Integration of public, hybrid and private clouds makes managing and monitoring IT more challenging
New generation of APM solutions lets organisations regain visibility and reclaim control
IT has been said that cloud computing acts as an additional avenue for their customers to access and store data in a cost effective way. The harsh reality about cloud technology is fast becoming a necessity in moving forward, along with the rising cost of maintaining and updating the infrastructure.
While it is well documented that cloud computing delivers rich services to organisations on a scalable, pay-as-you-go basis anywhere, at any time, the complexity of these services has increased dramatically over time.
In December 2012, Compuware commissioned Research in Action to conduct a global, independent survey of senior IT professionals’ attitudes and concerns relating to cloud computing. The survey consists of 468 IT decision makers from organisations across a range of industries in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Participants were required to pick a single top area of investment over the time period and nearly a quarter chose cloud for test and backup as their top investment.
If we were to look at cloud investments as a whole (including private and hybrid cloud initiatives and SAP in the cloud), 65.6% of respondents indicated cloud as a top investment area for 2013.
Looking ahead in the next five years, more companies will continue to invest in cloud technology, and it will become the No 1 area of investment, followed by mobile IT, business analytics, big data and in-memory computing.
Respondents identified full cloud integration (public, hybrid, private) as the most important trend in cloud computing over the coming five years.
On the local front, cloud computing investment in Malaysia is expected to reach RM2.8 billion by 2020, a significant rise from the RM140 million recorded in 2012. On a global scale, spending on cloud computing services is expected to grow to RM509 billion by 2020, according to a Forrester Research forecast.
[RM1 = US$0.31]
As major players in the technology space continue to shift their core business to the cloud, it is important to note that while cloud computing is something to look forward to, companies will eventually need to weigh the pros and cons of investing in it. After all, the cloud continues to be more expensive to maintain.
Most companies today are able to grasp the benefits of agility, flexibility and time-to-value that cloud services can deliver. It is clear that cloud adoption has become mainstream. The survey results show that the cloud is a highly significant area of IT spending, and the range of services that are being delivered through the cloud is expanding.
Moreover, companies are moving towards a more sophisticated cloud environment, with a mixture of private, public and hybrid technologies, and using them to deliver more business-critical functions.
Research from the survey also highlighted specific cloud services that are currently in use or planned for use over the coming years. E-commerce came out on top of the list of services that incorporate cloud-based services.
Additionally, 78% responded that their companies are currently using it, while 47% intend to use hybrid cloud services over the next 24 months.
The integration of public, hybrid and private clouds makes managing and monitoring the IT environment more challenging. Add outsourcing to the mix and it becomes clear that there is a need to monitor these information exchange points more closely.
Approximately 79% of the survey’s respondents are concerned about the hidden costs associated with cloud services. The same group of respondents also expressed concerns about the impact poor performance in cloud services would have on their revenues.
For the management team, the top three key areas of concern in relation to management of cloud services were: Poor end-user experience due to performance bottlenecks; the impact of poor performance on brand reputation and/or customer loyalty; and loss of revenue due to availability, performance, or troubleshooting cloud services.
Why APM becomes essential
Taking the above challenges in consideration, traditional application performance monitoring tools simply do not work in complex cloud environments. The dynamic and physically remote characteristics of cloud-based applications require a new, smart, and automated approach for proactive monitoring that not only identifies end-user experience problems, but also accelerates a company’s ability to find and fix those problems.
Companies should be looking into investing in solutions that can ensure they are monitoring the end-user experience and proactively managing the performance of their cloud-dependent applications.
As such, a new generation of Applications Performance Management (APM) solutions has emerged, allowing organisations to regain visibility and reclaim control.
Key characteristics of the new-generation APM for the cloud should include:
Application-centric monitoring and analysis: Focus on enabling your operations team to understand what matters – the performance and stability of your business applications. Modern APM solutions should be able to show you the source of performance and available challenges through the lens of your business transactions, with visibility across application and infrastructure performance to pinpoint issues.
Smart analytics: Modern applications are complex. As such, companies would need to identify key capabilities like automatic multi-variant baselines and out-of-the-box dashboards for IT operations and business managers that can radically reduce the time of value and quickly show whether problems are internal or due to third-party cloud services.
Integrated user experience management: Modern APM should provide visibility to the end-user experience across the application delivery chain (including cloud services) with both proactive synthetic monitoring and reactive real user monitoring. Additionally, the solution should be seamless across web, mobile web, and mobile native applications, enabling you to prioritise issues based on business impact or the number of users affected.
Synthetic testing and transaction tracing: Modern APM solutions should provide the transactional detail and context necessary to resolve problems quickly. The ability to document specific issues in the context of a complete end-to-end transaction and share deep session data with service providers can clarify issues and accelerate mean time to respond (MTTR).
Fast time to value: Manual set-up and configuration is both slow and error-prone. Modern APM solutions should be self-learning and auto-adaptive for easy set-up and management of even the most dynamic, elastic cloud environments.
Graphical analysis: Companies will need to look for an APM solution that automatically builds a graphical representation of their application and its dependencies, including third- party cloud services in real-time, visualising transaction flows.
As cloud computing continues to be developed and incorporated into a more sophisticated infrastructure, integrating hybrid, private, and public, as well as third-party applications such as social media, e-commerce and advertisements, there is no doubt that the cloud, and the IT environment overall, is growing in complexity, especially where big data is concerned.
This is why today’s IT professionals and key decision makers need access to crucial performance indicators that could make or break their business bottom lines.
Shabbir Baliwala, Asean solutions director at Compuware Asia, brings with him over 15 years of experience in network design, APM and business service delivery.
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