Developing Monitoring Strategies in the Cloud

While the business case for cloud computing may be clear, strategies for managing service performance are nebulous at best. This article will focus on:

Top cloud monitoring challenges

Key capabilities for tracking cloud performance

Holding cloud vendors accountable for performance problems

Cloud Monitoring Challenges

The primary challenges of ensuring reliable cloud performance revolve around the lack of metrics for monitoring SLAs and performance. Understanding these issues is critical for developing successful monitoring strategies.

1. Obtaining application performance agreements

While vendors will highlight service or resource availability in their SLAs, application performance metrics or expectations are typically absent. In the case of Salesforce.com, SLAs (if one is provided) discuss downtime, but there aren’t any performance guarantees.

2. Lack of performance metrics

Similar to SLAs, organizations should not expect vendors to provide any meaningful performance metrics beyond service and resource availability. If a manager relies on trust.salesforce.com to track CRM service performance and availability, they are limited to monitoring server status, transactions handled, and server processing speed. These reports fail to provide meaningful performance metrics to evaluate service degradation issues or to isolate problems to the cloud vendor.

3. Meaningful Performance Benchmarks

Most SaaS vendors don’t offer any benchmarks or averages that allow you to forecast potential performance or service demand. While IaaS and PaaS vendors will provide cloud performance benchmarks, these numbers don’t take into account Internet latency, the location of your users to the services, or your network environment. The challenge is to properly benchmark and create meaningful metrics for your organization.

Effective Cloud Monitoring Strategies

Given the lack of metrics to assess performance for a specific organization, how do engineers successfully manage user interaction with cloud services? These challenges require organizations to take a holistic approach in monitoring by implementing solutions that allow them to seamlessly view external components and performance as if they were a part of their internal network. Network teams should have a true view of performance that tracks packets from the user over the ISP to the cloud provider, including any cloud-hosted components.

1. Ensuring Service Performance

While SLAs may not guarantee performance, cloud vendors should take action when clear proof shows their systems are the source of the problem. Set up synthetic transactions to execute a specific process on the cloud provider’s site. By regularly conducting these transactions, monitoring routes and response times, you can pinpoint the potential source of delay between the internal network, ISP, and cloud provider. This data along with web error codes can be provided to the cloud vendor to help them resolve issues.

2. Overcoming Lack of Performance Metrics

Depending upon the service, vendors will provide varying levels of detail. The type of service also impacts what you can monitor. In the case of SaaS, you may only be able to monitor user interactions and synthetic transactions, and rely on vendor-provided reports. For Platform as a Service (PaaS), monitoring solutions such as Observer Infrastructure provide significant performance metrics. These metrics can be viewed alongside response time metrics for a more complete picture of service health. In the case of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), you have access to the server’s operating system and applications. In addition to polling performance metrics of cloud components, analysis devices can be placed on the cloud server for an end-to-end view of performance.

3. Addressing Performance Benchmarks

With monitoring systems in place, it’s important to baseline response times and cloud component performance. From these baselines, meaningful benchmarks can be set for your specific organization. From this point, alarms can be set to proactively alert teams of degrading performance. Utilizing long-term packet capture, it’s straightforward to investigate performance from the user to the cloud and isolate potential problems.

In adopting monitoring strategies for cloud services, it’s important to establish performance metrics and baselines for your specific organization. This involves going beyond cloud-vendor provider data, ensuring your monitoring tools provide client-to-cloud performance views, and proactively benchmarking and monitoring performance. Taking a holistic approach ensures your staff can manage any performance issue and provide proof to cloud providers if their systems are the cause of an issue.

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Spectracom Introduces New NetClock 9483

spectracom_netclock9483Your network and computer systems require time sensitive data for such task as logging events, records management, network optimization and troubleshooting, and synchronizing operations.    Spectracom has released there new time server/master clock the NetClock 9483.   The new modular design, comes with more I/O options and enhanced front-panel display with controls, but still has the form/fit/function virtually identical as a direct drop-in replacement to the previous 9383 model.  The 9483 meets all the NENA PSAP Master Clock Standard#04-002 and the NENA Security Standare #75-001

Synchronize Multiple Networks from the Same Time Source

With the addition of the 3 port GigE ethernet card you now have the capability to time-synchronize multiple separate networks, from the same unit.  You can read more on the new Netclock 9483 here

Director 5.0 Delivers New Ways to Instrument Smarter and Simpler

Upgrade Net Optics Director now to Streamline Your Key Tasks

Discover Director 5.0! We’ve upgraded to deliver intelligent new management and filtering capabilities—plus even more convenience features. We’ve also made it easier than ever to put Director 5.0 to work. Visit the Customer Portal now, and start gaining the benefits of these substantial improvements for your network.

