AWS Cloud, Microsoft Workloads, and Modernization: The Perfect Combination

What is it about the AWS environment that makes it so well-suited for Windows workloads? We put this question and more to special guest Sriwantha Attanayake, Senior Specialized Solution Architect at Amazon Web Services, in the SourceFuse “Talking Out Cloud” leadership chat series. It focused on the topic of modernization, the best approach to modernization, and its relevance to Windows workloads on AWS Cloud.

#1 Being based in Australia, from your perspective which industries are showing the most maturity when it comes to modernization?

It’s very difficult to pinpoint a specific industry because innovation is happening across the board. For example, we see a huge uptick in fintech companies who are building and migrating Microsoft workloads into AWS as a result of regulatory change. We’ve seen that with the open banking initiative there are now more ways to integrate banking and financial applications for newcomers in the market.

Generally, what we see across the board is legacy systems being slowly decommissioned and customers moving towards more API-driven platforms, and of course part of that journey involves modernizing Microsoft workloads. So, there’s a huge ‘improvements and modernization wave’, as well as AWS cloud deployments, across all industries.


#2 What advice would you give on how best to approach Windows modernization?

When tackling modernization, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You’ll find that each customer has unique needs, and the only way you can understand them is through a deep analysis or discovery process. For example, a customer could retain a monolithic application if it’s only for a couple of users; whereas for an innovative customer who wants to grow their business and rapidly scale, the approach might be to replace their monolithic application with cloud-native applications or open-source technologies.

I see a lot of traction around customers moving towards SaaS-based products or refactoring applications, and in those cases the challenges might be around license cost. A solution that works for 10 customers may not work when you try to scale to 100s or even 1000s of customers. For example, something that took two or three weeks to deploy in a customer environment may not work when you go for a self-service model, or if a customer changes their business sales model the deployment models may also need to change.

This is where our partners, like SourceFuse, come into the picture, bringing the expertise to build those pipelines, the automation required, and industry knowledge. For example, if a customer is looking to improve its deployment methodology, it may be the first time they’ve tried it. However, engaging with SourceFuse, which has done this with multiple customers across multiple industries, it has the knowledge and the know-how about what does and doesn’t work, anticipated issues, and also production experience. There’s a big difference between creating a solution and playing around with it to test it, versus doing a production workload when there are so many parameters to consider. For example, enhancing compliance, regulatory guidelines, cost-effectiveness, etc. Working with the right partner brings not only resources but also the intellectual property that helps accelerate deployment of a business model that the customer actually needs.

Read our recent blog: What is Cloud modernization?

#3 What is it about the AWS environment that makes it so well-suited for Windows workloads?

There’s a little-known fact that Amazon Web Services is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, so apart from all the competitive news that you may see, Microsoft is a good partner for us. In addition, AWS had a four-year head start compared to other cloud providers, which means we have many years of experience deploying Microsoft workloads on AWS and have developed a whole ecosystem around that.

We have built a partner network focused on addressing different customer needs, most of which are very large-scale enterprises from across different industries. When you come to AWS you get not only Microsoft workloads experience but our entire ecosystem with a matured partner network and great marketplace products e.g., security services.

Being in this industry for a long time means we have innovated A LOT. In the last couple of years, we’ve released many new Microsoft-related features; when customers wanted to bring their existing Microsoft licenses into AWS, we created a construct called Dedicated Host. Another example is when we created Microsoft .NET SDK for .NET Developers who want to program on .NET framework. So, there’s a large team at Amazon Web Services, including myself, dedicated to Microsoft workloads, alongside our thoroughly vetted, audited, and certified partners with AWS Microsoft Workloads Competency.

Experience is one aspect, but the second aspect is the depth and breadth of AWS cloud services on offer, now at more than 200 services! Even if your current goal is migrating your Windows on AWS, you have to imagine your future state too. Maybe you want the best-in-class artificial intelligence and machine learning support, best-in-class security, a platform with the latest and greatest IoT tech, or move towards open-source technologies. AWS has worked with a vast number of customers, developing a package of services and features that offer solutions for real use cases. And it’s for this reason that customers feel confident moving their Microsoft workloads to AWS, and more importantly having that matured partner network.

#4 How does AWS address concerns about maintaining compliance on the cloud and build confidence around industry-specific compliance?

About five years ago when I first joined AWS, this was a concern, with some customers asking us whether we had sufficient security controls, especially those running on-premises. In the last three to four years, the kind of statement we get from CTOs and CIOs is that it’s difficult to be compliant and more secure if you are not in the cloud. As an example, with an on-premises environment it’s very hard to control a cyberattack with malicious intent for a few reasons. 

Firstly, you don’t have the insights into where it is coming from or you may not have the right technology needed to guard against these attacks, such as all the AI and filtering mechanisms. The good thing about being on a platform like AWS using AWS services is the global insights around how these network attacks happen, and our security tools and services are more mature than what you can achieve in an on-prem environment.

The second reason is around the controls and the products available. If you are running an on-premises environment, most security appliances have certain limitations. For example, a firewall rule or some kind of filtering mechanism may not scale as your business grows. However, on the cloud you have the ability to infinitely scale your environment to address your use cases.

Another issue is around compliance in an on-prem environment. Many customers think they are secure and compliant, but when you dig a little deeper you discover there are a lot of issues with how compliances are being monitored i.e., they don’t have the right monitoring in place to measure them e.g., HIPAA compliance. Being on cloud provides access to a lot of products, services, and features to monitor your compliances and workflow issues. A good example would be properly cloud security controls to monitor the lifecycle of employee password credentials, including how and where their credentials are being used.

Our Consulting Partners follow a consultative approach with customers and clients, supporting the implementation of internal processes and workflows to work with the appropriate AWS security features, products, and controls to meet your business requirements.

#5 How else do customers benefit from the partnership between SourceFuse and AWS?

Being a mature partner, SourceFuse has a close relationship with AWS, and customers benefit by being able to leverage those internal relationships to get the technical expertise as and when needed. For example, SourceFuse has dedicated Solution Architects and Partner Managers at AWS with a robust escalation pathway. If there’s an issue or a customer need for a specific feature or service, SourceFuse can bring it directly to AWS’s table and work together on the solution.

The other aspect is being an Advanced Consulting Partner. Achieving that competency status means SourceFuse has access to different AWS funding programs for its clients. Once you engage a mature partner like SourceFuse, it helps their clients to navigate all the available funding options. This is a huge benefit if you are still in the process of getting your budget for a new product, or trying to figure out how to create a PoC to support a business case.

What I really like about SourceFuse is the way it does the discovery workshops and assessments, and navigates the complex AWS landscape on the customer’s behalf. I have seen it many times when customers start their journey, they might by not be entirely sure of what they want or what’s available. The SourceFuse team goes through the process of understanding their use cases, breaking it down into small conceivable chunks, and putting project plans in place. Aligning these projects with AWS technologies and internal programs, when there are many to choose from, e.g., SaaS accelerator programs, database or Windows modernization programs, etc., always gets the best outcome for the customer. 

Ready to start your cloud journey and modernize with AWS experts? Let’s talk.