Is Visibility 2.0 the Next Step for Managing Hybrid Cloud?

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As data centers advance in levels or tiers, and move from virtualized to hyperconverged, and as public cloud adoption becomes a serious consideration for a hybrid mix, managing applications and workloads in the face of this greater complexity becomes a major challenge for enterprises. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers such as AWS and Azure obscure the compute, storage, database, and network infrastructure underlying the services they provide. As a result, IT professionals feel a lack of visibility; no longer can they employ the tools and techniques they’ve always relied on to manage and assure workload performance. Instead, they must rely on limited information from a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) that’s more focused on the availability of its services than enabling visibility into workload efficiency, application performance, and data patterns among applications and its users. Yet in the midst of these challenges is the opportunity to rethink visibility and enable what could be termed Visibility 2.0.

Visibility 2.0 is based on a more complex allocation of responsibility when providing insight into application data and infrastructure for application/workload performance management. This responsibility lies somewhere between the CSP and the tenant’s service level agreement (SLA). For example, AWS provides a certain degree of visibility as a service to its clients via CloudWatch, which monitors the infrastructure related to clients’ virtual private cloud (VPC). However, CloudWatch does not provide visibility or intelligence related to application data and content. Unlike on-premises or private cloud infrastructure, no virtual or physical tapping is allowed, requiring alternatives that may include embedding a sensory network into the application code and hypervisor layers so that application data and messages can be moved to analysis tools for proactive monitoring or reactive analysis when applications suffer.

Assuring proactive application and workload performance becomes extremely important for business use cases such as capacity on demand for cloud bursting, application development and staging, mobile applications, security sandboxing, cyber ranging and disaster recovery. As new instances are cranked out for cloud bursting, a visibility mechanism offering horizontal scaling elasticity becomes a vital part of any successful strategy to ensure customer experience.

The limited visibility provided by CSPs is a challenge, but the cloud environment itself creates the opportunity for new forms of visibility. There are many useful things that can be done with the application data and meta data collected about tenant instances. This is a hotbed of innovation, with many companies finding ways to gain valuable insights out of the data, such as determining which applications and databases are connected to other applications in the path of a workload. Building dependency mapping and getting performance measurements can greatly help optimization as well as migration of the application clusters together from one VPC to another. This eliminates blind spots that sometimes result in unpleasant surprises.

The data or analysis can also be exported from the public cloud to the on-premises side or vice versa, or to other public clouds, to provide single-pane-of-glass (SPOG) visibility and visualization. The application and user-related data can be combined with big data and ecosystem data inside the cloud to generate interesting insights that are not otherwise possible. These analyses can be used with advanced machine learning algorithms to automate repetitive tasks without IT supervision or intervention, making it particularly useful for dynamic container-based microservice environments. Going one step further, this data can be fed into artificial intelligence (AI) engines to predict workload or user behaviors and intents, taking action automatically per the policies, without human intervention, ultimately helping to secure business interests.

In summary, while the public cloud has blind spots, it opens up an entirely new set of higher and broader visibility opportunities. The shift from traditional application and network performance monitoring to more sophisticated cloud-native application performance and service delivery assurance will make the end-user experience simpler, seamless and more predictable. Only by realizing this new level of Visibility 2.0 will the true potential of a hybrid environment be achieved, offering the control of on-premises infrastructure with the elasticity of the public cloud.

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