How to Choose the Best IT Monitoring Solution for Cloud Infrastructures

By Gary Read  |  Posted 2010-06-15

How to Choose the Best IT Monitoring Solution for Cloud Infrastructures

Economic pressures, scalability demands, advances in innovation, and the need to squeeze every bit of value available out of IT resources are all driving an enterprise computing paradigm shift. This shift centers around cloud computing and its promise to provide organizations with the ability to expand their IT infrastructures and increase their computing power without having to invest in costly data center improvements or additional IT staff.

Media, analysts and various pundit communities are paying special attention to the cloud; however, interested companies are approaching it with caution. Prior to making cloud investments, they are asking whether or not there are actual economic and efficiency advantages available, if security and compliance is adequate, and if it's possible to manage, monitor and control cloud-based business applications and services.

The answer to these questions is a resounding yes. As early as December 2009, it was reported that vendors providing technologies enabling comprehensive monitoring and management of cloud-based IT resources have emerged. Cloud providers are producing tangible ROI case studies. And in March 2010, at the RSA Conference, many companies announced security advancements supporting the fact that the cloud is secure and compliant.

While there are many resources addressing cloud security, compliance and efficiency concerns, there are relatively few that can provide a how-to guide to monitoring and management. In this article, I'll discuss the challenges inherent in legacy monitoring technologies. I'll also discuss the distinct advantages that today's leading-edge monitoring solutions provide and offer a how-to guide for choosing a monitoring solution.

The Problem with Legacy IT Monitoring Solutions

The problem with legacy IT monitoring solutions

Legacy IT monitoring solutions have traditionally been comprised of pieced-together technologies designed to gain an overview of how well services and applications are living up to their service-level agreements (SLAs), when they are causing interruptions to business process, and overall availability and performance.

This legacy model is riddled with problems. The need to make constant investments in additional technologies every time the infrastructure expands, plus a high learning curve and disparate reporting capabilities, are just a few of the problems. Trying to configure a legacy solution to extend monitoring beyond the data center presents an entirely new set of cost, learning and reporting challenges.

Single-platform, scalable architecture advantages

Today, there exists at least a small variety of vendors providing solutions that can extend monitoring beyond the data center to leading cloud platforms. These enterprise-ready platforms' scalable architectures eliminate the need to invest in and piece together disparate technologies every time a data center expands or a new external resource is added.

These solutions are so versatile that they can unify monitoring of the largest cloud infrastructures from leading providers such as Google and Amazon, the most popular software as a service (SAAS) applications including and Gmail, the most widely used data center resources such as MS Hosted Exchange, and leading virtualization technologies from Citrix and VMware.

Look for These Seven Features and Benefits

Look for these seven features and benefits

Although the provider field is still relatively small, marketing fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) disseminated by legacy vendors still attempting to hawk antiquated, resource-intensive and expensive solutions can muddy the waters. When choosing a single-platform solution that can provide monitoring for your data center and cloud resources, look for these seven distinct features and benefits:

1. A highly scalable architecture, delivering monitoring that keeps pace with your organization's growth

2. Integrated functionality, delivering a unified view of all of your internal and external IT resources

3. High availability, delivering always-available and on-demand monitoring

4. Business service correlation, demonstrating how applications and systems are affecting overall IT performance

5. Customizable dashboards, delivering the level of visibility you require

6. Rapid deployment, delivering quick and easy monitoring capabilities across your entire enterprise

7. Flexible purchasing options, enabling you to implement a level of monitoring your organization needs and budget allows

It remains to be seen if enterprises will ever make a leap to 100 percent cloud infrastructures. Internal data centers and clouds each provide distinct advantages. There is, however, no doubt that cloud computing platforms are becoming an essential component of the enterprise IT makeup and many organizations are beginning to use them to reduce costs and grow with minimal investments.

Your organization may have already leapt into the cloud or maybe it's just beginning to test the waters. But remember, regardless of which phase you are in, you will need to make monitoring an integral component of your infrastructure strategy.

Gary Read is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Nimsoft business unit at CA. Gary took on these roles following the March 2010 acquisition of Nimsoft. Previously, Gary was president and CEO at Nimsoft. A high-tech industry veteran for over 20 years, Gary has a track record of building organizations that have achieved and sustained long-term growth and profitability. Under his leadership, Nimsoft realized sustained growth, both in prosperous economic times and during the global recession of recent years. He navigated the cultural challenges of managing a distributed team with offices in the United States, the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and Australia.

Prior to Nimsoft, Gary was VP of sales and marketing at RiverSoft. While there, he was a key member of the executive team that led the company to a successful IPO and its eventual acquisition by Micromuse. With a long tenure in monitoring and systems management, Gary served as VP of marketing at BMC Software. While there, he oversaw product strategy, definition and execution, as well as go-to-market plans for all distributed systems management products. Gary has also held sales and marketing leadership roles at Boole & Babbage and MAXM Systems. He can be reached at

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