5 Keys to Automating Configuration Management for Application Infrastructure

One of the trends being discussed in business, among vendors and in the analyst community is the importance of automating the functions performed by IT. Growing demands by the business, tight budgets and compliance pressures together accentuate the need for IT to be more agile, efficient and responsive to business stakeholders.

Naturally, vendors rush into this environment, each touting the unique benefits of its solution set and the urgency to move forward immediately.  A key area targeted for IT automation is the area of ‘configuration management.’  As it relates to automating day to day IT functions, configuration management can mean many different things: patch management, server and network management or others.

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Deployment & Infrastructure Management

rajeshkumar created the topic: Deployment & Infrastructure Management
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Top 10 Infrastructure Monitoring Tools | List of Best Infrastructure Monitoring Tools

infrastructure-monitoring-tools
There are various types of tools used by DevOps professionals in their work environment from Continuous integration tools to Virtualization to configuration Management to monitoring and the list goes on and on. So today, we are going to talk about Infrastructure Monitoring tools. Which plays a vital role in the DevOps culture.
 
First of all lets see what is Infrastructure Monitoring ?
 
Infrastructure monitoring is a process in which Organisations IT framework is monitor by companies with the help of tools and softwares. This is essential so that you can make sure that your product availability is good and providing efficient services to customers or users. In other words, Infrastructure Monitoring tools help organisations to find and short-out infrastructure issues before it affect their businesses. It provides the insight status of physical, virtual, and cloud systems which helps in management of these things which ultimately helps in business processes.
 
Now, Let’s check out the major benefits of Infrastructure Monitoring Tools ?
 
1. Infrastructure monitoring tools help to detect the technical problems or outages before it occurs which helps engineers to act in advance accordingly so that it can not affect other things.
 
2. It also helps in quick troubleshooting. When problems happen the first thing engineers do is to troubleshoot them but they cannot do it without proper reports of the infrastructures and monitoring provides them end-to-end informations which helps them to short out the problem quickly.
 
3. This is beneficial when you need to go back to the history to find and choose amongst the infrastructure options for your organization. You can check all the previous monitoring details which helps to take better and firm decisions while selecting.
 
4. It helps in productivity of the human resources by providing them the automation which ultimately helps them to focus on the other things of the infrastructure management and making other strategies.
 
5. All these things which mentioned above ultimately helps the end users to use services smoothly which is very much necessary for running your business effectively and efficiently.
 
 
Now, as we all know there are various tools you can find for Infrastructure monitoring but to choose amongst them you need to do some research. But, don’t waste your time on research as I have done already the same and make my list of top 5 infrastructure monitoring tools.
 
Here is the list:-
 

1. Anturis

Anturis

 

Anturis is a cloud based monitoring tool which belongs to Anturis Inc. It’s like an all-in-one infrastructure monitoring tools which provides server monitoring, network monitoring, website monitoring and application monitoring.
 
Highlights
  • On-premise and cloud-based systems monitoring
  • Seamless agent-based and agent-less monitoring
  • Single dashboard monitoring for multiple data centers in different locations
  • Add many infrastructures and components easily as per needs and can streamline for different users
  • Smart alerts and notification that helps to eliminate “false” alerts and alert “spam”
 

2. AppDynamics

AppDynamics

 
AppDynamics is basically an Application infrastructure monitoring tool which belongs to AppDynamics Inc. but now it’s acquired by Cisco
 
Highlight
  • Provides Visibility into Server Performance
  • Visibility into Database Performance
  • Low overhead monitoring for both
  • Available for both on-premise and SaaS deployments
  • License flexibility to migrate across deployment models

3. BigPanda

BigPanda

BigPanda is also an Infrastructure monitoring tool from bigpanda.io which is founded in 2012 by Assaf Resnick & Elik Eizenberg. It uses algorithms to consolidate data across multiple monitoring systems.
 
