AWS Fully Managed Services vs Unmanaged

By JJ Rosen June 25, 2024
aws managed services vs managed

When managing your cloud infrastructure on AWS, choosing between fully managed services and unmanaged options can greatly impact your efficiency and control. With fully managed services, AWS handles routine administration, maintenance, and upgrades, allowing you to focus on your applications and business growth. Services like Amazon RDS and Amazon DynamoDB exemplify this by taking care of backups and updates, ensuring smooth operation without your direct intervention.

In contrast, unmanaged services offer you greater control and flexibility. You can configure and manage resources to fit your specific needs, but this comes with increased responsibility for maintaining and updating your infrastructure. This option may be beneficial if you need custom configurations or have specialized requirements that managed services can’t accommodate.

Understanding the differences between fully managed services and unmanaged services is crucial for optimizing your cloud strategy. By weighing the pros and cons of each approach, you can make informed decisions that align with your operational goals and resource capabilities.

Understanding AWS Managed Services

AWS Managed Services (AMS) offers enterprises a comprehensive solution for managing cloud infrastructure, focusing on improving efficiency, security, and compliance.

Benefits of AWS Managed Services

AWS Managed Services provides several key benefits. One major advantage is improved security. AMS incorporates best practices to protect your data and applications. With proactive monitoring, AMS can identify and address potential security issues before they become significant problems.

Another benefit is compliance support. AWS Managed Services helps you meet various regulatory standards, ensuring your environment stays compliant with industry-specific regulations.

Additionally, AMS handles routine updates and patches, so your systems are always up-to-date with the latest security and performance improvements. This reduces the operational burden on your IT team, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks.

Scope of AWS Managed Services

AMS covers a broad scope of services to help you manage your AWS environment effectively. It offers monitoring and incident management, ensuring that any issues are identified and resolved quickly. This service keeps your systems running smoothly and minimizes downtime.

Change management is another important aspect of AMS. It allows you to implement changes in a controlled and systematic way, reducing the risk of errors. AMS also supports patch management, making sure all your instances are up-to-date with the latest patches.

Moreover, AWS Managed Services provides cost optimization. By leveraging AWS best practices, AMS can help you manage and control your spending, ensuring that you get the best value from your AWS investments.

For more details on what AMS offers, visit the AWS Managed Services FAQ.

Exploring Unmanaged AWS Services

Unmanaged AWS services offer you full control and flexibility over your infrastructure. This approach requires you to handle everything from configurations to security measures.

Characteristics of Self-Managed Services

With self-managed services, you are responsible for the entire lifecycle of your infrastructure. This includes setting up, configuring, and maintaining your AWS environment. It means you need to manage updates, patches, and scaling.

These services often require a deep understanding of AWS tools and features. You need to be skilled in areas like networking, security, and system administration to keep everything running smoothly.

You also have to monitor your resources yourself and ensure that they are optimized for performance and cost.

Benefits of Self-Management

Using self-managed services gives you full control over your environment. You can customize the configurations to meet your specific needs without relying on third-party automation or restrictions.

Flexibility is another significant benefit. You can choose the exact versions of software and tools you need and make changes anytime. This adaptability is crucial for businesses with unique requirements.

Self-management can be cost-effective if you have an in-house IT team. By avoiding the additional costs of managed services, your expenses could be lower overall.

Key Differences Between Managed and Unmanaged

When comparing AWS managed cloud services and self-managed services, two main factors help you decide: responsibility and accountability, and cost implications. Each has its own advantages and challenges, which are vital to understand for making the right choice.

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Responsibility and Accountability

In a managed cloud service, AWS handles a lot of the heavy lifting for you. This includes regular maintenance, security updates, and deployment management. Your team can focus more on developing and innovating rather than dealing with routine tasks.

With self-managed services, you are responsible for the full stack. You handle everything from server maintenance to ensuring security protocols are up-to-date. This can offer more control but demands a higher level of expertise and resources.

Choosing a managed service like AWS Managed Services can also provide increased reliability since AWS uses best practices and specialized automations. In contrast, a self-managed approach gives you more tailored control but requires constant vigilance and troubleshooting from your team.

Cost Implications

Cost is another crucial factor. Managed services usually come with a higher initial price tag. You’re paying for convenience, expertise, and scalability. These costs can sometimes be offset by savings in time and reduced need for a large IT team.

