Due to its sheer size and the huge number of platforms, monitoring the hybrid cloud can be a daunting task, especially if it is not given preference in the planning process. A well-devised strategy for hybrid cloud monitoring should include the elements and layers you would like to monitor, in addition to the more traditional memory, networking, CPU, and disk I/O. Depending on the type of solutions your business has opted for, the strategy could include different layers as well as give an importance to the monitoring of end-user experience. Also, tight coupling to public cloud performance and newly acquired service elasticity bring their own share of complexity.
What is a Hybrid Cloud?
A cloud computing solution in which applications and their services are running in your on-premise data center, private cloud, and a public cloud, such as Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Azure, is called a hybrid cloud.
A survey, ran by Gartner on 2017 revealed that, by 2020, 90 percent of organizations will be leveraging hybrid clouds’ capabilities. Even though a large portion of businesses have adopted the public cloud, most have not yet abandoned their on-premise data centers to move their entire workload to a public cloud solution. Rather than depending solely on the public cloud, businesses seem to be keen on taking a more hybrid approach: using on-premise data centers for certain tasks and the public cloud for others. As an example, some businesses transfer peak usages to the public cloud leveraging its elasticity on busy hours while still relying on their private cloud.
This article will study the advantages and challenges that an enterprise typically faces when migrating to a public cloud through a hybrid cloud, and how you can find a monitoring solution to help your business.
Advantages of Using Hybrid Cloud
Undeniably, the hybrid cloud is a true game changer. By minimizing trade-offs, breaking down several technical barriers, and enabling customized resource utilization. When configured optimally, it achieves improved performance and maximum benefits from both sides of the coin.
Because hybrid clouds can take best of both worlds, they are much more cost effective than using dedicated on-premise data centers. The overall cost of ownership is significantly reduced and cost efficiency is improved as the optimal choice can be made for each and every service. You can also use this to analyze your cost pattern in contrast with your demand/revenue pattern and if needs be, shift your enterprise to an OPEX-based model from a more capital-intensive cost model. Furthermore, the hybrid cloud offers your business a secure environment to place data on a dedicated server and enjoy the perks of high performance combined with seamless browsing.
Nothing real can ever be accomplished without its own set of challenges; migrating to the cloud can also be quite challenging and presents both time and cost implications. Here are a few challenges that businesses face when deploying the hybrid cloud:
1. Scalability mismatches
Moving applications to the cloud can result in scalability mismatches between the private and the public cloud services. On one hand, public cloud based services benefit from a high scalability infrastructure if configured correctly. On the other hand, private cloud based services need more efforts to achieve the same throughput and availability. The result is that, sometimes, services that have been migrated tend to saturate their counter-part.
2. Diagnosing issues
Diagnosing issues across your various domains and servers might require you to look at different dashboards all at once instead of offering a centralized monitoring location. Tracking the communication flows between these heterogenous environments is often a challenge
3. Cost efficiency
While hybrid cloud deployment promises to help businesses manage their costs by promoting workload efficiency, it can often be quite difficult keep track of costs associated with deploying to the cloud. Especially when dealing with more than one provider, it can become essential for your firm’s IT team to coordinate with your service provider to ensure that the costs remain under control. In fact, public clouds, at first, have confusing cost plans that have to be integrated in the costing tools.
4. Security and compliance
Perhaps the greatest challenge that hybrid cloud deployments continue to face are security and compliance concerns. According to a report commissioned by HPE, the primary security challenges concerning the hybrid cloud revolve around maintaining controls for secure access, granting authorization, and ensuring that the data on the cloud remains secure.
Despite these challenges, the report further highlighted that out of 250 IT executives surveyed, 16 percent said their organizations were in a preliminary investigation phase, 42 percent were testing the system, 23 percent had their workload subset running exclusively in the cloud, and 19 percent were already operating in a hybrid architecture environment.
Some real cases where non-compliance is a blocking issue involve defense/army solutions that are too sensible to delocalize or telco databases (HLR/HSS) that the regulator often forces to be in national soil.
There are other technical challenges that some companies might encounter. But, public clouds often release their solutions after a while. Some examples are Network Virtualized Functions (NFV) components that require specific BIOS configuration or even development on FPGA boards.
Devising a Monitoring Strategy
Effective deployment of a hybrid cloud is all about having a clear understanding of the needs of your business and devising the right monitoring strategy. Most businesses often overlook the unique requirements of hybrid clouds and often realize during the transition period and sometimes even after that the system of their choice fails to match the monitoring needs of their firm. Here are five tips to help you select the right monitoring system:
1. Understand the unique needs of your environment
Analyze your environment and highlight applications that your business uses the most. Define the requirements of your business. Create a list of existing and future monitoring requirements and use it to develop the right monitoring strategy for your business.
Going to the hybrid cloud involves adding new needs such as monitoring the billing on the public cloud part or tracking rapidly moving services that may be spun up depending on the load.
2. Review your budget
Whether you opt for Open Source or proprietary software, you need to allocate a budget for the monitoring. Open Source monitoring tools are mature and enterprise-grade when used properly. But, their expertise comes with a price. Adding support on top of that makes the Open Source option almost as expensive as the proprietary one. Also, a monitoring solution isn’t worth anything without proper customization and scripting. In fact, to have an efficient monitoring system, one should allocate enough time for customization and interfacing with the different applications. Finally, once the solutions are deployed and integrated, you need a team to exploit the tools.
3. Choose the right monitoring systems
When choosing the right monitoring solutions, it is important to pay attention to the following five questions:
Does your monitoring solution support a multiple cloud platforms and various technologies? A good monitoring system should be able to allow customizations and should be able to work with multiple technologies and platforms at the same time.
Does your monitoring solution offer deep insights into your cloud environment and the services supporting them? An effective monitoring solution should be able to oversee the database and applications in great depth.
Does it provide unified analytics throughout your hybrid IT infrastructures? A unified monitoring solution helps in improving service levels by offering a unified view of areas all-across your business.
Can your solution keep up with the changing needs of your business? It is important for businesses to understand that as the hybrid cloud continues to grow and increase in both size and complexity, it becomes vital for businesses to choose a monitoring solution that easily deals with any cloud related challenges that may arrive in the future.
Does it offer insights to cloud utilization? Your ideal monitoring system should be able to review and analyze performance across your cloud and allow you to plan for future.
4. Choose the right deployment option
Having both public and private cloud parts, you can choose where to deploy your monitoring solution. One preferred architecture that answer most deployment needs consists of having a HA master pair deployed on the public cloud and as many remote collectors as needed.
On one hand, the master would host the database, process events and expose the GUI. On the other, the collector would stay as close as possible to its monitored elements and only take care of metrics and event collection.
This architecture leverages the easy evolutivity and high availability of the public cloud while maintaining your solution as close as possible to every monitored datacenter (or public cloud). Some solutions can even provide buffering on the collector in case the link to the master is lost.
5. Perform a pilot
Take the time to evaluate your choices. Fact is, there is so much marketing buzz around monitoring features that one can easily be tricked into the wrong choices. Performing a pilot reduces the project risks and helps your teams get used to the tools. Remember that customization ease of use is often hard to evaluate without getting your hands dirty.
In the coming years, it is expected that enterprises of all sizes and scale of operations will look to migrate to the hybrid cloud. Affordable solutions are anticipated to offer more features and businesses will also be actively looking for the ones that are cost efficient, reliable, and provide a long-term solution.
Having the correct KPIs to track your migration and hybrid services is a critical prerequisite to keep your service performance and availability to the highest. For that, we, at Zen Networks, are happy to bring our expertise and help you make the wisest decisions for your business.