Many businesses debate extensively whether to manage their key infrastructure themselves on-premise, or to hand it over to an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud provider.

Whatever they choose, they must remember to monitor all of their environments or risk serious problems around security, data management, cost, reliability and performance.

IaaS, where a cloud provider handles infrastructure and the customer connects virtual machines, is popular: a recent survey by network monitoring provider Opsview found that nearly 3 in 10 businesses are considering implementing it, and a further 9% are in the proof of concept stage. Nevertheless, it is still a new concept to many other businesses. 

A number of companies opt for a hybrid setup, in which they place some of their infrastructure in the cloud and keep other systems on-premise. The motivation behind this is often to place the infrastructure in the cloud that is likely to need fast changes in scale (for example to support the activity resulting from promotions), and perhaps to keep other critical infrastructure in-house for greater control.

The dangers

What many businesses forget to do is to monitor their infrastructure, wherever it is, for security, reliability and performance issues - even though 55% say they plan to invest in proper IT monitoring.

Following the extensive discussion around potential loss of control in the cloud, many businesses have become more demanding of their cloud suppliers, asking for strict security and performance service level agreements (SLAs) that must be adhered to. But many of these businesses are so busily on the case of their cloud providers (which of course is vital) that they forget to carefully monitor their own environments. 

Higher complexity = a need for more advanced monitoring

Introducing a hybrid setup can mean more complexity overall, even if it solves critical business demands. But monitoring this need not be a problem, with the right management and the right systems.

Businesses considering a hybrid setup must remember to carefully monitor all of the activity both at the office and in the cloud. Starting with security, they must check that their hosted and in-house environments are protected from attack and meet regulation, as well as that they can locate and appropriately control data.

Handling reliability and performance presents different challenges in the cloud and on-premise. By combining proper management and an advanced monitoring solution, businesses can check that systems across the board meet their uptime and bandwidth requirements. Some 77% of businesses in a separate Opsview survey said stability concerns were the main factor in their monitoring.

What to do

Businesses should begin by making sure they understand the different designs and behaviour of their outsourced and in-house set-ups. If they have been wise enough to set clear best practice, there will be a better understanding and commonality between the two areas of infrastructure.

Definitive security and performance policies, and the management and monitoring of these, are an excellent way for companies to ensure their networks meet their needs. No technology can make up for a lack of preparation here.

With these foundations set, firms must implement an advanced monitoring system to enable them to know exactly what is going on in their networks, and to alert them in the event of any problems. Opsview offers a variety of monitoring systems that suit different sizes of organisation, providing unparalleled simple and informative dashboards to show all network events. The Opsview Core system is free. There is also the choice of a more advanced and professionally supported system, with Opsview Pro for SMEs and Opsview Enterprise for larger businesses.

The Opsview monitoring solutions allow businesses to meet the key challenges they face (as highlighted in the survey): to be alerted around network issues, to visualise network performance, to have historical performance data to hand for trend analysis, and to generate detailed reports on network performance. On-premise monitoring is a vital part of meeting these demands.