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Archive for the ‘cloud’ Category

31Mar. 2014

Amazon EC2 Monitoring: Infrastructure and Applications

Amazon EC2 Monitoring

Amazon EC2 Monitoring

This is the first in a two-part series on “Amazon EC2 Monitoring “.

Five years ago, Enterprises reaped the benefits of reducing infrastructure and maintenance costs by moving from physical to virtual servers.  Today, the next evolution is taking place – the move into the cloud.

Cloud providers are enabling IT departments to offload infrastructure and maintenance, resulting in cost reduction. However, monitoring, alerting, and reporting in this new environment is proving complex and challenging.

Amazon’s (the leading cloud provider) EC2 CloudWatch interface and API provides simple metrics, such as CPU utilization, disk read/writes, and network in/out. However, this simple CloudWatch monitoring has two critical drawbacks that hurt EC2 customers.

  1. No unified monitoring or consolidated reporting for performance, availability, and capacity across cloud and on-premise servers, applications, and IT services.
  2. Lack of the deep metrics that IT requires, including detailed OS, process, and application monitoring data.

With the uptime’s Amazon EC2 Monitoring solution, you will see a large performance and cost benefits from unified monitoring.  Unified monitoring provides a single view and deeper insight, which means more time being productive and less time configuring, maintaining, and logging in and out of separate monitoring tools.

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Make sure to stay tuned for the next blog in the series by subscribing to our blog.

20Nov. 2012

How to be Proactive for Cloud Outages in your External Environment

Last month, Amazon had an outage that took down big sites like Reddit, Flipboard, and Minecraft (among others). This isn’t the first time, and surely won’t be the last time it will happen. Outages just come with the reality of being a cloud service provider.Why is the cloud Down?

So what are you doing to prevent these types of outages from affecting your business?

You’re probably asking “how can I tell if my cloud service is down?” When using cloud server resources, here are the types of questions you should be asking:

  • Are you monitoring your site/service now?
  • Do you know when your site/service is affected?
  • Do you have a backup procedure in case an outage occurs, or is it just acceptable collateral damage?

Having a unified IT systems monitoring suite to monitor all your internal and external resources is the growing trend, unless you actually enjoy using multiple UI’s, apps, point tools, etc. If you currently use profiler tools, these are useful in short troubleshooting moments, but do you really want to sift through lists of metrics, alerts and data on a daily basis? No. What everyone wants is a complete IT Dashboard that gets all the important metrics and outages in your environment, summarizes them and provides high-level reports with deep root-cause abilities. To ensure you are being proactive in anticipating outages in your IT infrastructure, and having a contingency plan for when it occurs, try using a unified monitoring tool like up.time in your environment.

6Nov. 2012

Demystifying Cloud Monitoring

Every few years, a new IT buzzword comes by.  A few years ago, virtualization was the hot topic and it still is.  Lately, the buzzword is cloud.  I knew cloud computing had gone mainstream during a chat with my technologically-challenged aunt.  When I explained to her what kind of software we sell, she asked if we can monitor the cloud.  My jaw dropped and thought to myself..really? Is this the same person who called me long distance about her mouse not working and only later found out it wasn’t plugged in? Going off a tangent here but who else hates being IT support to everyone around, you just because you work in IT?
So does up.time monitor the cloud? Of course!  But how?  To answer that question, we need to define what cloud really is.  Let’s see what Wikipedia says:

Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network

 

What does that mean?  It just means the servers are hosted somewhere, connected by network.  This sounds suspicious like…

data center or computer centre (also data center) is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components

 

Putting it all together, all cloud computing means is that some servers are being hosted in a facility where the systems are all connected in a network.  That also means monitoring the cloud is not a whole lot different from monitoring your data center. You still have your servers/OS’s to monitor.  You also need to monitor the applications.  What else?  How about the network?  What about reporting on SLAs?  Don’t forget capacity planning to see if you will need to spawn off more servers in the cloud.  All these can be done with up.time.  up.time provides visibility into your entire IT infrastructure, whether it is hosted in a public cloud (e.g. Amazon’s EC2) or in a private cloud (i.e. in your data center).
Cloud computing has taken IT by storm.  If you have put your infrastructure in the cloud or just thinking about it, you don’t have to worry about how to monitor it.  Download up.time or contact us and let up.time be your eyes in the cloud!
7Aug. 2012

What is Cost Showback in the Cloud?

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.” Coach K, Legendary Duke University Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Whether you’re winning basketball games or running a successful business, your effectiveness is based on your ability to communicate. In business, the idea of adding a technological infrastructure that makes operations easier while fostering stronger communication is here.

We call it the cloud.

In the cloud, you’re offered remote server solutions that are housed in virtual locations. This gives your company almost unlimited access to your infrastructure from just about anywhere.

