Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Manuel Weiss, Richard Moulds, Martin Etmajer

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, SOA & WOA, Linux, Virtualization, Security

Cloud Expo: Article

Six Myths of Monitoring SaaS Applications

Falling for these myths can put you on a path to protracted service outages and frustrated users

There's been plenty written and predicted about the future of cloud and Software-as-a-Service, and it's hard to argue with its benefits - for both organizations and users. If our cloud-based future is to come true though, we must pay closer attention to the service levels users are getting from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.

Obvious? Maybe not.

As many organizations make their first big move to the cloud with services like Office 365, a few common misconceptions - grounded in the general belief that once we move to the cloud, IT no longer owns direct responsibility for service levels - threaten to put them on a path to protracted outages and frustrated users.

The fact is that if your users can't access a cloud-based service, they are not going to call the service provider. They are going to call the IT help desk (maybe you) directly and the IT team will be expected to fix whatever problem exists, ASAP. Users don't care whether or not the problem is located in infrastructure owned and operated by their IT department, the ISP, or the cloud service provider. If they aren't having a good experience, IT will take the heat.

How do you avoid this? Here are six myths that can derail your use of the cloud. Falling for them can put you on a path to protracted service outages and frustrated users. In addition, I try to shed light on what's needed to fill in some of the gaps that exist when it comes to monitoring SaaS applications.

1. "I don't need to monitor. I have a guaranteed SLA from the provider."
Your SaaS service provider is likely able to run their datacenters with higher availability than most IT organizations, but they are not 100%. Service level guarantees are great, but if you aren't monitoring your SaaS service, how do you know your SLA is actually being met? In addition, service level guarantees only cover outages that the provider can control, i.e., their own networks, servers, and applications, not any of your infrastructure and not the Internet service providers that connect you. You're on your own to monitor and manage those.

2. "I don't need my own monitoring tools. I use the service provider dashboard."
As with the guarantees themselves, service health dashboards only cover the service provider's infrastructure, not the end-to-end service. These dashboards provide generic information that may or may not be relevant to your users and may not be up to date. Remember, they are built to be general status communication tools, not real-time monitoring solutions.

3. "I didn't monitor your previous hosted email service. Why monitor Office 365 now?"
Consuming apps from the cloud is not the same as consuming managed/hosted services. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Hosters are often running dedicated infrastructure for you and monitor those services on your behalf. Those services often extend to provide monitoring and management of your on-premise infrastructure as well. While there are managed service providers offering value-added services around Office 365, if you buy directly or through a reseller, you have to monitor the solution yourself.

4. "My existing tools monitor my cloud apps as well as my on-premise apps."
Not really. Most traditional systems management solutions (e.g., CA, BMC, Tivoli, System Center) are designed to monitor systems where they have direct access to the applications, servers, log files, and SNMP messages. They are not built to monitor services where the majority of the service infrastructure lies outside the IT periphery. Network management tools tend to focus on low-level protocol and network device monitoring and diagnostics, and are not built to monitor user experience. Both of these tools can be difficult and costly to use.

On the other end of the spectrum, web monitoring solutions often either run generic protocol tests or run from the providers' locations rather than within your own network.

None of these solutions can provide active, end-to-end monitoring of service performance and user experience from behind your firewall to the service provider and back.

5. "I don't need to monitor. My users tell you when they are having problems."
This may be okay for some less critical applications, but for most organizations these days, communication and collaboration apps, like email, are mission critical. If the service is down, so is your company. What happens when the users report a problem? Where do you start to look? Do you immediately get on hold with the Office 365 support line? It's probably not even a Microsoft problem.

Speed to resolution is key. You want to be notified before users are impacted and when an issue is identified you want to isolate it and get it resolved as quickly as possible.

6. "Moving to the cloud means monitoring is someone else's problem, right?"
The cloud provides many CapEx and OpEx benefits for IT, e.g., fewer servers and apps to directly manage and house. It also provides built-in world-class features, service, and security, regardless of budget and staffing. However, local IT is still on the hook for the quality of service realized by users. When a user has an issue they will call you, not Microsoft.

