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Understanding the Cloud Monitoring Evolution

A performance visibility strategy allows cloud transparency for IT

The adoption of cloud resources is understandably impacting an organization’s ability to monitor assets that are not only outside its four walls, but often on shared infrastructure in remote locations.

While leveraging the cloud provides organizations with unparalleled access to valuable scalability and agility, it also results in IT losing direct control and visibility. Simply measuring cloud service availability isn’t enough. Organizations need to measure consumption levels (especially KPIs used for billing), as well as the impact of cloud service access on the rest of the infrastructure. In addition, organizations need to ensure their cloud-based resources are keeping up with what businesses need to evolve.

The big question is – how can you monitor something you no longer own and have limited control over? The answer, to some extent, depends on the type of service under consideration. Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource usage by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled and reported, which provides transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.

In IaaS and PaaS deployments, IT operations teams do not manage the underlying cloud infrastructure, but have control over the operating systems and applications deployed in an IaaS. In the PaaS model, cloud providers limit controls to the application. IT operations teams can leverage similar performance visibility strategies as SaaS models, but there’s more that can be done.

Cloud deployment models require a performance monitoring platform that can acquire and correlate a broad set of data. This may include performance visibility by leveraging multiple methods for data collection and analysis, such as SNMP, NetFlow, and IP SLA to understand response times and health of the network and system infrastructure.

More often than not, these traditional methods are deployed locally, and watch the performance of remote infrastructure and services by observing their local counterparts. In the case of the cloud, it is more common to have detailed metrics collected via APIs. This is certainly the case with IaaS market share leaders such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Understanding service adoption, and how the service is consumed in some cases, is also just as important as availability and performance. Thus, end user experience monitoring (WiFi, access, etc.) should not be understated.

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