North Labs brings cloud and data transformation solutions to SMB customers in industrial and manufacturing organizations. To increase operational efficiencies and invoke massive cost savings through its flagship program, Data Concierge, North Labs has launched Oasys. This offering incorporates MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution into their CloudOps platform, to bring customers one-click deployment options with preconfigured AWS foundational services. With MontyCloud and AWS Built-in, North Labs provides customers with reference architectures that serve as starting points in the deployment planning process, risk profiles based on AWS Well-Architected Framework reviews, and more budget to spend on ROI activities.
Providing Cloud and Data Transformation for Industrial and Manufacturing Companies
North Labs is a 100%-certified AWS consulting partner and solutions provider that brings cloud and data transformation to small and mid-market (SMB) organizations across the industrial and manufacturing landscapes. Started in 2016, North Labs specializes in data analytics, data warehouse and data lake transformations, and workload migrations. Their goal is to provide long-term operational continuity for native AWS Cloud environments as well as those that are integrated with ISV data tools such as Snowflake, Matillion, and Sigma.
Data Concierge is North Lab’s flagship cloud and data operations program. It’s designed to help customers plan, build, and manage cloud and data analytics environments at a fraction of the cost of building and managing an internal data team. To help achieve these efficiencies, Data Concierge incorporates MontyCloud, an AWS operations platform, into its central cloud operations tool, Oasys, for providing customers with visibility into security, compliance, and costs. North Labs continues to add customized capabilities to MontyCloud’s platform to address the needs of its specialized customer base.
The Problem is in Operations, not Tooling
Collin Graves, founder of North Labs, attributes much of his success to his partnership with MontyCloud and the close bonds he’s maintained over the years. However, despite all the customer wins and improvements they’ve made in Data Concierge, he still watches his customers struggle with cloud operations. “The world of cloud and data doesn’t have a tooling problem; instead, it has an operations problem,” he says. “Technology has never been more ubiquitous and readily available. When I first started North Labs, AWS had 80 services. Now they have well over 200. And that number is growing all the time.”
Collin explains that the abundance of technology and services is a double-edged sword because many organizations want to start building their cloud data environments quickly without considering the foundational aspects required to establish a solid data program or center of excellence. “It’s like building the walls of your house before you lay down the foundation. Understandably, customers want to build with the latest flashy tools in the shortest amount of time, but that only exacerbates the problem.”
Without taking the time to lay down the proper foundation for their cloud environments, larger organizations in particular can suffer negative consequences down the road. One of these issues is a lack of visibility into the overall cloud environment. Without a unified view, organizations find it difficult to quantify the overall costs of their cloud environments, and they don’t have an efficient way to monitor and mitigate risks. This lack of unity can lead internal teams to waste time and resources monitoring disjointed streams of data across disparate systems.
According to Collin, this lack of cohesion across systems is a major customer frustration that he sees over and over again in the world of business analytics capabilities. Some teams spend an enormous amount of time pulling data at the individual system level and then analyzing it in an attempt to gather broad-sweeping insights about their business operations. Other teams use ISV cloud financial operations (FinOps) tools, but these tools generally carry a high price tag and aren’t always easy to use. “At the end of the day, executive leadership wants to see cloud operations data frequently and in aggregate, not spread out in multiple views or requiring monumental lifts from their internal teams,” says Collin.
Another significant frustration for customers is the lack of return on investment (ROI) for the time spent operating and managing their cloud environments. “If you think about cloud operations like an iceberg, the vast majority of time spent performing security, governance, cost optimization, and other tasks makes up the 80% that’s below the waterline. Unfortunately, those tasks and procedures, albeit important, are completely undifferentiated in nature,” says Collin. “There's no ROI or value-add attached to those efforts. The real competitive advantage is above the waterline where organizations tend to spend only about 20% of their time and budget, and usually it's less than that.”
MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in Solution Brings Operational Continuity to Data Concierge
In an effort to tackle these customer pain points head on, North Labs and MontyCloud have teamed up again to deliver a new solution developed through the AWS Built-in Competency. AWS Built-in is an AWS Specialization designed to install, configure, and integrate partner products with AWS foundational services across multiple domains using a single AWS CloudFormation template. AWS Built-in solutions deliver a fully deployable architecture that’s certified by the AWS Well-Architected Framework so organizations without AWS experts onsite don’t have to hire expensive consultants or book an appointment with AWS Professional Services. MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution is integrated directly into Data Concierge as an OEM solution called Oasys.
Oasys uses MontyCloud’s Service Catalog to deploy and provision AWS foundational services directly from the interface as a single package using a behind-the-scenes CloudFormation template. The Service Catalog provides full visibility into the available AWS services—all preconfigured according to AWS best practices.
The solution includes third-party ISV tooling that runs on top of AWS, such as Snowflake, Fivetran, Matillion, and Tableau. Collin’s team has customized and extended the MontyCloud platform to integrate these tools across their customer’s unique environments. According to Collin, “Using MontyCloud’s Service Catalog, our customers can stand up a cluster of servers on AWS in about 30 seconds, and then automatically maintain the state of those servers indefinitely without involving humans to perform configuration, apply patches, and other tasks. The efficiencies that MontyCloud creates across the entire tooling ecosystem is just amazing.”
Another value-add for North Lab customers is the availability of reference architectures with preconfigured and deploy-ready AWS services such as AWS Control Tower, Amazon CloudWatch, and AWS CloudTrail. These architectures are designed to provide customers with starting points for their deployments using AWS services that may have otherwise been an afterthought. AWS services can now be implemented on Day 1 to become core to a customer’s architecture. Collin says, “Instead of this notion of always buying a bespoke suit every time you need one, a suit off the rack will work most of the time. Similarly, these solutions need to be reliable and repeatable, and that’s what we’re delivering with these reference architectures.”
