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9 months ago

GSN Magazine June 2016 Digital Edition

Cybersecurity Guest

Cybersecurity Guest Expert Six tips for better unified IT monitoring in hybrid cloud environments By Adelle Rydman As Big Data becomes more prevalent in government – along with growing adoption of cloud services, and unprecedented volume of data moving across networks – there Cloud technology and mobile devices are adding to infrastructure complexity for government agencies. This year will see a big push to federal hybrid cloud environments. The security requirements that go along with this approach place even greater demands on infrastructure managers to ensure the security and reliability of IT services. The OMB recently released a memo on changes to procurement requirements. Based on that memo, IT management and procurement professionals must show how their purchases help the agency transition to cloudbased solutions. Practically speaking, the IT infrastructure for all government agencies – both civilian and military – will 28 increasingly incorporate cloudbased technologies. The demands on IT infrastructure created by this ongoing move to cloud calls for new ways to understand IT performance across a growing variety of IT platforms. Unfortunately, most agencies still use legacy monitoring solutions. These systems were designed for physical infrastructures. They lack the capacity to look across hybrid infrastructures to dynamically depict the health and status of a unified platform. That inhibits the ability to quickly determine the root cause of outages – and most importantly, to determine which IT services may be at risk. Without that understanding it’s impossible to prioritize necessary corrective actions. The bottom line is that Federal agencies can no longer rely on a series of siloed monitoring solutions, each covering only segments of the entire infrastructure. For agency professionals who are responsible for monitoring hybrid environments, here are some tips: 1. Understand your mission critical IT services and which infrastructure components they are dependent on. Not all IT services share the same level of criticality. It is important to identify and monitor your most critical IT services as more than just the individual components. 2. Determine which of your critical IT services can be best supported by physical and or cloud solutions or in some combination. Not all IT Services are suited to be moved to the cloud. 3. Understand how one component of your infrastructure

is impacted by other components. By working with tools that provide a common operating picture across your IT infrastructure as a whole, you will be able to quickly identify interdependencies. Without it, you have no insight on how something in your cloud environment (for example) may affect something within your physical infrastructure. 4. Complete a “Cloud Ready Assessment.” A cloud ready assessment considers all aspects of moving to the cloud, including increased IT complexity, security, upgrade costs, consultancy costs, and new integrations required – as well as unified monitoring, training, increased agility to meet mission demands and any expected IT efficiency gains. 5. Use tools, whether open source or commercial, for actionable intelligence to support your decisions on whether mission readiness is being compromised. Commercial tools that have been built on an open architecture typically provide the deepest levels of functionality, scalability and flexibility and will allow an agencies to more easily shift to support changing mission strategies and IT requirements without having to rip and replace. 6. Determine whether your IT monitoring needs are best met by open source or commercial solutions. Open source solutions are a growing trend in monitoring. By working with tools based on open architecture, agencies aren’t locked into any particular vendor stack and can readily shift from one cloud provider to another. Unless your program requirements are extremely unusual, it seldom makes financial sense to develop what a commercial provider has previously developed, deployed and is able to support. Make your best choice of what works for your organization, but understand that there is an argument for both agencies and contractors to give up the traditional approach to managing IT infrastructures as they move to the cloud. Cloud era monitoring tools 29 provide the ability to monitor both physical and cloud from a single platform. And over time, you’ll need to show that your IT management plans take the cloud mandate into account while managing your agencies budgetary constraints. Adopting monitoring tools that can monitor both environments ensures you stay compliant with technology mandates. As agencies embrace cloud environments, unified monitoring is becoming even more essential. No matter what’s in your physical and cloud environments, monitoring can reduce the number and severity of impacts to the trusted services you offer both your personnel and the citizens of the United States. Adelle Rydman is Director Federal Business for Zenoss. She can be reached arydman@zenoss.com