Building a cloud requires granular visibility not just into hardware components but into running workloads as well. Software vendors have taken their monitoring and management tools sets to entirely new levels as a direct response to consumer demands. Packages now have great tool sets capable of watching over both hardware and workload elements which are cloud facing.
With native tools, there are very powerful features which come enabled by default and administrators to have to pay extra for those necessary monitoring capabilities. Before looking at other tool sets, IT managers and their staff should get closely acquainted with the features that came natively with their software. This means taking the time and learning the capabilities of these tools and how they directly impact the environment.
What to Look for with Native Tools?
There will be several key components which must be present when we’re working with native tools. We will need to have two types of visibility into the cloud environment: the hardware layer and the software layer. These are some of the important components to evaluate and configure when working with native tool sets:
- CPU processors. The servers which are cloud facing will have certain CPU requirements. CPU cores should always be monitored and properly balanced between workloads.
- Memory. One of the most important resources in a virtual and cloud environment. Memory needs to be well managed and controlled.
- Fans. Native tools have the ability to see hardware components, fans included. This type of host health monitoring system can help catch major issues before they actually happen.
- Temperature. Monitoring the temperature and environmental aspect of a cloud datacenter should be done outside of a native tool set for a hypervisor. There should be sensors and environmental controls in place. That said, native tools provide an extra layer of protection by monitoring internal host temperatures.
- Voltage. Good PDU systems will help monitor power fluctuations coming into the rack. However, some tools can help you monitor voltage going into a given server.
- Network. Monitoring aspects of the LAN is always important and is a great addition to a native tool set. Use this feature to check for anomalies and manage physical as well as virtual NIC configurations.
- Storage. Native tools help administrators connect their environment to their SAN backbone. From there, these tools can monitor how storage is being used and distributed within the environment.
Where to Avoid Challenges
The most important thing to remember is that no one tool set is ever truly all encompassing. The draw back with some native tools is the ability to see outside of the given datacenter. Below is a short list of cautions when working with native tools:
- Distributed data center visibility. Native tools can become limited when the demands of a distributed cloud infrastructure are placed upon them. Although great locally, sometimes native tools have limited visibility into the operations of other datacenters.
- User count load-balancing. Cloud environments will successful if user count per server is well managed. Some native tools are just not designed to manage cloud environments and are geared more towards localized virtual infrastructures. So, even though they can see user count, sometimes managing the balance of which use goes where can be challenging.
- Chargeback visibility. Large environments have been looking to tool sets to help them with their chargeback methodology. Native tool sets can be limited with this type of visibility.
- Graphs and charts. Although most native tools will provide graphs and charts, some administrators require more. If that’s the case, there will be native tools that just won’t cover these needs. Be prepared to know the level of graphing required for your environment.
- Alerting. The alerting and alarm capabilities of native tools have come a very long way. Still, for environments looking to leverage advanced alerting functions, native tools can sometimes fall short. For DR environments the needs of alerting are great. In a cloud function, administrators should look for tools which have multiple levels of alerting capabilities.
- Application visibility. Cloud environments are built to give end-users easier access to their applications and workloads. Many times native tools can see what is running on top of a cloud server, but not necessarily how the application is performing. This is where administrators must know the needs and demands of their application environment to properly obtain the right tool sets to monitor the workloads
Working with cloud and data center providers shouldn’t be a hair-pulling experience. Today’s providers offer very granular visibility into a variety of metrics surrounding your entire environment. It really all comes down to you understanding your requirements, the business use case, and how tool sets can help you out. There are some very powerful features being offered natively with cloud and data center packages. Take the time to understand what they can and can’t do. In those cases, you might have to look at third-party solutions. Either way, cloud and data center tools can be direct enables for your IT environment and for your business.