Applications deployed on a cloud do not behave the same as applications deployed on the users' premises. Cloud consumers are sometimes surprised to find that monitoring and remediating cloud performance issues is different from working with applications deployed on their premises. In fact, a CA Technologies colleague, Denise Dubie, writing recently on customer surveys, reported that monitoring is near the top of concerns with cloud implementations.
Customers are not the only ones who fret over monitoring cloud performance. The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) Cloud Management Working Group (CMWG) is developing the Cloud Infrastructure Management Interface (CIMI) to support a standard interface to IaaS. If CIMI follows the same pattern as the DMTF Open Virtualization Format (OVF), it will eventually become an ISO standard. CIMI manages the life cycle of machines, storage, and networks in an IaaS cloud, and it provides for establishing monitors on a CIMI-managed infrastructure.
(As a sidebar, this topic is near and dear to me as I'm writing a chapter on CIMI right now for the book I am working on, Cloud Standards, from CA Press and Apress.)
Monitoring: Interoperability's Hidden Barrier
One of the hidden barriers to interoperability is monitoring. Most IT shops are painfully aware that a service whose performance is not effectively managed can be disastrous. They are also aware that it is not trivial to set up adequate monitoring to ensure effective proactive and reactive performance management. If the monitoring infrastructure is not portable from cloud to cloud, the cloud consumer may become locked into a cloud vendor as effectively as if they were using a proprietary interface.
By including monitoring in CIMI we should be able to get around that issue. Not only will consumers be able to move services easily, but also if the CIMI working group does a good job, cloud consumers can expect their monitoring infrastructure to move as easily as the rest of their service infrastructure.
CIMI, at least in the May 2012 Work In Progress version, directly supports several entities for service monitoring: Events, Event Logs, Meters, Meter Configurations, Meter Templates, and Jobs. The CIMI interface creates and manages these entities. The intention is that the consumer will be able to deploy the monitoring infrastructure they need for their performance management uniformly and interoperably between clouds that support CIMI using the interface.
The CIMI interface could solve several problems for consumers:
- First, they can set up monitoring as part of the deployment rather than inserting it in post-deployment configuration.
- Second, they are able to take the monitoring configuration with them when they deploy to another CIMI supporting platform.
- Third, they can configure uniform performance monitoring reports that facilitate comparison of the performance of their own applications, which is usually more relevant and practical than abstract measures of performance that providers supply.
The future of a nascent standard is hard to predict, but when CIMI is widely adopted, moving services from one CIMI-managed cloud to another will become much less troublesome than it is today. Consumers can hope that public clouds and private cloud implementers will compete on price, features, and performance instead of relying on lock-in for consumer retention. CIMI offers the possibility of a cloud that will become a more viable and desirable platform for many consumers.