What is cloud monitoring?
Learn how cloud monitoring provides the visibility, automation, and control organizations need to monitor and optimize web site and application performance.
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What is cloud monitoring?

Cloud monitoring comprises a series of strategies and practices for analyzing, tracking, and managing cloud-based services and applications. As businesses scale their infrastructure and digital footprint, it becomes vitally important for IT administrators and DevOps teams to maintain visibility into the performance of their digital assets. Cloud monitoring provides an efficient way to achieve this visibility while providing an enterprise with actionable insights to improve availability and user experiences.

Cloud monitoring tools

Given the complexities of most cloud-based deployments, monitoring performance across an entire stack of cloud applications and services can be extremely time-consuming and draining on internal resources. Cloud monitoring solutions are designed to aggregate performance data in real-time, using automated tools that track performance, resource allocation, network availability, and other important cloud-related key performance indicators (KPIs). This gives IT staff visibility into and control over their entire cloud-based infrastructure.

These tools provide near-limitless capabilities for identifying essential trends in user activity and play a key role in avoiding downtime, under-provisioned workloads, and potential security issues.

Some other capabilities that cloud monitoring software provides include the following:

  • Real-time, 24x7 monitoring of virtual machines, services, databases, and applications

  • Multilayer visibility into application, user, and file access behavior across all cloud-based applications and services

  • Advanced reporting and auditing capabilities for ensuring regulatory standards are being met

  • Large-scale performance monitoring integrations across multicloud and hybrid cloud environments

Various cloud monitoring tools exist in the market today, each designed for a unique purpose. However, most cloud monitoring solutions can be broken down into the following categories:

Website monitoring. Every business needs to ensure its websites and web services remain highly accessible, optimized, and secure. Cloud monitoring tools help to identify minor and large-scale hardware failures and security gaps so that developers and administrators can take corrective action before problems affect user experiences.

Database monitoring. Ensuring that the performance and health of your database management system remain intact is a vital part of business continuity. Cloud monitoring solutions actively monitor cloud database resources, tracking processes, queries, and availability of services to ensure the accuracy and reliability of database management systems, regardless of the number of instances and how they are deployed.

Application performance monitoring (APM)APM is a vital component of any cloud monitoring solution and plays a critical role in keeping your applications running smoothly and efficiently. APM measures application availability and performance, providing development teams the tools they need to quickly troubleshoot issues in an application's environment. APM solutions help an enterprise improve user experience, meet application and user service level agreements (SLAs), minimize downtime, and lower overall operational costs.

Hybrid cloud and multicloud monitoring

Today's enterprises use a variety of on-premises and cloud-based solutions. This merging of infrastructure and the operational processes that support it can lead to multicloud and hybrid cloud environments that require an added layer of monitoring, maintenance, and control. Cloud monitoring helps simplify the administration of these complex systems while reducing the internal resources necessary to manage them.

Hybrid cloud monitoring. Hybrid cloud environments combine the use of public cloud services and private on-premises infrastructure. This enables an organization to keep sensitive elements of their business—such as client data and transaction processes—on-premises while running other applications and services in highly scalable, reliable cloud environments.

However, a lack of end-to-end visibility in applications and services in a hybrid environment can make it difficult to identify and address critical failures or bottlenecks in software development pipelines, website and application performance, network configurations, and other IT-related process. Hybrid cloud monitoring solutions provide seamless integrations with cloud vendor performance data, providing easy-to-understand data visualizations. This brings cloud-based key performance indicators (KPIs) to the forefront, allowing teams to make better decisions regarding service deprecation, application resource provisioning, mobile agility, and database management.

Multicloud monitoring. Multicloud environments are similar to a hybrid cloud in that they leverage the use of an on-premises solution in combination with cloud-based computing environments, but they add the complexity of utilizing multiple public cloud providers.

Running a multicloud setup gives organizations the flexibility of choosing cloud services that best fit each of their workloads. However, there are several challenges that can occur when operating in a multicloud environment.

Multicloud adds complexity to the management of your infrastructure as you manage your organization's tools, services, and network configurations through multiple third-party providers. Add to this challenge that every cloud provider operates under different SLAs when it comes to availability, compliance, and security, and it's easy to lose control of your resource expenditures and overall scalability.

Application performance management helps to maintain consistent user experiences across your entire infrastructure by monitoring for the golden signals of latency, traffic, errors, and saturation. Using these unified standards, organizations can receive policy-driven notifications as incidents arise and run automated processes to resolve them quickly.

Cloud monitoring best practices

Moving to hybrid or mutlicloud environments can provide many advantages for scaling enterprises, especially when looking to create more agile operations. But to get the most benefit out of your cloud-based deployments, you should follow some standard cloud monitoring best practices.

End-user experience monitoring. While creating better internal efficiencies around process management is necessary, the primary goal of every business should be to monitor and address user experience at all levels. Gaining insights on how to improve your application performance and availability for users can have significant impacts on your bottom line and the overall sustainability of your products and services.

There are two ways that organizations can deploy digital experience monitoring in an enterprise setting:

  • Synthetic monitoring: Also known as active monitoring, synthetic monitoring provides simulated end-user viewpoints in order to provide feedback on application performance under various conditions. This allows you to run benchmarking and baselining of your entire connected infrastructure and how it responds to complex processes and heavy workloads before applications are deployed, helping to maximize availability and overall reliability.

  • Real user monitoring (RUM): Real user monitoring uses "real" user metrics to gain a better understanding of overall digital experiences. RUM is designed to collect all user activities in real-time, following the user's journey while measuring how backend services, application performance metrics, server load-times, and other KPIs are performing.

In complex infrastructures and hybrid cloud deployments, synthetic and real user monitoring work in collaboration with one another to provide complete visibility into the digital experience. This includes providing detailed analysis of network, backend, and frontend performance, as well as deep user insights that help organizations isolate key issues and address them.

Move to a unified platform. Balancing the needs of on-premises and cloud-based systems can be an uphill battle that leads to inefficiencies, lack of communication, and service instability. By moving all aspects of your infrastructure under one unified monitoring platform, you can efficiently manage all your KPIs in one place and have complete visibility into performance optimization.

Increase automation. Cloud monitoring automation provides enterprises with a significant increase in operational efficiency that's driven by intelligence and predictive golden signals. Through monitoring solutions deployed in private, public, and hybrid cloud environments, organizations have better visibility and control over their entire infrastructure stack. This added transparency gives teams the ability to effectively optimize all areas of their business, including website performance, resource management, application availability, and more.

Cloud monitoring services

Cloud monitoring services offered by various cloud providers attempt to eliminate the heavy lifting for internal teams when it comes to performance monitoring and management of hosted services and applications.

CMaaS (Cloud-Monitoring-as-a-Service) is a popular software solution for smaller or large enterprises looking to benefit from a fully managed cloud monitoring service for cloud and virtualized environments. These solutions are offered through third-party providers and monitored 24 hours a day by experts in the IT space who have access to the latest APM technologies and services.

Related solutions

IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps

Innovate faster, reduce operational cost and transform IT operations (ITOps) across a changing landscape with an AIOps platform that delivers visibility into performance data and dependencies across environments.

IBM Instana Observability

Boost functionality and observability in your enterprise APM; improve application performance management and accelerate CI/CD pipelines no matter where applications reside.

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With IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps you'll innovate faster, reduce operational cost and transform IT operations (ITOps) across a changing landscape. Embrace artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation to help ITOps managers and Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) address incident management and remediation. Discover intelligent IT operations