28 Ways to Ensure Application Performance in the Hybrid Cloud - Part 1
May 02, 2016
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For years the IT industry debated about whether and when IT organizations would move everything to the cloud. Today's answer to this question is the hybrid cloud or hybrid IT – a combination of private and public clouds with traditional on-premise infrastructure, leveraging the best of all three worlds. A recent survey conducted by IDG Research Services for EMC revealed that 83% of respondents currently use or plan to use a hybrid cloud environment, and 73% agree that a hybrid cloud model creates a path to digital business.

It is clear that hybrid cloud offers many advantages. In a blog on APMdigest, Kong Yang of Solarwinds said, "The top three hybrid IT benefits by weighted rank are infrastructure cost-reduction, increased infrastructure flexibility/agility and relieving internal IT personnel of day-to-day management of some infrastructure, respectively."

However, as more enterprises move to hybrid cloud, they face new challenges for managing the performance of applications, such as limited visibility and control. Referencing a survey on public cloud, Antonio Piraino of ScienceLogic said, "A staggering 82 percent are unable to ensure optimum performance, health and availability of public cloud workloads due to lack of advanced visibility into the public cloud infrastructure."

In a recent blog on hybrid cloud, Shamus McGillicuddy, Senior Analyst, Network Management at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), warns, "Enterprises who are implementing hybrid clouds will need to evaluate the readiness of their performance management to support these new cloud environments."

To address this new set of challenges, APMdigest asked experts from across the industry – including consultants, analysts and the leading vendors – for recommendations on the best way to ensure application performance in the hybrid cloud. The result is a detailed list of tools and approaches, and related insights, to guide enterprises as they migrate to hybrid cloud.

Some of the recommendations are new twists on tools you are familiar with or combinations of tools that our experts say are essential in the new world of hybrid cloud, but all of them require a new way of looking at the challenge of application performance.

The list will be posted in installments all week. Part 1 covers APM and End-User Experience Monitoring.

1. APPLICATION PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT (APM)

There is often a misconception that hybrid cloud implies that an application (or components of an application) are running in two places concurrently. At least today, this is rarely the case, although in a future that increasingly includes things like containers and microservices this duality of execution may become more of a reality. Another way of saying this is that we don't need to make this more complex than it is. Today I would simply state that you should start with ensuring that you have visibility into the end user experience for both the cloud and on-premise applications. Use this point of observability to provide early warning indicators of potential problems. Depending upon the application type, you may be able to add instrumentation to help with localization of the problem domain through tracing and other activity (you may be able to substitute a network-based approach for this as well, if for example, cloud-based instrumentation proved to somehow be problematic). Then, through the same or additional agent technology you may have to delve more deeply into application and/or system internals to move closer to a root cause analysis. Of course, what I've basically described is the need for several of the elements that go into our 5 dimensional model of APM. All of this can be performed today with many existing SaaS or on-premise-based APM products as we point out in our latest Magic Quadrant. As I indicated earlier, this gets more complicated if in future hybrid cloud environments we start encountering more cloud native applications which have the twin challenges of scale and ephemerality, among other things, to deal with.
Cameron Haight
Research VP, IT Operations, Gartner

2. CLOUD-READY APM

Application Performance Management Platforms/Suites are becoming increasingly important as more companies roll out complex hybrid services. However one key factor to remember in choosing such a platform is that support for hybrid cloud also means support for the integration platforms that are intrinsic to creating hybrid services. In other words, APM solutions must be able to support the integration points that are foundational elements to hybrid delivery. Specifically, the APM solution needs to be "cloud ready" in its ability to consume and analyze metrics from API Gateways, messaging platforms, and/or other integration points to consolidate that information into APM dashboards and reports.
Julie Craig
Research Director, Application Management, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)

Today's applications can have components spread across cloud, on premises, in containers and accessed through APIs and more. A modern approach to Application Performance Management allows you to see all of the elements and more importantly, reduce the complexity of what you are seeing so that you can quickly address performance issues, no matter where they reside.
Aruna Ravichandran
VP, DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies

