Cloud and IT Monitoring

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Cloud, just a fad?

A fashionable term for many years, the Cloud has become an essential component of any IT infrastructure. The promises are many: improved performance, high availability, accessibility, flexibility, cost reduction, scalability, security…

Offered by IT giants like Microsoft, Google and Amazon, cloud platforms are mature and fit for production use.
Indeed, companies are turning more and more towards hybrid architectures (some of  applications in the cloud, others retained in-house) and multi-cloud (part of an application hosted in a public cloud whilst others remain on servers managed internally and are delivered via the company network).
Platforms such as Azure or AWS provide a wide range of IaaS or PaaS resources that need to be monitored.


PaaS/IaaS, what are the differences?

Let’s take a concrete example.
A company wants to create an application to collect data sent by connected objects (IoT), process them, store them and display them on a web application.

In Azure and AWS environments, two paradigms exist: IaaS and PaaS.

IaaS, for Infrastructure as a Service, makes it possible to rent virtual servers in the traditional way you would from any hosting provider.
The machines are accessible via a remote console or desktop and their administration (updating, configuration, installation of services) is undertaken like a traditional virtual machine.
To create an IoT application, the company could decide to rent 2 servers in IaaS mode.

In addition to managing the OS and filesystems on the machine, it will also be important to manage each individual service.
The services will be configured on the servers via their respective configuration files.

PaaS, for Platform as a Service, offers a new way of designing and administering an application architecture.
This type of cloud-computing allows companies to focus solely on the development and configuration of an application by completely avoiding the deployment and maintenance of the infrastructure.

The resources made available by these environments are not virtual machines but micro-services.
Let’s take our IoT application.
In PaaS mode, the company does not use virtual servers but PaaS resources.

The various elements of the application are no longer shared on 2 servers but are split into several micro-services, each rendered by a PaaS resource.
Each service can be configured via the web interface of the cloud platform. The underlying infrastructure is totally abstract, we no longer deal with physical machines, OS, filesystems, updates… but only with the configuration of each resource.

This example shows an architecture under Azure, but AWS allows you to operate applications in the same way.

What about monitoring?

Lets continue with our IoT application example, and add local network monitoring.

Effective monitoring will be necessary in order to avoid any unavailability and ensure maximum visibility of the entire information system.
It will be based on two requirements:

  • Monitoring of traditional servers in the local network with SNMP and / or WMI protocols.
  • Monitoring of PaaS resources through APIs.

ServiceNav allows you to monitor both environments and aggregate results in a single web interface.

Monitoring Azure and AWS PaaS

By eliminating the system part, the use of PaaS resources allows focus to fall on the configuration and development of the application. However, whether for AWS or Azure, it remains essential to collect metrics to measure application utilisation and performance.

Azure and AWS offer their own monitoring solutions: Azure Monitor for Microsoft and Amazon Cloudwatch for AWS.
Directly integrated into their web administration interfaces, they have the advantage of being very comprehensive, but may not be suitable for all users.
Developers will be attracted by the multitude of technical dashboards and general metrics on application performance, but can be complicated for support teams, especially in a multi-client/ multi-cloud context.

Our plugins (MS-Azure-PaaS-Metrics_v2 and AWS-Paas-cloudwatch) use the APIs provided by Amazon CloudWatch and Azure Monitor to allow ServiceNav to gather data.
Ignoring the PaaS/ Cloud aspects, the information will be handled as with any “traditional” monitoring data and thus will benefit from all the features offered by ServiceNav: threshold checking, maintenance, acknowledgments, ITSM integration, timeslots, notification, data retention, Aaverage and average ‘peak hour’ calculations, Dataviz presentation and soon… prediction.

By monitoring key metrics embedded in IT Weather user services, ServiceNav makes it easy to identify and resolve an incident by directly showing the impact of an alert on the entire application.

Dataviz can also give a complete view of the application:

UK ServiceNav Product Development Manager; my priority is to be needful of the particular requirements of all ‘English-speaking’ markets where ServiceNav is sold. I have over 20 years experience of the IT monitoring field - covering a wide variety of products and technologies.

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