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How To: Accelerate Your AWS Cloud Operations with a Multi-Account Strategy

Shane Quinlan

6 min read

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 1:46pm

Staying ahead in your CloudOps journey requires innovative strategies and a deep understanding of your cloud ecosystem. At Kion, we've always been proponents of using multiple secure accounts to ensure operational excellence in AWS. In this blog post, I’m stoked to share the insights and highlights from our recent webinar with AWS that centered around optimizing your CloudOps journey using a multi-account strategy.

During the webinar, I was joined by Frank Schwarzenau, the Designation Lead for AWS' Cloud Operations Competency, who walked us through the key elements of the AWS Cloud Operations model and competency.

Read on for the replay and the highlights!

Unpacking the AWS Cloud Operations Model and Competency

Frank outlined the five essential solution areas comprising the AWS Cloud Operations model: cloud governance, cloud financial management, monitoring and observability, compliance and auditing, and operations management. This holistic approach empowers organizations to comprehensively address diverse operational aspects within their AWS ecosystem – and build an evergreen cloud operating model. By integrating these solution areas, businesses gain a comprehensive understanding of their cloud operations, leading to more strategic and effective decision-making.

“ The reason why I'm really a big fan of Kion’s approach to this is that we value the approach [to cloud operations] to be integrated across these five solution areas. ”

– FrankSchwarzenau, AWS, underlining the value of a cohesive approach to CloudOps

Frank introduced the AWS Cloud Operations Competency – a recognition earned by select partners who showcase excellence in resolving intricate CloudOps customer challenges. This validation signifies a partner's dedication to understanding and catering to customer needs across the spectrum of cloud operations.

AWS competency designations, as Frank described, are "a very structured and very difficult stamp of approval that some key partners get for specific value propositions."

Shared Principles Paving the Path to CloudOps Excellence

So, how do we build on this foundation of cloud operations to catalyze cloud excellence?

What I really love about the AWS perspective and the CloudOps model that they built is it’s holistic, but it's also fundamentally a culture shift - and culture shifts are built on shared principles. I believe there are two fundamental principles that underpin a successful CloudOps journey: (1) secure by default; and (2) confidence for all. As businesses transition towards more mature cloud operating models, these guiding principles give us something to strive for that is deeply human and wildly scalable.

Principle #1 - Secure by Default to Establish Trust

Central to Kion's approach to CloudOps is the principle of ensuring that cloud environments are inherently secure – not just against cybersecurity threats but also financial security. This goes beyond mere post-event fixes; it's about laying a secure foundation from the outset. The objective is to instill trust across the entire organization, from stakeholders to technical and non-technical users. Our strategy ensures users possess the necessary controls and policies to prevent issues before they arise.

Principle #2 – Using Trust to Foster Confidence for All

With a secure by default baseline, you can confidently give users access to the power of cloud computing. By managing costs and compliance, you can give leadership confidence that you’re building efficiently and effectively.

Kion facilitates direct access to AWS resources, enabling users to harness native cloud capabilities without unnecessary intermediaries. We don’t act as gatekeepers. This approach ensures a seamless and efficient cloud experience.

Kion uniquely caters to both technical and non-technical users. Our approach to interface design is centered around empowering users while offering robust controls for all. We want all roles within our customers’ organizations to feel confident managing automation and spend, provisioning accounts, and developing applications in the cloud.

Turning Principles into Practice: Four CloudOps Best Practices

CloudOps isn’t just a technology – it involves managing cloud resources in alignment with organizational objectives and culture. Here are four best practices that I believe are key for effective cloud operations.

1. Prioritize People

Technology is ultimately about people, so we emphasize providing user-friendly interfaces and controls for accessible cloud management. It’s about giving more users access to exactly what they need in AWS when they need it – ensuring that users can confidently learn and experiment. Solutions like Kion and AWS Organizations help facilitate granular access control, preventing security vulnerabilities and making it easy to understand your cloud in human terms that mirror your org design.

2. Focus on Guardrails

Kion goes beyond identifying issues; we help organizations establish proactive controls and policies to prevent security breaches. We think of these controls as guardrails (not gates!) – predefined policies that keep teams within defined boundaries. Kion and AWS tools like Service Control Policies enforce these guardrails consistently, avoiding isolated enclaves with disparate rules.

3. Embrace Continuous Processes

Cloud compliance is a continuous effort requiring ongoing monitoring and evidence collection. I advocate for adopting continuous compliance practices enabled by Kion and AWS tools like AWS Audit Manager. Automation ensures organizations are audit-ready at all times, transforming compliance into an integral part of cloud architecture.

4. Establish Repeatability

You must build repeatable processes that can be shared and replicated across the organization. This approach ensures consistency and scalability, enabling cloud operations to grow with the organization. A "cloud-native" mindset, relying on readily available tools and code-driven practices, promotes universal adoption of best practices.

Navigating CloudOps with a Multi-Account Strategy

Embracing a multi-account strategy is paramount to achieving cloud operations success. The strategy involves careful planning, organizational alignment, and harnessing the right tools. Whether you're initiating a new approach or optimizing an existing setup, here's how to embark on your multi-account journey.

Lay the Organizational Foundation

Before delving into technical intricacies, establish a robust organizational design. Your cloud architecture should mirror your organization's structure, ensuring each account aligns with specific teams, projects, or departments. Think of each account as a container housing resources pertinent to a particular group. This foundation sets the stage for a successful multi-account strategy.

Implement Standardized and Hierarchical Controls

Standardized controls form the bedrock of an effective multi-account strategy. Covering security, compliance, and budget management, these controls create a baseline for consistency and security. New accounts automatically inherit these controls, streamlining provisioning and ensuring alignment with organizational policies and practices.

Harness the Power of Automation

Automation is a game-changer in multi-account strategies. By automating processes, you guarantee consistent application of controls across all accounts. This encompasses provisioning new accounts, policy enforcement, and spend monitoring. Automation liberates your teams to focus on strategic initiatives by reducing manual efforts.

Take an Iterative Approach

Begin with a focused segment of your organization and gradually expand your multi-account strategy. This iterative approach allows you to fine-tune your strategy based on real-world experience and feedback, ensuring seamless implementation across diverse segments.

CloudOps: Balancing Agility and Governance

A successful multi-account strategy merges cloud agility with robust governance practices. By aligning cloud architecture with your organization's structure, implementing standardized controls, and leveraging automation and cloud operations solutions like Kion, you cultivate an environment that fosters innovation while upholding security and compliance.

As you venture into the cloud landscape, I encourage you to think of your multi-account strategy as your compass, guiding you towards CloudOps success. If you'd like help on your CloudOps journey, reach out to our team to see how Kion can deliver the right combination of governance and agility.

About the Author

Shane Quinlan

Shane is the VP of Product at Kion.

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