Navigating a way through the cloud

navigating cloudPrivate cloud is a compelling proposition for many businesses. With the help of server virtualisation, you can take your own infrastructure; make it ‘cloud-like’ and because it is local, fully control its performance.

Unfortunately, as demand grows you have to scale up by adding resources – even if you only need those resources periodically. At the same time, there are likely services you need in the easy-access public cloud, whose applications and data you want linked to your on-premises applications.

That, in a nutshell, is the rationale for the hybrid cloud. If you need more capacity than your private cloud can muster, you can have a public cloud service that you ‘burst’ over to. In other cases, you might want to distribute your application between your private cloud and a third-party public cloud service.

In light of all this, hybrid clouds are becoming more popular. According to a MarketsandMarkets “Hybrid Cloud Market” report, this market will leap up from $33.28 billion in 2016 to $91.74 billion by 2021. But clouds can be complex to undertake and manage. Add in more than one hybrid architecture and they become more complex still. The good news is, however, that while there are many challenges to a successful hybrid cloud implementation, they can be overcome. Let’s take a look at how.

Performance problems

A hybrid cloud generally starts with the creation of a private cloud. Measuring performance is relatively easy in this environment. You know the speed of your servers, disks and LAN connections. You also understand the maximum capacity of your resources, and can see which IT services are consuming these. On top of that, you can have performance monitoring and management tools that look for problems.

The integration of the public cloud adds more concerns – you have the cloud service itself plus your WAN connections that impact actual performance. That’s why apps distributed via a hybrid cloud can be slower than when run solely on a private cloud. The same is true for private applications that ‘burst’ to the public in times of stress – here the public portion can be slower than the in-house operation.

Due to these intricacies, there is a need for 360O visibility into the performance across the whole cloud infrastructure. With hybrid environments, IT has to deal with many variable factors, including your network, internal servers, virtual machines and applications that need to be monitored to keep track of cloud services.

Performance issues can come from several sources, and interdependencies can result in even larger headaches. It could be a router issue, a VM using too many resources, or another infrastructure component causing the degradation. You don’t get the requisite visibility using traditional siloed monitoring tools, making it difficult to pinpoint the root cause of performance issues.

However, with holistic visibility, coupled with the right remediation tools, you can spot problems and rectify them quickly. Visibility is also instructive – by understanding overall performance you know whether you need to upgrade the underlying infrastructure.

Finding a solution

You need to keep a close eye on security in the hybrid world, of course. While your service provider should help secure your cloud data, you need strong authentication and you must ensure your data is encrypted when in transit.

Finding the cause of problems, though, is often the most complex issue. Part of this requires your cloud provider to monitor from their multi-tenant system. The part you need to control is the network that supports private cloud connections to the service provider. Here monitoring the connections for performance, doing root-cause analysis and fixing problems is critical.

When it comes to true performance monitoring, however, you need tools that support virtual technologies such as VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen and KVM. To have a holistic view, the same monitoring tools must support key cloud infrastructure offers such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, as well as CloudStack and OpenStack-based services.

Deep, unified monitoring can be used to let IT professionals see where performance problems lie, and that delivers root-cause analysis to support remediation. The same understanding of performance allows IT to predict future needs and plan upgrades ensuring that business-critical hybrid networks always work at peak efficiency.

In today’s complex hybrid cloud environments, businesses require systems that help reduce IT services downtime. The days of monitoring servers and routers in an isolated silo are gone. Businesses today require tools that offer real-time tracking and correlation of the business impact these devices have on overall IT services.

They also need systems that maintain mappings of relationships between hosts, guests, applications and services, to support service-centric monitoring of virtualised environments.

With hybrid clouds, you have two complex environments that both need access control and password management. A combination of Multi-Factor Authentication, secure remote access and Single Sign-On (SSO) that works both on-premises and in the cloud can solve this problem.

At the same time, the chosen technology needs to enforce strong password policies, not only keeping your hybrid environment secure, but helping you stay compliant at all times.

The rapid adoption of cloud services and the recent ramp up in hybrid cloud implementations, in particular, has led to a growing need for performance measurement and monitoring systems that can work across complex IT environments, incorporating different flavours of cloud. The good news is the latest technology has the capability to navigate this complexity and enable businesses of all types to face their future in the cloud with complete confidence.