the company was looking for a replacement solution that provided full endpoint detection and response (EDR) capability.

Lightstream proposed Lightstream Endpoint Defense built on Cortex XDR from Palo Alto Networks with full managed services as the replacement for Symantec and was awarded the contract, beating out several large EDR solution providers. The company required an aggressive implementation—3,000 devices across the globe in less than six weeks. Lightstream not only met the aggressive timeline, but also exceeded expectations by turning on all 3,000 devices two weeks ahead of schedule.

Business Outcomes

More Cohesive WAN Service Delivery

By reducing the number of service providers from two to one, the company was able to eliminate delays caused by conflicting actions and priorities. Since Lightstream is responsible for managing the network operations center (NOC), the security operations center (SOC), the Fortinet firewalls, and the Palo Alto Cortex XDR endpoints, changes are coordinated and problems are quickly identified and resolved. This has simplified service delivery for the company and eliminated problems caused by lack of communication.

Reduced Risk

Redesigning the WAN lowered the risk of outages to the business. By placing firewalls at the edge instead of centralizing them, the company was able to improve service performance and reduce the chance of an outage impacting a large number of users.

A More Modern, Lower Cost Wide-Area Network

The implementation of SD-WAN modernized the company’s wide-area network. The company can now take advantage of the core benefits of SD-WAN technology—lower-cost bandwidth, support for cloud-based apps, improved agility, and more—at each of the company’s global locations.

Enhanced Endpoint Security Protection

Selecting Cortex XDR from Palo Alto Networks enhances the company’s endpoint security. With Cortex XDR, the company receives a full detection and response solution, enabling them to leverage threat intelligence, identify threats early, and respond to them before widespread problems can occur.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream Managed Services can help you architect, implement, and manage an SD-WAN that meets your business needs, visit Lightstream.tech.

Lightstream Achieves Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud Specialization

NextWave Prisma Cloud Specialization will help Lightstream bring Advanced Cloud Security Expertise to Customers 

Salt Lake City, UT, June 3, 2021– Lightstream announced today that it has achieved a Palo Alto Networks NextWave Prisma Cloud Specialization Status. Lightstream has met the key specialization criteria around performance, capabilities, and engagement established by Palo Alto Networks’ NextWave 3.0 Partner Program.

As businesses expand their cloud footprints to innovate and go to market faster, cloud security must keep pace with the needs of both agile software development practices and hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Customers need the expertise and tools to ensure that their entire cloud native application lifecycle is protected and compliant while enabling full stack protection across public or private clouds for hosted, container, and serverless workloads.

Lightstream’s achievement of Palo Alto Networks’ Prisma Cloud Specialization adds further value to its robust cloud and security practice. The practice emphasizes architectural excellence as well as ongoing technical optimization, remediation, and cost performance for core, virtual, and remote infrastructures.  It further validates the capabilities of Lightstream Security Managed Services product portfolio to address the ongoing operational needs of customers.

“Lightstream Cloud Defense, built on Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud, pairs a flexible platform approach with cloud and security engineering expertise and remediation through our 24/7 security operations center (SOC),” said Jeff Collins, chief strategy officer for Lightstream. “Customers benefit from the power of Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud in a pay-as-you-grow managed service designed to fit their needs.”

“The partner of tomorrow will differentiate itself by building security expertise where that need is greatest,” said Karl Soderlund, SVP of Worldwide Channel Sales at Palo Alto Networks. “As a Prisma Cloud Specialized partner, Lightstream will bring expertise and cloud security to our customers who don’t always have the tools or resources to manage integrated DevOps security or secure complex, hybrid-cloud environments. This Cloud specialization is also our commitment to identify and bring high-value opportunities to partners backed by our leading security platform, with the incentives, enablement and support services that will help them establish innovative new solutions.”

About the NextWave Partner Program

The Palo Alto Networks NextWave partner program includes approximately 6,500 partners who help 80,000 customers around the world succeed with Palo Alto Networks Technologies. Its pre-sales, sales, and post-sales capabilities and enablement are instrumental in helping our partners create an optimal customer experience and serve as trusted security experts. Partners’ achievements in the program are proactively monitored and annually assessed.

