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Cloud Monitoring: Overview and Best Practices

Admin Globaldots
18.07.2018
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Almost all businesses use the cloud in one way or another these days. And since the 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 to be optimized.

What is cloud monitoring?

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.

In a world where organizations are increasingly using the cloud, cloud monitoring is extremely crucial. It allows administrators to ensure that the cloud-based system remains highly available by constantly measuring vital metrics.

What to monitor

In a cloud-based ecosystem, enterprises have a huge number of cloud services to monitor. Cloud monitoring is not restricted to workloads hosted on popular public cloud computing services such as AWS, Google or Azure. Enterprises can monitor SaaS (applications such as Salesforce or Office365), PaaS (Example: Google App Engine, SAP Cloud) or IaaS (Example: AWS EC2, Google Compute Engine)

Types of cloud monitoring functions

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

Website monitoring is crucial for ensuring the availability and performance of a website. Website monitoring tools are extremely useful in tracking the processes, traffic, availability, and resource utilization of cloud-hosted websites. Using these tools, enterprises can measure page loading time, monitor end-user experience, and test website performance concerning different regions or devices.

Virtual machine monitoring

Virtual machine monitoring is used to monitor and ensure the availability and high performance of virtual machines. Virtual machine monitoring tools can alert administrators when specific thresholds are crossed. This helps administrators resolve issues proactively before they escalate further.

Database monitoring

Database monitoring tools are used to track and measure database performance to ensure stable availability and accessibility. Using database monitoring tools, enterprises can monitor processes, perform queries and measure the availability and consumption of cloud database resources on a real-time basis. The metrics provided by the database monitoring tools are used to ensure the high availability of database infrastructure. Insights obtained from database monitoring tools are used by administrators to proactively resolve issues before they impact application performance

Virtual network monitoring

Today, virtual networks are being used extensively by organizations to improve their networking capabilities by enabling devices to get connected virtually across different locations. Unlike physical networks which use cables to connect devices, virtual networks establish connectivity using the software. However, virtual networks, unless monitored and configured properly, can cause performance issues. Virtual network monitoring tools are useful in gaining a complete overview of your virtual networks and understanding the key issues causing performance bottlenecks. With virtual network monitoring tools, enterprises can ensure efficient management of resources for improving connectivity and accessibility.

Cloud storage monitoring

Cloud storage monitoring tools are used to track cloud-based storage resources and interlinked processes such as databases, applications, services or virtual machines. Cloud storage monitoring tools can be used by enterprises to analyze metrics such as the storage memory consumed, the health and performance of the storage system and a status check on backups. It is also relatively easy to understand and predict utilization trends and plan capacity for the future

With cloud storage monitoring tools, enterprises can analyze their storage buckets and get alerts when specific thresholds are crossed. With cloud storage monitoring tools, enterprises can detect performance issues proactively before they escalate and cause any downtime. These tools are also used to get insights into weekly or monthly storage-related trends which is useful for making informed decisions such as forecasting and planning for future growth.

Types of clouds that can be monitored

Cloud monitoring tools can be used to monitor the three major types of clouds: Private Clouds, Public Clouds, and Hybrid Clouds

 

Private cloud monitoring

Private cloud monitoring tools enable enterprises to monitor available resources concerning demand and consumption. 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. Private cloud monitoring tools are also useful for helping enterprises understand the usage of different departments. Using these tools, historical performance can be tracked and monitored on a real-time basis to identify and resolve performance issues.

Public cloud monitoring

With public cloud monitoring tools, enterprises can manage and monitor their workloads across all the major public cloud platforms. This includes measuring real-time performance and tracking the availability of virtual machines and their networks used by the cloud service provider. Public cloud monitoring tools also help enterprises use best practices with standard configurations to ensure compliance and security.

Hybrid cloud monitoring

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. This is where hybrid cloud monitoring tools can play a big role. Hybrid cloud monitoring tools can help enterprises trace or find out the root cause of any issue. Hybrid cloud monitoring tools also help enterprises in analyzing how every component of the cloud ecosystem (applications, networks, databases) is performing.

Types of Cloud monitoring strategies

The performance of a cloud-based infrastructure can be measured using different key performance indicators. Cloud monitoring tools can help enterprises monitor key indicators such as CPU utilization, network, storage space, database connections, and network latency. From a cloud perspective, some important KPIs that must be constantly measured are cost, security incidents, and compliance. Cloud monitoring tools can help in flagging off any major variance from the defined threshold. For example, if there is a variance of cloud budgets exceeding due to overconsumption of cloud resources by a department, then the cloud monitoring tool could send a notification to the CFO or the business head. Alerts can also be sent if the number of security vulnerabilities or incidents goes up significantly.

Cloud Monitoring Tools

Depending on the services of the cloud provider you use or the type of cloud used, you may decide to deploy some of the following cloud monitoring tools:

1. Amazon CloudWatch: This is a tool for the AWS environment that provides enterprises with data and insights that are required to get a holistic view of applications and services that run on AWS server

2. Azure Monitor: A cloud monitoring tool for Microsoft Azure, it enables enterprises to analyze the performance and availability of applications

3. Google Cloud Monitoring: Google has a cloud monitoring solution that supports monitoring of hybrid and multi-cloud environments

Additionally, there is a host of commercially available cloud monitoring tools from vendors such as Datadog, AppDynamics, Dynatrace, and Opsview.

Cloud monitoring best practices

Keeping a healthy and productive cloud environment is never an easy task. Based on our comprehensive experience, we recommend some of the best practices that businesses must 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 metrics, flow, and log data, the IT department can set alerts and act quickly if an issue arises. Enterprises can also monitor metrics such as response times and frequency of use to get a 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 monitor include:

  • Performance
  • Cost
  • Security
  • Data Backup/Recovery

The single platform enables enterprises to have complete visibility into all the components of the networks and applications, whether they are present on-premises or on the cloud.

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. With a rise in the adoption of the cloud, issues concerning cloud security have gone up significantly. Other common threats that arise due to inadequate cloud security are data breaches, hijacking of accounts, malware injections, insecure APIs, and shared vulnerabilities.

Cloud monitoring tools can play a big role in ensuring security. From configuring to enforcing security controls, cloud monitoring and management tools can ensure secure access. Cloud monitoring tools are also useful in improving your cloud’s security posture by enabling complete visibility into issues such as misconfigurations, outdated security policies, and violations concerning compliance. 

Monitor cloud usage and fees

Enterprises love the ability of the cloud to scale effortlessly. That said, increased usage can lead to increased costs, if not monitored properly. Cloud monitoring tools can help in effectively measuring the resources consumed while ensuring that the costs are under control.

Automate tasks

For all cloud environments, automation is a key capability. It allows enterprises to be more productive, while ensuring compliance, security and updating software. It also reduces the probability of errors significantly.

Conclusion

Cloud monitoring refers to the process of controlling and optimizing an 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 using cloud monitoring tools, contact us today to help you out with your performance and security needs

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