Category Archives: Tools

5 Cloud Performance Monitoring Tools

5 Cloud Performance Monitoring Tools

Cloud Monitoring

Because of the prevalence of cloud computing applications and the move from networked application services to the cloud, there is now a need for new monitoring tools and services since network monitoring tools will no longer suffice. Cloud monitoring can simply refer to the monitoring of the physical as well as the virtual servers, the data and resources they share, the applications that they are servicing, as well as their overall performance. Cloud monitoring tools can aggregate data and provide visual patterns that may otherwise be hard to identify and be completely missed without such tools. Cloud monitoring is the best way for an organization to administer its cloud resources and keep its cloud environments operating at maximum efficiency.

Tools of the Trade

Here are five cloud monitoring tools without a specific order or classification:

1. Zenoss Cloud Monitoring: This tool made by Zenoss monitors public, private, or hybrid cloud environments with a unified visibility and provides real-time awareness of the entire infrastructure. Zenoss ensures relevance through a model-driven cloud operations management system which maintains a comprehensive model of every device’s hardware, software and network relations which then makes use of that model to ensure that the right monitoring service and policies are implemented on that device.

2. RevealCloud: is a server health and performance monitoring tool provided by CopperEgg. It provides broad visibility across both private and public cloud environments that organizations may have. It uses cross-correlation analytics which help operation teams to quickly find and isolate root causes of problems and issues in the cloud, it is designed to be used in the server side. RevealCloud provides the following functions:

a. Analytics, visibility and alarms which notify administrators visually when problems are detected.
b. It provides real-time measurements, monitoring server performance every 5 seconds.
c. It also provides OS, System, and process monitoring

3. RevealUptime: is another solution from CopperEgg which is best paired with RevealCloud to provide correlated data between end user experience measurements provided by ReevalUptime and server health status data from RevealCloud. This allows administrators to better understand what their users are experiencing as well as the reason for that experience in relation to the cloud and servers.

4Gomez APM: Compuware’s Gomez Application Performance Management (APM) provides a holistic approach to cloud monitoring of application performance along the whole delivery chain. The tool provides detailed information on the root cause of problems and how much impact it has on the entire system and business. This allows IT teams to home in on the problems fast and prioritize the critical ones. The main feature of this APM is its fault domain isolation which determines the area at fault whether it is the ISP or the internet connection itself, a third party provider, the data center, or even the user-end browser or device.

5. Rackspace Cloud Monitoring: Unfortunately, this is only for those people or organizations that use Rackspace. It is an API driven monitoring system which allows administrators to use or create APIs depending on their needs which can send notifications to any device including mobile devices. This allows administrators to be on top of their Rackspace-hosted infrastructure which includes websites, protocols, and ports.

Conclusion

Because of multiple vendors that offer different cloud services, there are bound to be some incompatibilities that arise between them. So it would be important to choose a monitoring tool that works best for you and the cloud infrastructure and provider that you are using. Though the companies that provide those monitoring tools do not say which vendors they are most or least compatible with, they offer free trials for customers which allow you to judge if the tool is right for your infrastructure and needs.

By Abdul Salam

The Adobe Creative Cloud: Designing In The Cloud

The Adobe Creative Cloud: Designing In The Cloud

Adobe is a brand name on the internet. We pretty much all use it. Trusted the world over for it’s design and publishing tools. What is less known is Adobe’s digital hub: Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Creative Cloud allows connectivity with Adobe Touch Apps. Creative Cloud enables a mobile workforce, essential in today’s modern workforce. Adobe Creative Cloud allows you to do the things you would expect with cloud technology, create, explore, share and deliver your work using any Adobe Creative Suite desktop tools, including new applications like Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge, which is not available on the traditional Creative Suite packages.

Creative Cloud is being offered as a membership and costs $49 per month. It is not a small amount of money but medium sized businesses and upwards would hardly notice the sum. Creative Cloud always includes the latest version of every Adobe application. The apps can only be installed on two computers but has the advantage of supporting installation on a Mac and a PC, which resolves any compatibility issues.

Creative Cloud enables a mobile workforce to work from the start of an idea all the way to publishing. The new internet-based services it has allows the user to make high-end digital magazines and first-class, interactive websites.

Adobe has conceived it’s cloud to work in collaboration with their desktop and tablet software. You can use 20GB of online storage, view and share across different devices and transfer any files into Adobe Creative Suite to tweak or improve.

While all files are sync-able you can control what files are shared with whom, you can also do web hosting on five sites, do book app publishing and have unlimited use of iOS magazine. Users can set who can download and view shared files.

Adobe have plans to add more apps to their Creative Cloud in the next few months. Scott Morris, Adobe’s Senior Marketing Director for Creative Pros, told The Mac Observer that in the summer Lightroom will become available to Creative Cloud subscribers, as will Edge.

