What is cloud monitoring?

gray magnifying glass laying on its side

Cloud monitoring is a method of reviewing, observing, and managing the operational workflow in a cloud-based IT infrastructure. Manual or automated management techniques confirm the availability and performance of websites, servers, applications, and other cloud infrastructure. This continuous evaluation of resource levels, server response times, and speed predicts possible vulnerability to future issues before they arise.

Types of cloud monitoring

The cloud has numerous moving components, and for top performance, it’s critical to safeguard that everything comes together seamlessly. This need has led to a variety of monitoring techniques to fit the type of outcome that a user wants. The main types of cloud monitoring are:

Database monitoring

Because most cloud applications rely on databases, this technique reviews processes, queries, availability, and consumption of cloud database resources. This technique can also track queries and data integrity, monitoring connections to show real-time usage data. For security purposes, access requests can be tracked as well. For example, an uptime detector can alert if there’s database instability and can help improve resolution response time from the precise moment that a database goes down.

Website monitoring

A website is a set of files that is stored locally, which, in turn, sends those files to other computers over a network. This monitoring technique tracks processes, traffic, availability, and resource utilization of cloud-hosted sites.

Virtual network monitoring

This monitoring type creates software versions of network technology such as firewalls, routers, and load balancers. Because they’re designed with software, these integrated tools can give you a wealth of data about their operation. If one virtual router is endlessly overcome with traffic, for example, the network adjusts to compensate. Therefore, instead of swapping hardware, virtualization infrastructure quickly adjusts to optimize the flow of data.

Cloud storage monitoring

This technique tracks multiple analytics simultaneously, monitoring storage resources and processes that are provisioned to virtual machines, services, databases, and applications. This technique is often used to host infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. For these applications, you can configure monitoring to track performance metrics, processes, users, databases, and available storage. It provides data to help you focus on useful features or to fix bugs that disrupt functionality.

Virtual machine monitoring

This technique is a simulation of a computer within a computer; that is, virtualization infrastructure and virtual machines. It’s usually scaled out in IaaS as a virtual server that hosts several virtual desktops. A monitoring application can track the users, traffic, and status of each machine. You get the benefits of traditional IT infrastructure monitoring with the added benefit of cloud monitoring solutions.

Benefits of cloud monitoring

Monitoring is a skill, not a full-time job. In today’s world of cloud-based architectures that are implemented through DevOps projects, developers, site reliability engineers (SREs), and operations staff must collectively define an effective cloud monitoring strategy. Such a strategy should focus on identifying when service-level objectives (SLOs) are not being met, likely negatively affecting the user experience. So, then what are the benefits of leveraging cloud monitoring tools? With cloud monitoring:

  • Scaling for increased activity is seamless and works in organizations of any size
  • Dedicated tools (and hardware) are maintained by the host
  • Tools are used across several types of devices, including desktop computers, tablets, and phones, so your organization can monitor apps from any location
  • Installation is simple because infrastructure and configurations are already in place
  • Your system doesn’t suffer interruptions when local problems emerge, because resources aren’t part of your organization’s servers and workstations
  • Subscription-based solutions can keep your costs low

Monitoring in public, private, and hybrid clouds

A private cloud gives you extensive control and visibility. Because systems and the software stack are fully accessible, cloud monitoring is relaxed when it’s operated in a private cloud. Monitoring in public or hybrid clouds, however, can be tough. Let’s review the focal points:

  • Because the data exists between private and public clouds, a hybrid cloud environment presents curious challenges. Limited security and compliance create problems for data access. Your administrator can solve these issues by deciding which data to store in various clouds and which data to asynchronously update.
  • A private cloud gives you more control, but to promote optimal performance, it’s still wise to monitor workloads. Without a clear picture of workload and network performance, it’s nearly impossible to justify configuration or architectural changes or to quantify quality-of-service implementations.

Cloud monitoring best practices

When your organization decides to make cloud monitoring a priority, your plan must include questions with quantifiable answers that accomplish your goals for implementation. As a general guideline, follow these best practices:

  • Observe your cloud service usage and fees. Increased costs can be triggered when scaling kicks in to meet demand. Strong monitoring solutions should track how much activity is on the cloud and its associated cost
  • Identify metrics and events that affect your bottom line. Not everything that can be measured needs to be reported
  • Use a single platform to report all data. You need solutions that can report data from different sources to a single platform. This consolidated information enables you to calculate uniform metrics and results in a complete performance view
  • Trigger rules with data. If activity surpasses or drops below certain levels, the right solution should be to add or subtract servers to maintain efficiency and performance
  • Separate your centralized data. Your organization must store your monitoring data separately from your proprietary apps, but the information should still be centralized for easy access
  • Monitor the user experience. To get the full picture of performance, review metrics such as response times and frequency of use
  • Try failure. Test tools to see what happens when an outage or a data breach occurs. This evaluation can create new standards for the alert system

Cloud monitoring is primarily part of cloud security and management processes. It is normally implemented through automated monitoring software that provides central access and control over cloud infrastructure. Your cloud administrator can review the operational status and health of any cloud-based device or component.

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