With the evolution of hybrid cloud, applications can now span across environments. For example, an application could be running on a public cloud platform to take advantage of autoscaling and be accessing data from a database that is running in an on-premises data center. An Application Performance Management tool that can discover ALL application dependencies no matter where they are located and give end-to-end visibility into transactions running across hybrid environments would be critical.
Payal Chakravarty
Offering Leader, APM Cloud Initiatives, IBM Cloud Integration

As workloads and applications shift from private to public clouds, application performance is liable to be impacted due to changes in the compute and network infrastructure. To monitor, manage and deliver the best end user experience, Application Performance Management tools must seamlessly instrument the edge device and the infrastructure to measure application reachability, availability and performance; integrate the data from different users and locations and present in a simple intuitive interface to different stakeholders, including the application owner and service delivery.
Balaji Venkatraman
Director of Product Management, IT Operations Management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

3. END USER EXPERIENCE MONITORING

Without access to public cloud infrastructure, IT Ops teams face challenges in ensuring excellent end user experience for applications delivered via hybrid cloud environments, and cloud vendors' SLAs cover only the infrastructure under their control. Monitoring the actual end user experience from the point of consumption, the user's device, overcomes the limitations faced by other approaches which require access to the application code, involve proxy servers or load balancers, or which only emulate end user experience.
Mike Marks
Chief Product Evangelist, Aternity

According to reviews of APM solutions on IT Central Station, the best way to ensure app performance in a hybrid cloud environment is to start with end user experience management. Reviewers talk about the success they have with real user monitoring, synthetic monitoring, and other tools for monitoring end user experience across public and private clouds.
Russell Rothstein
Founder and CEO, IT Central Station

Click here to read the latest APM product reviews on IT Central Station

A primary driver for hybrid cloud deployments is the ability to retain critical systems of record that are not candidates to move off-premise or to a public cloud environment. Enterprise customers need to have deep visibility into "modern" application tiers, where an agent can be deployed within an application or server and dynamically discover and configure itself, as well as the need to provide agent-less deep visibility into applications and end users where agents are not allowed or not technically possible to deploy. The critical element, therefore, in addressing application performance within a hybrid cloud deployment is to tackle all types of application environments, including ones that require agent-less instrumentation, while focusing on end user experience as the critical measure of performance.
Michael Masterson
Director, Strategic Business Development, Dynatrace

In hybrid cloud architectures it is critical to understand everything you measure in the context of what it means to the user experience. While it's easy to collect mountains of data from each cloud provider about response times, availability, and resource consumption, none of this matters if we can't understand how changes in these metrics affect the user's satisfaction with our application.
Buddy Brewer
SVP of Products, SOASTA

Hybrid cloud environments offer organizations a great deal of flexibility, by allowing them to move workloads across public and private cloud resources as computing needs and costs change. However, it's important to remember that the public portion of hybrid cloud environments is a shared utility. This means when an organization relying on the public cloud is experiencing a peak traffic period, chances are their "neighbors" in the cloud could be experiencing peaks as well – which could mean degraded performance for everyone. Organizations that depend on the public cloud in any way need to constantly measure their own end users' experience of cloud applications, which requires monitoring from inside the firewall. In addition to maintaining visibility into the performance of systems that are critical for productivity, monitoring from within the organization's network can play a valuable role in SLA enforcement for cloud services.
Dennis Callaghan
Director of Industry Innovation, Catchpoint

4. INTEGRATED USER EXPERIENCE DATA FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES

Hybrid cloud argues for a strategic approach to application performance and user experience monitoring and management as suggested in the PADS Framework. Integration is essential in an environment where the user traverses multiple domains. Integrated user experience data brings context to cloud metrics. This begins with left-shifting application performance in DevOps, and extends to having visibility Into the repositories where containers reside. The objective is to significantly reduce the friction of cloud-to-cloud deployment and migration.
Gabe Lowy
Technology Analyst and Founder of Tech-Tonics Advisors

Read 28 Ways to Ensure Application Performance in the Hybrid Cloud - Part 2, covering NPM, ITOA and BTM.

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