Developing and hosting applications and websites goes beyond simply writing and executing the code. From ensuring the appropriate infrastructure and servers for storage and database hosting to having the right security debugging and management systems in place, there are many peripheral, but crucial applications that must work seamlessly for smooth operations.
And yet, the chances of achieving consistent levels of growth improve significantly when developers are able to focus solely on core business requirements. Thanks to developments in technology and infrastructure, managed services are quickly becoming the go-to solution for app and website developers in meeting these needs.
To discuss how managed services can enable website and app developers to focus their efforts on their prized code, and the future, YourStory in association with Google Cloud India organised a CTO Roundtable, titled “Focus on the code: Leveraging managed services to optimise operations” on May 25, 2021.
Moderated by Priya Sheth, Senior Anchor, YourStory, the panel consisted of industry leaders such as Gaurav Lahoti, VP Engineering, Khatabook; Shibashis Sen, Director, Cloud Operations, Tally Solutions; Dattatri Radhakrishnan, VP Engineering, Whatfix; tech entrepreneur Sourav Sachin and Mitesh Agarwal, Director, Customer Engineering, Google Cloud India.
Here are some of the highlights from the panel discussion
Managed services help focus engineering resources on core business operations
The panelists unanimously agreed that managed services allow organisations to focus their engineering resources on core business imperatives. Dattatri from Whatfix spoke about this in-depth. “With managed services, Whatfix offsets what is not core to us, which is about providing competitive advantage by leveraging technology solutions. As a result, we use managed services heavily on the IT and DevOps front,” he said, adding that given these services are based on an Operating expenses (OpEx) model, the investment of resources is lesser and there is some predictability about monthly costs. He gave an example of how they used Google’s BigQuery to gain key insights that helps Whatfix enable companies to undergo a digital transformation, instead of building their own analytics platform from scratch.
Gaurav from Khatabook shared how managed services make it easy to configure and cover certain operations, which reduces dependencies on other personnel for their smooth functioning. “The fact that every team gets managed services has been paramount to our growth and ability to experiment. Managed services also provide a very good level of reliability and scalability through automation. Bringing about reliability also reduces the number of man-hours spent in diagnosing problems and allows for the quick deployment and switching of services,” he said.
The future of managed services is function as a service
Mitesh from Google Cloud noted how DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) practices originated from addressing the dichotomy between developers’ need for agility, and operators’ requirements of stability. “Google innovated the whole area of fundamentally and culturally shifting how organisations developed and managed infrastructure with SRE. Its premise: what if a developer wrote how to manage infrastructure? If you could code everything, you could patch and secure it better,” he said, which is the core principle of developing managed services.
The success of these services can be attested by the immense popularity of managed services such as Firebase and Google App Engine. Mitesh also said, “We are all moving towards developing functions as a service to further bring about efficiencies. What if I can write and encapsulate everything as a function, which is essentially the holy grail, and it can be applied to infrastructure, software development, data, AI/ML and customers.”
Leveraging managed services to secure operations
Sourav noted that security is a constant race where companies must always stay updated with the latest techniques to ensure safety from hackers. “Managed services have the collective intelligence of all practices that can secure (operations) to a desirable level. Managed services segregate both technique application and technique innovation wonderfully well,” he said, which ensures that on one hand, engineers constantly roll out essential security services and the ease of application of these services on the other allows for the deployment of these services with the push of a button.
Shibashis from Tally Solutions gave an example of how the organisation uses managed services on a per-user or per-load basis to not only access and authenticate, but also to meet its authorisation security requirements. “All our cloud services give us the ability to have a trail of who did what and when. So, that is extremely powerful. Some of the native tools our cloud providers offer actually help understand whether the security posture is up to the mark. With managed services, we are in a unique position…to control both ends of the application, which gives us a nuanced view of the security aspects of the cloud services,” he said.
Forecasting requirements crucial to optimal leveraging of managed services
When asked for guidelines on how one could maximise the benefits of managed services, Shibashis mentioned that it was important to assess the workloads that are being run. “Some of them render themselves to a near-perfect match for managed services. Assess the needs of your users, look at the applications relative to your business requirements that you are trying to architect, and make a judicious decision on which of these workloads will go well with managed services,” he said, adding that forecasting of requirements are essential to control costs around these services.
Sourav added that it is best to use as many managed services as possible to meet compute requirements as they help with optimising costs, and that regularly checking for updates with your cloud service provider goes a long way to this end.
Begin with an end in mind
The roundtable ended with Mitesh summarising the key points of the discussion. He pointed out that the panelists had agreed that managed services help with cost optimisation, ensure more reliability to processes and save up more of the engineering effort, which can be focused on core business operations.
He also noted that those looking to use managed services will be able to do so most effectively when they have an end in mind. He also noted that measuring the effectiveness of managed services is critical to optimising their effectiveness, and that organisations can work with Google Cloud to ensure they have the right monitoring systems in place, and know how to improve the performance of their managed services.