Seeing Is believing — breaking the infrastructure blind spot

By Mark Boggia, Director Sales Engineering Europe at Nexthink.

Cloud is quickly becoming the “new normal” — according to a recent Forrester report, the ability to “better leverage big data and analytics in business decision-making” tops the priority list for organisations adopting the cloud. The problem? Increased cloud usage means increased complexity, often leading to a kind of infrastructure “blind spot”. This results in analytics data gathered being incomplete, which carries the risk of masking important issues. So how do companies get around this blind spot?
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 whitepaper shows, choosing this route comes with multiple challenges, especially 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 visibility of the IT department.
Flipping the Script
The cloud breeds complexity, which limits visibility. So what’s the solution for multi-cloud companies that need the best of both worlds? Think of it like this: While server-side monitoring tools can capture data from all attached devices, they’re naturally frustrated by the cloud “gap” which exists between on-premises and off-site solutions. What’s more, using centralised data collection automatically puts IT teams behind the curve. For instance end-users experiencing network problems or engaging in risky behaviour — such as the use of unsanctioned cloud applications — often don’t wait around for logs and error reports to reach the IT desk. They frequently try to find their own solution, ask a colleague or download another app. It makes sense therefore to start by looking at end-users first.
Companies are now 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 same 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
So why the big push for hybrid analytics? Why are companies adopting the cloud so focused on this outcome? The simple answer is data. 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 efficacy. But the emergence of flexible, RUM-based tools may suggest a way for companies to increase their visibility without losing their edge: services, costs and end-users are monitored in real-time — even as the data they provide is used to improve analytics outcomes.
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