Seeing Is Believing - Breaking the Infrastructure Blind Spot
June 20, 2017

Tim Flower
Nexthink

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Cloud is quickly becoming the new normal. The majority of organizations are now running at least one cloud application, and if not, they plan to do so in the near future.

The challenge for organizations is that increased cloud usage means increased complexity, often leading to a kind of infrastructure "blind spot" which puts analytic gains at risk and can obscure more pressing issues. According to a recent Forrester report, the ability to better leverage big data and analytics in business decision-making tops the priority list for organizations adopting the cloud.

So how do companies break the blind spot and get back on track?

Out of Sight?

Many companies are now adopting multiple clouds to leverage the cost-effectiveness of public resources and the granular control of private offerings. But as the Forrester research points out, choosing this route comes with multiple challenges, especially as related to infrastructure and cost visibility: 38 percent of respondents cited difficulty tracking usage across multiple clouds, while 36 percent ran into trouble monitoring costs, and 33 percent spoke to the pain point of managing network performance/latency between clouds and to/from cloud platforms.

Simply put: As cloud networks expand, so does their complexity and existing server monitoring tools aren't up to the task — they were designed to handle finite internal environments, not the ever-changing perimeter of the cloud. Under these conditions, meaningful analytics become virtually impossible since relevant data lies beyond the reach of IT observation.

Flipping the Script

The hybrid cloud breeds complexity, which limits visibility. What's the solution for multi-cloud companies that need the best of both worlds? It all starts with end-users. Think of it like this: We monitor the individual components within our data center infrastructure to make sure we maintain availability and reliability for our end users, but this legacy approach misses a whole host of external sources that can negatively impact the end user experience.

What's more, technology assessment that is strictly data-center focused automatically puts IT teams behind the curve, since end-users experiencing network problems or engaging in risky behavior — such as the use of unsanctioned cloud applications — often don't wait around for logs and error reports to reach technology pros before trying to find their own solution or downloading another app. And when they take this course of action, IT teams have minimal if non-existent methods to effectively identify this behavior and its scope across the enterprise.

As a solution, companies are turning to real user monitoring (RUM) solutions which collect data and metrics at the end-user level directly and in real-time, allowing them to effectively "flip the script" of traditional monitoring techniques. According to the Forrester survey, 77 percent of IT managers believe implementing RUM solutions would be "very effective" or "generally effective" at solving end-user monitoring challenges.

The Analytics Advantage

By adopting hybrid and multiple cloud models, businesses have access to virtually limitless data sources, but this same abundance also creates a natural "blind spot" for IT infrastructure, forcing companies to choose between reduced complexity and better analytics, or large-scale cloud adoption and limited big data effectiveness.

To make sense of all of this data, they are adopting hybrid analytics. And the emergence of flexible, RUM-based tools may suggest a way for companies to increase their visibility without losing their edge. RUM tools enable services, costs and end-users to be monitored in real-time — even as the data they provide is used to improve analytics outcomes.

As the growth of cloud continues, new advances are enabling companies to better leverage the insights gained from these multiple sources of data. Breaking the infrastructure blindspot helps remove some of the challenges of managing a new hybrid cloud-based environment.

Tim Flower is VP of DEX Strategy at Nexthink
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