Some of the benefits include:

  • No upfront costs for equipment
  • The ability to have hundreds or thousands of servers at your disposal in minutes
  • Scalable pay-as-you-go pricing
  • No long term commitment
  • Reliability that is both physically and operationally secure

CIOs are recognizing the business and IT benefits of deploying onto cloud based servers with Amazon Web Services (AWS). As part of allocating resources and monitoring cost, top IT executives are using an internal communication technique called showback.

Showback is the ability to “show” your departments, line of business, project managers, locations, or other users exactly what their cloud usage has been over a specific period and the accrued cost of that usage.

The benefit of showback is that it allows IT to monitor and allocate the consumption of IT resources across the organization. This provides deep visibility into WHO is using WHAT cloud resources, and the exact cost breakdown of those resources. This visibility allows IT to maintain control over a cloud deployment, both from a usage and cost level. It also ensures that departments, groups, and users are held accountable for their portion of cloud costs. This visibility creates a culture of both accountability and optimization in Amazon AWS, as you can manage what you can’t measure.

This visibility and control over cloud costs drives a much lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Finally, costs under control, Amazon AWS can help you to accelerate the delivery of services. You can efficiently publish standardized offerings to your end users, automate the deployment of all your virtual machines, as well as cut the time it takes to provision and approve pending jobs.

Better service and lower costs. Now that’s a winning cloud deployment.

7Aug. 2012

How Real-Time Cost Monitoring can Save Real IT Budget

Rule No. 1 Never lose money.
Rule No. 2 Never forget rule No. 1
-Warren Buffet

The benefits of flexibility and scalability are abundant when your IT department deploys your servers into a virtual cloud setting.

When running at optimal efficiency, this type of infrastructure can provide your company with unexpected improvements over your old on-site servers. Increased agility, increased physical and operational security, along with statistically less downtime can add to the list of benefits.

For most companies, the “big move” to the cloud is all about a better allocation of assets.

Saving money with virtual cloud servers starts with the relief of not having to shell out thousands of dollars in capital spend for equipment and space to house and maintain it.

After that, the regular monthly savings will come typically from personnel watching the resource consumption over time and attempting to gauge or predict future usage.

Unfortunately, this is where cloud can get complicated. Today, companies are stuck with inaccurate forecasts and very time consuming methods to calculate costs and usage mid-stream. The end result is wasted time and unexpected costs that aren’t seen until the bill is delivered a month later.

Gone are the days of the good ol’ guesstimate.

However, with the addition of “real time” cloud monitoring to an Amazon AWS deployment, companies can easily see how resources are being used, and the cost of those resources, with up-to-the-minute metrics that allow for a more informed and efficient cloud management process.

And now that you no longer have to try to balance cloud costs blindly, you can do the following three things better…

1. This little piggy went we-we-we all the way to the bank

If a certain part of your system (or a certain department) is “hogging” cloud services or driving up costs, it is clearly visible. This type of insight helps IT ask the right questions, like “ Is this an area we are wasting resources?” or “Is this additional cost justified?” Real-time monitoring and alerting lets you have this conversation immediately, before costs escalate out of control. The other option is to wait for the end of the month bill and then let the arguments (and firings) begin…

2. When in need, it’s allocation indeed

With plain view of your metrics, maybe it’s the other way around. You can ask questions like: “Is this something we’ve neglected in the past, but is obviously a big part of our business?”, “Should we invest more in this part of our business?” or “Is the additional cloud cost of this project/application/department justified?”.

3. Your own cloud cost management crystal ball

With this data, you can now predict what resources you’ll use more. You can also accurately predict your monthly cloud costs quickly and easily. It will make your executives happy and keep the CFO off your back.

In conclusion, it’s this “Zen-like” balance between cost and performance that you’ll need to find. Without truly understanding the cost side of that equation, you’re forever guessing and off-balance. How long can you keep that up and still hope to be successful?

11May. 2012

Is your Capacity Planning Evolving to Meet Business Demand?

 

As an IT systems management vendor, we get fired up about new technologies including the latest buzz around virtualized capacity, automation and cloud. We respond by building slick tools, dashboards and reports to help solve capacity problems. I believe that’s what (we) systems management providers are supposed to be doing, helping you solve problems. <shamelessplug> Reducing the complexity of capacity planning and management is something we do really well around here at uptime software! </shamelessplug>

capacity planning

Capacity Management is all about evolving IT Operations.

But what about the capacity planning function itself? Does it not need to evolve along with these new deployment technologies? Do current capacity planning functions contribute value to the business by helping them scale to meet demand?

Virtualization, automation and cloud technologies give IT execs more options than ever before in how services will be delivered to the business, but do their current capacity planning processes reflect this same evolution in technologies? For most the answer is still likely “no”.  Most IT organizations still seem to perform capacity planning at the individual component level (server, network, SANs) which does not represent the true capacity requirements of their global facilities and infrastructure resources. The good news here is that you CAN evolve and turn this situation around.

