How should you manage performance in the cloud?

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I’m looking forward to my Cloud Connect panel, “Instrumenting Applications When Access Goes Away,” on Monday March 7th in Santa Clara. I’ve seen a lot of companies migrate their mission critical applications to the cloud. And what changes when companies start managing cloud-based apps?  To quote our customer, Adrian Cockcroft at Netflix– “Everything. Data center oriented tools don’t work in a cloud environment.”

The world of the cloud means that there’s more things to manage by a factor of 10: whereas the physical data center may contain a handful of servers, cloud nodes are made up of thousands of commodity, low-cost servers  To add to this complexity, cloud servers are easily replaced and thousands of instances can be added or dropped at staggering speed.

In such a quicksilver environment, it’s pretty easy to see how “data center approaches” to app management fail completely.  Obviously, overseeing the health of application infrastructure – figuring out CPU Utilization, Disk I/O, etc. — doesn’t work at all once you enter the cloud. You could also try to collect metrics related to method-level performance — but again, with the flood of data created by a vast, quickly changing cloud environment, your ability to actually find the “smoking gun” inside all of that information is next-to-impossible.

The only true way to manage cloud-based apps is to focus on business transactions.

Only business transactions provide a constant assurance metric that can be used to measure baseline performance, even when nodes are spinning up and down constantly. A business transaction focus enables app management to scale, allowing insight into thousands of cloud nodes through a single pane of glass.

It also allows for complete visibility; instead of focusing on code-level metrics, it’s possible to trace a transaction through its entire cloud-based journey without confronting either blind spots or sacrificing the ability to access deep diagnostics as needed.

At Cloud Connect, I hope to talk more about business transactions and provide my definition of what a business transaction actually is. But if you can’t make it, check back here soon!

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  • http://www.itweatherman.com Guy Livneh

    Great post. I truly support using business transactions monitoring as the first line of monitoring for any cloud based application (or even in a standard data center). But also there’s a need to be ready with the technical nitty gritty data to be able to pinpoint problems once they occur.

    See you at the show!
    Guy Livneh
    http://www.itweatherman.com

  • Vishal

    Excellent article. “A business transaction focus enables app management to scale, allowing insight into thousands of cloud nodes through a single pane of glass.” — This is a great way of expressing the utility of monitoring business transactions when managing performance in the cloud.

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