How cloud monitoring delivers both challenges and benefits
Article by Gigamon country manager for A/NZ George Tsoukas.
The cloud is a highly complex environment. To help ensure that organisations derive maximum advantage out of it, they need to see exactly what’s happening at all times. They need cloud monitoring.
Cloud monitoring provides the power to keep an eye on data and processes in the cloud. The term describes the tools, techniques and strategies associated with monitoring, reviewing, accessing and managing processes, data, and operational workflow within a cloud infrastructure or cloud-based asset.
In other words, effective cloud monitoring provides a detailed picture of the health and operational status of every relevant cloud-based component and device.
Cloud-based monitoring tools gather critical operational data from the cloud and then present it to a company’s authorised cloud administrator via graphs, charts, logs and alerts.
The reality of cloud monitoring is not quite so cut and dried. After all, there are three types of cloud, many kinds of data, and almost innumerable cloud components operating at once. To ensure that cloud initiatives are performing to their potential, cloud monitoring takes several different forms.
The following are the five most common types:
1. Website monitoring
At their most basic, websites consist of files stored on a host computer, either owned by a specific organisation or the cloud-service provider and shared with other computers across a network.
When working with websites, cloud monitoring focuses on user experience and availability and the availability of important resources. Cloud-based website monitoring tracks website traffic, processes, time on page, resource usage, and search availability.
2. Database monitoring
Since data is an essential part of any modern business, finding and managing important data in the cloud is an absolute must. Cloud-based database monitoring involves accessing data integrity, tracking queries, reviewing processes, tracking availability, and charting cloud-database resource usage.
Database monitoring helps inform updates and logs requests for data access, making it a valuable security tool.
3. Cloud storage monitoring
Cloud monitoring for cloud storage applications is capable of tracking a range of analytes simultaneously. Often used in hosting infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud storage monitoring charts available storage, user actions, processes, and various performance metrics.
4. Virtual network monitoring
Cloud monitoring in virtual networks creates virtual versions of important network elements, namely firewalls, routers, and load balancers. These software-based elements provide detailed operational information, real-time, analysing the virtual network and making vital recommendations where needed.
5. Virtual machine monitoring
Virtual machine monitoring is most commonly used as part of the IaaS model, often incorporating a virtual server hosting multiple virtual desktops. This form of cloud monitoring charts traffic and users, along with the infrastructure and status of every associated virtual machine. Virtual machine monitoring offers the benefits of cloud-based monitoring and fills the role of IT infrastructure monitoring for virtual desktops.
Cloud monitoring gives organisations the ability to closely observe their services and applications centred in the cloud, providing essential data, valuable insights, and alerts to possible upcoming issues or disruptions.
Taken together, cloud monitoring empowers businesses to reduce the downtime of their cloud-based apps, processes, data and initiatives. But what exactly does this mean for a business?
Here are several benefits of cloud monitoring:
- Quickly identify threats or other problems before they can create interruptions in service.
- Monitor relevant KPIs in real-time with up-to-the-minute reporting to ensure that the business is always moving in the right direction.
- Protect against data loss by identifying and analysing all data that leaves the network, minimising the impact of potential data breaches.
- Improve performance with high-quality APIs, protected by authentication protocols.
- Locate and repair delays within application workflow for improved response times.
While cloud monitoring offers many advantages, there are some challenges. First, though, it’s worth noting that the right cloud monitoring services are more than capable of working with individuals and businesses to overcome these challenges. In most cases, the benefits of cloud monitoring significantly outweigh any potential obstacles.
With that in mind, here are three hurdles to successful cloud monitoring:
Lack of skills
As more and more organisations make digital transformation a top priority, it’s becoming apparent that there exists a cloud-skill shortage.
According to a recent Gartner survey, 63% of senior executives identify talent shortage as a significant concern for their organisation. Businesses without the right IT talent may have trouble properly managing cloud monitoring solutions. That said, most established cloud monitoring service providers can work with clients to operate a desired target environment smoothly and securely.
Multiple cloud providers
In enterprises, 92% of businesses use multiple clouds, public and private, to support evolving IT infrastructures.
This multi-cloud strategy may allow organisations to better address their unique needs, but it also creates increased complexity in terms of cloud structure, making cloud monitoring a difficult prospect.
Different cloud providers may result in siloed data and tools, forcing clients to adopt a range of vendor-specific monitoring tools to properly track cloud performance.
Hybrid clouds face many of the same challenges as multi-cloud strategies. In a hybrid setup, data resides in both public and private cloud environments. Attempting to monitor that data and track processes when dealing with two distinct kinds of cloud may result in a lack of visibility.
Again, public cloud providers generally supply their own monitoring tools, but there’s no guarantee those tools will function well in conjunction with an organisation’s own private-cloud monitoring solutions.
Overcoming these challenges is a top priority for many organisations that are interested in monitoring and improving the performance of their cloud applications.