NextWave 3.0 is a comprehensive set of program specializations, incentives, and enablement initiatives launched by Palo Alto Networks to Enable partner differentiation; enhance partner profitability, expand partner opportunities; and empower partner success.

To learn more about Lightstream’s Security Managed Services, visit our Security Practice page on lightstream.tech.

About Lightstream

Lightstream provides full-service cloud, connectivity, and security solutions to enterprises worldwide with a focus on managed services for all three, as well as cloud infrastructure implementation, security, and support.

Lightstream is an AWS Security Competency Partner, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, a Microsoft Cloud Platform Gold Partner with Security Competency, and was named Palo Alto Networks Public Cloud Partner of the Year in 2018 and 2019. Visit us at http://www.lightstream.tech or LinkedIn.

Media Contact

Cynthia.Lawton@lightstream.tech

 

Lightstream Helps Software Company Optimize AWS and Azure Cloud Environments

Lightstream Cloud Managed Services optimizes operational, security and financial aspects of cloud environments

Business Challenge

A software company specializing in ERP design, implementation and integration for life science organizations houses its solutions in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure cloud environments. They choose to have a dual presence in order to take advantage of the best features each provider has to offer.

The organization was, overall, pleased with this architecture and the performance of its cloud-based applications and systems. The cloud gave the software company the agility to spin up resources as needed without the lengthy and expensive process of buying, installing and testing systems prior to production. However, its IT leaders knew they needed an additional set of tools in order analyze and make changes to their environments and to ensure optimal usage and cost control.

With the goal of maximizing cloud expenditures, the company’s CIO was considering offloading some of his department’s cloud management responsibilities after determining there was room for improvement in the financial, security and operational aspects of the company’s cloud environments.

Solution

The organization agreed to test out Lightstream’s Cloud Managed Services (CMS) with a 60-day proof of concept (POC). This is a low-risk option offered by Lightstream to organizations in order help them understand the long-term benefits of engaging in a CMS agreement. Using its proprietary tool called Lightstream Connect, Lightstream took a holistic view of the company’s technology spend and network performance to gain a clear vision of how the cloud resources were being allocated. Lightstream identified several areas for optimization which would allow the company to take advantage of greater financial savings as well as enhanced operational and security measures.

At the conclusion of the 60-day POC, the software company’s CIO had come to understand the potential savings and technical optimization his company was missing out on. He reviewed his options and agreed to a Platinum-level CMS contract with Lightstream, as it would provide the toolset to ensure the ideal management and optimization of the company’s cloud environments. This comprehensive advisory service would also lift some of the burden off of the internal IT department, as Lightstream’s partnership with and certified expertise on both AWS and Azure would provide the organization with the assistance it needed in managing its dual-cloud infrastructure.

Business Outcomes

In the short time since Lightstream took over the management and optimization of the company’s cloud environments, it has realized a nearly 10% savings on the total monthly AWS and Azure expenditures. In addition, the company is benefitting from stronger cloud security since becoming a Lightstream Cloud Managed Services customer with improvement of 15% of the scores generated through Lightstream’s security tools.

Part of the benefit of partnering with a provider like Lightstream is its deep affiliation and expertise in the latest technology offered by cloud service providers. Lightstream recommends opportunities for additional savings as well as security and performance enhancements as they become available. For instance, this organization is currently considering upgrading its AWS gp2 storage volumes to Amazon gp3, which is the next-generation general-purpose SSD volume for Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). With gp3, this software company can provision performance independent of storage capacity at a 20% lower price point per GB than with its existing gp2 volumes. With Lightstream as its trusted partner, the company can count on continued technological innovation and optimization well into the future.

Contact Information

To speak with a representative about having your environment assessed at no cost to you, or to learn more about how Lightstream Cloud Managed Services can help your business successfully migrate to and optimize your cloud environments, visit https://www.lightstream.tech/.

The Role of Hybrid Connectivity and AWS Direct Connect in a Post-Pandemic World

It’s no secret that the role of technology in our lives – and our livelihoods – grew exponentially since the pandemic began in early 2020. The internet became our lifeline for entertainment, remote working, education, shopping for everything from groceries to PPE, and for staying in touch with friends and family. The businesses that survived did so not by luck, but by racing to transform their operations and digitize their services. Restaurants all over the world were forced to close their doors, but many were able to continue to serve their customers by putting their menus and ordering services online and providing contactless payment and delivery. Grocery stores had to establish virtual shopping carts to give home-bound people access to much-needed food and supplies. Schools and enterprises with once bustling offices and classrooms had to make a dramatic shift almost overnight in order to facilitate entirely remote workforces and student bodies.

