Cloud Monitoring: Overview and Best Practices

July 18, 2018 Published in: Cloud Author: Vedran Bozicevic

Almost all business use cloud in one way or another these days. And since cloud is such an important part of an organization’s operations, it’s obvious that you need to monitor it. This article gives an overview of cloud monitoring and provides examples of best practices.

Modern businesses rely on cloud computing to deliver content and applications to end users in a fast, reliable and secure way. Despite all the advantages the cloud offers, however, it’s a complex environment that requires constant monitoring in order to be optimized.

What is cloud monitoring?

Cloud computing is a term used to describe the use of hardware and software delivered via network (usually the Internet). The term comes from the use of cloud shaped symbol that represents abstraction of rather complex infrastructure that enables the work of software, hardware, computation and remote services.

Cloud monitoring assesses the elements of cloud performance for cloud systems and vendor services. Using various metrics and methodologies, organizations performing cloud monitoring try to ensure that systems are providing benchmark levels of access and desired outcomes.

Cloud monitoring is generally performed as part of an overall cloud management strategy, enabling IT administrators to review the operational status of cloud-based resources. It also provides a holistic view of cloud metrics, customer flow, log data and more.

cloud monitoring

What to monitor

There are multiple types of cloud services to monitor. Cloud monitoring is not just about monitoring servers hosted on AWS or Azure. For enterprises, they also put a lot of importance into monitoring cloud-based services that they consume, for example:

  • SaaS – Services like Office 365, Salesforce and others
  • PaaS – Developer friendly services like SQL databases, caching, storage and more
  • IaaS – Servers hosted by cloud providers like Azure, AWS, Digital Ocean, and others
  • FaaS – New serverless applications like AWS Lambda and Azure Functions
  • Application Hosting – Services like Azure App Services, Heroku, etc

The cloud has many moving parts, and it’s important to ensure everything works together seamlessly to optimize performance. Cloud monitoring primarily includes functions such as:

  • Website monitoring: Tracking the processes, traffic, availability and resource utilization of cloud-hosted websites
  • Virtual machine monitoring: Monitoring the virtualization infrastructure and individual virtual machines
  • Database monitoring: Monitoring processes, queries, availability, and consumption of cloud database resources
  • Virtual network monitoring: Monitoring virtual network resources, devices, connections, and performance
  • Cloud storage monitoring: Monitoring storage resources and their processes provisioned to virtual machines, services, databases, and applications

Cloud monitoring is easier if you operate in a private cloud due to increased control and visibility, since you have access to the systems and software stack. Though monitoring can be more difficult in public or hybrid clouds, application performance monitoring tools give you visibility into performance behaviors.

Monitoring a hybrid cloud environment presents more difficulties than monitoring a private cloud, since your data resides in both the private cloud and the public cloud.

Cloud monitoring best practices

Keeping a healthy and productive cloud enviroment is never an easy task. There are many approaches an organization can take to tackle this challenge, but here are some best practices every business should follow.

Monitor the end user experience

Providing a reliable, seamless and satisfying user experience should be the goal of every business. Monitoring end user experience gives you important insights about customer satisfaction and can directly lead to increased revenue.

To effectively monitor user experience, you’ll want a sophisticated monitoring platform that can accept the response time data and feed it back through the system as familiar, recognizable data. With uniform metric, flow and log data, the IT department can set alerts and act quickly if an issue arises.

Monitor metrics such as response times and frequency of use to get the complete picture of performance.

Monitor cloud and on-premises infrastructure from a single platform

Businesses control the performance of their on-premises infrastructure to deliver desired results. However, with the introduction of the cloud infrastructure, a new problem appears — they now have two systems to monitor and control. Integrating the data from both systems can seem challenging, but organizations should strive for that level of integration.

A single platform that monitors both cloud and on-premises infrastructure performance can pull third-party data from cloud services like AWS, and enable a real-time overview of all crucial cloud performance KPIs. KPIs you should monior include:

  • Performance
  • Cost
  • Security
  • Data Backup/Recovery

When your data is uniform across whatever objects and devices you’re monitoring – whether they’re in the datacenter or in the cloud – you have complete visibility into your network and applications.

Monitor security

Security is crucial in the cloud so gaining strict control over data at all endpoints helps mitigate risks. Solutions that scan, analyze, and take action on data before it leaves the network help protect against data loss. It’s also important to scan, evaluate, and classify data before it’s downloaded to the network to avoid malware and data breaches.

Monitor cloud usage and fees

The ability to scale is a feature is a key feature of cloud services, but increased use can trigger increased costs. Robust monitoring solutions should track how much organization activity is on the cloud and how much it costs.

Automate tasks

Automating tasks is standard advice for all types of technologies and the commonly discussed recommendation also applies to your AWS cloud. With highly distributed IT teams having more control over provisioning resources, automation is becoming crucial as a means of avoiding permission restrictions and other time delays which have previously plagued legacy IT environments.

Proper automation processes (often a central part of the DevOps methodology) are a great way of achieving cloud productivity and keeping up with configuration, security and compliance measures that play a key part in driving down costs and increasing productivity.

Conclusion

Cloud monitoring refers to the process of controlling and optimizing organization’s cloud infrastructure. Using various metrics and methodologies, organizations performing cloud monitoring try to ensure that systems are providing benchmark levels of access and desired outcomes.

Similar to other systems, the cloud also needs to be monitored to be used effectively and deliver expected results.

If you have any questions about how to effectively adopt the cloud for your business, or how to optimize your cloud performance and reduce costs, contact us today to help you out with your performance and security needs.

Vedran Bozicevic

I am a digital marketer with several years of experience with various types of online marketing technologies and channels. Before joining GlobalDots, my experience included working as a content marketing manager for a software development company, and several others marketing positions where I worked on digital marketing strategies and channels.

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