Optimizing and Monitoring the Cloud 

By Paul Woodward, Blog Contributor
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IoT and cloud application

Would you leave the house with a meal cooking on the stove? Would you leave a young child alone and unsupervised for an extended period of time? I would hope the answers to these questions are "no," as they could have potentially disastrous consequences. While not nearly as life-threatening, the concept of leaving your public cloud unmonitored should still incite similarly uneasy feelings.

Public clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are a part of modern technology strategy no different than virtualization, operating systems and networking. They are powerful tools for the business to be able to deliver agile, high performance applications. But unlike other pieces of technology in the data center, the cloud has an always-running meter tracking charges. Left unchecked, these charges can destroy a business's IT budget in a matter of months, weeks or even days.

Another piece in the puzzle of monitoring and optimizing public cloud consumption is accounting for the compliance and security of the data in the public cloud. Sudden spikes in ingress of data, egress of data or compute utilization can be a red flag that a bad actor has made their way into your cloud.

In a 2018 RightScale survey of nearly 1000 businesses, 77% of respondents call out security and 76% call out cost monitoring as their two biggest challenges with public cloud. Understanding this need, the big public cloud providers do have some services offerings built into their platforms to address these issues. Outside of the standard dashboard views, these services include workload monitoring to detect instances or virtual machines that may be left running despite not being utilized. Alarms can be set for spending thresholds. Scans can be run against the cloud virtual infrastructure and virtual machines to check certain compliance baselines. All of these services are a good start, but more is necessary.

And what about the multicloud strategy?

Going back to the RightScale survey, the average number of public clouds in use by those who responded was 2.7. Each of the tools provided by the individual public cloud providers only covers its specific cloud. In the hybrid cloud world, IT administrators need tools that can monitor and optimize both public and private cloud from one dashboard. Simplifying administration and governance is a key first step to maintaining a secure, cost-effective cloud. With a monitoring tool in place and an analysis of the environment complete, remediation of billing and security issues can begin. Third-party software such as Aruba SD-Branch, Aruba Network Analytics Engine, and VMware CloudHealth all provide powerful analytics and security features covering multiple clouds at once.

Security and cost management are top-of-mind concerns in hybrid cloud environments. With thoughtful investigation of the services offered by the individual cloud provider, coupled with third-party tools, an investment in public cloud can prove to be a key business asset.