Who is taking the lead to the Clouds? Telcos, ISPs, MSPs or Enterprises?

If a book seller like Amazon can succeed as a cloud provider, why are telecoms so slow to get into the game?
 
I suspect the barriers are more cultural than technical. Telecoms seem cautious to jump into new markets.  The Cloud is attracting some big industry players, but that’s not the real reason. Competition is not the fear.  It is the memories of the dotcom crash and how telecoms didn’t succeed in the Internet services space.  ISPs and MSPs filled that void.

Cloud is a pure network infrastructure play, and telecoms should feel comfortable there; it’s where they are making their living. What’s more, telecom service providers know a great deal about managing software in big data centers – so the stars are aligned.

However, this management software is leveling the playing field.  These ISPs and MSPs are building out the data centers just like their telecom brothers.  And larger Enterprises are comfortable running their own data centers too.  The Cloud looks like a data center, acts like a data center, even smells like one.

Application Performance Monitoring is the key to controlling the Cloud

Great progress has been made in the development of robust tools and APIs to support the cloud, so there’s no reason why a Telco, ISP or MSP can’t enter the cloud business in a few short months – and do it affordably.

One key enabler is application performance monitoring (APM). You simply must have real-time visibility into the health and capacity of web servers, databases, application servers, virtual and cloud environments so you can turn up more infrastructures before the end user experience degrades.  If an Enterprise has an IT system worth protecting, they are (should be) using APM.

In the case of offloading cloud services, one can connect directly to Amazon Web Services (AWS) service using their APIs.  These APIs allow you to collect full performance metrics and APM can tell you what’s happening in the Amazon cloud infrastructure.

The beauty of the latest APM solutions is they can discover applications in the Amazon cloud, analyze the metrics, and automatically trigger actions such as restarting or stopping an Amazon server when certain capacities or thresholds are met.

Automation of cloud provisioning is a great leap forward regardless if it’s outsourced or if you are rolling out your own private cloud.  The whole purpose of cloud and virtual computing is to take advantages of economies of scale. In a similar way, APM’s ability to automate resource provisioning delivers additional “human” economies of scale. Imagine what a burden it would be for a system administrator to login and manually turn resources up or down. And if your cloud environment scales to dozens or hundreds of cloud instances, productivity would suffer.

Building Your Own Private Cloud and Employing Virtual Environments

Leveraging Amazon or another cloud provider’s infrastructure is certainly the fastest way to get into the cloud market. But longer term, most will build their own infrastructure and use software such as VMware, Hyper-V or Citrix XenServer. 

Similar to Amazon cloud control, APM software supports health and performance and the automated provisioning. Basically, the user creates a script for a particular “action” in the APM. If the number of active sessions on a Tomcat server shoots up, the APM can initiate the action on VMware to restart a virtual machine. Other capacity thresholds could trigger actions.  CPU utilization going over 80%, memory running low, or disk space coming close to full capacity.

Another nice thing about the latest APM software is it’s completely user configurable. Based on historical trending, you can set capacities to manage and control 50+ out-of-the-box apps and servers in your cloud environment – all from one system console.

Conclusion

We know the systems and networking people grumble about the Cloud.  We know C Level people want more productivity and think the Cloud can be an answer without knowing what it takes.  We know end user apps and bandwidth demands will increase.  We also know the cloud is a freight train picking up speed and those who get in game early will learn some valuable lessons, will realize the economies of scale and save money.

Looking back, APM tools have made great progress over the years.  Remember the “self-healing networks” that IBM promoted in the early to mid 2000s? Application Performance Monitoring was a key technology behind that.   And the difference today is that it costs in the tens of thousands of dollars instead of millions.

Whether you leverage Amazon’s cloud, a partner’s cloud, or one you build yourself, an APM solution coupled with automated resource provisioning could save you months of development time and get you into the cloud faster so you can gain experience and beat your rivals to market.  And we don’t mind who you are.  ManageEngine software can handle the Telco, ISP, MSP or the Enterprise.

Eric Wegner
Business Development Manager

20+ year veteran of the software industry and has 12 years of experience with ZOHO Corp., working on high performance and complex network management infrastructures for enterprises, network equipment manufacturers, service providers and military.

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