Conquering the challenges of managing cloud-based apps

Network Instruments updates its Observer software to monitor multi-tiered applications and cloud computing services.

Network Instruments extends it Observer to monitor the health and performance of applications across multiple tiers, including internal and external cloud computing environments.

The promise of rapidly deployed, pay-as-you-go cloud-based services appeals to many, but research shows IT managers remain cautious and concerned about visibility and control in cloud computing environments.

Many managers see cloud computing as risky business

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According to the first annual ISACA IT Risk/Reward Barometer survey, nearly half of more than 1,800 U.S. IT professionals surveyed feel that the potential risks associated with cloud computing outweigh the sought-after benefits. The survey also revealed that 10% of respondents’ organizations plan to use cloud computing for mission-critical IT services and about one-quarter do not plan to use cloud for any IT services.

“The cloud represents a major change in how computing resources will be utilized, so it’s not surprising that IT professionals have concerns about risk vs. reward trade-offs,” said Robert Stroud, international vice president of ISACA and vice president of IT service management and governance for the service management business unit at CA, in a statement. “But risk and value are two sides of the same coin. If cloud computing is treated as a major governance initiative involving a broad set of stakeholders, it has the potential to yield benefits that can equal or outweigh the risks.”

One way to reduce risks is through IT management software, says Network Instruments co-founder and President Douglas Smith, who says cloud computing represents another tier on which the company’s software monitors application performance. The company added capabilities to the latest release of its Observer Reporting Server platform with performance dashboards that can show application and service performance and health.

“Our customers need both a packet-by-packet or transaction-by-transaction view as well as reports on the overall health of their applications,” Smith says. “With the new dashboards, IT managers can see performance issues and drill down to understand if the source is on their network, a service provider’s or an external cloud services provider.”

With competition from the likes of Nimsoft, recently acquired by CA, Network Instruments says giving IT managers visibility into cloud service performance will help them troubleshoot problems but also be able to reliably prove to providers exactly where the issues exist.

“When working with third-party environments, Observer can help rule out other variable and more quickly pinpoint the actual error,” Smith says.

The company also updated Observer with features that prevent performance baselines from drifting over time, causing inaccuracies in the analysis. This release also includes selective storage capabilities for storing packet-level data long-term for compliance purposes. And Network Instruments enhanced support for financial applications to track trade-level errors over multiple days.

Available now, the Observer Reporting Server appliance begins at $25,000.

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