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Harnessing Pervasive Visibility to Unleash the Power of the Cloud

By Michael Segal November 17, 2017

Cloud computing is having an unprecedented influence on companies throughout the world; according to research from BDO, an overwhelming number (74%) of technology CFOs say that cloud will have had the most measurable impact on their business in 2017. Cloud has disrupted business models and fueled huge market changes, causing incumbent brands to struggle for survival against the growing threat from players born in the digital age. This was epitomized with Toys ‘R’ Us’ recent problems, demonstrating how even the biggest household names risk annihilation if they are slow to digitally transform.  So with the cloud now a fundamental requirement for modern businesses, how can companies ensure they migrate successfully?

Surging demand for hybrid cloud

With the vast majority of enterprises having legacy systems and applications that are difficult to move to the cloud, adopting cloud computing as part of a digital transformation (DX) strategy presents a number of challenges.  Furthermore, each service or system is has its own unique requirements. To address this, an increasing number of enterprises are turning to hybrid cloud solutions, where public cloud and virtualized technology are used to supplement existing on-premises and private cloud infrastructure. According to research firm IDC, 73% of enterprises are currently pursuing some form of hybrid cloud strategy, which could include subscribing to multiple cloud services, using a mix of public and private cloud and dedicated assets and pursuing an IT infrastructure that unites configuration, provisioning and management.  But while a large number may be utilizing hybrid cloud, for businesses to truly reap the benefits, it is vital that IT departments retain insight into the hybrid environment, independent of cloud provider offerings.

Two approaches for migration

When migrating applications to the cloud, most enterprises focus on either lift and shift or refactoring approaches.  Lifting and shifting works by moving existing on – premise applications into the cloud, without redesigning the applications. This can work as a viable first step, providing you know that the application already performs well on premise. If not, it can exacerbate the performance challenges, create scalability issues, increase cost and necessitate time-consuming application support, which could ultimately render a DX strategy ineffective.

Refactoring applications, on the other hand, utilizes microservices to make them more modular and easy to maintain as well as better performing and cost effective in the cloud. However, these microservices are deployed as instances of services that must communicate together to deliver the application.

The critical need for pervasive visibility

Whether you lift and shift or refactor, it is critical to retain pervasive visibility into the performance of these applications before, during and after they are migrated to the cloud. Pervasive visibility has two key dimensions; depth of visibility and breadth of visibility. This means that organizations have complete visibility of all transactions taking place across their entire IT infrastructure, as well as the understanding of how end-users are consuming all of the services that this infrastructure enables.

This visibility can be utilized to generate smart data, which is the inherent intelligence of the metadata to enable analytics tools to clearly understand application performance, infrastructure complexities, and service dependencies. It is normalized, organized, structured, service contextual, and available in real-time, and is generated based on end-to-end pervasive visibility across physical, virtual and cloud environments.

Assuring service to unlock maximum benefits

Pervasive visibility and smart data form the foundation of a comprehensive service assurance strategy which enables enterprises to reap the benefits of scalability, agility, and cost-efficiency in the hybrid cloud. With lifting and shifting, pervasive visibility enables originations to establish performance baselines, assure application performance, and avoid excessive costs in the public cloud. For the refactoring approach, having visibility into microservices and their dependencies is necessary to assure performance and if necessary triage the root cause of service degradations.

But while cloud providers offer tools to monitor their infrastructure, they do not provide service assurance functionality that enables them to maintain a consistent view of application- and service-workloads and their dependencies.  It is therefore vital that enterprises utilize pervasive visibility and smart data to build a foundation for a holistic service assurance architecture for the hybrid cloud.

It is necessary to establish this visibility first in the datacenter before the cloud migration starts, to identify application performance, dependencies and network utilization baselines. Since applications are distributed across many servers in the datacenter and private cloud environments, visibility into both east-west and north-east traffic flows is required. Pervasive, on-premise visibility allows enterprises to establish application and service performance baselines as reference for the overall cloud migration plan. As part of this plan, the application workloads are instrumented, migrated to the cloud and then monitored to assure their performance meets or exceeds the on-premise baseline key performance indicators.  

While migrating to the cloud may be challenging, by monitoring the performance and end-user experience of business-critical applications for the enterprise, IT professionals can quickly identify, triage and resolve issues related to today’s complex DX initiatives.  Through this approach, businesses are able to successfully unlock the enormous benefits the cloud can bring, providing agile service delivery and cloud elasticity at reduce cost, enabling them to thrive in today’s digital age.


Edited by Mandi Nowitz
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