Cloud Computing

Russell Rothstein (North America) - Service Performance and Availability Issues in the Cloud - Part 2


As you define and implement your cloud strategy, you need to look beyond the infrastructure and think about how you will manage performance and availability after migration. In my last entry, I started to discuss a list of the service delivery issues that you will need to handle in a private or hybrid cloud.  Today, I'll continue with 5 more challenges that you are likely to face, along with some tips as to how to address them.

Challenge 1: Over-provisioning - How can you right-size capacity and prevent over-provisioning that undercuts the ROI benefits of the cloud? 

Sharing IT infrastructure can be more efficient and cost-effective - assuming you have an accurate picture of resource usage for each service, an understanding of how that allocation affects SLA compliance, and the ability to prioritize resource allocation. In the cloud, a complete history of all transaction instances, including precise resource utilization metrics and SLAs, is essential for making intelligent decisions about provisioning. And with an accurate picture of resource consumption for each business transaction, cloud owners can plan future capacity requirements accurately.

Challenge 2: "vMotion sickness" - How can you maintain a real-time up-to-date view of how each service flows through the cloud when VMs are moving around dynamically?

In the cloud more than ever, you need a real-time picture of service dependencies that does not need to be manually updated. The environment is simply too dynamic to make it feasible to keep manual models and static infrastructure dependency maps up to date. To stay on top of service delivery in the cloud, you need complete top-down visibility and a topology map based on automatic, continuous transaction discovery technology.

Challenge 3: Change management - How can you minimize the risk of change to the cloud infrastructure - or the application - when one change can impact so many pieces of the puzzle?

In a shared environment, any change to the application or the infrastructure is high-risk. Cloud owners, operations staff and application teams must be able to test the impact of change on service delivery - whether that change is in an application before deployment, or in the cloud infrastructure. You need a solution that indicates the impact of application, infrastructure and configuration changes on every business transaction in the application during both testing and production.

Challenge 4: Cloudbursting - How can you plan, test and monitor cloudbursting to ensure that SLAs are not affected?

Potentially, cloudbursting can be the key to providing optimal capacity at the best price. However, given the complexity of hybrid architectures, IT must be able to test the impact of cloudbursting and be able to monitor service delivery during cloudburst situations to ensure that SLAs are enforced.

In the cloud there is greater physical distance between tiers and latency between tiers is a more common source of service degradation. Traditional APM tools do not measure inter-tier latency and as a result cannot identify some of the most common performance issues when moving applications to the cloud.

Challenge 5: Experience monitoring - How can you monitor the experience of your end users in a hybrid cloud?

To stay on top of the user experience, you need real-user monitoring as well as synthetic transaction monitoring. In fully dedicated environments, it is straightforward to deploy a real-user monitoring system and track user experience around the clock.

But in hybrid clouds, it is not so simple. You need cloud-ready deployment architectures based in the cloud or in the application client that can track both real-user and synthetic transactions throughout and beyond the cloud and help you to identify problems before SLAs are affected.

Russell Rothstein is Vice President of Product Marketing at OpTier, a supplier of software for cloud and application performance management, and business transaction management. He has spoken on cloud performance at Interop, CloudConnect, CMG, and other industry events. Follow him on twitter at russrothsteinit 


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