Creative Cloud doesn’t require online access to use the apps. They apps download and install just like the traditional Adobe software. However, you will need internet access once a month so you can verify that your Creative Cloud Subscription is active. Creative Cloud includes all of Adobe’s apps.

All in all the launch of the Creative Cloud is good for creatives and those working in advertising and marketing. Adobe are the good standard for web design and the possibilities the Creative Cloud brings can only assure it’s place as a must-have in the creative sector.

By Catherine Balavage

How Can We Secure Mixed-Cloud Environments?

How Can We Secure Mixed-Cloud Environments?

There is no doubt as to the benefits that cloud computing brings to businesses around the world. But there is also no question that security is one of the most immediate concerns when moving from local, in-house IT solutions to cloud-based solutions. Businesses tend to mix and match different cloud solutions from multiple vendors in order to satisfy business needs. This leads to a not-so-healthy mix of cloud solutions, platforms and data variations. Securing cloud environments is already complicated and challenging enough, and mixing different solutions only serves to worsen the situation to the point that it can get out of hand. However, this approach will continue to become more common because of the ever-changing business environment, and because cloud service providers are constantly evolving their solutions in order to cope with skyrocketing competition. This leads to a juggling and cannibalism of clients among competitors.

So, the big question is what will constitute an effective strategy to secure all these mixed-cloud environments when an organization decides to build a private cloud to enhance existing IT services, employ third-party vendors for other cloud solution needs, or even invest in an SaaS or PaaS in order to cut down on software solution costs. We examine some ways to secure mixed-cloud environments.

  • Focus on the data. First and foremost, it is very important to be data-centric when thinking about security in the cloud. You must always be aware of where your data is, and of who handles it. A mixed-cloud environment will make this complicated, but companies are coping with this with the help of something called, “rules as a service”. There is also an extra challenge when data from different environments is being combined for the purpose of analytics. The resulting new form of data may trigger a series of regulatory controls and restrictions along with potential privacy concerns. So, being data-centric in security would mean that it is critical to focus on data and service classification to determine which data to deploy on the cloud. Organizations should have sound technical policy control definitions based on data classification and user authorization.
  • Look at the broader ecosystem. Companies must see the bigger picture and consider the complete mix of their mobile, social and cloud environments. Most companies implement their cloud solutions over time, which results in fragmentation – this simply will not do. It is imperative that security controls work and reflect all of the environments that the company might have. So, look to the long term and consider all the cloud environments you need before even implementing one, no matter how far off the implementation of others might be.
  • Create a road map of which security requirements need to be in place, based on the environment that you will be implementing. This road map is necessary and must be used as a checklist or questionnaire for new systems when you consider the service providers, tools, and infrastructure you plan to implement.
  • Learn from those who have gone before you. You are not the only one who has come across the problem and most probably not the first. There will always be others who have encountered and solved this problem already; so, learn from their mistakes and adapt their solutions. The service providers you will be considering will probably have experience in this aspect – work with them in planning your security requirements.

By Abdul Salam

What Terms Me On, Cloud Computing Lingo?

What Terms Me On, Cloud Computing Lingo?

Cloud computing is all the rage, but knowing what you’re talking about and knowing what you’re talking about are too different things. Here is a quick list of common Cloud computing terms.

Advertising-based pricing model

Low cost or no cost services. The costs are covered through ads that are sent along to the costumer.

Amazon EC2

Amazon cloud computer service

Amazon S3

Amazon storage services

CDN

Content delivery network, multiple computers forming a large network. The network is setup so data can be shared easily across it.

Cloud

This is the main one on the list, a metaphor for a large scale global network.

Cloud broker

A person or business, that maintains relationships over multiple cloud service providers. They are the go between for the providers and the users.

Cloud operating system

Made to run and providers center for data. Example of this is Google Chrome

Cloud Oriented Architecture

Applications serve other applications inside a cloud environment

Cloud Portability

Moving applications and data between different cloud providers

Cloud Storage

Users can save data over the internet to a cloud storage provider or other third party

Cloudsourcing

IT is replaced with cloud services

Cloudstorming

Multiple cloud environments all connected together

Cloudware

Application software that enables running and managing of systems

Cluster

Linked computers working together in the form of a single computer

Consumption-based pricing model

Service provider, charges based on the amount of serviced used, not on a base fee.

Customer self-service

End users (customers) can manage their own services and terminate them as well.

Disruptive technology

Improved products and services that unexpected change how the cloud computing market preforms.

Elastic computing

Memory and storage that can stretch to meet demand

External cloud

Third party cloud service that is either public or private

Google App Engine

For developers to create and run web applications

Google Apps

Heart and soul to Google apps, offers productivity services

Hass

Hardware as a service

Hosted Application

Application software that runs by remote server

Hybrid cloud

Multiple integrated networking environments

laaS

Infrastructure as a service

IBM Smart Business

IBM’s cloud computing service.

