Monitoring multi-cloud environments

Migrating to the cloud comes with plenty of challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining visibility and avoiding downtime.

The following post is adapted from Sean’s article in ITProPortal.

In today’s fast-growth, faster-results market, your customers expect your applications to be always available and up-to-date. Meeting that demand often involves migrating to the cloud, which offers increased scalability and flexibility, allowing engineering teams to innovate more quickly and produce the delightful user experiences customers are looking for.

Monitoring multi-cloud environments

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Although the cloud offers a wide array of benefits, migrating from legacy infrastructure to the cloud brings its fair share of challenges: siloed data sources, fragmented toolsets, and increased security threats, just to name a few.

With the rise of multi-cloud, microservices, IoT devices, and containers (not to mention the fact that your application is often made up of a combination of old and new technologies), it’s harder than ever to have complete visibility into your infrastructure to make sure everything’s running as expected. When failures occur, you need to be able to diagnose and fix them, while limiting downtime. Downtime is not only costly — Gartner places the average cost of unplanned downtime at $5,600 per minute — but also erodes customer trust the more frequently it happens.

The bottom line? Effectively monitoring your multi-generational, multi-cloud infrastructure and applications — and mitigating unexpected failures — is critical to your success.

In this post, we’ll look at the challenges of monitoring multi-generational environments, and how to choose approaches and tools that facilitate a successful cloud migration.

Challenges of monitoring multi-generational, multi-cloud environments

Multi-generational, multi-cloud environments are the new norm. But spreading services across multiple environments fractures your ability to have a holistic view of your infrastructure — making it exponentially harder to connect disparate data types and monitor the health of your systems.

At Sensu, we define monitoring as the action of observing and checking the behavior and outputs of a system and its components over time. In short, you need to know about a problem before your users do — and you need to monitor cloud instances just as proactively as you monitor your private datacenter.

Monitoring multi-generational, multi-cloud environments introduces unique challenges:

  • Data security. Security threats across all environments are a major concern today; the cloud's vast attack surface and multiple endpoints make it particularly challenging. 87% of organizations are worried that poor visibility inside public clouds hinders their ability to manage security threats.
  • Disparate toolsets. Keeping tabs on old and new infrastructure often requires different tools. Legacy monitoring tools don’t provide the scalability, reliability, or customization that the cloud necessitates.
  • Siloed, cloud-supplied monitoring. The monitoring tools provided by your cloud vendor don’t extend beyond that environment, which means you won’t have complete visibility and will likely run up against governance issues across multiple cloud providers.
  • Gaps in experience and expertise. The massive growth of cloud drives demand for cloud skills that many organizations lack. 64% of IT decision-makers in the UK say their organization is losing out on revenue because it doesn’t have the required cloud expertise, which extends to monitoring tools as well.

Managing these challenges isn’t easy, but it becomes easier with a unified monitoring environment. When you have a centralized view of both on-premises and cloud environments, you can embrace the value of migrating to the cloud — without suffering downtime and management headaches.

Choosing DevOps tools that complement a successful cloud migration

As you plan your cloud migration, look for tools that are built to handle both public cloud (AWS, GCP, Azure) and private cloud (OpenStack, VMware, Xen), as well as container infrastructures and bare metal. Here are some key capabilities to look for:

  • Go beyond (just) alerts. Of course you want to be notified when something goes wrong, but that’s just the first step. You want your alerts to be actionable and if they’re not, they should be automated (i.e., auto-remediation). Save alerts for tasks that can’t be automated so operators can focus on what matters.
  • Automate, automate, automate. Per the above point, automating tasks means faster resolution while protecting operators from alert fatigue. Choose a monitoring tool that integrates with an intelligent IT incident management platform to help your IT ops teams detect, investigate, and resolve incidents quickly.
  • Secure transport. Your monitoring tool should support and use standard cryptography for communication. Partner with a company that’s doing the latest and greatest in terms of transport layer security (TLS), including staying up to date with industry best practices around implementation and management. Just as migrating to the cloud comes with its own implications in terms of security, it’s important to find a monitoring tool that helps (rather than hinders) securing your infrastructure.
  • Flexibility. Your monitoring should be agile and able to collect data in a variety of ways. Use a flexible, agent-based monitoring solution for customized workflows that are tailored to your particular infrastructure. Bonus: a flexible solution that lets you collect disparate data types means you can reuse some of the work you’ve done on existing, legacy tooling (Sensu, for example, supports the Nagios plugin spec, so operators can reuse existing Nagios checks when migrating to the cloud).

Essentially, it’s important to find a monitoring solution that empowers you to monitor your entire infrastructure (the old as well as the new), and that integrates well with many other DevOps tools for the monitoring ecosystem. The right toolsets allow you to streamline your CI/CD pipeline, accelerating your response to customer needs and business changes.

Migrating to the cloud brings risks and opportunities that require integrated, multi-cloud strategies. With cloud growth on the rise, you need to adopt modern tools that keep pace with that growth, giving you total visibility across your entire infrastructure and the power to automate incident management.

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