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Top metrics for effective multi-cloud management

Top metrics for effective multi-cloud management

Key multi-cloud management metrics involve network performance, security, application availability and more

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When it comes to effectively managing a multi-cloud environment, there are a ton of network and application metrics that enterprise customers should be watching.

Among enterprises, the trend is toward multi-cloud environments, which can include workloads running on-premises and in public clouds run by multiple cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM/Red Hat, Google Cloud Platform and others.

Gartner predicts by 2021, more than 75 per cent of midsize and large organisations will have adopted some form of a multi-cloud and/or hybrid IT strategy. Likewise, IDC predicts that by 2022, more than 90 per cent of enterprises worldwide will be relying on a mix of on-premises/dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs.

"As enterprises increasingly embrace multi-cloud, they must consider what KPIs [key performance indicators] will best measure their success in managing multi-cloud environments," said Briana Frank, director of product management with IBM Cloud.

"There's a variety of KPIs that can help evaluate success, including financial metrics, such as cost, return on investment, and rate of change in the reduction of total cost of ownership," Frank said. "However, enterprises should go beyond financial metrics alone and also consider measures of other critical causes for concern, such as downtime caused by outages and security breaches," Frank added.

Useful KPIs in a multi-cloud setting include those that measure costs and billing, network and application performance, said Roy Ritthaler, vice president of product marketing in VMware's cloud management business unit.

Financial KPIs

Optimising multi-cloud costs and eliminating waste are key goals for IT and lines of business, and metrics should include budget tracking and detailed spend analysis, Ritthaler said.

"They should also provide capabilities to uncover hidden costs, flag anomalies, reallocate cloud spend for show back and chargeback, and provide proactive recommendations to purchase and exchange reservations and savings plans," Ritthaler said.

Common multi-cloud KPIs include looking at the cost of all untagged resources, such as databases that might be using resources. Tagged resources can include myriad items such as the owner of a resource, the environment its operating in, and project name, for example. The idea is to most effectively identify, manage and support resources.

Other financial KPIs include a look at the percentage of infrastructure running on demand and the percentage of total bill charged back, Ritthaler said.

Security and network KPIs

Visualising the security posture of the connectivity in a multi-cloud network is absolutely necessary, as there are too many components to consider individually, Ritthaler said.

"Identifying bad actors or bad security posture is handled in a single tool for monitoring and guarding," Ritthaler said. "Capabilities include monitoring traffic to detect vulnerabilities and to design app-centric security and generating recommended firewall rules to implement application security."

Some common KPIs include measuring security incidents per month by team, the number of security lapses, and the time to remediate security violations measured in hours, Ritthaler said.

Security is critical, but so it getting a handle on access policies, managing QoS, and providing consistent measuring capabilities across such a diverse group of systems, said Nabil Bukhari, chief technology officer with Extreme Networks. "Applications are the star of the multi-cloud show, but getting a handle on network performance metrics – like latency, packet loss– is important too," Bukhari said.

Additional network-related KPIs include measuring response time, bandwidth usage and throughput. Network monitoring must include end-to-end network visibility across physical and virtual environments, and it's built from flow-based traffic monitoring using NetFlow, sFlow and SNMP device monitoring, Ritthaler said.

Application performance KPIs

On the applications side, each application will have its own performance metrics to monitor, and it's important to have tools that can tie these applications to the infrastructure that they're running on, to deliver an end-to-end picture of the infrastructure.

"Many organisations already have multiple application performance monitoring tools. However, these tools do not provide the end-to-end visibility that you need to troubleshoot over different teams," Ritthaler said. "Being able to consolidate those tools into a single solution brings teams together when problems occur."

Ritthaler said some common application KPIs include user experience measurements from APM (application performance management) packages; configured versus used resource consumption (such as CPU and memory); response times; and connection counts.

"Applications tend to spread out over multiple clouds; the path of least resistance will typically be taken. Documentation will fall behind, and this is where automatic discovery is necessary," Ritthaler said. "Application discovery works over the multi-cloud architecture to make organisations aware of where their applications are running, who they are talking to, what application dependencies there are, and how they are secured."

Compliance KPIs

Compliance is another area that requires management attention, experts say.

"Compliance KPIs require continuously inspecting cloud-resource configurations and benchmarking them against cloud, industry and custom security and compliance standards. It should track compliance score, violations, and resolution progress," Ritthaler said.

Customers need to safeguard the health of hybrid and public cloud services using logs and metrics to proactively monitor and troubleshoot issues with native cloud services as they occur and suggest remediation steps, Ritthaler said.


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