Monitoring as a Service (MaaS) in the Cloud – Does it Work?

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IT infrastructure monitoring should an essential part of the IT Management Policy for an organization that is reliant on IT infrastructure. Proactive monitoring provides business continuity, quicker disaster recovery, and easier capacity planning for all mission-critical applications.

Monitoring as a Service (MaaS) in the Cloud is a concept that combines the benefits of cloud computing technology and traditional on-premise IT infrastructure monitoring solutions. MaaS is a new delivery model that is suited for organizations looking to adopt a monitoring framework quickly with minimal investments.




Traditional On-Premise Monitoring Framework

On-premise monitoring is the traditional deployment model for monitoring private networks (internal IT infrastructure). This has been a very effective model over the years and works well for an organization that can afford to implement this monitoring framework. On-premise monitoring involves the purchase of software tools and investing in monitoring infrastructure and skilled IT personnel.

On-Premise monitoring provides the following benefits:

  • In-House Monitoring Infrastructure: Customers can own the in-house infrastructure for monitoring. This implies more control over the infrastructure with regards to upgrades, maintenance, and management
  • Higher Levels of Security: Since the monitoring infrastructure is located in-house, the customer gets better security where the monitoring tool does not need to cross firewall domains and connect over the open internet.
  • Inherent Connectivity to Internal Assets: Monitoring infrastructure is already a part of the internal network (LAN and MPLS). Hence connecting to all the infrastructure assets is easy.
  • Real-Time Monitoring Data: On-premise monitoring provides real-time data where alerts are generated and shown to the customer immediately. The monitoring dashboard and email servers are all within the customer premise and hence there are no delays.
  • Customization and Extensions: On-premise monitoring solutions can be heavily customized to meet the exact needs of a specific customer environment. This could be in the form of monitoring of custom applications or personalized dashboards and escalation matrices.

When to Use On-Premise Monitoring

On-Premise monitoring is suitable for the following situations:

  • The customer wants to own the monitoring infrastructure: In scenarios where the customer is willing to invest in the monitoring infrastructure, some customers prefer to own the monitoring infrastructure. On-Premise monitoring is the only option in such cases.
  • The customer has the expertise and IT personnel: Customers may already have the expertise in setting up and managing a monitoring framework in-house. If the customer has the IT personnel to manage the monitoring framework, then on-premise monitoring is a good option.
  • Customer is sensitive about data: For customers in data-sensitive sectors such as Banking, Finance, Government and Healthcare, access to data is restricted due to regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and FIPS. In those scenarios, on-premise monitoring is the only option since no data is transferred outside the organization.
  • There are many custom applications running: To monitor customized applications, even the monitoring tool must be customized. It is easy to customize an on-premise monitoring solution as compared to a hosted monitoring solution.

The Adoption of Cloud and Software as a Service Delivery Models

Cloud computing has been evolving into different technology areas such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). These technology areas are finding increasing adoption in the marketplace.

A recent report published by IDC has indicated that the Cloud Computing market is expected to cross $100 billion by end of 2014.

The economic drivers for the adoption of Cloud Technologies have been well understood in the market.

  • Lower Investments: Cloud offerings typically have very low upfront costs. All SaaS product offerings are charged on a pay per use monthly subscription basis, which implies a lower cost of ownership.
  • No Infrastructure Costs: Cloud service offerings use cloud-based infrastructures such as Amazon or Rackspace or a private cloud. Hence the customer does not have to bear the cost of the infrastructure setup with cloud services.
  • Outsourced Technology Expertise: With cloud offerings, customers get ready to use a product that can be immediately consumed by the end-user. The customer does not need to invest in an in-house IT team having that particular technical expertise.
  • Simplified Management: With offerings in the cloud, the service provider deals with on-going management, maintenance, and upgrades of technology. The customer can focus on his core business needs.

Monitoring as a Service Offering

The monitoring as a service (MaaS) offering provides a monitoring solution based on a monitoring infrastructure in the cloud. The MaaS vendor invests in the monitoring framework including the hardware, monitoring software, and specialized IT personnel on behalf of the customer. The customer just needs to pay for the service he wants to use – on a subscription model similar to any SaaS product offering.

