The summer of 2008 has been the best of times and worst of times for cloud computing. Many companies –- big and small — decided to throw in their lot with cloud computing, betting that it is the future of technology infrastructure. At the same time, cloud computing took its lumps as some of the early large-scale cloud applications hit the skids.
Apple’s MobileMe went on the blink for many while the GMail blackout that left millions angry and frustrated. Even Amazon’s seemingly fool proof S3 service was down for an extended period of time, impacting thousands of its customers. This isn’t the last we have seen of these outages. As the size and scope of cloud computing grows, so will the problems and the need for tools to monitor the clouds.
Enter San Francisco-based web infrastructure monitoring service provider Hyperic, which recently launched CloudStatus, a hosted real-time cloud monitoring service to keep an eye on cloud–based services. Thus far CloudStatus is monitoring Amazon’s web services, but sometime later today, the company will start monitoring Google’s App Engine infrastructure, a move that has been blessed by the search engine giant. The service, still in beta testing phase, is free for near foreseeable future, but company might charge for premium services at a later date.
To describe it in super-simplistic terms, this is how the service works: Hyperic has developed an application that runs on the Google App Engine and essentially sends all sorts of information to an agent sitting in Hyperic’s data center, which in turn passes it onto Hyperic’s main offering. Through a web-browser interface, folks can in turn keep an eye on the status of the cloud.
What will it do for Google App Engine users? Javier A. Soltero, CEO of Hyperic said that it will help users answer questions like “How fast is the App Engine cache service running?” or “What’s the response time to Facebook’s API from App Engines perspective?” and other such questions that can help keep apps healthy.
The company can do this is because it is based on agents that are deployed both inside and outside the “cloud infrastructure” and are specialized for the kind of services they monitor. A storage agent, for instance may monitor latency, throughput and remaining capacity. A compute engine agent would monitor load, availability and response times.
Taking measurements from both sides of the wall — that is, from inside the cloud providers operation, and from the outside looking in — gives Hyperic an advantage, says Soltero, who claims that it “picked up the Amazon S3 problems about 20 minutes before Amazon announced (the outage.)” He explained that the service is capable of monitoring any number of different clouds, and it will add more cloud providers to the list.
For Hyperic, CloudStatus is a chance to stand out amongst its competitors. While companies like Stubhub, Comcast and CNET have adopted Hyperics web monitoring tools, the company has little traction inside the enterprises. On the web-side, several companies such as Gomez, Keynote and Webmetrics offer Hyperic-like services.
Cloud computing, however, is a new game where Hyperic can make a play to win — though it would need to add depth and value to its offerings. After all, looming in the background is the distinct possibility that some day Amazon and Google will rollout their own monitoring services.