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The Challenges of Monitoring Hybrid IT Infrastructure - Things That Make You Go, "Hmm"

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The Challenges of Monitoring Hybrid IT Infrastructure

Written by Chris Paap, Technical Product Manager, SolarWinds

The cloud has become ubiquitous, and with good reason: SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2016: The Hybrid IT Evolution, found that a mere 9 percent of organizations have not migrated any infrastructure or applications to the cloud. However, 60 percent of organizations also will likely never transition all services offsite, making hybrid IT the reality for IT departments today and for the foreseeable future.

However, for all of its benefits, the nearly universal shift to a hybrid IT strategy that links internal and external IT services can lead to complex, multi-faceted performance issues that span across systems and networks owned by an organization, their service providers, and their cloud vendors.

This puts a huge strain on IT administrators tasked with monitoring these complex hybrid IT infrastructures-more likely than not, you're one of them. Let's discuss a few of the key challenges, potential solutions, and some questions you should ask yourself.

Setting up cloud instances is simple enough, and that's one of the many benefits of having cloud infrastructure. But managing what you have in the cloud and connecting that back into your on-premises application ecosystem is easier said than done. Most cloud providers provide basic cloud monitoring KPIs, which are easy to access and review, but you need to make sure that how you monitor and maintain the cloud environment aligns with your troubleshooting and engineering processes.

For some, logging into a separate cloud portal to monitor their cloud instances is enough. Many others, though, who need to integrate with their help desk system and centralized alerting to track SLAs, require something more: integration of the cloud KPIs with their existing on-premises monitoring setup. Do you fall into this camp? Ask yourself the following:

Can I adequately provide an asset inventory for what exists in our hybrid IT infrastructure, and can this be done with autonomous monitoring systems?

Tracking inventory is hard enough-throw a segmented cloud environment into the mix, and the potential for shadow or rogue IT end-users with their own cloud instances makes things a lot more complex.   

Here's another question to ask yourself:

Does the existing monitoring system in our organization provide just KPIs and counters, or does it provide a contextual view of applications?

This is important for troubleshooting, as it's critical to understand which and how applications are being affected by underlying infrastructure issues. For example, some application components can reside on-premises, while the web frontend can be hosted by a cloud provider. That leads to the next question:

If a problem occurs, would you be able to quickly identify if the issue is cloud provider-related or an on-premises infrastructure issue, or perhaps the path between the two?

Cost is a factor in hybrid IT, too. The ability to scale out to address workload demand is one of the many benefits of the cloud, but what happens when you have resources that are not being utilized, yet the monthly bill keeps getting larger? 

Keeping tabs on cloud sprawl is another challenge of hybrid IT environments. This involves running only what's needed and confirming that instances were sized correctly. Are you able to identify baselines that indicate correctly sized cloud instances?

Bonus question: Do your monitoring capabilities allow you to provide future capacity planning analysis for both your on-premises and cloud infrastructure?

With all that said, and in closing, here are some great suggestions from the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2016 to help you better manage hybrid IT environments:

  • Establish an End-User Focus and Service Orientation: The ultimate goal of modern IT is to deliver greater Quality-of-Service (QoS) for end-users to ensure business productivity.
  • Optimize Visibility: With both on-premises and cloud resources to manage in a hybrid IT environment, a management and monitoring toolset that surfaces a single point of truth across those platforms is essential.
  • Apply Monitoring as a Discipline: In a hybrid IT world rife with new complexities, monitoring can no longer be an afterthought.
  • Improve Business Savvy: As more IT services are delivered by cloud service providers, you must improve upon the following trifecta: business savvy for vendor management, technical expertise to understand and use the available cloud services and project management.
  • Focus on Developing or Improving Key Technical Skills and Knowledge: You need to extend across traditional generalist or specialist roles and become a polymath in order to be successful in the hybrid IT world as you are required to pivot across multiple technology domains.


About the Author

With 14 years of IT systems engineering experience across multiple corporate environments, Chris Paap currently serves as a technical product manager for hybrid IT performance management software provider SolarWinds, where he focuses specifically on the award-winning SolarWinds Virtualization Manager. In this role, he is responsible for defining the product roadmap and identifying new key features to solve IT problems.

Published Wednesday, March 29, 2017 7:47 AM by David Marshall
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