In recent years, cloud technology has become an important part of most organizations who want to maintain a competitive edge, as more entities realize the importance and benefits of the technology. Having said that, cloud technology is not bullet-proof as it too is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and outages among other issues. Hence, it is imperative that organizations keep monitoring cloud health on a regular basis.
Yet, several organizations do not have clear visibility into their cloud infrastructure and environment. According to a 2019 cloud survey conducted by Ixia, a Keysight business, about 38% of total respondents cited insufficient visibility as a key factor in application outages. About 31% of respondents cited the same reason for network outages. This means that gaining full visibility into your cloud environment is absolutely necessary for your organization’s success.
The following article outlines the seven best practices an organization should follow in achieving optimal cloud and application performance.
The first and foremost thing you need to do as part of monitoring your cloud’s health is to establish the events you will be monitoring and the metrics against which you will be monitoring them. This is important as in a complex cloud environment, there may be multiple metrics you can measure. However, all of them may not yield useful insights. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to choose only those metrics that help in meeting your organization’s goals. Some metrics/KPIs you can consider include
The cloud industry today is filled with several cloud monitoring tools that come with different features and cater to different organization needs. While some of them are full-stack tools that can help you monitor the entire range of services and workflows, others help you monitor only specific parts of your cloud stack. Hence, you need to first understand how a tool you are exploring fits with other tools you have and your overall monitoring workflow. In fact, if your organization already practices DevOps, you may already have some tools that can also be used to monitor cloud.
The following are a few good features to look out for:
Your organization maybe using a mix of on-premise, cloud or a hybrid infrastructure. Monitoring all of them from a single platform is not only a convenient way of working but also gives you better visibility of your entire environment. Bringing together data of your different environments on a single platform allows you to calculate uniform metrics so that you can correlate problems and find appropriate solutions in an easier way.
Modern monitoring platforms like Azure Monitor allow you to set up a unified monitoring dashboard which can pull out data from the various infrastructures you have.
As you monitor your cloud environment, infrastructure and applications, you are bound to come across several events that tend to repeat over time. Hence, it is a good idea to automate as many monitoring tasks and actions as possible. For example, if the activity on a certain cloud instance exceeds the threshold, an additional instance should be automatically added. Similarly, if the activity goes down below a threshold, an instance can be shut down, which will save resources and costs.
Automating such repetitive tasks allows you to reduce spending time valuable on several routine tasks. Amazon CloudWatch, New Relic, CloudMonix, Datadog and Microsoft Cloud Monitoring (OMS) are some of the best tools available in the market today that can help organizations automatically monitor and achieve cloud processes effortlessly.
Besides monitoring the cloud infrastructure, it is also necessary to monitor the end user’s experience of using the cloud application. Some of the common problems users face while using such applications include service outage, application crash and slow page loading. These are bound to significantly affect the success of the application. Monitoring the application layer of your cloud infrastructure helps you take the necessary steps to improve your cloud application performance. You can make use of application performance monitoring (APM) tools such as AppDynamics and New Relic, which allow you to measure how your cloud application performs while running on a user’s device.
Some of the metrics you may want to measure include frequency of use and response times, which provide you a good idea about your application’s performance.
How about hacking your own cloud environment or making it fail? These kinds of forced failures of your cloud environment or infrastructure can help you test your monitoring tool in the way it responds to breach or outage. It also helps in evaluating your tool’s alert system when certain thresholds are met. There are several tools such as Chaos Monkey and Gremlin are tools that are designed to deliberately induce failures in the system so that engineers can build resilience.
Besides monitoring your cloud environment, it is also necessary to keep monitoring your cloud usage and related costs. One of the important features of the cloud is resource scalability. Having said that, increased usage of resources can rapidly trigger associated costs. Additionally, idle resources on your on-premise servers may be fine but it does cost money if your cloud resources are idle. These are situations where many organizations tend to get caught unprepared. A good managed services partner can help your organization track how much of your activity is on the cloud, how much it is costing you and if you are exceeding your budget.
One of the key things for an organization that implements the cloud is to constantly monitor its health before some serious issue crops up. This involves selecting the right monitoring tools and following the best practices mentioned above. Additionally, partnering with a good cloud managed services provider can further help the organization in identifying blind spots and optimize the cloud and application performance as well as reduce cloud costs.