The Mystery Of Application Performance Management In The Cloud

Application Performance Management In The Cloud

Cloud computing first became a phenomenon in 2007, when the term became popular and the sub-classification of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS was formalised. Since then, it’s gone on quite the journey and in recent months, we’ve seen “cloud-phobia” transition into “cloud-fatigue.”

According to a Capgemini report from last month, cloud initiatives are shifting from an IT priority to a business priority, with 45% of all organisations reporting that individual business units are ultimately responsible for cloud adoption strategies.

As cloud adoption is being driven from C-level executives rather than the IT department, mixed emotions around its benefits are still undecided. For business decision-makers it seems like the perfect option, with benefits of agility, flexibility and cost being clear. But for IT departments it remains an uncertainty and something they remain cautious and confused around, especially when it comes to management.

Mysterious cloud

This isn’t just a mystery for those ambivalent towards implementing it, but also to those who have already adopted it.

In a recent survey of 140 IT managers and professionals conducted at IPEXPO 2012, it was highlighted that a large proportion of IT decision-makers understand the importance of visibility in the cloud, but when it comes to measuring application performance, they don’t know where to begin. In fact, 70% of cloud adopters don’t know how to measure application performance, despite 86% of respondents claiming that visibility in the cloud is very important.

Measuring the performance of applications once in the cloud is the most important aspect of cloud adoption. If IT departments cannot do this vital analysis, they face the risk of negatively affecting their customers. Whilst IT managers understand this, it seems they also feel unsure of what tools they should be using to effectively measure what’s going on.

The concern over application performance in the cloud was elevated further, as a third of respondents (30%) declared that performance auditing and accountability was the top reason for avoiding cloud adoption altogether. This was followed by 20% claiming that achieving unified performance management across the datacentre and 12% saying keeping track of assets made them avoid cloud adoption.

Too much to handle

In today’s overcrowded technology space, it’s easy to see why IT managers struggle with clarity around cloud computing. With so many new devices and applications coming on to the network, the entire management of IT as a whole can become cloudy itself. What’s important is that the IT department has full visibility of the whole network as well as all the applications running over the network.

Currently, IT departments are primarily using traditional agent-based monitoring tools, which frankly, aren’t cutting it. Organisations are struggling to achieve visibility due to additional day-to-day pressures, the complexity around how to manage traditional tools and the difficulty of adjusting to a rising number of applications and servers.

Another fatal error that the IT department makes when dealing with applications in the cloud is that many assume that the cloud vendor takes care of performance measurement. However, vendors typically only monitor resource utilisation such as CPU, memory, and capacity, and not the applications and their flows, nor the transactions. More importantly, these vendors do not provide correlated, cross-tier visibility for the entire application delivery chain.

Relying on cloud vendors to do this for you is a dangerous mistake to make, and one that needs resolving fast, because without unified measurements, it’s impossible to see how your applications are performing for the end-user.

Bewildered by cloud blindness, IT managers are failing to keep up with other initiatives wider than cloud, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. With so many additional technologies and initiatives to get to grips with, not to mention implement, IT departments unfortunately don’t even have the time to research effective solutions that could consequently make their lives easier and promote the benefits.

Raising operational intelligence

By introducing technologies that offer granular analysis of applications in the cloud, the strain and lack of understanding around performance management in the cloud will be loosened.

Organisations must use solutions that detect and intercept problems before they happen and intelligently offer information in a clear way so that IT managers can fulfil the need of the C-level executive who can then fulfil the need of the customer. A network-based Application Performance Management solution would eliminate the blindness that IT managers fear by automatically discovering new applications and devices, and deterministically measuring application performance across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.

By increasing operational intelligence through the use of network-based APM, the IT department can be far more productive and reactive. Without it, these issues will affect customers, with potential loss of revenue and damage to the reputation of the company brand.

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Owen Cole

Owen Cole joined ExtraHop Networks in March 2011 as VP EMEA, following a 10-year tenure at F5 Networks. Previously at F5 networks, Cole held the position of Technical Director to which he was appointed in June 2006.