Benefits of Monitoring as a Service (MaaS)

The following are the benefits of monitoring as a service (MaaS) product:

  • Ready to Use Monitoring Tool Login: The vendor takes care of setting up the hardware infrastructure, monitoring tool, configuration, and alert settings on behalf of the customer. The customer gets ready to use login to the monitoring dashboard that is accessible using an internet browser. A mobile client is also available for the MaaS dashboard for IT administrators.
  • Inherently Available 24x7x365: Since MaaS is deployed in the cloud, the monitoring dashboard itself is available 24x7x365 that can be accessed anytime from anywhere. There are no downtimes associated with the monitoring tool.
  • Easy Integration with Business Processes: MaaS can generate an alert based on specific business conditions. MaaS also supports multiple levels of escalation so that different user groups can get different levels of alerts.
  • Cloud Aware and Cloud Ready: Since MaaS is already in the cloud, MaaS works well with other cloud-based products such as PaaS and SaaS. MaaS can monitor Amazon and Rackspace's cloud infrastructure. MaaS can monitor any private cloud deployments that a customer might have.
  • Zero Maintenance Overheads: As a MaaS, customer, you don’t need to invest in a network operations center. Neither do you need to invest an in-house team of qualified IT engineers to run the monitoring desk since the MaaS vendor is doing that on behalf of the customer.

When to Use Monitoring as a Service (MaaS)?

Monitoring as a service (MaaS) is an attractive choice for the following scenarios:

  • Price Sensitive Customers: For small and medium enterprises, MaaS provides cost-effective pay per use pricing model. Customers don’t need to make any heavy investments neither in capital expenditures (capex) nor in operating expenditures (opex).
  • Cloud-Based SaaS and PaaS offering Add-On: MaaS provides a better technology fit for monitoring cloud-based SaaS and PaaS offerings. MaaS can be provided as an add-on product offering along with SaaS and PaaS.
  • Distributed Infrastructure Assets: In scenarios where the IT infrastructure assets are distributed across different locations and branch offices, MaaS is a good option since the monitoring infrastructure is centralized in the cloud and can easily monitor all distributed infrastructure assets.
  • A mixture of Cloud and On-Premise Infrastructure: MaaS is already in the cloud. Hence in deployments where the customer has a mix of on-premise and cloud infrastructure, MaaS provides good monitoring options for the hybrid environment.
  • Multitenant Monitoring Requirements: For vendors offering multi-tenant functionality on their hosted services, MaaS provides a strong backend framework for monitoring the multi-tenant services and their availability.

Infrastructure Assets that can be Monitored using MaaS

MaaS is capable of monitoring all aspects of IT infrastructure assets.

  • Servers and Systems Monitoring: Server Monitoring provides insights into the reliability of the server hardware such as Uptime, CPU, Memory, and Storage. Server monitoring is an essential tool in determining functional and performance failures in infrastructure assets.
  • Database Monitoring: Database monitoring on a proactive basis is necessary to ensure that databases are available for supporting business processes and functions. Database monitoring also provides performance analysis and trends which in turn can be used for fine-tuning the database architecture and queries, thereby optimizing the database for your business requirements.
  • Network Monitoring: Network availability and network performance are two critical parameters that determine the successful utilization of any network – be it a LAN, MAN, or WAN network. Disruptions in the network affect business productivity adversely and can bring regular operations to a standstill. Network monitoring provides pro-active information about network performance bottlenecks and source of network disruption.
  • Storage Monitoring: A reliable storage solution in your network ensures anytime availability of business-critical data. Storage monitoring for SAN, NAS, and RAID storage devices ensures that your storage solution is performing at the highest levels. Storage monitoring reduces downtime of storage devices and hence improves the availability of business data.
  • Applications Monitoring: Applications Monitoring provides insight into resource usage, application availability, and critical process usage for different Windows, Linux, and other open-source operating systems based applications. Applications Monitoring is essential for mission-critical applications that cannot afford to have even a few minutes of downtime. With Application Monitoring, you can prevent application failures before they occur and ensure smooth operations.
  • Cloud Monitoring: Cloud Monitoring for any cloud infrastructure such as Amazon or Rackspace gives information about resource utilization and performance in the cloud. While cloud infrastructure is expected to have higher reliability than on-premise infrastructure, quite often resource utilization and performance metrics are not well understood in the cloud. Cloud monitoring provides insight into exact resource usage and performance metrics that can be used for optimizing the cloud infrastructure.
  • Virtual Infrastructure Monitoring: Virtual Infrastructure based on common hypervisors such as ESX, Xen or Hyper-V provides flexibility to the infrastructure deployment and provides increased reliability against hardware failures. Monitoring virtual machines and related infrastructure gives information around resource usage such as memory, processor, and storage.

MaaS Offerings from Altnix

Altnix offers comprehensive monitoring as a service (MaaS) product portfolio for customers across the world. MaaS from Altnix can monitor all infrastructure assets including Servers, Databases, Operating Systems, Network devices, Applications, and Storage devices. Altnix MaaS can monitor cloud infrastructures such as Amazon and Rackspace IaaS offerings as well as PaaS offerings from other leading providers such as Oracle, Netsuite, and Microsoft.

MaaS from Altnix provides 24x7 monitoring coverage with alerts and escalation workflows that can be customized for individual customer requirements. Altnix MaaS offerings provide a ready-to-use, cost-efficient monitoring offering that is flexible, scalable and covers the majority of infrastructure deployment options.

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