All of this was made possible by the cloud. Cloud service providers (CSPs) like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure saw unprecedented demand, with cloud spending increasing to $39 billion. Caught off guard, IT professionals everywhere scrambled to ramp up network connectivity so that it could support this new normal. They had to not only facilitate business processes in the cloud, but they had to do so via fast, reliable and secure connections. Staff members needed uninterrupted access to mission-critical apps no matter where they were located. Employees and students alike needed full virtual access to their desktops, and the data needed to be secured to ensure compliance with regulations. Restaurants and retailers had to protect valuable customer credit card accounts. Smooth customer experiences were integral to business survival. And organizations couldn’t afford exposure to attacks during an already tumultuous time.

An uncomplicated, efficient solution

For many of these organizations, the answer came in the form of hybrid connectivity, or dedicated network connections from premises to cloud. AWS Direct Connect for example, enables private connections between AWS and customer data centers, offices or colocation environments, which increases bandwidth throughput and provides a safer, more consistent network experience than internet-based connections. Businesses with strict regulatory requirements that demanded the use of private connectivity were able to build hybrid environments with services such as AWS Direct Connect that allowed them to continue utilizing their existing infrastructures.

Elasticity is another benefit of AWS Direct Connect, as it provides 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps connections, and you can easily provision multiple connections if you need more capacity. Many organizations were even able to reduce their bandwidth costs by transferring their data to and from AWS directly instead of via their ISP — a major perk during a time of economic crisis.

Preparing for the future

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, many enterprises are bringing their employees back to the office. However, a recent study  from the Becker Friedman Institute in Chicago predicts that 20% of workdays will continue to be work-from-home (WFH) after the pandemic ends, compared with just 5% before. According to the study, this shift can be credited with better-than-expected WFH experiences, new investments in physical and human capital that enable WFH, greatly diminished stigma associated with WFH, lingering concerns about crowds and contagion risks, and a pandemic-driven surge in technological innovations that support WFH.

More than a year since the pandemic started, consumer habits have also permanently changed. Judging by how online grocery sales are estimated to increase from today’s $106 billion to over $250 billion by 2025, according to market research firm Mercatus, it’s clear that many people prefer to do their grocery shopping online and will continue to do so. As life returns to normal, ecommerce offers busy consumers a more convenient way to shop for whatever they need – from groceries and personal care items to clothing, furniture, home décor and even automobiles. Studies have also shown that higher education students have a strong preference for hybrid learning, as it combines the social experience that they crave with the flexibility of remote study.

If these predictions are any indication, cloud spending will also continue to increase in the coming years. Gartner projects that by 2024, cloud will make up to 14.2% of total global enterprise IT spending, while at the end of 2020, cloud made up just 9.1% of global enterprise IT spend. Cloud interconnection is the way organizations can build a hybrid cloud that facilitates low latency, highly secure and available data transfer between their on-premises data centers and the cloud. Hybrid connectivity services such as Direct Connect from AWS is a cost-effective way for businesses across all industries to provide employees, students and customers with fast, reliable and secure access to their desktops and shopping carts.

One major takeaway from the events of the past year is that organizations must be prepared for the unthinkable. Hybrid connectivity models such as AWS Direct Connect can do just that by future-proofing businesses and giving them the flexibility they need to survive when disaster strikes. Business continuity must be a priority not just for large enterprises, but for every business across every sector.  Moreover, since many of the consumer habits adopted during the pandemic are likely to remain with us permanently, you can gain an edge over competitors by using this opportunity to augment or even remake the online components of your business.

Lightstream can help

Lightstream first began as a WAN service provider way back in 2004. Our expertise is deeply rooted in networking and interconnectivity – and more recently with AWS Direct Connect and global network connectivity – which makes us uniquely qualified to deploy complex dedicated interconnections. Lightstream is proud of its status as an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner and is well versed in meeting compliance requirements and determining your cyber exposure for AWS. We’ll help you get AWS Direct Connect up and running quickly from a network of global service providers reaching 198 countries. Contact us today to find out how we can take the complexity out of your on-premise and cloud convergence, including network integration, cloud migration, security and system monitoring, all supported through 24/7 managed services.

