Peta Brady
Stax on Stax
08 Apr 2021

5 Essential Projects to Optimize Your Cloud Ecosystem

As we move further into 2021, many organizations are coming up on the first anniversary of a rapid transition to a cloud-first strategy, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 was indeed a year of massive business change, as many organizations made the decision to go all-in on cloud. A year later, their focus now shifts to reviewing and optimizing their cloud infrastructure. We have some ideas for how that could play out.

In this post we’ll be focusing on five cloud projects we believe will be beneficial for the vast majority of organizations utilizing AWS, whether they’ve only recently migrated to cloud or have a well-established footprint.

1. Optimize Costs

Managing and optimizing costs within an environment as flexible and dynamic as AWS is no easy task – it is possible to lose track of things that are adding to your wastage and increasing spend, all without you even realizing.

Our experience has found that most organizations are wasting between 10-35% of their AWS spend, typically through unused infrastructure, over-provisioned resources, and expensive and unnecessary storage options.

There are several ways to optimize costs within AWS itself—by utilizing services and reports such as S3 Analytics, EBS Volume and Load Balancer Checks—however, many of these methods require a large amount of analysis and re-architecture of existing infrastructure in order to be effective.

Stax is built to simplify the cost management process. The platform features a comprehensive Wastage Report that can be run and ready for analysis in just 10 minutes, and enforceable, optimized Tagging Policies for developer and team services and resources—intuitive tools designed to increase efficiency and help you save money, sooner rather than later.

2. Conduct Ecosystem Maintenance or Apply AWS Updates

Maintaining your AWS ecosystem is essential for achieving best practice security protocols, but this is often an area in which organizations fall short, simply because they do not have the specialist teams or resources in place to monitor consistently cloud configurations and in turn, eliminate possible security risks.

AWS releases new products and services regularly, and it is the responsibility of individual organizations to monitor and roll out relevant updates across both old and new accounts. This means engineers will spend time writing automation scripts for creation of accounts, as well as manually setting up user access, permissions and security controls. Writing these scripts takes time, which can lead to inflated costs due to delays.

Without ongoing maintenance, you may find your development and production environments begin to diverge, preventing new services from being released until issues can be identified and fixed. And as we know, delays generally lead to overspending and increased risk.

Of course, it’s not always practical or cost effective to engage teams of specialists to maintain your cloud, which is one of the reasons we created Stax. By providing secure guardrails and repeatable patterns, Stax helps you increase productivity through automation and reduced maintenance time, so your engineers can focus on adding value for customers.

3. Improve Risk Management Processes and Overall Risk Posture

AWS offers risk and compliance management tools (such as CloudTrail and Audit Manager) for organizations looking to improve their overall risk posture. These tools capture AWS activity across your accounts and are designed to simplify security analysis, resource change tracking, and troubleshooting, while also allowing for detection of unusual activity in your accounts.

However, in order to fully reap the benefits of these risk management features, they must be implemented correctly and monitored regularly for compliance with your own risk framework. To achieve this, development teams will require extensive knowledge of your existing cloud services and guidelines which align to internal and external risk requirements.

But generally speaking, developers are more in their element when building apps, not assessing risks. So how do you ensure compliance and manage risks while keeping your team happy? You streamline the process.

Stax streamlines risk management and compliance with Rules and more recently, Rule Bundles, both of which help you achieve risk and compliance standards like PCI, APRA, the CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark and the AWS Well-Architected Framework. These customizable Rules allow you to implement and track compliance against your own specific organizational policies, so you can be confident your cloud ecosystem aligns with industry best practice at all times.

4. Improve Ecosystem Security

The AWS team consistently review and update AWS platform services to counter emerging security threats, but it’s up to you to update your ecosystem in order to take advantage of these improvements. Often, keeping up to date requires extensive manual configuration of multiple AWS services (GuardDuty, IAM, Config, etc.) across multiple accounts, which can not only decrease productivity, but also expose your organization to increased risks due to human error.

Stax ensures your accounts stay secure and up to date by adopting and applying AWS security updates and service changes automatically.

Stax Account Assurance automatically applies security controls to all AWS accounts within an organization, making them resilient and resistant to threats from day one. It does this by enabling and configuring AWS services including AWS Organizations, Amazon GuardDuty, AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail.

Stax also applies AWS Service Control Policies to specify the maximum available permissions across all AWS accounts within an organization, and Stax Identity Broker can be used to govern user access.

With automated account provisioning and benchmarking against industry standards, Stax helps you meet business compliance requirements and leverage risk management features to develop a collaborative-yet-secure business model.

5. Automate Manual Processes

Performing repetitive manual tasks in AWS not only drags down the efficiency of your teams, it can also cost you money. But some tasks must be performed, no matter how tedious. Native AWS Lambda functionality allows you to automate your IT processes with relative ease, but by now you’ve probably guessed— Stax can help make it even easier.

With a suite of automation features architected to best-practice security standards, Stax brings consistency to your cloud for a seamless deployment process. This encompasses account creation and management, networking and Infrastructure as a Service (Workloads), bringing you all the benefits of enterprise cloud without the hassle.

Stax Networks allow you to create a centralized network in just a few steps – no specialist knowledge or teams required. Meaning less time spent on configuration and more on adding value for customers.

Even greater automation can be achieved using Workloads, which allow you to deploy infrastructure as code to multiple accounts from a central pipeline, further streamlining your deployment process.

By utilizing these repeatable templates for predictability and reliability, your teams can be seamlessly deploying apps in days, not months.

Stax Can Do All of This

Whether you’re looking to improve efficiency, boost security, or simply optimize costs in 2021, ticking off one (or even better, all) of these five projects will set you on the right path. Stax can help with all of them, and a lot more.

If your organization is struggling to achieve real cloud outcomes, such as maintaining delivery velocity, recruiting or retaining cloud experts, or wasting time on maintenance and applying AWS updates, let's talk.

Ready to simplify your life with Stax? Get in touch for a demo.