July 18, 2015

One Size Doesn't Fit All: The Best-in-Class Cloud-Monitoring Strategy

Written by Gen

keyword icon Happy Apps

The uneven pace of cloud adoption has left the tools companies rely on to monitor uptime and other performance measures playing catch-up with their migration of apps to the cloud. The solution is to adopt a best-of-breed strategy that combines multiple cloud-monitoring options to create a solution customized to your organization's needs. One such pairing that works for a growing number of companies is to link the Happy Apps monitoring service with AWS CloudWatch.

The cloud has been called many things: affordable, scalable, efficient, and flexible among them. One thing the cloud hasn't been called is simple to manage, and that is becoming a problem for companies as they migrate more and more of their apps and operations to cloud services.

Network World's Brandon Butler writes in a June 2, 2015, article that cloud-management tools have to be as unique as the company using them. In such a fragmented market, organizations must first identify the management features they require, and then find and integrate the products that offer those features. The four categories of cloud-management features identified by research firm Gartner are consumption and operations, administration and delivery, budget and optimization, and comparison and selection.

Amazon's solution for managing AWS-hosted apps is CloudWatch, which works with EC2, S3, and various other application, storage, and database services. As Sheryl Kitchen points out in a TechTarget article from May 2014, CloudWatch has some serious limitations. In addition to having to pay for compute, storage, and application resources, organizations have to pay extra to implement custom metrics.

For example, using such add-on metrics as alarms or API requests costs $0.10 per alarm and $0.01 per 1,000 GET, LIST or PUT requests. Kitchen estimates that each metric will cost the company an additional $0.50 per month, and that's at the lower-cost 5-minute check intervals rather than 1-minute intervals.

AWS CloudWatch charges for custom metrics, alarms, and API requests can quickly add up. Source: Amazon Web Services

Companies craft their own custom cloud-monitoring solutions

Each organization's cloud operations are unique. Just as you would never find a one-size-fits-all data center, no single cloud-monitoring solution will meet all your needs right out of the box. It's not at all uncommon to find custom monitoring tools in place at nearly every company that has migrated some operations to the cloud.

The experiences of several firms that adopted a DIY approach to cloud monitoring are recounted by TechTarget's Beth Pariseau. For example, marketing software vendor HubSpot needed to monitor its 1,400 AWS instances to generate an alert whenever someone attempted to create an instance that wasn't striped across availability zones. No such feature is offered by CloudWatch, so the company devised its own monitoring tool to accomplish the task.

As cloud implementations become even more complex, the best -- and often only -- solution for monitoring the performance of apps, databases, and other operations is by using APIs as connection points. The primary benefit of the cloud API model is the ability to cross-connect applications beyond physical and virtual boundaries, as Bill Kleyman explains in a November 5, 2014, article on Data Center Knowledge.

The key is the ability of cross-platform APIs to provide access to many different cloud resources. In particular, services such as Happy Apps that deliver what Kleyman refers to as "cloud agnosticism" allow organizations to implement private and hybrid clouds with the same features and capabilities as public cloud services.

Most cloud APIs are implemented using SOAP, REST, or JSON to access apps hosted on public, private, or hybrid clouds. Source: Service Architecture

All the elements of a distributed-monitoring solution come together in the Happy Apps service. Happy Apps is a robust app-management solution that integrates with and enhances AWS CloudWatch. The Happy Apps service supports SSH and agent-based connectivity to all your apps on public, private, and hybrid clouds.

All checks performed on your systems are collected in easy-to-read reports that can be analyzed to identify repeating patterns and performance glitches over time. If you're looking for ways to save time, trouble, and money when managing your apps, databases, and other systems, visit the Happy Apps site for pricing information and to sign up for a free trial.