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Cloud Monitoring: 4 Critical Best Practices

Cloud monitoring enables you to track, analyze, and manage cloud resources, including databases, websites, virtual networks, storage, and virtual machines. Cloud vendors typically provide monitoring software for offered services, but there are also monitoring solutions that centralize monitoring across environments and vendors.

Monitoring is critical for cloud security, performance optimization, and high availability. 

In this post, we explain basic concepts in cloud monitoring and explore four best practices that can help you better monitor cloud resources. We also show how NetApp Cloud Insights can help simplify cloud monitoring.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about Observability.

In this article, you will learn:

What Is Cloud Monitoring?

Cloud monitoring is a set of practices and strategies you can use to track, analyze, and manage cloud services, resources, and applications. DevOps teams and IT administrators need to maintain visibility as an organization's infrastructure expands in the cloud. Without it, they cannot ensure services remain operational, data stays safe, or users retain access.

To simplify this task, most organizations adopt a range of cloud monitoring solutions. These solutions are designed to allow teams to monitor all services and application stacks within an environment. Solutions aggregate data in real-time and use automation to track resource allocation, network availability, and a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs).

How Does Cloud Monitoring Work?

The easiest way to perform monitoring in the cloud is through tools provided by your cloud service vendor. These tools are already integrated into your cloud environment and are often preconfigured to provide you with the most relevant information. The downside of these tools is that solutions may not extend to on-premises or multi-cloud resources. In these cases, external tools are needed.

External tools are typically available through software as a service (SaaS) providers. These providers can offer vendor agnostic tools and can often aggregate data from both cloud and on-premises systems. Depending on the solution, managed services may also be included, enabling you to outsource monitoring tasks.

Whichever type or combination of tools you use, the purpose is the same—to provide visibility of cloud events, functioning, and performance. These purposes are frequently accomplished through features related to the following:

  • Cybersecurity—including capabilities for detecting suspicious events, identifying vulnerabilities, and controlling network traffic.
  • Error detection—can help teams detect and correct configuration errors or resource failures before services are affected.
  • Agility—provide metrics and data to help teams assess performance and ensure that resources are capable of providing consistent access and computing power.

4 Cloud Monitoring Best Practices

When implementing cloud monitoring, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with data and alerts. The following best practices can help you ensure that your monitoring is focused on what’s important so you can effectively manage your systems.

Monitor your end user experience

Whether you have externally facing services for customers or internal services for employees, monitoring end user experience is valuable. Monitoring services for customers helps ensure that customer satisfaction remains high and that any service level agreements you provide are met. Monitoring services for employees helps ensure that productivity isn’t impeded.

For this monitoring, you need to collect data from your endpoints, networks, databases, applications, and in-house devices. You can then correlate this data to ensure that services remain available, connections secure, and latency low. Metrics, including request frequency and response time, can help you accurately gauge performance.

Centralize your monitoring

Rarely do organizations need to monitor a single asset or system component. Instead, they need to monitor a wide array of devices, networks, applications, and resources. Monitoring these components separately is possible but inefficient. Instead, organizations should focus on centralizing monitoring data and tools.

Centralization adds context to monitoring data and makes it easier for teams to view and respond to alerts. There are numerous platforms designed to help centralize your data by integrating logs or other monitoring solutions into a single dashboard. For example, system information and event management (SIEM) solutions.

Monitor security

There is more to monitoring than just security, but it cannot be overlooked, especially if you are hosting or working with sensitive data. Monitoring solutions should help you keep track of how your system is being used, who’s accessing resources, and what vulnerabilities exist. Solutions should enable you to scan your systems, correlate data, and alert to suspicious events or breaches of policy.

In particular, when monitoring security you should ensure that your alerts are directed to the appropriate users. This helps ensure that events are investigated and managed correctly and reduces your risk of data loss or resource abuse. Security monitoring can also help you main compliance with various regulations, such as HIPAA and GDPR.

Integrate metrics data for a complete view

Metrics data is most effective when it’s normalized across your environments. If it is not, you have little ability to compare performance, security, or availability. After ingesting metrics, your solutions should enable you to compare across systems to create a baseline. From this baseline, you can more accurately assess changes and alert to issues.

When integrating these metrics, it helps to narrow down what is collected and to prioritize the same or similar metrics across your environments. The following KPI categories are useful to start with:

  • Network KPIs—including number of requests, request latency, and network throughput.
  • CPU KPIs—including percent CPU utilization and maximum CPU usage.
  • Billing KPIs—including remaining credit balance, current charges, and credit use per day or period.
  • System integrity KPIs—including component status, response latency, uptime, and unscheduled shutdowns.
  • Storage KPIs—including number of read/write operations, throughput, latency, and remaining space.

Cloud Monitoring with NetApp Cloud Insights

NetApp Cloud Insights is an infrastructure monitoring tool that gives you visibility into your complete infrastructure. With Cloud Insights, you can monitor, troubleshoot and optimize all your resources including your public clouds and your private data centers.

Cloud Insights helps organizations reduce mean time to resolution by 90%, prevent 80% of cloud issues from impacting end users, and reduce cloud infrastructure costs by an average of 33%. It can even reduce your exposure to insider threats by identifying risks to sensitive data.

In particular, NetApp Cloud Insights helps you discover your entire hybrid infrastructure, from the public cloud to the data center, create dashboards and set up targeted and conditional alerts.

Learn More About Cloud Monitoring

There’s a lot more to learn about cloud monitoring. To continue your research, take a look at the rest of our blogs on this topic.

3 Strategies to Assess VM Usage in Cloud IT Infrastructures

To ensure the viability of your virtual machine environments, you need to be able to assess performance. You can do that by capturing and monitoring metrics like usage rates in highly diversified environments

Learn how to measure headroom across a growing mixture of applications running on-premises, off-premises, and in the public cloud.

Read more: 3 Strategies to Assess VM Usage in Cloud IT Infrastructures

Infrastructure Monitoring: How to Ensure Visibility Across Environments

Infrastructure monitoring provides visibility into your operations and is a vital tool to ensure that your systems and services remain accessible. With effective monitoring you can quickly address issues, predict performance, and optimize your costs and operations.

This article explains what infrastructure monitoring is, how it works, and which components you should include. It also highlights some best practices that can help you improve the effectiveness of your monitoring strategy.

Read More: Infrastructure Monitoring: How to Ensure Visibility Across Environments 

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