Survey: Cloud monitoring, management tools come up short

Cost and complexity are the top shortcomings of tools enterprises need for monitoring and managing their cloud services, according to Enterprise Management Associates.

(Editor’s note: Recent research by Enterprise Management Associates takes a look at how enterprises regard cloud management tools. This article by Shamus McGillicuddy, EMA’s research director for network management, details highlights of “Network Engineering and Operations in the Multi-Cloud Era,” a report based on EMA’s survey of 250 IT professionals and telephone interviews with a half dozen IT leaders.)

Three-out-of-four network managers say that at least one of their network monitoring tools has failed to address their requirements for monitoring the public cloud environments – perilous, given the extent of public-cloud adoption today.

Why network monitoring tools fail in the cloud

Cost and complexity were the top reasons given for cloud-monitoring failures. Forty-five percent said cloud support required additional software licenses or network monitoring tool modules, which they didn’t want to pay for. Forty-four percent indicated that cloud support in their tools was too difficult to implement or use. They simply couldn’t get value out of the updated tools.

“Due to complacency and limitations of the software itself, we had to get rid of [a tool],” one IT executive at a North American distributor of heavy, manufactured products told EMA. “It’s not worth the time and investment. We didn’t want to spend more money on a new version that was just a redux of an older version. I didn’t see any real progress in the product.”

Furthermore, 35 percent said their vendors had done a poor job of adding cloud-monitoring support to their tools, with the functional updates failing to meet their needs. And 28 percent said their vendors had failed to even establish a roadmap for cloud monitoring. Four years ago, vendor inaction in the cloud was common, but today it’s unacceptable.

IT faces network-management-tool proliferation

The public cloud has forced 84 percent of IT organizations to increase the number of network-management tools they use, according to EMA’s research. Among those enterprises that have grown their toolset, 96 percent are experiencing challenges as a direct consequence of that growth.

First, 40 percent report they are facing a heightened security risk because of all the tools they have deployed. There are more administrative privileges to maintain across tools, more data to collect, and a more diverse and sizable attack surface across tools. As they add tools, network managers need to establish best practices to protect the network from unauthorized administrative access.

Twenty-six percent named cost as a major headache. They simply have too many tools to buy and maintain. And 25 percent complained of a skills gap. As they add tools, network managers have to learn how to use them.

How to avoid trouble

Network managers can mitigate these problems by taking control. They shouldn’t wait for the cloud team to come to them for help with cloud engineering and operations. Instead, the network team should join the cloud team at the very beginning, before the enterprise even starts evaluating the possibilities of a cloud strategy.

EMA’s research found that network teams that get involved with a cloud strategy on “day zero” are the most likely (35 percent) to report that their existing monitoring tools met all their cloud requirements, in contrast to 18 percent of network teams that join a cloud effort during the research or planning phase. Having an early say in the direction of a cloud strategy will help the network team align that strategy with existing capabilities.

Also, identify the technical requirements that the cloud might demand of your tools as early as possible. EMA research found that scalability is the top business requirement driving tool strategies for managing and monitoring cloud networking. The number-two requirement is adaptability. Network monitoring tools must be able to support new abstractions, new cloud providers and new network software.

It may be inevitable that some tools will let you down. And new vendors will emerge that offer capabilities no incumbent vendor can offer. However, EMA advises network managers work as carefully as possible to extract value from their existing tools to mitigate complexity and control costs.

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