Gaining Visibility into the Cloud

As cloud management systems mature, there should be no reason to give up visibility simply because you no longer own the all the infrastructure.

By Arthur Cole | Posted Jun 2, 2011
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It's fair to say that when it comes to the cloud, there is still a lot of mistrust involved.

Most studies point to a lack of security as the key factor holding back more robust cloud deployment efforts. However, security is only one symptom of an even deeper problem: lack of visibility into cloud environments.

According to a recent survey from ScienceLogic, nearly 70 percent of active cloud users report little or no confidence in their ability to monitor or manage the goings-on in their cloud infrastructures. This has led many organizations to limit their cloud operations to low-level data services at most and could actually lead some to pull back their deployment if they start to doubt the performance level or cost-effectiveness of their service.

Still, most cloud providers maintain up-to-date management and monitoring platforms across their service platforms. While that's true, it doesn't address the fact that these solutions are usually hosted on the cloud provider's infrastructure, not the client's, which means integration into legacy physical and virtual management stacks is hit or miss at best.

What's needed is a new generation of cloud monitoring solutions that are user-based and can provide a contiguous view of data environments as they traverse physical, virtual and cloud layers. Naturally, this has proven to be a ripe environment for third-party vendors and software developers.

A company called SilverSpore, for example, is out with a new cloud-ready version of its Spore self-configuring monitoring appliance. The device creates a detailed template for new server images as they are created, delivering service availability configurations and other data immediately through the resident cloud controller. By skipping the need to pre-install the appliance on each server image, users gain increased configuration flexibility and automated termination once the image is taken down. The system is compatible with Amazon EC2, as well as Eucalyptus and OpenStack infrastructures.

Greater insight into the cloud is doubly effective if it can be matched with a unified view of traditional data center infrastructures. That's the goal behind GroundWork Inc.'s new Cloud Connector module for the Monitor Enterprise 6.4 stack. The software aims to provide vendor-neutral monitoring and management across internal and external infrastructure, providing tools like auto-configuration and profile assignment as resources are provisioned and decommissioned. At the same time, you get an advanced synchronization module that regularly updates status information on all Eucalyptus and EC2 monitored clouds.

Of course, one way to foster a unified management system is to tie it to enterprise efforts to build first private, then hybrid and ultimately full public clouds. MomentumSI has built its Tough suite around that notion, providing full lifecycle management support for VMware vCloud, Eucalyptus and Amazon Web Services environments. The package provides auto-scaling, recovery, provisioning and other services across private and hosted clouds, utilizing data derived from virtual machines and core platform elements.

The chief impediment to effective management of any kind is the absence of actionable data. The cloud represents vast new territory in the search for improved systems and data performance, but it can only be fully implemented, and optimized, through a clear understanding of how it operates.

As cloud management systems mature, there should be no reason to give up visibility simply because you no longer own the all the infrastructure.

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