If there’s one thing worse than a platform outage, it’s hearing about the outage from a third party. Learning that your site is down via a concerned phone call from an investor or customers sounding off on social media is not a good experience. Yet it happens all too frequently for many organisations.
Poor platform performance and outages annoy customers and damage brand reputation. If the situation is left unchecked, the business impact can be significant. A scaling business may find it harder to secure new rounds of funding; if service level agreements are missed there may be financial repercussions; ultimately, customers might look to other providers to meet their needs.
Clearly, it’s better to identify and rectify problems before they escalate into a major event. But this proves difficult for many organisations. What is the root cause of poor cloud-based platform performance and what can be done about it?
Cloud adoption headaches
For many businesses, moving to the cloud doesn’t solve all the problems they hoped it would. In fact, it can create new and bigger issues that are hard to resolve. The early stage of cloud adoption – when new applications are typically built in the cloud – may have gone smoothly enough. However, things can start to unravel after a largescale migration.
Much of the time, challenges boil down to incompatibility issues between the application platform and the cloud environment. This can be especially apparent after a lift-and-shift migration where the legacy application isn’t modernised to leverage cloud benefits and may not be able to function properly. Or problems might run deeper than the application itself and originate in the database that underpins it.
The bottom line is that technical debt which went unnoticed in the former environment suddenly raises its head. This causes clunky performance and can result in unplanned downtime incidents which occur with alarming regularity or take a long time to fix.
Cloud-based monitoring and analytics
Monitoring performance on an ongoing basis is essential for the effective management of a cloud-based platform. This is just as relevant for cloud-native platforms purpose-built for the cloud as it is for migrated applications earmarked for modernisation. A decent monitoring solution reduces uncertainty, enabling more focused management and maintenance. It differentiates between issues that could escalate if they’re not resolved fast and those that can be left for another day. Over time, it enables workloads to be optimised and prioritised to achieve a cycle of continual improvement.
At DevOpsGroup, we use cloud-native monitoring and analytics from Datadog to drive this best-practice approach. It enables integrated, automated monitoring of application performance and the wider infrastructure to provide a real-time view of the entire technology stack. (We were the first UK organisation to be appointed as a Datadog’s Gold MSP Partner, read about it here.)
Expert cloud-based operations support
One of the most important things to understand about the cloud is that managing cloud-based platforms is completely different to managing a traditional datacentre. Not all organisations appreciate this when they undertake all-in cloud adoption or large-scale cloud migration. Consequently, they may lack the necessary skills and experience to build operational maturity, and performance is impaired.
With cloud engineering skills at a premium, working with a third party can be the most effective and cost-efficient way to overcome this challenge. The secret is to find a cloud managed services organisation that collaborates with your in-house team, that gets to know your system and cares about its performance. In other words, a partner not a provider.
Joining forces with a cloud managed services expert that immerses itself in your business enables emerging issues to be rectified more quickly. For instance, knowledge of recent updates gives them a head start identifying the root cause of any associated problems.
The benefits can extend beyond this. As well as resolving issues quickly, they can stop them from arising in the first place. If they know when you anticipate spikes in traffic, they can put measures in place to handle the additional demand. Similarly, if you’re planning to invest in new technology they can advise on the potential repercussions and offer best practice guidance.
Advanced operations management
When internal staff lack the necessary knowledge, tools and working practices to make a success of cloud-based platforms, everyone suffers. The IT team spends too much time fighting fires and dealing with unplanned work. Business leaders get frustrated that the investment in cloud adoption hasn’t delivered on its promises. This can result in a soul-destroying loop where one problem leads to another and the overall picture never seems to improve.
To avoid long term damage, this situation needs to be turned around at the earliest opportunity. Effective cloud-based monitoring and expert cloud-based operations support is the best way forward. It means you’re the first to know when performance issues arise. It gives you the ability to take control before problems have a detrimental impact. And more importantly, it creates a situation where problems diminish over time.