Planning and managing IT capacity at a macro level is critical to delivering cost-efficient and reliable business services in a time frame the business expects. The good news is that today’s virtualization and automation technologies allow flexibility and new cost alternatives so IT execs can choose from a myriad of platforms to run applications and services on. The bad news is that these new virtual and cloud based resources are certainly not free and without new capacity planning processes, the benefits of easy procurement and instant provisioning can quickly turn into over-allocation and cost overrun nightmares.

  • So the message is clear: IT executives need new and more effective capacity planning processes in order to really take advantage of new technologies by optimizing the placement of applications according to criteria such as service level and cost. In addition, capacity planning software and tools can help teams be more effective.

One tactic you might consider as a start is to elevate your capacity planning team. Get it out of the “back room” of IT operations and make it a strategic function. Yes, remove it completely from IT operations and centralize it as a corporate IT function that reports directly to the CIO. This will send an important message to your organization and capacity management will begin to evolve and operate decentralized from technology support groups, such as network, server and storage.

capacity planning software

But Rome wasn’t built in a day….

27Apr. 2012

up.time VMware vSphere 5 Support

You asked for it, our upcoming release of up.time 7.0 will fully support VMware vSphere 5! uptime software inc. has been a long time VMware partner, launching our first VMware monitoring solution in the early days of ESX in 2006. Since then we have released several major evolutions of our virtualization monitoring platform and are continuing to build on our relationship by fully supporting the latest vSphere edition in up.time 7.0. up.time 6.0 already fully supports vSphere 4.x, with all of the powerful features you are used to continuing to be available:

Smart VMware Monitoring

  • vSync Dynamic Discovery: Keep your monitoring inventory in lock step with any changes to your vSphere environment. The second a new VM is spun up or hosts are moved around the datacenter, up.time’s inventory will update itself instantly so that you know you don’t have any monitoring blind spots in your environment. Monitor your whole vSphere environment agentlessly through your vCenter installation.
  • Power Awareness Intelligence: Power state awareness dashboards bring real time power status information into your global view. Take control of power state changes by alerting your administrators when critical systems are powered down. 
  • VM Sprawl Control: Automatic notifications of new VMs ensure they are compliant with your IT policy. Review weekly sprawl reports to target zombie or over allocated VMs  so you can free up precious disk & memory space to the VMs that really need it.

Deep VMware Capacity Management

  • Easy Capacity Bottleneck Troubleshooting: Instantly find your bottlenecks and drill into the root cause.
  • Global Capacity Reports: How much capacity do I have? How much am I using? How much am I wasting? up.time helps you answer all of these questions so that you can reclaim valuable resources and proactively avoid embarrassing capacity outages.

In addition to all of the other great benefits of up.time, our “single pane of glass” dashboards brings together your virtual, physical and cloud environments into one monitoring toolset.

If you haven’t had a chance to try up.time yet, you can download a free trial from our website and be up and running in 15 minutes.

Dave.

1Jun. 2011

The Cost of Cloud – Part 3: Testing in the Cloud

Cloud Capacity and Cloud TestinAs the conclusion to my 3 part Cost of Cloud Follow-up (click here to read part 1, click here for part 2), I wanted to focus on development and testing in the cloud and what questions you need to answer before beginning any tests.

 

Example #3 – Development and Testing in the Cloud: Although spinning up new test and development environments in the cloud improves agility, the essential questions to ask are:

 

  • Internal or Cloud: Is it more cost-effective to host the application or service internally or in the cloud? Can IT prove its decision?
  • Which Cloud is Best: Which cloud vendor should be chosen?
  • How Much will it Cost: How much will this service/workload cost month over month?
  • Failsafe Cloud Alerting and Reports: Additionally, the added problem of developers forgetting to de-commission cloud infrastructure and services drives major cost overruns. Proper notification of these ‘cloud zombies’ is essential to prevent large bills over time.  While services like Amazon’s AWS are an incredible boon to being able to create development and test environments in a few clicks, there are latent costs which aren’t always readily apparent – stopped instances still consume storage resources (and cost), snapshots linger even when volumes are deleted (and add more cost), just to name a few. IT needs better visibility.

As stated earlier (part 1), there are no tools that can help IT (or LOBs) model the cost of their cloud needs, predict their workload costs or notify when costs are escalating. However, there are tools coming in the future.

The most fundamental aspect of optimizing performance monitoring in the cloud is to understand the relationship between application/infrastructure performance and cost. Presently, the industry is just beginning to understand how to monitor the performance of applications in the cloud, yet it lacks a cloud costing dashboard necessary for IT managers to make smart budget related decisions. How can organizations understand the cost of cloud computing without a deeper level of visibility? It has become crucial for IT to tie cloud success to cost analysis, as well as overall system performance.