Using MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution, North Labs can run AWS Well-Architected reviews on customer environments prior to deployment. These reviews provide customers with risk assessment reports so they can better understand the current state of affairs in their cloud environments. Collin says, “As early as the planning stage, we can plug that customer’s environment into our Oasys platform, and run a detailed report with a list of at-risk items and opportunities for immediate cost savings.”
Blueprints are another popular feature of Oasys’s one-click deployment solution. Collin explains, “A CIO may approach us with a requirement to stand up a data lake architecture on AWS. With the click of a button, we can deploy an AWS Well-Architected data lake environment that's ready for commercial use in minutes instead of days, weeks, or months.”
MontyCloud and AWS Built-in Unlock Massive Cost and Time Savings
When asked about the results of implementing MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution into their Oasys platform, Collin says that his customers are experiencing a savings of roughly 28% on their AWS spend just from installing the solution. In some cases, customers have seen a 70% increase in cost savings overall. Collin says, “It's a great way to mitigate risk associated with professional services engagements, because we're essentially able to pay for ourselves.”
Risk Profiles Help Customers Lay Down a Solid Foundation for Their Cloud Environments
North Labs uses MontyCloud to showcase risk profiles for the current state of a customer’s environment by conducting AWS Well-Architected Framework reviews at installation time. “Even if we don't fix those issues for the customer and just hand them the report, North Labs can help them work on those issues as a way to lay the foundation of their overall cloud environment,” says Collin. “Back to my house analogy, we can make sure the first floor of the house is in order before we add a second story. It's an amazing way to lock in that trust factor and be seen as a group that is able to mitigate risk in real time.”
Modules Help Provide Insight Into Foundational KPI Metrics
Oasys engagements begin with the implementation of a module that allows customers to see their foundational KPI metrics across their organizations from the factory floor all the way up to the executive suite. According to Collin, “These production-level KPIs, including throughput, equipment effectiveness, scrap rates, and demand forecasts, are things that most organizations struggle to understand. And as simple as that may sound, most organizations don’t have that data available to them on a regular basis. With our solution, they're able to see those updated KPIs every day.”
Collin demonstrates the value of MontyCloud’s modules with a real-world scenario. When a typical customer needs to implement a scrap reduction module, they first need to understand how much production is going into scrap, the reason behind that data, and what it costs the organization. Building that module from scratch might take as many as 3000 hours. A data consultant like North Labs would have to bill the customer for all of those 3000 hours. But now, with the Service Catalog capabilities provided with MontyCloud, 85-90% of that work is already done. Collin says, “We can point that module at the customer environment, click a button, and it deploys into their managed Oasys environment in 45 minutes. We spend about 200 hours hooking up some of the wiring, and then everything works and is well integrated and monitored by MontyCloud. When our customers can spend 10% of what they would otherwise spend, they immediately recognize the value to their business.”
More Budget to Build Differentiated Capabilities Increases ROI
MontyCloud’s Service Catalog capabilities combined with blueprints eliminates the need to pay a systems integrator hundreds of thousands of dollars to stand up the foundations of a data architecture, regardless of whether customers use a funding program such as AWS Partner Opportunity Acceleration (POA), AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), or JumpStart. Using the AWS Built-in solution, North Labs can deliver the same output in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.
“The immense savings we provide organizations gives customers a surplus of budget to build differentiated capabilities with AWS,” says Collin. “Let's face it. Setting up the tooling is undifferentiated. It falls into that 80% of the iceberg that’s below the waterline, not in the 20% where customers get actual ROI. Our goal is to flip that formula on its head. With MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution, we can remove all of that undifferentiated tasking using technology-driven professional services and free our customer’s time to build measurable impact for their organizations across their cloud and data footprints.”
North Labs Saves Time and Money with Fewer Resources
North Labs as a company has also seen dramatic cost savings since launching MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution, especially when considering the amount of personnel needed to deliver projects successfully. Collin says, “Now we're in a position where our teams can almost leverage MontyCloud as an operations engineer for the team. MontyCloud can do so much in an automated fashion, and combined with the capabilities we've developed at North Labs, it can act on behalf of these teams and help them do their jobs better.”
According to Collin, what used to take seven or eight delivery teams by the end of next year to hit growth goals, now North Labs only needs between four and five. “That's going to save me $3 million in personnel costs next year. Those figures showcase the efficiencies we’ve unlocked with MontyCloud, and they are just really remarkable. And we're going to continue building on top of MontyCloud to add even more operational capabilities for our North Labs teams.”
MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution is a massive step forward in addressing customer frustration with cloud operations. By partnering with MontyCloud and AWS Built-in, North Labs is in a prime position to bring operational continuity to customers so they can get optimal value from AWS services and ISV tools. According to Collin, “MontyCloud’s AWS Built-in solution combined with North Labs' experience and reputation represents the fastest path to data modernization in the industry. It lets us move the value needle for customers as early as possible in the relationship by addressing the two most common customer goals—getting the best value from their system data and finding the best way to mitigate risks.”
About North Labs
North Labs is a veteran-owned AWS consulting partner that helps organizations accomplish their most mission-critical data transformation objectives, enabling them to capture insights and seize opportunities that drive value. Their goal is to free organizations from the burdens of technical intricacies so they can focus on what truly matters: their vision, growth, and innovation.
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