Smart Filtering Features Drive Efficiency Gains

Net Optics Director 5.0
New! Filter Tagging identifies input streams in aggregated traffic:
  • The filter through which the packet was directed
  • Which ports the packets arrive from (including packets arriving from ports across the daisy chain)
Net Optics Director 5.0
Enhanced User Defined Filter (UDF) adds flexibility and grows your options:
  • Support advanced filter options using four 4-byte offsets and four
  • DF values
  • Combine UDF with IPv4 and L2 filter qualifiers
  • Combine UDF with Deep Packet Inspection for seamless options
  • Filter with multiple MPLS labels
  • Filter with Cisco VN tag
  • Load-balance RTP traffic
  • Filter on HTTP header

Streamlined Enterprise Management Expands Your Reach

Net Optics Director 5.0
New! Syslog Capabilities
  • Granular syslog messaging
  • Send syslog messages to  multiple servers
  • Set individual message level for each server
Net Optics Director 5.0
Improved SNMP Support
  • Support for filter tagging, enhanced user defined filters, system shutdown and increased port counter size (64 bit)

Many New Ways to Say “Easy to Use”

Net Optics Director 5.0
Streamlined Daisy Chain Management
  • Save time, reduce error with one-touch upgrade for all nodes
  • Revision control: Smooth and stabilize upgrades with reboot, image swap
  • Easily synchronize system clock, set date and time on all nodes
  • Self-provisioning: Users change their own passwords
Net Optics Director 5.0
Simplified—yet powerful—Web GUI
Log configuration and management
  • Configure/Display/Export/Clear log
  • Configuration file management:
  • Export/Import/Load config file
  • Security enhancements:
  • Manage Web RSA key, certificate, CSR and SSH key information
  • Support for Syslog
  • Set system IP address using DHCP
  • Support for Ping : Test reachability of a host on the network

The enhanced functionality and quality engineering of Director 5.0 result from our deep commitment to listen to our customers and fulfill their needs in all aspects of our solutions. At Net Optics, we put customers first and welcome your feedback at all times. Director software version 5.0 upgrade required. Version 5.0 supports Director models DIR-3400, DIR-5400, and DIR-7400 and Director Pro models DIR-3400P and Dir-6400P.

Contact us at sales@telnetnetworks.ca or 800-561-4019 to ask about your upgrade

Private Cloud: Top 5 Benefits

Network Instruments - Private CloudAs IT becomes less about infrastructure and more about services, discussions have focused on the cloud. Public cloud services from Salesforce.com to Amazon Web Services are at the forefront of most conversations, and for network teams this raises serious questions of security, privacy, and control over externally-hosted data and applications. These concerns have caused many IT shops to consider pursuing private cloud strategies.

The concept of a private cloud has also created confusion over definitions and presents its own set of configuration and management challenges. In this article, we’ll cut through the confusion providing:
  • Clear definition of private cloud computing
  • Top 5 benefits of migrating to private cloud
  • Additional resources for developing private cloud strategies

What is Private Cloud?

Many experienced network professionals think of private cloud as a marketing term that can be used interchangeably with virtualized servers or running applications over a WAN. While these are two aspects of a private cloud, the term actually takes a broader view. Private cloud computing turns IT into a service, which can be provisioned and scaled by both network managers and non-IT people to support business processes on an “as needed” basis. It goes beyond virtualization by delivering all infrastructure as a fluid pool of resources that can be continuously allocated to support business needs.

Private Cloud’s Advantages Over the Data Center

The following matrix outlines five key attributes of a private cloud not found in the typical data center:

Attribute Description Benefit
Scalability Amount of available resources dedicated to a process or service can quickly increase or decrease to correspond with demand More efficient use of fewer IT resources
High Availability Uptime is critical with cloud service success, and the key is to minimize and quickly spring back from unplanned outages Virtual environment and flexibility of resource allocation saves significant time in disaster recovery
Self-Service Users should be able to request and provision resources as needed in whatever way they see fit Resources can be quickly deployed, rather than having to wait for weeks for physical server setup
Automation New software designed for the private cloud has streamlined the provisioning and deployment of resources, allowing engineers from a single console to provision resources and set parameters Fewer IT staff hours are needed to physically set up and maintain infrastructure
Hybrid Future Ultimately, rather than being dependent solely upon internally-hosted solutions, networks will be configured to seamlessly integrate with public cloud providers when logical Achieve maximum economies of scale and virtually unlimited capacity

Private Cloud Resources

For more in-depth information on developing private cloud strategies, rolling out private cloud initiatives, and key management challenges, check out the following resources

We Thank Network Instruments for supplying this article