How cloud monitoring stops bugs from becoming disasters

In our weekly podcast, we discuss how cloud monitoring helps service providers catch problems in the data center before they turn into catastrophes.

With the exception of security breaches, few things can shatter customer confidence in the cloud like a major service outage does. Cloud monitoring tools are one way providers can catch problems before they turn into catastrophes; VMware seems to have recognized this truth in its recent acquisition of Log Insight, a big data analytics and log management platform from Pattern Insight, a real-time analytics vendor in Mountain View, Calif.

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In this week-in-review podcast, site editor Jessica Scarpati reviews what's new on SearchCloudProvider.com for the week of August 20. Tune in as she discusses the following topics:

The following is a transcript of the podcast.

Jessica Scarpati: You're listening to CloudCast Weekly, a podcast by searchcloudprovider.com. I'm Jessica Scarpati, site editor of searchcloudprovider.com. It is great to have you with us. As always, we're here to give you a quick wrap-up of everything that's new in the site this week.

First up is a new story from our news writer, Gina Narcisi, who looks at how cloud providers can use data center monitoring software to reduce the risk and subsequent cost and humiliation of service disruptions and outages. The story is called, "Data center monitoring: Backbone to the cloud service-level agreement."

Several of the larger service providers have their own home-grown monitoring technology. Terremark is one of the most notable examples here. They tell us that they built their own data center monitoring software after commercial products came up short. They're using it to monitor not just power and cooling levels of their data centers, but they're also using it to help with provisioning and capacity planning. The system ties into another management system and together they automatically open a help desk ticket after an alarm is triggered. But not everyone has the in-house resources of Terremark and its parent company, Verizon.

VMware seems to have recognized this in its recent acquisition of Log Insight, a real-time analytics product from a company called Pattern Insight. By the way, this deal comes just three weeks after VMware's acquisition of Nicira, a software-defined networking startup. It's probably fair to say that VMware has its eye on a much bigger picture than server virtualization at this point but we digress.

Whether you build or buy monitoring tools, they should all work towards the same goals, enforcing SLAs and keeping the words "major cloud outage" away from your company's name in the headlines. Sometimes, though, disaster strikes and there's nothing cloud providers can do about it... or is there?

Eileen Smith, chief operating officer of the TM Forum tackles the question in a column she wrote this week: "When disaster strikes, GIS technology helps prevent cloud disruption." It's about the use of geographic information systems, or GIS, to prevent or minimize service disruptions.

Some quick background on GIS for anyone who hasn't worked with it before. It's a powerful mapping technology that lets you query various databases and layer the information visually onto a map. Telecom companies often use them to figure out the best place to put another cell tower, comparing topology to zoning codes to weather conditions.

Interesting, yes, but what does this have to do with cloud services? Not much just yet, but the TM Forum is working on a way to use GIS technology to help cloud providers detect and evaluate external threats that could take down their services.

Let's use an example. An ice storm paralyzes the North East, cutting power to large parts of the country, conveniently also including where you data center is. What if GIS could flag that kind of threat and work with existing network monitoring and policy-based management systems to failover customers to another data center before disaster struck? Pretty powerful stuff. Check out Eileen's column to find out how close the TM Forum is to making this a reality.

That is all that we have for this week. Be sure to check out all the articles we talked about and more on SearchCloudProvider.com. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next week.

This was first published in August 2012

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