Conclusion: So to Cloud or Not to Cloud? How will you tie your cloud decisions to cost for justification to senior management? Or will you just deploy and cross your fingers?

Alex

25May. 2011

The Cost of Cloud – Part 2: Applications in the Cloud

As part 2 of my Cost of Cloud Follow-up (click here to read part 1), I wanted to focus on applications in the cloud and what you need to see, report on and predict future cloud costs.

 

Example #2 – Applications in the Cloud:

  • See Cloud Cost: IT needs to see a clear monthly workload cost of their entire Amazon AWS deployment (by server, application or service) before they get the bill. For those companies that have deployed in AWS, the anxiousness and pain associated with the monthly AWS bill can be quite frustrating.
  • Predict Cloud Cost: Reports are needed that can estimate or predict the cost of running an application or service in AWS before it’s deployed. Predicting cloud cost based on individual workloads, applications or services is essential.
  • Identify Cloud Ready Applications: Reporting that can show which workloads are prime candidates for cloud deployment would be extremely helpful to IT departments wrestling with how to use cloud most effectively.

If you have any questions about how you accomplish any of the above, let me know by posting a comment.

Alex.

18May. 2011

The Cost of Cloud – Part 1: Cloud Cost Analysis

Clost of Cloud, Cloud CostAs a follow-up to my cost of cloud computing post that had a large response, I decided to do a follow-up cloud cost analysis. This is part 1 of a 3 part series that will be posted over the next few weeks.

The ultimate goal of deploying application or dynamic infrastructure to the cloud is the truly agile and cost-competitive nature of running and managing applications and infrastructure. However, cost can increase exponentially without proper cloud monitoring and cloud cost modeling. It has become crucial for IT to tie cloud success to cost analysis, in addition to overall system performance. This article will provide some common pitfalls and pains around current gaps in cloud costing and deployment, as well as a key set of questions to help IT make smart cloud decisions.

Up to now, the success of applications in cloud, virtual and physical environments have been viewed in only two dimensions – availability and performance. However, perhaps the most important dimension is cost, and it’s cost that will dramatically influence what, when and where IT organizations deploy to the cloud. Presently a major gap is in tooling, where no cloud monitoring tools can help IT and LOBs monitor their cloud costs, predict workload/application cost, notify when costs are escalating, as well as provide standard cloud performance and availability monitoring. However, we do see this tooling issue changing in the near future.

To date, companies have been oblivious to the workload cost of an application running in the cloud, apart from unclear monthly billing. We are entering a new era where performance and availability will be baseline requirements, but workload cost efficiency will be the new key to success. This will be the age of ‘economic compute’ and will be defined by how and where companies can run workloads at the best cost (assuming performance and availability remain constant). It won’t matter if it’s internally run on physical or virtual servers, or in the cloud, as the economics will drive this decision. However, the lynch pin to this costing decision model is missing…

To responsibly manage IT budgets, companies need visibility to the cost and performance data of workloads, applications and dynamic infrastructure services. However, the industry is missing a complete toolset or product suite that can help IT easily see and predict the cost of cloud deployment. Applications and services can be deployed on cloud infrastructure (assuming it returns acceptable performance and availability), but it’s essential for IT to have clear visibility to what the workloads will cost comparatively, across different cloud vendors or even the cost of an internally run workload. How can IT make a cost-conscious decision without the basic cost data of an application, workload or service? Quite simply, it can’t. This is part one of a three part series where the idea of the economic cloud comes into play:

Example #1 – Dynamic Infrastructure Services:

  • Ensure IT Doesn’t Overpay: A company may have provisioned a $500 per month system, but if its CPU is only consumed 10 percent of the time, then one is largely over paying. Now scale that scenario out to a company that is running many services, applications and servers in the cloud.
  • Companies with Many Separate Cloud Accounts: For IT managers trying to understand the cumulative costs of many developers or departments (LOBs) with cloud accounts, it can be almost impossible, with no clear means of reconciling usage (until it’s too late).
  • Manage Cost Across Geographically Dynamic Workloads: For more advanced scenarios, there are now a number of services that allow the creation of cloud instances in specific geographic regions, which enables a new generation of smartphone or mobile applications to exist.  There are millions of smartphone users in the world in non-North American geographies, such as Latin America – imagine if you could dynamically and geographically provision cloud resources that are compute heavy, or can service the requests of these remote smartphone clients, in a cost effective manner.  This reduces bandwidth requirements, increases the response time and can be done on cheaper, temporarily available compute resources. This kind of dynamism is incredibly powerful, yet monitoring the changing costs and performance of these cloud resources is going to be a difficult problem to solve.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more examples of where the economic cloud comes into play and please, let me know your feedback/questions by posting a comment.

Until next week…

Alex