Moving to the cloud, doesn't mean monitoring goes away, but it does fundamentally change the requirements. You need to monitor these solutions, but you need to look at different approaches, ones that are designed to meet the needs of the cloud. You have to be able to monitor and troubleshoot infrastructure you cannot touch - the end-to-end service delivery chain from your premises, through the various Internet service providers, to the application provider and back. To do this you need to take a global view of the cloud service, tracking performance measurements from multiple access points. By comparing these measurements, you have the ability to quickly detect, isolate, and resolve issues affecting cloud application performance before they negatively impact your users and your organization. The more monitoring points you have the better your ability to do this. It's difficult for smaller organizations to accomplish this level of visibility on their own, but as adoption of cloud applications grows, you'll begin to see new solutions that pool resources across multiple customers, and provide this level of visibility to any SaaS consumer.

More Stories By Patrick Carey

Patrick Carey is vice president of product management and marketing for Exoprise, a provider of cloud-based monitoring and enablement solutions for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. He spends his free time thinking about how companies can get to the cloud faster and stay there longer.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
Cloud Computing is evolving into a Big Three of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud 360: Multi-Cloud Bootcamp, being held Nov 4–5, 2014, in conjunction with 15th Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, CA, delivers a real-world demonstration of how to deploy and configure a scalable and available web application on all three platforms. The Cloud 360 Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, an analyst with Gigaom Research, is the first bootcamp that introduces the core concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based on the workings of the Big Three platforms – Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Azure VMs. Bootcamp attendees will get to see the big picture and also receive the knowledge needed to make the best cloud decisions for their business applications and entire enterprise IT organization.
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is a natural complement to the cloud and related technologies such as Big Data, analytics, and mobility. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Joe Weinman will lay out four generic strategies – digital disciplines – to exploit emerging digital technologies for strategic advantage. Joe Weinman has held executive leadership positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and Telx, in areas such as corporate strategy, business development, product management, operations, and R&D.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DevOps.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's “DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo,” which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. DevOps.com is where the world meets DevOps. It is the largest collection of original content relating to DevOps on the web today Featuring up-to-the-minute news, feature stories, blogs, bylined articles and more, DevOps.com is where the thought leaders of the DevOps movement make their ideas known.
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that allow marketers to cut through the noise and design their campaigns around strong, predictive signals, rather than arbitrary statistics. SendGrid sends up to half a billion emails a day for customers such as Pinterest and GitHub. All this email adds up to more text than produced in the entire twitterverse. We track events like clicks, opens and deliveries to help improve deliverability for our customers – adding up to over 50 billion useful events every month. While SendGrid data covers only abo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the Web Host Industry Review has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 2000, The Web Host Industry Review has made a name for itself as the foremost authority of the Web hosting industry providing reliable, insightful and comprehensive news, reviews and resources to the hosting community. TheWHIR Blogs provides a community of expert industry perspectives. The Web Host Industry Review Magazine also offers a business-minded, issue-driven perspective of interest to executives and decision-makers. WHIR TV offers on demand web hosting video interviews and web hosting video features of the key persons and events of the web hosting industry. WHIR Events brings together like-minded hosting industry professionals and decision-makers in local communities. TheWHIR is an iNET Interactive property.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic networking and advanced communications platforms, Verizon Enterprise Solutions helps open new opportunities around the world for innovation, investment and business transformation. Visit verizonenterprise.com to learn more.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMCnet has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.
"In my session I spoke about enterprise cloud analytics and how we can leverage analytics as a service," explained Ajay Budhraja, CTO at the Department of Justice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
“We are starting to see people move beyond the commodity cloud and enterprises need to start focusing on additional value added services in order to really drive their adoption," explained Jason Mondanaro, Director of Product Management at MetraTech, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
"We are automated capacity control software, which basically looks at all the supply and demand and running a virtual cloud environment and does a deep analysis of that and says where should things go," explained Andrew Hillier, Co-founder & CTO of CiRBA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at 15th Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, Vice President, Product Strategy of LogMeIn's Xively IoT Platform, will show you how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
All too many discussions about DevOps conclude that the solution is an all-purpose player: developer and operations guru, complete with pager for round-the-clock duty. For most organizations that is not the way forward. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Golden, Vice President of Strategy at ActiveState, will discuss how to achieve the agility and speed of end-to-end automation without requiring an organization stocked with Supermen and Superwomen.