Cloud Monitoring: What To Know (+ Best Tools & Practices)

By: Blair Felter on December 31, 2019

For many organizations, the cloud is the future of their IT infrastructure. Given the high costs of building and maintaining their own on-premises solutions, they are turning to cloud computing for scalable solutions that can grow with their business. In order to get the most out of their complex cloud deployments, however, they need to make sure they’re using the very latest in cloud monitoring technology.

What is Cloud Monitoring?

Cloud monitoring involves utilizing a variety of tools to evaluate, analyze, manage, and report on both the availability and performance of applications running on cloud-based infrastructure. These tools can be both manual and automated. Some of the performance metrics cloud monitoring might test for include speed, functionality, and uptime reliability.

This information also helps to create a holistic view of existing cloud metrics, customer flow, and infrastructure costs. Cloud monitoring is especially helpful for identifying inefficiencies in cloud deployments and predicting potential issues that might emerge in the future. Most public cloud providers utilize their own cloud monitoring tools which provide only limited visibility for customers. Private clouds, on the other hand, offer more control and flexibility for organizations looking to adopt a cloud monitoring service or solution.

What Does Cloud Monitoring Track?

Cloud computing can be used for a wide variety of tasks, all of which can be managed through cloud monitoring tools. Here are a few things organizations may want to monitor depending on their cloud computing needs:

  • Website Monitoring: Track processes, traffic, availability, and how resources are being utilized on a cloud-hosted website.
  • Virtual Machine Monitoring: For organizations using multiple virtual machines or containers, cloud monitoring tools can analyze both the virtualization infrastructure and individual virtual machines.
  • Database Monitoring: If a company is using a cloud-based solution to power its databases, it can monitor the processes, queries, availability, and data consumption of those cloud resources.
  • Virtual Network Monitoring: Some organizations build software-based networks using virtualization technology. Cloud monitoring services can track the resources used by these networks, along with the performance of virtual devices and connections.
  • Cloud Storage Monitoring: Cloud monitoring can manage storage resources and track how they are provisioned out to virtual machines, databases, cloud based services, and other applications.

Why Use Cloud Monitoring?

The greatest advantage of cloud monitoring is the enhanced visibility it provides over cloud-based infrastructure. Automated monitoring tools can continuously inspect cloud systems to identify anomalies, detect worrisome patterns, and flag emergent issues before they can cause larger problems. It also monitors access controls, identifying unauthorized changes throughout the system. The best cloud monitoring platforms also make it easy to track problems down to their source.

Automated cloud monitoring tools can monitor large amounts of data across distributed locations to identify vulnerabilities, inefficiencies, and other causes for concern. This is especially important when it comes to managing security compliance and evaluating the performance of redundancy systems.

Best Practices for Cloud Monitoring

While every organization that utilizes cloud computing should have a cloud monitoring system in place, there are a few best practices they should keep in mind when implementing any kind of monitoring regime.

Identify Key Metrics

The immense power of cloud monitoring tools can be overwhelming for an organization that doesn’t limit the monitoring scope to a few types of activities that need to be monitored closely. Typically, these metrics will have some kind of impact on operating costs.

Use a Single Platform

With so many options to choose from, it can be tempting to utilize multiple monitoring tools. Generally, however, it is easier to manage cloud monitoring data when it is compiled on a single platform to generate uniform metrics. This creates a more comprehensive picture of system performance.

Monitor Cloud Usage and Costs

Organizations need to know how much of their cloud computing resources are being utilized because this usage has a direct impact on cost. If certain activities are consistently using excessive resources, it may be time to make changes.

Monitor User Experience

The expansive power of cloud computing isn’t going to amount to much if it brings performance issues along with it. Slow, unresponsive cloud infrastructure can reduce productivity and drive away customers.

Set Thresholds

After cloud monitoring establishes typical baselines for resource utilization, organizations can set user thresholds to trigger alerts or make temporary adjustments without sacrificing efficiency and performance.

Separate and Centralize Data

All monitoring data should be kept separate from existing cloud data to avoid confusion. It should also be centralized in a location that every stakeholder who may need to examine the data can find it.

Test, Test, Test

Like any application, cloud monitoring tools should be tested regularly to ensure they’re working properly and delivering the data necessary to promote business success.

Top Five Cloud Monitoring Tools

1. Amazon CloudWatch

Designed especially for AWS resources, CloudWatch can be used to monitor cloud based software, identify performance changes, improve resource usage, and troubleshoot a variety of AWS-related issues.

2. Microsoft Cloud Monitoring

Also known as Operation Management Suite (OMS), this program can significantly improve visibility and control across a hybrid cloud deployment. Primarily designed for Microsoft Azure users, OMS makes it easier for organizations to manage their on-premises and cloud settings through a single pane of glass.

3. Netdata

A free, open-source software designed to run in a variety of environments, Netdata provides high-resolution metrics and is capable of monitoring multiple systems and devices in real-time. Although it doesn’t provide a matching mobile app and requires a bit more effort to implement, it is a powerful (and cost-effective) cloud monitoring solution.

4. AppDynamics

Acquired by Cisco in 2017, AppDynamics is designed for production and pre-production environments to monitor and manage end-to-end performance across distributed applications. It provides high levels of infrastructure visibility thanks to its ability to correlate server and database performance with cloud based software performance.

5. DX Infrastructure Manager

The first monitoring solution to provide intelligent analytics and exposed extensible planning, DX Infrastructure Manager (formerly known as CA UIM) is both easy to use and scale. It utilizes machine learning algorithms to correlate application, infrastructure, and network performance data.

With the right cloud monitoring tools in place, organizations can make sure they’re getting the most out of their cloud infrastructure. Whether they’re maximizing performance or looking for ways to control costs, these programs are essential in providing the visibility and control organizations need to build and manage the cloud based services that drive their business goals.

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