On the flip side, self-managed services might appear cheaper up front. However, these costs can add up. Think about the resources needed for regular maintenance, updates, and fixing potential issues. There are also hidden costs like downtime or data loss if something goes wrong.

For example, using Amazon RDS can simplify database management but comes at a price. In contrast, self-managing a database might save some money but could require more in-house staff and expertise.

Service Models Comparison

Understanding the differences between fully-managed and partially managed services can help you choose the right model for your needs. Additionally, seeing how these services impact deployment can guide you in making an informed decision.

Fully-Managed vs. Partially Managed

Fully-managed services are handled entirely by the service provider. AWS takes care of routine administration, maintenance, and upgrades. Examples include Amazon RDS and Amazon DynamoDB. This means less manual work for you, letting you focus on core business activities.

Partially managed services, on the other hand, offer some automated features but require more manual intervention. They might need you to handle specific configurations or updates. Tools like EC2 let you see and define underlying instances, thus requiring more involvement from your side.

Both models use serverless computing and containers to streamline operations, but fully-managed services typically offer a more seamless and hassle-free approach.

Managed Services Impact on Deployment

The impact of managed services on deployment is significant. Fully-managed services simplify deployment, allowing you to launch applications faster. With AWS Managed Services, the provider handles the heavy lifting, ensuring scalability and security.

Using managed services reduces the need for in-depth IT knowledge and minimizes errors. Deployment becomes more straightforward and less error-prone. This is ideal for businesses looking to enhance efficiency.

Serverless architectures like AWS Lambda can further optimize deployment, eliminating the need to manage server infrastructure. Container services such as AWS Fargate allow for flexible deployment, letting you focus on building and running applications without managing the servers yourself.

Overall, managed services make the deployment process smoother and more efficient.

Security and Compliance Aspects

When choosing between fully managed and unmanaged services, security and compliance are critical factors. Managed services can significantly improve security and ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

Managed Services Security Benefits

AWS Managed Services (AMS) provides a secure environment by implementing best practices and robust security measures. With managed services, you get continuous monitoring and automated security checks, ensuring threats are detected and mitigated quickly.

AMS employs standard AWS security services such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), encryption, and network firewalls to protect your data. They also include multi-factor authentication (MFA) to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, AMS offers periodic security audits and assessments, which help identify potential vulnerabilities and address them proactively.

By using managed services, you minimize the risk of security malfunctions caused by misconfiguration, human error, or lack of expertise. This ongoing management ensures your infrastructure stays secure without requiring extensive in-house IT resources.

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Compliance Assurance in Managed Services

With managed services, compliance becomes much easier to achieve. AWS Managed Services helps you adhere to industry standards and regulatory requirements by employing a shared responsibility model. This model clearly defines what AWS handles and what you need to manage, reducing compliance burdens.

Managed services offer tools and support for maintaining compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, SOC, and PCI DSS. AMS’s use of predefined configurations and policies ensures that your environment consistently meets these standards.

Compliance audits and automated reporting features in AMS make it simple to track and document your compliance status. Additionally, these services provide guidance and templates to help you understand and fulfill your responsibilities, ensuring your applications meet necessary compliance standards. For more information, you can learn more about security and compliance on the AWS website.

Performance and Scaling Considerations

When it comes to performance and scaling, AWS managed services offer significant advantages over unmanaged solutions. These services allow you to focus on your core business while AWS handles scaling and performance optimization.

Scaling Infrastructure with AWS Managed Services

AWS managed services like Auto Scaling and AWS Lambda automatically adjust resources based on current demand. With Auto Scaling, your application can handle varying loads by dynamically adjusting the number of EC2 instances.

Serverless options like Lambda scale automatically as needed. There’s no need to manage servers or worry about scaling; AWS takes care of that. This method ensures high availability and minimizes downtime, which is crucial for applications requiring consistent performance.

Additionally, managed services like AWS DynamoDB handle scaling behind the scenes. They automatically increase read and write capacity as your application needs grow. This approach helps you avoid performance bottlenecks and maintain smooth operations.

Optimizing Application Performance

Managed services focus on optimizing performance by taking care of underlying infrastructure tasks. For example, AWS Lambda not only scales automatically but also improves performance by running code in response to events, eliminating idle server time.

