Extending Enterprise Management into the Cloud

Arthur Cole

Infrastructure management is the issue that just won't go away. Whether the enterprise exists on a physical plane, a virtual one or in the cloud, the ability to see what's going on out there and correct issues (hopefully) before they arise continues to be a top priority.

But if tracking data environments was bad enough in distributed and virtual architectures, complexity is raised by orders of magnitude when third-party infrastructure and varying technical and operational standards come into play. All the while, enterprises need to stay on top of highly fluid data environments where application performance and availability depend on a proactive mix of system intelligence and deep-dive infrastructure visibility.

Fortunately, the diverse nature of the cloud is producing a wide range of management solutions, each purporting to tackle the unique challenges of massive scalability and dynamic networking. A company called SevOne, for example, targets application performance in shared environments, enabling enterprises to assess overall performance and the nature of underlying infrastructure support. According to the company's Yama Habibzai, traditional point solutions that support designated technology areas fall apart in the cloud, which often appears as a single entity to be managed even though they usually encompass multiple data sources. What's needed is a means to collect data from these sources, compile it under a single interface and then establish baseline performance metrics to gauge operations and establish appropriate service levels.

Of course, it is awfully difficult to manage the cloud without managing the hypervisors that populate it. To that end, OnApp has released the 3.0 version of its Cloud software stack that extends support to VMware ESXi hypervisors. Along with its current Zen and KVM support, the platform now covers 85 percent of the hypervisors on the market (sorry, Hyper-V) on a single control panel. The system also features new auto-discovery and auto-provisioning tools under the Cloud Boot module, which allows enterprises to skip lengthy installation procedures when introducing new hypervisors to the cloud.

Meanwhile, the cloud is also providing the means to deliver traditional IT management to organizations that were previously priced out of the market. Kaseya has unveiled the entry-level Foundation system, a SaaS offering designed to support basic break-fix operations under a per-seat pricing model. The system provides pre-configured content and policies, as well as audit and inventory tools, system alerts and Windows patch updates. It supports Windows, Mac and Linux environments, as well as iOS, Android and Blackberry. It also complements the higher-level Essentials and Advanced systems as data complexity increases and tools like network discovery, ticketing and directory services become necessary.

IT management generally goes hand-in-hand with IT security as well, which is why many developers have a hand in both. Panda Security, for instance, just released the Panda Cloud Systems Management solution aimed at remote monitoring and oversight of distributed resources. The system enables performance audits, global monitoring, proactive auditing and automated troubleshooting across disparate cloud architectures. The package is designed around a simplified user interface designed to lessen the burden on central administrators and lower overall management costs.

The cloud may be a highly complex IT infrastructure, but in many ways it helps to ease the management burdens on the enterprise. Once applications are up on the cloud, responsibility for physical systems and devices is irrelevant; all that matters is application and data performance. By keeping your eyes on what really matters, you can focus your attention on high-value assets and leave the dull drudgery of infrastructure management to your service provider. Just be sure to have a good exit strategy in case they fail to live up to your expectations.



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