A Mortgage Company Relies on Lightstream to Design and Build Its Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure in Azure

Company builds infrastructure in Microsoft Azure that will support its IT modernization initiatives and position it for the future.

Business Challenge

Driving profitability in the mortgage servicing industry is a constant challenge. To be successful, companies must find ways of growing business in a competitive, regulation-driven industry while at the same time reducing operational costs. And technology plays an important role.

For one California-based company, finding economies of scale and competitive advantages through new technology meant modernizing its IT infrastructure. The company had two geographically separated data centers, one in the east and one in the west, and remote offices connected via a wide-area network. The organization’s leaders realized that to position the organization for the future the company needed to adopt a cloud-first strategy for new applications and to move other legacy apps into the cloud. But to carry out that strategy, they first needed to build a secure cloud infrastructure.

Solution

When Lightstream spoke to the company’s CIO, the organization was in the early stages of designing a cloud environment. His technical team, however, had limited experience with cloud computing, and they were open about their questions and concerns, especially around the best way to implement security in the cloud.

As the technical team began envisioning the company’s new infrastructure, several requirements were identified. First, since the existing wide-area network and security implementation was based on Palo Alto Networks’ platform, the team wanted to continue using the Palo Alto platform in the cloud. Second, the existing network design had caused intermittent problems with authentication. As a result, the company wanted to implement a different network design for authentication, with the cloud serving as the primary domain controller for authentication services and an existing data center serving as its backup.

To address the company’s needs, Lightstream conducted a Cloud Foundation Framework engagement coupled with guided implementation services for Microsoft Azure and Palo Alto Networks Next-Gen Firewall (NGFW).

The first step was to understand the company’s legacy environment. Lightstream experts reviewed the company’s business requirements, infrastructure, data services, security landscape, application portfolio, operations tools, and processes to gain a clear understanding of the company’s operating environment.

Next, the team conducted whiteboard design sessions. Using information about the company’s existing environment, its cloud infrastructure functional requirements, and optimal cloud design practices, the Lightstream team developed the company’s hybrid cloud infrastructure design, including core cloud configurations, standards and governance, identity and access management (IAM), network interconnectivity, security, and operational processes.

Included in the design step was a review of the company’s network design and Palo Alto Networks configuration. The team then redesigned the network into a hybrid configuration using a hub and spoke topology based on Palo Alto’s VM-Series NGFW (next-generation firewall).

The last step was to implement the Azure environment along with the new network design. This effort involved building two Azure environments (one for production and one for development to support analytics) and included the core infrastructure configurations, virtual networks and subnets, and native security services, as well as deploying the Palo Alto NGFW in a redundant configuration to ensure high availability.

Business Outcomes

Highly Available Hybrid Network Design

From the beginning, the company planned to move as much to the cloud as possible, but the leadership team understood that some applications would need to remain in a legacy data center. As a result, the network design had to ensure high availability for both cloud apps and on-premises services.

The new network design utilizes redundant Palo Alto firewalls to ensure high availability. Also, by moving the domain controller for authentication to the cloud, remote locations now have two connection points for authentication instead of one. Therefore, if one link is down, users are automatically routed to the backup site for authentication, thereby eliminating the chance of a network outage causing a disruption of services.

Secure Platform for IT Modernization

With the implementation of an Azure landing zone, the company now has a secure cloud environment that will support its IT modernization strategy. The company can deploy new applications with confidence, knowing the environment has been designed and implemented with proper security and availability features, and begin to move legacy apps to the new environment as its business will allow.

Faster Cloud Deployment

Because the company’s technical team had limited experience with cloud computing, designing and building a cloud environment was both time-consuming and challenging. And there was a lot of uncertainty on the best way to accomplish the company’s objectives.

Working with Lightstream experts, however, alleviated a lot of concerns, and the company was able to deploy a cloud infrastructure faster and more confidently than it could have done on its own.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream Managed Services can help you architect, implement, and manage a cloud environment that meets your business needs, visit Lightstream.tech.

AWS FinOps – Saving Money or Making Money?

