Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Charles Araujo, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Six Myths of Monitoring SaaS Applications

Falling for these myths can put you on a path to protracted service outages and frustrated users

There's been plenty written and predicted about the future of cloud and Software-as-a-Service, and it's hard to argue with its benefits - for both organizations and users. If our cloud-based future is to come true though, we must pay closer attention to the service levels users are getting from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.

Obvious? Maybe not.

As many organizations make their first big move to the cloud with services like Office 365, a few common misconceptions - grounded in the general belief that once we move to the cloud, IT no longer owns direct responsibility for service levels - threaten to put them on a path to protracted outages and frustrated users.

The fact is that if your users can't access a cloud-based service, they are not going to call the service provider. They are going to call the IT help desk (maybe you) directly and the IT team will be expected to fix whatever problem exists, ASAP. Users don't care whether or not the problem is located in infrastructure owned and operated by their IT department, the ISP, or the cloud service provider. If they aren't having a good experience, IT will take the heat.

How do you avoid this? Here are six myths that can derail your use of the cloud. Falling for them can put you on a path to protracted service outages and frustrated users. In addition, I try to shed light on what's needed to fill in some of the gaps that exist when it comes to monitoring SaaS applications.

1. "I don't need to monitor. I have a guaranteed SLA from the provider."
Your SaaS service provider is likely able to run their datacenters with higher availability than most IT organizations, but they are not 100%. Service level guarantees are great, but if you aren't monitoring your SaaS service, how do you know your SLA is actually being met? In addition, service level guarantees only cover outages that the provider can control, i.e., their own networks, servers, and applications, not any of your infrastructure and not the Internet service providers that connect you. You're on your own to monitor and manage those.

2. "I don't need my own monitoring tools. I use the service provider dashboard."
As with the guarantees themselves, service health dashboards only cover the service provider's infrastructure, not the end-to-end service. These dashboards provide generic information that may or may not be relevant to your users and may not be up to date. Remember, they are built to be general status communication tools, not real-time monitoring solutions.

3. "I didn't monitor your previous hosted email service. Why monitor Office 365 now?"
Consuming apps from the cloud is not the same as consuming managed/hosted services. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Hosters are often running dedicated infrastructure for you and monitor those services on your behalf. Those services often extend to provide monitoring and management of your on-premise infrastructure as well. While there are managed service providers offering value-added services around Office 365, if you buy directly or through a reseller, you have to monitor the solution yourself.

4. "My existing tools monitor my cloud apps as well as my on-premise apps."
Not really. Most traditional systems management solutions (e.g., CA, BMC, Tivoli, System Center) are designed to monitor systems where they have direct access to the applications, servers, log files, and SNMP messages. They are not built to monitor services where the majority of the service infrastructure lies outside the IT periphery. Network management tools tend to focus on low-level protocol and network device monitoring and diagnostics, and are not built to monitor user experience. Both of these tools can be difficult and costly to use.

On the other end of the spectrum, web monitoring solutions often either run generic protocol tests or run from the providers' locations rather than within your own network.

None of these solutions can provide active, end-to-end monitoring of service performance and user experience from behind your firewall to the service provider and back.

5. "I don't need to monitor. My users tell you when they are having problems."
This may be okay for some less critical applications, but for most organizations these days, communication and collaboration apps, like email, are mission critical. If the service is down, so is your company. What happens when the users report a problem? Where do you start to look? Do you immediately get on hold with the Office 365 support line? It's probably not even a Microsoft problem.

Speed to resolution is key. You want to be notified before users are impacted and when an issue is identified you want to isolate it and get it resolved as quickly as possible.

6. "Moving to the cloud means monitoring is someone else's problem, right?"
The cloud provides many CapEx and OpEx benefits for IT, e.g., fewer servers and apps to directly manage and house. It also provides built-in world-class features, service, and security, regardless of budget and staffing. However, local IT is still on the hook for the quality of service realized by users. When a user has an issue they will call you, not Microsoft.

Moving to the cloud, doesn't mean monitoring goes away, but it does fundamentally change the requirements. You need to monitor these solutions, but you need to look at different approaches, ones that are designed to meet the needs of the cloud. You have to be able to monitor and troubleshoot infrastructure you cannot touch - the end-to-end service delivery chain from your premises, through the various Internet service providers, to the application provider and back. To do this you need to take a global view of the cloud service, tracking performance measurements from multiple access points. By comparing these measurements, you have the ability to quickly detect, isolate, and resolve issues affecting cloud application performance before they negatively impact your users and your organization. The more monitoring points you have the better your ability to do this. It's difficult for smaller organizations to accomplish this level of visibility on their own, but as adoption of cloud applications grows, you'll begin to see new solutions that pool resources across multiple customers, and provide this level of visibility to any SaaS consumer.

More Stories By Patrick Carey

Patrick Carey is vice president of product management and marketing for Exoprise, a provider of cloud-based monitoring and enablement solutions for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. He spends his free time thinking about how companies can get to the cloud faster and stay there longer.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...
Don’t go chasing waterfall … development, that is. According to a recent post by Madison Moore on Medium featuring insights from several software delivery industry leaders, waterfall is – while still popular – not the best way to win in the marketplace. With methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery becoming ever more prominent over the past 15 years or so, waterfall is old news. Or, is it? Moore cites a recent study by Gartner: “According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data report, ...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, discussed how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galera MyS...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
"I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.