Structure 2010: Measure the Cloud, Manage the Cloud

Mo’ servers in the cloud, it turns out, mean mo’ problems. That’s one of the reasons why cloud computing users are increasingly relying on more sophisticated analytics and management software to help them see any potential problems and to help fine-tune the way the systems are working. As the analytics companies, including Scalr, Virtual Instruments, Adaptive Computing, Xangati, Cloudkick, and SpringSource, reiterated on a panel at the GigaOM Network’s Structure event on Wednesday, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Infrastructure management services help customers troubleshoot critical problems. The panelists agreed that oftentimes customers will come to them with a major issue that they need solved, but then will recognize the need for higher-level management services to fine-tune operations. Both critical problem-solving and fine-tuning can save customers a lot of money.

Michael A. Jackson, co-founder, president and COO of Adaptive Computing, said that managed infrastructure services can also “change your organization competitive stance your space.” Alex Polvi, CEO and co-founder of Cloudkick, pointed out that customers can use these services to help drive the development of their next-generation products. Polvi said one of his customers really liked the fact that Cloudkick’s analytics can provide graphs that show the real-time effect that a new piece of code has on the system and the graphs helped the customer shape the way he thought about product development.

Analytics can be especially important when it comes to deciding whether to work with a private, public or hybrid private/public cloud. They can help companies determine which type of cloud they want and need, and which service is working for them.

So what are the challenges with offering these analytics? Well, Jagan Jagannathan, founder and CTO of Xangati, said the biggest one is pulling out deep enough analytics across so many data feeds. “The challenge is gathering the same kind of data that the customer was used to before the cloud, on infrastructure that is removed from them,” said Jagannathan.

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