A guest post from Vikas Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Zyrion a provider of BSM & performance monitoring software for cloud environments and IT infrastructure. We always invite guest submissions from industry insiders – feel free to contact us.
The fast-paced enterprise business environment of the modern era demands supreme efficiency, in terms of time, money and resources. Optimum business performance means running lean and mean with a heavy dependence on IT infrastructure to streamline processes, practices and production.
This emphasis on performance optimization has lead to an incredibly intricate interconnectivity of business processes with IT functionality that is critical for success. The problem is, in most enterprise IT environments, this deep integration places enormous demands on existing infrastructure—to the extent that some enterprise IT operations seem to perpetually walk a fine line between just keeping up with new demands and imploding under the pressure. One systems integration intended to streamline processes and improve efficiency can easily throw a wrench into the works of other legacy systems that are incompatible or ill-equipped to fully leverage the new advances.
Despite all its yet-to-be answered questions about security and management, cloud computing has emerged as one solution to help meet the ever-growing demands placed on IT. By leveraging the cost savings, agility and on-demand nature of cloud resources, many enterprises have found that virtualization enables them to be more nimble, scalable and efficient, as well as more confident in their reliance on IT resources to meet critical business process needs.
However, just as cloud computing has changed the way many businesses operate—and they way they manage IT security (or at least it should have)—it should also force a shift in the way we monitor and measure performance. To truly measure for efficiency of process and performance, we must break away from the traditional technical metrics of measuring for infrastructure performance like uptime, data volume and resource utilization.
Instead, we must refocus and monitor for business service delivery, availability and performance for a more accurate picture of overall enterprise efficiency. Simply put, even if all the network nodes and components are operating as expected, this does not necessarily mean that critical business services are performing optimally. To gain a more accurate picture of overall efficiency, we must take a holistic view to determine how IT resources and infrastructure performance affects service delivery.
Cloud computing has made this somewhat challenging. With today’s business applications leveraging a complex network of in-house servers, virtual machines, external cloud vendors and Software-as-a-Service delivery modules, there’s definitely a lot to keep tabs on. Legacy systems and network management/monitoring tools often require a complex piecemeal approach to achieve an end-to-end view. The deployment of multiple applications across different layers, infrastructure domains and business services results in a duplication of features, complex integration and cumbersome management. This, in turn, adds up to a very inefficient system with a high total cost of ownership—exactly the opposite of what most enterprises are trying to achieve.
Fortunately, more innovative Business Service Management (BSM) systems can help enterprises facilitate and streamline this interconnectivity—between business process and IT operations, and between disparate application resources—to provide a holistic view of network efficiencies and deficiencies. Pre-integrated with the necessary underlying fault/event and performance management capabilities, these next-generation BSM systems can allow enterprises to effectively leverage, monitor and manage cloud computing environments.
To be truly flexible and effective in supporting the cloud, next-generation BSM systems must offer open and extensible APIs or data-capture plug-ins for easy integration with external systems. This feature enables the easy addition of custom monitors to capture availability and performance data from any element within the cloud infrastructure—from a new external web service to an in-house virtual machine.
They must also support the creation of ‘service containers’—a way of organizing IT infrastructure in a logical, business-oriented way that correlates with the overall physical and virtualized computing network to the business processes they support. By linking applications and the cloud computing infrastructure with business services to create service containers, enterprise network administrators can more effectively monitor multiple elements of the infrastructure, generate reports on service containers, get uptime information and real-time status for services and receive alerts if services fail or exceed defined thresholds.
The ability to customize the configuration of various service containers is another way that next-generation BSM solutions can help streamline network management in cloud environments. By establishing rules, thresholds and other specifications, administrators can better ascertain the status of business services and determine the impact this status has on process and productivity.
By gaining a better perspective on service management and delivery and the correlation between business processes and IT operations through integrated BSM solutions, both IT and business operations can arrive at a mutually beneficial understanding of the service and value they provide one another. And, when IT is no longer just trying to keep up, they are much better positioned to contribute strategically to the bottom line growth of the company.