Internal cloud

Private cloud service in the users own IT department

Mashup

Applications that are web based from multiple sources

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft’s cloud service

Middleware

Middle of both applications and operating systems, software that runs both

On-demand service

Think Netflix, click the button and you can use it service

PaaS

Platform as a service

Pay as you go

Subsription and consumption models, no long term contracts or extra fees

Private cloud

Private network cloud computing system

Public cloud

Same as above just public

SaaS

Software as a service

Service migration

Moving from one provider to another

Service provider

Who you choose to go with that offers you the cloud computing service

SLA

Service level agreement, the fine print to any contract you sign

Subscription

Paying monthly fees for a set amount and type of use

Utility computing

Metered storage usesage

Vendor lock-in

This is difficulty in migrating from one cloud provider to another

Vertical cloud

Common term for over all cloud computing

Virtual private data center

Shared services of both data and storage

VPC

Virtual private cloud

Windows Live Services

Consumer applications over windows live networks

By Emma Joseph

(Note: This is a fairly basic list of some of the more popular terms. If you have any additional terms that you’d like to add, please feel free to include them in the comment section)

ROI (Return on Investment) From Cloud Computing

ROI (Return on Investment) from Cloud Computing

A business organization often measures the value of investments or any move that requires money in terms of the return on investment (ROI). Perhaps it is the only reason that top management will agree to any proposal, especially bold ones like adapting the relatively new and untested cloud computing paradigm. Businesses have a habit of only embracing what is proven and tested while disregarding the possibilities and rewards of embracing new systems and methods. Though, I have to admit that more and more organizations are becoming bolder and starting to embrace new technology, especially the relatively new and smaller ones who are just getting into the business. These are the ones that have less to lose because they have not invested in older systems which are considered as lost investment when abandoned, and they can start fresh with new systems not weighted down with the familiarity of old ones.

Though it is quite difficult to calculate ROI from using cloud computing, we can start by finding returns in the three major benefits area for adapting cloud computing: Productivity enhancement, cost reduction and revenue transformation.

  • Cost savings from using cloud services – after doing categorization on the organization’s applications, they can estimate potential savings by shifting to cloud services. One way is migrating ERP resources into a public/private cloud infrastructure. Through virtualization and consolidation, they can reduce the number of servers running in-house and reduce the number of racks used significantly. This can generate up to 70% ROI for a Tier 3 workload and about 50% for Tier 1.
  • Cost Savings from Labor and software – Huge savings can be had through the labor reduction brought by reducing hardware infrastructure. This includes savings from the development and maintenance of applications and hardware. There is also a highly reduced need for installed software as cloud-hosted software can be made available to any workstation with an internet connection, which significantly lowers the required budget for software.
  • Cost savings from hosting – the spending budget for hosting infrastructure is made evident quickly. Hosting in-premises means acquiring your own hardware which is considered as a capital expenditure and could be quite large. While availing of cloud hosting is considered as an operational expenditure because of its subscription or pay-per-use model.

But often, the ROI is not simply measured through the savings in terms of monetary value. The best measurement of the ROI of cloud computing is simply in its VALUE. ROI doesn’t always look very enticing especially when cloud computing is concerned. That is why administrators and CIOs should be looking at the apparent values that come in many forms when employing cloud computing. What they should be asking is “What do I expect to get if I use this service?” and similar value related questions, not monetary related ones. You can set up metrics to determine the apparent value that cloud computing services are able to provide.

Take for example the following:

  • The speed of adaptation and deployment of the cloud service versus the maintenance and upgrade costs and downtimes of the old system.
  • The general ease of use and dynamic usage afforded by the new system. How flexible will the new system be in terms of coping with the ever changing business needs and goals?
  • What are the risks involved with processing and storing data offsite and not having to worry about the back end of the systems?
  • The support and other value added services offered by the provider. Are there any at all?
  • What are the environmental impacts of sourcing our IT services from the cloud? Is there a positive outcome to more and more organizations having co-location of infrastructure?
  • What about the apparent savings and the hassle in paying utility bills?

It is true that ROI is important, but the monetary side should not be the only basis for ROI. The value add offered by cloud services should also be highly considered when contemplating the use of cloud computing, even if it is sometimes intangible.

By Abdul Salam

Cloud Startup News: Top Startups Emerge from Summer Expo at Plug and Play

Cloud Startup News: Top Startups Emerge from Summer Expo at Plug and Play

Top Tech Startups 

Competition is fierce in the tech startup space yet few venues showcase new talent quite like Plug and Play’s quarterly EXPO. Last Thursday, over 500 attendees poured into Plug and Play Tech Center’s Sunnyvale headquarters to watch new tech startups compete. The event also featured a VC Panel with Ajay Agarwal, Jim Barnett, Kamran Elahian and Sumeet Jain. Robert Goldberg of Zynga gave the keynote and VIP judges hailed from companies like Adobe, Cisco, GoDaddy.com, Honda, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Warner Brothers and Yahoo!.

