Guide to Cloud Monitoring Tools and Best Practices

Your cloud is expanding. You have more users on your platform and have a lot more apps and workloads. Let’s take a look at a few cloud monitoring tools and management solutions which are designed to help create a more proactive cloud.

Bill Kleyman

March 21, 2014

5 Min Read
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 There is a clear boom in data center and cloud utilization. This trend continues as more organizations find value in moving a part (or all) of their infrastructure into the cloud. New ways to deliver applications, process large workloads, and empower the end-user are all reasons to work with some type of cloud model.

Still, there have been growing pains throughout the process. Administrators have had to deal with security, growth, and resource challenges. How do I control dynamic user growth? How can we continue to provide excellent support to such a distributed environment? What can you do now that will help support a healthier cloud in the future?

IT has always had monitoring and management tools. It only makes sense that these tools begin to span out into the cloud. There are some amazing solutions out there that directly answer the above questions and help you optimize you entire cloud platform. Let’s take a look at a few cloud monitoring tools and management solutions which are designed to help create a more proactive cloud.

  • BMC Cloud Operations Management. Here’s your chance to create a complete cloud life-cycle management and cloud operations management solution. BMC’s cloud monitoring platform enables IT organizations to really deliver the speed and service quality that users expect out of their cloud. This model helps IT organizations right-size capacity and optimize your monitoring and management processes. Furthermore, this monitoring solution integrates with OpenStack, CloudStack, and other cloud management platforms through an open API and metadata-driven user interface.

  • AppDynamics. How about a layered approach to application intelligence? Starting with the infrastructure and moving all the way up the stack, AppDynamics is uniquely able to deliver rich performance data, learning, and analytics, combined with the flexibility to adapt to virtually any infrastructure or software environment. Some of those layers include behavioral learning and working with contextual data. Basically, you’ll be able to granularly see application models, servers, services, devices, as well as information around network and machine infrastructure.

  • CA Nimsoft. This is one of those really broad cloud monitoring options. From a services perspective, Nimsoft Monitor really offers pretty much every necessary monitoring solution. Application monitoring support includes Apache systems, Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, SAP and more. Plus, if you’re working with an existing cloud infrastructure or management platform, Nimsoft integrates with Citrix CloudPlatform, FlexPod, Vblock and even your own public/private cloud model. The list of supported monitoring solutions continues to span through servers, networks, storage, virtualization and more. Basically, pick the monitoring solution you need and make sure it can integrate with your existing platform.

  • New Relic Monitor. Already used by folks like Comcast, Citrix, GitHub and EA, New Relic offers a complete SaaS-based model for very granular cloud monitoring capabilities. This monitoring solution looks at the most critical components that make up a cloud-ready application. This includes SQL query analysis, application health statistics, transactional tracing, thread profiling, complete application mapping, and even proactive alerting. Whether the app is web, mobile, or server-based, New Relic takes into account numerous performance and optimization considerations into its monitoring algorithm. 

  • Hyperic. Did you know this is a division of VMware? Did you know Hyperic 5.0 has some pretty amazing management and monitoring solutions? Ranging from web to virtualization, this solution looks at operation intelligence and creates a powerful monitoring platform for a variety of systems. Hyperic can monitor web servers, a plethora of operating systems, applications, databases, mail servers, network environments, distributed platforms and even middleware messaging. As a component of the VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite, Hyperic collects a vast range of performance data. This includes 50,000 metrics across 80 application technologies, and it can easily extend to monitor any component in your application stack.

  • Solarwinds. Let’s pretend for a few minutes that you have a completely private cloud infrastructure. Sure, you have some minor data elements that may be spanning into a different public data center, but for the most part, it’s a private cloud life. There are solutions out there that help monitor and really optimize your infrastructure. Virtualization Manager from Solarwinds offers a comprehensive monitoring solution which integrates with your VMware or Hyper-V environment. Their real-time dashboards simplify identification and troubleshooting of performance, capacity & configuration problems. Plus, you can integrate this solution with Server and Application Monitor which would provide application stack management from app to datastore.

  • Boundary. These guys are pretty cool. Currently being run by the former Nimsoft CEO, Boundary aims to monitor and integrate with major cloud vendors to help control and manage applications as well as data. By integrating with Puppet Labs, AWS, Splunk, New Relic, AppDynamics, CA, BMC and many others, Boundary is able to enrich your monitoring solution with application topology and per-second streaming analytics. The idea is to aggregate a lot of data through Boundary and create a consolidated view. From there, you can run performance analysis, understand contextual navigation, examine application topologies, and even control architecture and APIs.

Here’s the reality – that’s a pretty short list. There are a lot of various solutions out there that can monitor every aspect of your cloud platform. Similarly, there are solutions which are designed to control and monitor very specific elements in your cloud like application performance, database health, and network data flow. Regardless of the type of solution you work with, there are some very good cloud monitoring, management and health maintenance considerations:

  • Utilize automation and proactive remediation services wherever possible.

  • Never forget to set good access control policies and always monitor security access.

  • “Who watches the watchmen?” Always ensure that your monitoring system is running optimally and that configurations are kept updated.

  • Not all workloads, apps, or data sets are alike – make sure to create appropriate monitoring profiles as needed

  • Take the time to understand your own cloud and all its intricacies and dependencies before selecting a monitoring solution. The more you know, the better a monitoring tool can fit in.

Keeping a proactively healthy cloud environment is never an easy task. In fact, it’s an on-going battle against security threats, outages, broken systems, and random acts of IT failure. Still, more organizations and users are flocking to a cloud platform which offers many new types of services and solutions. Remember, utilizing more than one cloud monitoring or management solution is not a bad thing. For your own cloud system – work with an appropriate set of monitoring tools to help ensure a healthier infrastructure.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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