How to regain financial and operational control and ensure a fully optimized AWS cloud environment (including insights on AWS gp3)

We’re working in an era where business moves at lightening speeds. Technology has drastically increased our ability to innovate, our speed to market, and the ease with which we can scale up or down in response to ever-changing needs. But with this enhanced agility and on-demand performance comes big tradeoffs in the form of financial accountability and corporate governance. Gone are the days when a staff member would fill out a purchase order, submit it to accounting for approval, and wait days (or even weeks) for the greenlight to make the purchase. Our on-demand expectations have phased out the spending analysis step from the procurement model.

In few places is this truer than cloud environments. All too often, inefficiencies are not uncovered until after the damage has been done and we’ve wasted significant portions of our -cloud budget on needless overspending. And let’s be clear:  wasting money means you’re not making money. This is why there is so much buzz surrounding FinOps these days. Short for financial optimization, FinOps is the practice of bringing financial accountability to the variable spend model of cloud, enabling distributed teams to make business trade-offs between speed, cost and quality. There are a variety of ways to optimize cloud spending, such as contracting and other savings programs, reserved instances and infrastructure add-ons that can boost efficiencies.

Optimizing AWS Cloud Performance

AWS is one cloud provider that consistently launches new technologies to increase the cost effectiveness of its cloud environments. The R&D teams at AWS are always looking for new ways to make their tools more functional and less costly. One of the most recent products is gp3, a new type of solid-state drive (SSD) Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volume that lets you provision performance independent of storage capacity and offers a 20% lower price than existing gp2 volume types. The new gp3 volume type is designed for use with Amazon EC2 instances, an elastic compute cloud where virtual servers are procured as either dedicated servers or as part of a physical server. With gp3 volumes, customers can scale IOPS (input/output operations per second) and throughput without having to provision additional block storage capacity. This means customers only pay for the storage they need.

We find that most users are spending two-thirds of their budget on their EC2 product, and within that, about 40% of the spend is EBS related. The first step in optimizing this spend is to gain visibility across your entire environment and identify areas of high or rapid growth, then use best practices to optimize and contain your costs. Some ways to do this are by deleting or converting unattached disk storage, deleting old snapshots and terminating unused assets. Once you have done this initial analysis and clean-up, you can start taking advantage of savings programs. Based on your historical cost and usage data, AWS can recommend savings plan types, terms and payment options.

While it’s true that AWS and other cloud providers offer many ways for customers to save, it’s not always easy and can be quite time consuming to achieve results. Organizations often find that they don’t have the manpower to stay on top of cloud-cost management.

To help reduce the complexity of financial optimization, Lightstream offers a proprietary tool called Lightstream Connect that provides a holistic view of your technology spend and network through a single pane of glass. Lightstream Connect is not a new offering, however it was recently enhanced in early 2021 in response to AWS’s gp3 release. The first to market this type of functionality, Lightstream’s automated tool analyzes usage patterns and drives to gather statistics and generate a concise report of recommendations for infrastructure modifications that can increase savings.

Realizing Your Potential Savings

Most organizational leaders aren’t aware of just how much they can save by -optimizing their cloud environments. In fact, it’s not uncommon for businesses to cut as much as 20% of their monthly spend without jeopardizing security or performance. Financial and IT professionals who either aren’t sure how to go about taking advantage of these savings or don’t have time to devote to it should find a partner like Lightstream that is an AWS Advanced Consulting and Microsoft Gold Partner and invests in the tools and talent necessary to secure and optimize cloud environments. Lightstream helps customers re-incorporate financial, technology, operational and security accountability -back into cloud spending either by making it easier for them to monitor and assess their own environments, or by removing the burden entirely and doing it for them.

Lightstream has helped many customers to achieve -cloud optimization. With ongoing management of their cloud environments, on finance alone we save our customers millions of dollars every year. One customer was spending $1.2 million per month in AWS. Their IT team didn’t have the time, resources or visibility they needed to understand exactly where that money was being spent. Upon assessing their environments, Lightstream discovered that they lacked tags and partitions. So, we assisted them in a tagging strategy and determined that they were actually losing money on one of their products. Our Cloud Managed Services (CMS) team optimized the product to -improve its performance and make it profitable, ultimately saving the corporation over $1.5 million annually.

