Will cloud services be too much of a good thing?

Will cloud services be too much of a good thing?

Summary: What happens when you start to integrate cloud services from multiple vendors? What's the managment plan then?


No one can argue with that fact that monitoring is critical to efficient data center operation, but it appears that the future holds applications that extend beyond the datacenter. This means that your long-term monitoring strategy needs to deal not just with traditional datacenter operations management but also with end-to-end application management.

Unfortunately, this is not a simple process. You’ll want to not only be able to monitor and manage the processes not under your direct control, but also the security of those processes, their availability, and their performance. if there is anything that makes IT doubt the viability of building enterprises around cloud applications, this would be it.

Beyond all of the issues of data security and control that raises doubts in the minds of IT folks about utilizing the cloud, there is the issue of dealing with multiple cloud vendors providing services in your enterprise. After 30 years of moving towards centralized monitoring and control, what happens when you try to build a production environment from service offerings from multiple cloud vendors?

I don’t have an answer to this question yet, and right now, I don’t think that anyone does. Integrating a specific cloud service will be a major undertaking for any existing enterprise, adding that second or third cloud service vendor into the mix may not be as hard has the entire adoption process for the first move to SaaS, but the management complexity would seem to grow exponentially. In 2011, I’ll expect to see vendor really begin to address this issue.

Topics: Hardware, Data Centers, Storage

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  • Complexity means monitoring more critical

    Couldn't agree more. Virtualization was the start of the slope of adding functionality and efficiency but also adding complexity to monitoring and troublehsooting. (Is that database slow because the query needs an index? the OS has a fragmentation file system? The underlying virtualization systems is under memory pressure? the SAN is having latency? Hard to tell if all these systems are monitored and managed by discrete tools.)
    Adding in cloud services and providers throws in yet another series of layers.
    We (LogicMonitor.com) have long been touting the need for a monitoring system that can span all the components of your datacenter - what changes now is that "your datacenter" will include the external cloud services.

    Users have to make sure their monitoring systems can deal with that. (e.g. integration with cloud provider's API to automatically detect new machine instances, etc)
  • Cloud is not so different than how internal services should be done

    Management in general should be done using a layered approach whether all layers exist internally or some exist externally. Monitoring in IT is no different. Those who manage the various IT layers should be responsible for monitoring these layers and at most provide summary information to the next level up the hierachy. This is how it should be done internally and if some layers are managed externally, then the summary information related to the layer of entry should be available. This exactly what the good cloud service providers do.

    For example, if the layer of entry is providing hosted operating systems, then the summary information would provide monitoring information related to the operating systems, but not information related to the hardware layer below. It would then be the responsibility of the client to monitor the middleware and applications they deploy on top of this externally provided layer. This is as easily done using cloud services as internal services. This is not to say this is easy either way. At the top of this IT monitoring hierachy is what really matters, monitoring the ability of the services to provide the essential business services.

    Cloud services are only more complex than using internal services for businesses which have not already made use of automation, virtualization and large scale distribution of service provisioning. It is often easier to use these technologies using cloud services as they already have frameworks in place to manage these technologies. The entry to using cloud services is often a result of legacy application designs based on single server or small number of server implementations.