How to Improve Cloud Computing with Visibility
March 05, 2018

Keith Bromley
Ixia

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One of the current challenges for IT teams is the movement of the network to the cloud, and the lack of visibility that comes with that shift. While there has been a lot of hype around the benefits of cloud computing, very little is being said about the inherent drawbacks.

For instance, once you give up control of the network infrastructure, you lose the ability to capture important packet data from tap and span ports. This data is necessary for troubleshooting and performance analysis. Monitoring and forensic tools still need to perform deep packet inspection to perform application performance monitoring (APM) analysis and troubleshooting activities.

In addition, while many of the cloud vendors will tell you that they offer security and visibility capabilities, this is in regards to their portion of the cloud (the infrastructure), not your workspace. Their touted “security solution” is often just an access list. If you’ve operated a data center before, are access lists the only thing you did to secure your network? I think not.

However, there is a remedy. You can deploy a virtual tap into a container within your cloud environment. This allows you to capture the specific types of packet data that you are looking for within your portion of the cloud environment. Once the tap captures the data, it can be copied and sent on to either your cloud-based, or on-premises based, tools for further analysis.

One important note. Make sure that the virtual tap you deploy can scale continuously. Otherwise, you will encounter significant problems as you spin up new apps and services. One of the problems will be lost monitoring data. If a virtual tap is overloaded, it simply cannot collect the requisite data and the data is lost. At that point, another virtual tap (or set of licenses for the tap) needs to be installed to capture the additional monitoring data. This human intervention requirement will throttle your ability to be effective. If the tap can scale continuously, then this limitation is removed and the monitoring solution can scale as you spin up more apps and services.

Keith Bromley is Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing at Ixia Solutions Group, a Keysight Technologies business
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