AWS Managed Services offer comprehensive monitoring and performance adjustments. These services use metrics and user-defined thresholds to keep performance optimal. CloudWatch gathers data on various aspects of your infrastructure, allowing real-time tracking and quick resolution of any issues.

Using services like DynamoDB ensures low-latency access to your data, as AWS manages all the backend tasks required for performance. This results in faster query processing and overall improved responsiveness for your applications.

Operational Efficiencies in Managed Services

AWS Managed Services (AMS) can significantly improve your operations by enabling better innovation and allowing for more focused resource allocation. This leads to efficient operations and a stronger emphasis on core business activities.

Impact on Innovation

Using AWS Managed Services can free up your team’s time and resources. When AWS handles routine tasks such as maintenance and monitoring, your team can focus on creating and improving new products and services.

AMS implements best practices that ensure your infrastructure remains reliable. This proactive approach can reduce operational hiccups, allowing you to innovate without frequent interruptions. According to AWS, their managed services include proactive, preventative measures designed to enhance overall efficiency.

By offloading operational tasks to an AWS managed service provider, you foster an environment that prioritizes innovation. You spend less time firefighting tech issues and more time developing cloud applications that can drive your business forward.

Resource Allocation and Operational Focus

Choosing AWS managed services means you allocate your resources more effectively. Instead of dedicating significant internal resources to IT management, your operations team can focus on strategic initiatives.

AMS offers a structured operations plan that includes maintenance, security, and backups. This comprehensive support means fewer emergencies and a more stable infrastructure.

Efficient resource allocation ensures that operational focus is maintained. AWS handles the technical aspects, which means your IT team can dedicate its efforts to tasks that drive growth and align with business objectives.

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When resource allocation is optimized with AWS managed services, your organization can achieve operational excellence and stay competitive in the market.

Considerations for Migrating to Managed Services

Migrating to AWS managed services requires careful planning around your current infrastructure and the migration process itself. Key factors include evaluating what you already have and creating a detailed migration plan to ensure smooth transitions.

Evaluating Existing Infrastructure

Start by assessing your current infrastructure. Identify which parts of your setup are suitable for managed services. This can include databases like Amazon RDS that already offer managed options.

Next, evaluate your networking setup. Managed services might need changes in your networking components. Ensure your existing network can integrate seamlessly with AWS services.

Consider the resource requirements for each component to determine if managed services can accommodate your needs. This includes checking if the managed service supports the capacity and scalability you require within the cloud continuum.

Finally, review any custom configurations and dependencies. Understand what custom configurations might be lost and whether the managed service can handle those requirements effectively.

Planning the Migration Process

Once you understand your infrastructure, create a detailed migration plan. Identify each step needed to move components from self-managed to managed services.

Set clear timelines and milestones for each migration phase, ensuring minimal disruption. Address how databases and networking components will be transitioned without affecting other operations.

Backup important data before starting. This includes ensuring database contents are securely saved. For complex configurations, perform a test migration on a smaller scale first.

Consider the need for training or support during the migration. Your team should understand how to work with the new managed service environment to maintain operations smoothly.

Finally, monitor the post-migration performance to ensure everything operates as expected. Address any performance issues promptly to get the most out of your move to managed services.


Choosing between AWS fully managed services and unmanaged services depends on your business needs and technical resources.

If you lack an in-house IT team, fully managed services from a cloud service provider like Amazon Web Services can be a great option. They handle maintenance, updates, and scaling, allowing you to focus on other areas.

On the other hand, unmanaged services give you more control. You can customize configurations to better fit your specific requirements. This is ideal if you have technical expertise and prefer hands-on management.

Pros of fully managed services include:

  • Maintenance: Handled by the provider
  • Scalability: Easy to scale according to needs
  • Updates: Automatic updates and patches

Cons of fully managed services:

  • Cost: Can be higher due to added convenience
  • Control: Less control over configurations

Pros of unmanaged services:

  • Control: More control over the environment
  • Customization: Tailor services to exact needs
  • Cost: Potentially lower if you manage efficiently

Cons of unmanaged services:

  • Maintenance: You handle all updates and scaling
  • Expertise Required: Need for technical knowledge

In cloud computing solutions, the choice will impact how you manage or delegate IT responsibilities. Consider your business size, technical expertise, and specific needs when making a decision. Both managed and unmanaged services offer unique benefits that cater to different requirements in cloud management.

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