As an AWS Well-Architected Partner, Zuggand helps customers in the public and private sectors, both existing cloud users and those just starting the migration process, improve the security and efficiency of their AWS Cloud architecture—as much as $27,000 per month. Zuggand has established itself as a reliable expert on migration and management of computing and storage on the AWS Cloud and continues to build a solid customer base.
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Partner Success Story – Zuggand
Zuggand is a small technology consulting company with big goals. Founded in 2015, the Arizona-based company got its start advising the State of Arizona and other government entities interested in shifting their computing operations to the cloud. As Zuggand looked to expand to the private sector, it became an early authorized member of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Well-Architected Partner Program. This program trains AWS Partner Network (APN) Consulting Partners on how to perform Well-Architected workload reviews. This in turn enables them to help AWS customers establish good architectural habits, eliminate risk, and respond faster to changes that affect designs, applications, and workloads.
Zuggand has always been on the cloud, and two months after its inception, it became an APN Partner. It has worked with companies ranging from startups to massive enterprises, and its main focus is working with leaders looking to accelerate cloud adoption and business innovation. Although Zuggand works with companies in a variety of industries, the majority of its customers are in technology, healthcare, state and local government, higher education, manufacturing, and semiconductors—and one thing it always recommends to its customers is an AWS Well-Architected Review.
“We love the AWS Well-Architected Review program. It’s so easy and powerful—it blows my mind that other partners aren’t taking advantage of it.” – Aaron Sandeen, Cofounder and CEO of Zuggand
An Early Adopter of the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program
Zuggand’s story begins 10 years ago, when Aaron Sandeen, as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the State of Arizona, began shifting much of the state’s technology infrastructure to AWS. “We’d experiment and try little services and discovered how easy it was for us to do that and use them,” says Sandeen. The experience Sandeen had migrating Arizona’s infrastructure to AWS drove him to start his own company that would focus on cloud consulting. “Once we saw how easy it was, we started saying, ‘Hey, let’s do more.’”
Zuggand quickly became a certified APN Advanced Consulting Partner, and in 2017, the company went all in on AWS and joined the Well-Architected Partner Program. “As a customer, we engaged AWS to do a Well-Architected Review and therefore were already familiar with the process and the value it provides,” says Phil Manfredi, Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of Zuggand. “We knew we wanted to join the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program as soon as we found out about it.” In 2018, Zuggand became just the 35th company in the world to be authorized for the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program, and from the early stages, Sandeen and his team approached AWS program managers to focus the company’s AWS offerings and increase its customer base. “AWS was amazing at honing us and helping us think about our identity,” Sandeen says. “Who are we? What do we do? Where’s our experience? Who’s our target audience? What are we good at? What are we not good at yet?”
As Zuggand was already familiar with AWS in general and the Well-Architected Review in particular, integrating Well-Architected Reviews into its operations was a breeze: “It really was not challenging at all,” says Manfredi. “We were trained by AWS, incorporated it into our sales process, and then began to offer this frictionless, low-risk service to our customers.”
Diversifying Its Portfolio of Industries and Customers
Simultaneous with becoming an authorized AWS Well-Architected Partner, Zuggand was making the strategic decision to expand its portfolio to target new industries. Having the ability to offer AWS Well-Architected Reviews became a huge selling point in this expansion of its business. “The AWS Well-Architected Partner Program really helps the customer build a relationship with us to see how we work,” says Sandeen. “It also gives us unfiltered access to AWS environments—its applications, challenges, systems, people, and processes.”
Another offering that makes Zuggand unique is its internship (“Zintern”) program, through which Zuggand’s AWS architects teach classes focused on helping people pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate examination. “We follow the AWS best practices in the class, teaching these practices as part of our core curriculum,” says Sandeen. “And we got the idea to have folks sit in on the Well-Architected Reviews and have them help remediate the issues we identified through the Well-Architected Review process.” This new element of the Zintern program helps give interns hands-on experience on AWS, providing them more opportunities to move up the career ladder within Zuggand.
Helping Companies Achieve Security, Efficiency, and Cost Savings
The payoffs of Zuggand’s Well-Architected Review program authorization were quickly passed on to its customers. “Following the Well-Architected Framework enables our customers to secure their operations, optimize their workloads, and use DevOps and DevSecOps,” Sandeen says, “so they can innovate using advanced AWS capabilities such as data lakes, containers, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.”
Improving a customer’s security posture is always a critical selling point. Healthcare customers are concerned about HIPAA compliance, for instance, whereas financial customers are looking to meet protocols for a System and Organization Controls (SOC) audit. Sometimes, customers originally focused solely on cost savings discovered they had security concerns once Zuggand performed the Well-Architected Review. “We have had several customers that were initially focused on cost optimization,” says Sandeen. “And when we went through the review, we found several critical security issues that needed immediate remediation.”
However, cost optimization is definitely a benefit for Zuggand’s customers. Sandeen notes one customer that was significantly overprovisioning its instances and had less than optimal storage configurations and policies. “It got to the point where the customer’s CFO started calling the CIO and saying, ‘You guys can’t keep doing this; it’s not sustainable.’ Through our Well-Architected Review, we went in and found this basic block-and-tackle stuff. With just a couple of configuration suggestions, the company was able to reduce its bill by $27,000 a month.”
Since it started conducting Well-Architected Reviews, Zuggand has helped 40 customers secure and optimize their critical workloads. Sandeen explains, “We work with customers to identify multiple workloads, each of which is eligible for $5,000 in credits to the customer. The program’s flexibility enables us to add tremendous value at little to no cost to our customers.”
As an early adopter, Zuggand uses the AWS Well-Architected Review Program to enable companies to optimize, migrate, and modernize their critical applications. Zuggand’s primary focus is on helping customers use AWS to improve their performance, reliability, security, cost optimization, and operations excellence.
According to Sandeen, “The Well-Architected Review is a win-win-win. The customer’s winning. AWS is winning. And we’re winning.”