Hybrid cloud infrastructure brings many benefits to businesses that want the best of both public and private cloud environments. When you combine the security of a private cloud with the expansive power and versatility of a public cloud, you get complete control over your data while leveraging the ability to quickly and cost-effectively scale operational capacity.
But this also complicates today’s already complex and dynamic application landscape. That’s because application components each have their own stacks of layered dependencies across hybrid environments. If your monitoring tools aren’t optimized to monitor these components, managing your extended cloud environment can be fragmented and stressful — after all, you can’t monitor and manage what you can’t see.
So, what does efficient hybrid cloud monitoring look like?
The best way to explain it is to show you, but before you can dig deep into best practices associated with hybrid cloud monitoring, you need to understand the basics, which I’ve outlined below. After you’ve covered those foundational elements, I’d recommend checking out my recent guest appearance on Shifting Left, hosted by my colleague, Vikram Parmar, where we revealed the insights we’ve gathered from more than a decade of scaling and optimizing hybrid cloud environments.
What is hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a computing environment that uses a combination of services that run within on-premise, private cloud, and third-party, public clouds such as AWS, Azure, or GCP with data connectivity between all these environments.
According to Forrester Research principal analyst Dave Bartoletti, Forrester succinctly defines hybrid cloud this way:
“One or more public clouds connected to something in my data center. That thing could be a private cloud, that thing could just be a traditional data center infrastructure.”
Why should I care about hybrid cloud?
The biggest advantage of the hybrid cloud deployment model is that it allows workloads and data to move freely between private and public clouds as business or technology demands and costs change. The result is greater flexibility, control, and more options for data deployment and use.
There is no one cloud rule for all, and that’s why enterprises are running their business-critical application workloads across private and public clouds. According to a 451 Research survey, 69% of organizations plan to run a multi-cloud environment by 2019. As they said, “the future of IT is multi-cloud and hybrid.”
But with this rise in popularity, cloud spending optimization and visibility becomes more of a challenge.
More recent surveys show that one of the main concerns today in managing and monitoring workloads in the public cloud is achieving complete end-to-end visibility into software and hardware stacks deployed across on-premise infrastructures and private and public clouds. According to Keysight Technologies, 65% of the IT professionals surveyed are concerned about their visibility into data and application traffic across on-prem and cloud systems.
There are challenges associated with managing hybrid cloud
Why is it so difficult to monitor performance issues and isolate the root cause of a problem without impacting the business?
One reason is that when your applications are distributed, you end up with a huge amount of performance data, application data, infrastructure data, network data, and so on. With data distributed across different environments and tools, you can’t trace what happened at each step. Managing the performance of the entire application can end up being a largely prolonged manual effort, with significant blind spots and gaps along the way.
Cloud providers try to help by offering dashboards and other tools to monitor their respective cloud-native services and infrastructure. But they don’t provide the ability to combine performance data throughout the application stack and across multiple/hybrid cloud environments.
You don’t get a comprehensive view of how your application works and its direct impact on the business. In the end, you are creating siloed monitoring strategies that impact your overall application performance and MTTR during downtimes.
These cloud-native tools have common shortcomings when it comes to hybrid cloud/multi-cloud application monitoring:
- Limited scope — typically siloed IaaS-focused
- Limited code-level insights
- Application visibility is enabled via SDKs and requires coding changes
- Monitoring is focused on technology only and often does not provide any context to track business outcomes
- Cloud monitoring tools are primarily designed to do metrics collection. It is left up to the user to come up with the definition of the norm and detect anomalies manually
- Limited ability to provide a view of network outages across ISPs, public cloud, UCaaS, and edge service providers
At the same time, there is no way cloud-native monitoring tools like Amazon CloudWatch, Azure Monitor, or Google Stackdriver can be ignored. They provide observability, monitoring, and operational data in the form of logs, metrics, and events, providing you with access to cloud resources and services that run on the cloud. Interoperability with cloud-native monitoring services is critical for end-to-end hybrid-cloud visibility.
A few problems occur when cloud monitoring works only with the respective vendor’s technology.
First, you lose control over the data and infrastructure that power business’ applications. Not having complete control over aspects like security, uptime, and overall infrastructure management can be a scary thing.
From there, you’re depending on a single vendor for many critical needs. Your servers, data, networking, user management, and much more are in the hands of one company, so the dependence on your provider is huge. And if something goes wrong, it can be very detrimental to your business.
Then there’s the risk that the one cloud provider-specific tool may not meet your multi-cloud or hybrid cloud monitoring goals in the future.
The difficulties and costs associated with switching to a new cloud vendor are top of every IT manager’s mind when deciding to move to the cloud. Hence the growing need for a more portable application architecture and monitoring strategy that is not locked into a specific style of application development.
Your mission: Understand the unwritten rules of hybrid cloud monitoring
The immediate solution to these challenges, as IT professionals have recognized, is simple in theory: visibility into every business transaction traversing across multiple types of cloud environments. In practice, this means taking into consideration everything that may affect business, due to application performance issues that may be caused by the application itself — or any layer of the underlying infrastructure, including middleware and databases. This is challenging in and of itself without the added pressures associated with today’s evolving customer and business needs.
So, what’s the right next move?
If you’ve covered the basics of hybrid cloud monitoring, you’re ready to leverage the wisdom of IT leaders who have come before you. That’s why I urge you to join Vikram Parmar and me for the next step in the journey in our latest Shifting Left episode, The Unwritten Rules of Hybrid Cloud Monitoring.