Outsourced Cloud

– Mehdi Daoudi, Catchpoint CEO and Co-Founder, says:

Cloud services adoption has been a growing IT trend  across industries. Cloud technology allows companies to save time and money focusing on internal operations, allowing them to devote more resources to growing revenue and product improvement.

However, like a car with multiple systems all working toward the same goal, a multi-vendor operations approach creates a complexity issue, as websites and web applications are now dependent on the success of multiple moving parts working together. Furthermore, companies using traditional monitoring tools lose visibility into the overall performance, reliability, and consistency of cloud-based applications, making sites and applications more vulnerable to complexity-based performance risks.

In order to ensure speed and availability in the new cloud era, a cloud-ready performance monitoring strategy needs to be implemented as part of IT operations.

With Cloud Comes Complexity

The move towards the cloud has exploded recently and is predicted to expand even further. Yet doing so also comes with inherent risks, as outsourcing such a critical aspect of your business to a third-party (or, more likely, third parties) means ceding to something beyond your control. Enter the outsourced cloud environment.

Cloud services encompass everything from hosted infrastructure and platforms, to SaaS companies which would include managed DNS, Content Distribution Networks, email, sales automation, marketing automation, support portals, live chat, widgets, and analytics tools.

Complexity challenges arise when these services depend or interact with each other to produce an overall experience. Ever try to arrange dinner plans with a group of people? Deciding on what place to eat is usually easy when it’s just you and one other person. But as the group gets larger, more preferences and objections get thrown into the mix, and before you know it you end up at the generic chain restaurant down the street.

The same principle applies to cloud service interaction. So if a web application moves from a single infrastructure with 99.99 percent availability to an open one relying on five different providers with 99.99 percent availability each, the result is an infrastructure with 99.95 percent availability. That means that over the course of a year, this  web application could be unavailable for an extra 350 total hours – or over two weeks of users getting nothing but error messages.

Moving Beyond Traditional Server Monitoring: Cloud-Ready Monitoring

Cloud computing brings various types of IT components to the enterprise infrastructure. Therefore, in order to have an effective monitoring strategy, companies can gain tactical advantage by leveraging tools that can test the entire website or application as a whole, in addition to those which measure just the individual components.

Cloud-ready performance monitoring tools test web applications from the outside-in and measure how all assets are delivered to the end user as a whole. An effective cloud-ready monitoring solution should not only be capable of measuring the holistic experience, but also able to isolate specific assets or functions (CDN speed, third party availability, product search performance) of the website or application. That way, IT can drill down to varying levels to optimize performance.

Consider a company which was relying on a free DNS service. One day they noticed that its site slowed down during business hours – the time of day when internet usage peaks. Through its cloud-ready performance monitoring tool, the company identified the source of slowness as its DNS resolution time. Clearly its free DNS service could not handle the increase in load during business hours. After that, investing in a managed DNS service that was more resilient to traffic peaks was an easy choice.

Managing SLAs with Monitoring

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are critical in the cloud environment for both the vendor and the customer. Most companies take on the onus of managing their SLAs themselves; they monitor the performance of their own websites, applications, or services in order to determine the efficiency of their vendor.

However, cloud service vendors can also take a proactive approach to managing their SLAs by monitoring the performance of the service on their clients’ web applications. This allows the vendor to resolve problems before they impact users and violate SLAs. This ability can also help cloud service vendors stand out in their increasingly competitive market.

Technology Has Changed, but Needs Stay the Same

Modern enterprise applications are engineered for agility, to be frequently deployed over elastic IT infrastructures. The benefits of the cloud can include flexibility, efficiency, and business enablement.

However, these benefits come with challenges. Multiple factors, such as varying workloads, introduce risks to quality of service. Performance and availability can be compromised, particularly when IT organizations lack Application Performance Management solutions specifically designed to support dynamic infrastructures.

A monitoring model for the cloud needs to provide a view of the entire ecosystem involved in delivering a service, including the cloud. This can help mitigate most of the risks that come with outsourcing your performance to a cloud service.

At the end of the day, the complexity of the IT infrastructure may have increased, but the needs of companies remain the same. It’s all about gaining a better understanding of the performance of online services so they can ensure a fast, glitch-free online environment to improve user satisfaction, reduce quality management costs, and protect revenue. A monitoring model for the cloud can be the key to helping companies to better manage the performance of all the parts contributing to the cumulative customer experience. With this type of strategy, organizations can mitigate performance risks, while gaining all the critical benefits of using the cloud.