Lightstream offers a free assessment to identify which EBS workloads you should migrate to gp3 volumes and calculate your potential savings using our proprietary EBS optimization analytics application. To speak with a representative about having your environment assessed at no cost to you, contact us today.

Software Company Achieves International Growth and Ongoing Innovation with Help from Lightstream and AWS

Lightstream Cloud Managed Services gives Entrata the tools to successfully migrate to the cloud and optimize the operational, security and financial aspects of its environment

Business Challenge

Since its inception in 2003, Entrata has prided itself on developing innovative solutions for the property management industry. That innovation is what allows the company to deliver on its pledge to make life easier for property owners, managers and residents. From property management software that simplifies accounting and purchasing to complete automation that enables remote lighting, locks, thermostats, Entrata’s suite of products is as comprehensive as it is state of the art.

Entrata first connected with Lightstream in 2011 as the company’s IT leaders sought to upgrade network connectivity and performance while reducing costs. In the years that followed, Entrata’s IT team came to rely on Lightstream for help overcoming technological challenges and improving the efficiency, reliability and security of their IT operations. As the company expanded and technology evolved, it became evident that moving certain applications and resources to the cloud would be beneficial to the organization and its customers. Migrating from on-premises to the cloud would allow the company to innovate faster and at a global scale.

Once again, Entrata turned to long-time partner Lightstream for assistance with this migration. After selecting AWS as its cloud service provider (CSP), the next step was ensuring that the best practices, tools, expertise, financial incentives and partner ecosystem offered by AWS were implemented to make cloud adoption easier. Lightstream’s extensive experience with the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) – a comprehensive and proven cloud migration program – enabled its engineers to provide Entrata with expert guidance through the often-complicated process. MAP consists of a three-phase journey that helps customers leverage the performance, security and reliability of the cloud while reducing complexity and costs.

The migration was a success, and Entrata quickly saw the enhanced innovation, elevated customer experience and digital transformation possible within the cloud. Before long Entrata’s director of engineering knew the time was right to migrate even more applications and resources to the cloud. Upon discussing this with his Lightstream representatives, he also understood that there was an opportunity to optimize the financial, technical, security and operational aspects of their current environment.

Solution

As a platinum-level Lightstream Cloud Managed Services customer, Entrata began taking advantage of the tools that ensure the ideal management and optimization of its cloud environment. This comprehensive advisory service also lifts some of the burden off of the internal IT department, as Lightstream’s partnership with AWS and its AWS Advance Consulting certification assists the organization in determining the ideal migration path for its additional infrastructure and applications.

To maximize Entrata’s savings with AWS, Lightstream assisted with the negotiation and management of the company’s contracting for AWS Enterprise Discount Plan (EDP). Additionally, Lightstream adjusted Entrata’s Elastic Block Store (EBS) Provisioned IOPS and EBS-Optimized instances to optimize its storage within Amazon EC2. Provisioned IOPS are an EBS volume type designed to deliver predictable, high performance for I/O intensive workloads, such as database applications, that rely on consistent and fast response times. Ongoing management assures that the IOPS are periodically adjusted according to the organization’s actual needs and avoids overprovisioning.

Business Outcomes

The ongoing optimization of the operational, security and financial aspects of Entrata’s cloud environment is currently saving the company approximately 20% of their total AWS spend per month. Quarterly meetings between Lightstream and Entrata allow the teams to come together to review infrastructure performance and provides the company with ongoing recommendations on what actions can be taken to continue to save money and enhance efficiency and security.

Entrata has steadily grown from a software development startup to a successful user experience organization offering a full suite of services that takes the complexity out of property management. Throughout the years, the company’s relationship with Lightstream has evolved from that of a basic vendor/client exchange to a true technology partnership.

Entrata is currently expanding into international territories, a growth strategy that has been made possible due to its cloud infrastructure. Despite the economic downturn of 2020-2021, Entrata has continued to flourish and increase business. One opportunity the organization may want to consider in the near future is to migrate its gp2 volumes to Amazon’s new gp3 volumes, which are the next-generation general purpose SSD volumes for EBS that would enable Entrata to provision performance independent of storage capacity and take advantage of up to 20% lower price-point per GB than its existing gp2 volumes. As the organization moves forward in its cloud journey, Lightstream is standing by to help the company achieve continued innovation and growth.