One of my concerns about the use of public cloud computing services is the tradeoff that IT organizations typically have had to make. On the positive side of the tradeoff, by using a public cloud service companies lower their cost and gain access to functionality that they normally would not have access to. Those are both compelling reasons to use public cloud services. However, on the negative side of the tradeoff, IT organizations typically loose all visibility into the availability and performance of the service that they get from a public cloud provider. I shiver when industry pundits show graphs and charts of some of the major cloud providers to demonstrate that they usually have high availability and totally gloss over the issue of performance. This line of reasoning reminds me of the refrain in that old song that went “don’t worry, be happy”.
I don’t dispute the fact that a best effort approach is totally appropriate for many applications and workloads. That said, I strongly believe that there is a large and growing set of applications and workloads for which a best effort level of support is not appropriate. The successful support of these applications and workloads requires that IT organizations have detailed management insight into their availability and performance.
IT organizations are beginning to demand better management insight from cloud computing service providers (CCSPs). Fortunately, many CCSPs are scrambling to find ways to differentiate themselves in the market. One clear way that CCSPs can differentiate themselves is by offering a performance-based SLA and by making it easier for their customers to monitor the end-to-end availability and performance of the services that they provide. Given that, there is reason to hope that CCSPs will begin to provide more management insight.
One company that is addressing this challenge is AppNeta. AppNeta was recently launched by the team and technology of Apparent Networks. AppNeta’s PathView Cloud Network Performance Management solutions performs non-invasive, end-to-end performance monitoring of bandwidth utilization, delay, jitter, QoS and packet loss on a hop-by-hop basis. AppNeta is supplementing that active network monitoring capability with the capability to perform active performance analysis of applications such as VoIP, video, IP storage and VDI. AppNeta also offers the capabilities to perform packet and traffic capture at remote sites using the PathView appliances, a zero-administration device.One of the things that I find most appealing about the AppNeta solutions is that they are cloud based and hence bring to the market all of the benefits of cloud based services. This means that whether you want to manage the performance of a cloud based service or of a more traditional service, you can turn on that functionality virtually instantaneously, start getting detailed management data immediately and do all that without a capital expenditure. A big step forward.