With the right tools, a hybrid environment can offer the same control as on-premise infrastructure, but with the flexibility of the public cloud.
The vast majority of enterprises have begun a cloud migration journey, with many turning to hybrid cloud architectures to deploy apps and workloads across a variety of on-premises and public cloud infrastructures. A hybrid environment helps maximise cost-savings and productivity while dealing with privacy and security concerns.
However, as applications transition to the public cloud, an era of new challenges brought about by murky visibility into the infrastructure, including the complexity of giving adequate visibility into application data and infrastructure. The slew of new operational domains means gaining visibility over the full cloud environment just got a lot more difficult.
This is according to Tsholo Montshioa, business development manager for Ixia at Axiz, a leading information technology value added distributor, who adds that managing applications and workloads between public and private cloud is becoming a major challenge for organisations, and one that is only exacerbated by the shift caused by Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) models offered by cloud giants including Microsoft, AWS and Google.
Once the business has entered the public cloud arena, a greater part of the infrastructure, including compute, storage and network is no longer visible, and traditional tools that the IT team are used to employing to manage and assure a standard of workload performance are no longer effective, she says. “Now, the organisation has to deal with the blind spots created by these environments, as the cloud provider is only responsible for guaranteeing the availability of services.”
This is even a greater challenge for entities who opt for a multi-cloud strategy, which sees the IT department having to manage a plethora of heterogeneous environments, including their own data centre, and multiple public clouds, for example Azure and Huawei. While the benefits of a multi-cloud approach are many, IT must now cope with an even greater level of complexity, adds Montshioa.
“Remember, you can’t manage what you can’t see, meaning that resolving application performance issues in a hybrid cloud environment can be extremely tricky, if not impossible, as legacy visibility and management tools simply cannot see all the way into a public cloud.
Nor can a business effectively harness the power of its data. These days, an organisation’s data is collected from multiple sources, meaning it needs to be gathered, correlated and analysed, and the more a business moves applications and workloads to the cloud, the more data is generated, and using it to benefit the business gets harder and harder.”
And over and above mass cloud migrations, Montshioa says there has been an exponential growth in internet and mobile traffic, and total virtual traffic has soared in recent years. This also creates a challenge for application performance and security monitoring, as blind spots, or data connections in the network that are not easily accessible arise, makes the business susceptible to threats like malware.
“One thing is clear. Outside the walls of the data centre, where the infrastructure isn’t owned by the organisation, traditional monitoring tools have reached their limits.”
Step in CloudLens by Ixia, that Montshioa describes as the first service-provider agnostic visibility platform, capable of providing access to packet data in AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba Cloud, CenturyLink cloud and others. It also supports Window and Linux environments.
“CloudLens offers one, single layer that can access data directly from instances, filter it in the cloud and then send it back directly to security and monitoring tools. This gives flexibility, as data from any cloud can be routed to security in monitoring tools in any other cloud or in the data centre,” she explains.
For IT departments, having the ability to manage this layer in a single platform and interface, greatly simplifies management and configuration for network administrators, mitigating errors and ensuring security and monitoring tools have all the visibility they need.
“CloudLens is also the first and only solution that delivers packet visibility into containers and Kubernetes clusters across cloud platforms including AWS Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes, Azure Kubernetes Service and Google Kubernetes Engine,” continues Montshioa.
Organisations that use the cloud also expect the benefits of elastic scale and resource pooling, but rapid scaling up and down of services, can’t be done by traditional tools, as these require manual intervention, she says. “Not with CloudLens, as the solution has embedded automation capabilities. It scales its virtual taps and data filtering automatically to meet customers’ agility requirements. The platform’s automation capabilities enable the virtual taps and analytic tools to automatically shift to changes in the environment or failures without needing any intervention from network operations.”
“And it’s not just for public clouds,” Montshioa says. “CloudLens supports monitoring of virtual traffic for a wide variety of environments, including OpenStack KVM, VMware EXSi and NSX today, with Microsoft Hyper-V coming.”
One of the major challenges with private clouds is attempting to bridge the boundary between physical and virtual, she concludes. “Although a variety of tools are available to monitor either physical devices or virtual machines, these environments are more often than not, invisible to each other. CloudLens uses the virtual taps, Netflow, packet and application flow filtering, and other data to provide insight into both the physical and virtual environments.”