Key Considerations for Application Management in the Cloud

When deploying to the cloud, successful companies don’t only focus on immediate cost savings. They also focus on operations efficiency, application security and improving overall agility. The cloud delivers on these three important promises, and it offers a bonus improved application management. With this, the cloud goes a long way toward also saving on future costs.

Data Center vs. Cloud-based Management

When most developers think of data center management, they think of application management. This includes monitoring and managing applications, including deployments, application performance, watching for and handling software failures and working to stay informed about the status of business-critical applications.

While these are important tasks, the work involved in data center management doesn’t end here. It also includes network and server hardware management (install, service and replace) and facilities management in the form of controlling building, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, physical security and access systems, and so on. Add to that the complex work of intelligent capacity planning for all of the above, while working within corporate budgets and hierarchy, and it’s clear that managing a data center is a substantial job.

Contrast this with the public cloud, where facilities management, capacity planning and holistic monitoring are someone else’s problems, and moving workload to the cloud quickly becomes an attractive option for many companies. This explains why, when developers were asked whether they were developing for the cloud, 68% said they were already doing so.

Public vs. Private Cloud Management

Before choosing between a public and a private cloud, consider the following:

  • Security: Is your data too critical to house externally?
  • Accessibility: Do you need the ability to “touch” the hardware and OS platform?
  • Platform choice: Are you vendor dependent (i.e., CPU architecture, OS type and so on)?
  • Software platform: Does your cloud vendor provide good levels of support and capabilities for your app platform (i.e., Java, PHP, .Net)?
  • Real-time notifications: Can you define, receive and process application events as they happen?
  • Dashboards: Does your vendor support deep views into your app’s performance and runtime statistics?

Once you’ve moved to the cloud, there are new issues to consider. For example, how will you manage application deployments? How will you administer and manage cloud-based applications with the same level of rigor as internal systems? How will you identify response latency, scalability issues and other performance bottlenecks? Can you manage network infrastructure, storage management and service disruptions? Additionally, how do you manage security and access control when the environment isn’t under your direct control? Cloud management includes monitoring application and performance, managing security and compliance, enabling failover and handling disaster recovery. The complexity this creates in turn demands a flexible and scalable cloud application platform and toolset. The public cloud mainly shifts the management focus from hardware to software (namely, an organization’s applications). Having the best app management tools and capabilities furthers efficiency, cost savings and overall success.

Additionally, management tools need to be as available and performance-minded as the cloud strategy they are used in. Let’s examine these considerations and explore how to best leverage the public cloud for business-critical PHP applications.

Application Performance Management

With any application, detecting performance problems that have an impact on users is important. This is even more critical with cloud applications since additional factors can affect performance, including server virtualization, resource sharing and usage spikes. Effective management requires tools with real-time monitoring to alert you to performance issues before users notice any problems, giving you the ability to respond before it’s too late.

Network Management

Beyond application-specific issues, you need to monitor the connectivity between users and servers. This includes Internet connectivity, network traffic within your cloud vendor’s infrastructure and users’ own network bottlenecks. Your management tools need to discover bottlenecks and environmental changes and help you resolve them in real time.

Storage Management

If your application uses cloud-based shared storage, your management strategy needs to measure latency and capacity in this area as well. Storage administration includes backup monitoring, capacity planning and a simple restore procedure in case of any emergencies.

Cluster and Configuration Management

A cloud solution requires complex administration of both physical and virtual server instances and cluster-wide configuration. Your management tools should help you spin up new server instances with the correct configuration through an automated process. They should also notify you when changes are made to your cloud environment. This includes servers added or removed from your application cluster, or when any server’s configuration is out of sync.

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