Harold Lee, Music Prodigy

“Imagine what American Idol would look like if it were looking for the best tech startups instead of pop singers; that’s pretty much what Plug and Play’s EXPO is,” said Saeed Amidi, CEO and Co-Founder of the startup accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center. “We look for entrepreneurs from all over the world, they submit their companies, we choose thirty of the best, they audition before our audience, and our judges vote to decide who wins.”

This year’s Summer EXPO winners are the mobile music learning platform Music Prodigy – whose founder, Hreold Lee, wowed the audience with his electric guitar playing – Seattle based mobile sales platform OfferUp and the big data analytics company Skytree.

Music Prodigy 

Sherman Oaks based Music Prodigy is a self-proclaimed “Gamified Rosetta Stone for Music.” As it says Music Prodigy’s site, “Our mission is to create more music, by creating more musicians… by making learning music easier, faster and more fun. – We are a young company. It had to be that way. The technology, processing power, algorithms… they didn’t exist before. And now that they do, we are not stopping with just guitar.”

OfferUp 

OfferUp’s creators sought to make the process of buying and selling goods frictionless, fast and mobile. By offering a simple selling solution, they’re helping people answer the question, “what do I do with all of the stuff I’m not using?” While presenting onstage at Summer EXPO, company President and CEO, Nick Huzar used the last thirty seconds at the end of his presentation to showcase OfferUp by taking a picture of Plug and Play’s EXPO podium and offering it for sale on his platform.

SkyTree 

San Jose based Skytree is in the business of machine learning – the science of discovering patterns and making predictions from complex data. Skytree’s product is designed to help companies make sense of everything from retail and marketing to pharmaceuticals and astronomy. When asked about his experience with EXPO, Skytree CEO and Co-Founder Martin Hack said, “Plug and Play EXPO is fantastic, not only for the Silicon Valley but for the entire startup community.”

The Competition at EXPO

This year’s competition included 27 other new startups like the social gifting company BeeBox, viral marketing platform Brandvocat and Gen4Web an upcoming social mobile game developer founded by fifteen-year-old Stanford hopeful Eric Manalac.

“There are two reasons why EXPO is great,” says Alireza Masour, Plug and Play’s Vice President of Technology Investments, “one is that it gives entrepreneurs with new ideas a chance to showcase their startups, and two – you never know what you’re going to find. You may find the next Mark Zuckerberg. You may help launch a new technology that will change people’s lives. The possibilities are endless.”

By Jennifer L. Jacobson, Plug and Play Tech Center

Gauging Your Organization’s Cloud Aptitude

Gauging Your Organization’s Cloud Aptitude

Cloud computing: is it a cure-all for every technical vice that vexes how an organization manages its data? We at CloudTweaks obviously only answer this question in the affirmative. Though slightly marred by several wrinkles in its ease of use and trustworthiness, the cloud remains an indisputably worthwhile component of any IT-heavy operation. Nevertheless, conducting a thorough aptitude assessment can provide an organization with unique reassurance that cloud computing can dovetail attractively with their aims. Launch such an assessment by considering some of the following questions on cloud’s potential for you.

Is a complete relocation to the cloud worth the hassle and initial financial expense to start?

There’s no other way around it — transitioning from a traditional data management system to one run via the cloud primarily will feel like a discombobulation at first. You can expect the most difficulty in transitioning those hardware and software components that are the most complex and the most integral to your data’s foundation. Yet this hassle is validated by reduced costs to how you manage your data and OS. You can expect to see substantially lessened cost in software and hardware, naturally, but also in costs of labor as well. The monetary advantage of the switch ultimately overshadows the interruption required to make a successful switch.

What needs for quickness and space would your organization face in the cloud?

Unfortunately, creating virtual versions of several applications for use via the cloud remains impossible, as their hardware makeup (and operating speed requirements) prevents such a transition. Transferring these applications to cloud would not be feasible, and it might actually be worth considering remaining localized should managing your organization’s latency be a priority. Instead of endeavoring to relocate an entire operating system to the cloud, you may instead consider cherry-pick cloud services to accent the system, such as selecting your least-risk applications as candidates for a virtualization switch.

Should security concerns halt an effort to enter the cloud?

Firstly, you must remember that data protection begins with human surveillance; the choice of what data to place in the cloud, or anywhere online for that matter, must be carefully weighed. Moving into the cloud requires a tacit agreement with a relinquishing of 100%, watertight control over your data, as cloud computing (like almost every computing option) is by no means foolproof. If you consider your data to be especially sensitive, perhaps a complete transition into cloud should be conducted with baby steps and deliberation before each move.

By Jeff Norman

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