Highlights
 
  • Ops-Aware Inbox: All your alerts organized, & updated in one place
  • Reduce Noisy Alerts: Snooze non-actionable alerts
  • Auto-correlate related alerts into high level incidents
  • Collaboration: Share, assign and track alerts
  • Advanced reporting and analytics
  • Trends, real-time activity log, and historical data in just a few clicks
  • Customized views for any app, team or business service
 
4. Boundary

Boundary

Boundary was founded by Cliff Moon & Benjamin Blacka. It is a consolidated operations management platform providing SaaS-based solutions for clients running apps and cloud infrastructures.
 
Highlights
  • Real-time trends of critical metrics
  • Pre-built library of event connectors, APIs for others
  • Early Warnings
  • Dashboard View
  • Analytics for trend analysis and anomaly detection
  • Easy to visualize response times between application tiers
 
5. CopperEgg or Uptime Infrastructure Monitor

CopperEgg

Copper egg was founded Scott Johnson, Eric Anderson & Bob Quillin in 2010 which is later in 2013 acquired by IDERA. It is now renamed to Uptime Infrastructure Monitor. You can monitor physical servers, virtual machines, network devices, applications, and services across multiple platforms running on-premise, remotely, or in the Cloud with the help of Uptime Infrastructure Monitor.
 
Highlights
  • Unified IT Dashboard
  • Customizable, drag-and-drop dashboards
  • Reports on app & server uptime
  • Proactive alerts & root-cause analysis
  • Team or role-specific dashboards
  • Cloud, on-premise or remote monitoring
  • Cloud monitoring incl. Amazon’s EC2 & Rackspace
  • Agentless and agent-based server monitoring
 
 
6. Datadog

Datadog

Datadog was founded in the 2010 by Olivier Pomel & Alexis Lê-Quôc. It provides monitoring for cloud-scale applications. It brings the data together from applications, cloud providers and specialized management tools in one location.
 
Highlights
  • Free Trial for an unlimited number of hosts
  • Out-of-the-box and customizable monitoring dashboards
  • Alert notifications via e-mail and PagerDuty
  • Full API access in more than 15 languages
  • Tools for team collaboration
  • Easy-to-use search for hosts, metrics, and tags
 
 
7. Nagios

Nagios

Nagios is a veteran Infrastructure monitoring tool which was released in 1999 which provides monitoring and alerting solutions for servers, switches, applications and services.
 
Highlights
  • Open source tool
  • Comprehensive monitoring
  • Powerful script APIs
  • Performance & capacity planning graphs
  • Advanced graphs & visualizations
  • Advanced user management
  • Extendable architecture
  • Reporting
 
8. New Relic

New Relic

New relic provides Complete dynamic infrastructure and server monitoring which is founded by Lew Cirne in 2008.
 
Highlights
  • Real-time health metrics for all your systems
  • Live-state Event Feed and a complete change history across all your hosts
  • Slice-and-dice by AWS tags, custom attributes, and metadata
  • Tag-driven alerting and dashboarding for all your dynamic resources
  • Infrastructure-wide search to find vulnerable packages or other resources
  • Docker support, including the ability to track container performance by image, version, and other labels
 
9. Icinga

Icinga

Icinga is an open source monitoring tool which was released in 2009 was originally created as a fork of the Nagios system monitoring application.
 
Highlights
  • Wealth of community-developed plugins
  • Stable codebase.
  • Monitoring of Network,Host and Server Components
  • Notification of contact persons when service or host problems occur and get resolved
  • Alerts transfer to other users or channels
  • Template based reports
  • Report repository with varying access levels and automated report generation and distribution
  • Clear-cut, object-based configuration
  • Clever commands & runtime macros
  • Apply & assign attributes
 
10. AppNeta

AppNeta

AppNeta also provides monitoring services and this was founded in 2000 by Irfhan Rajani and Matt Stevens. It’s provide SaaS-based application and network monitoring for any cloud, for every user and for all locations.
 
Highlights
  • Detailed performance trends in real-time
  • Real-User Monitoring
  • synthetic trends
  • Troubleshoot issues across the entire app network path
  • Proactive Alerts
  • Network Performance Monitoring
  • Provides visibility into AWS components, as well as the network they communicate over
 
So, That’s it. This is my list of top infrastructure monitoring tools and it will definitely help you while choosing them. But, if you think this list should contain any other tools instead of this than please share your list or views in comment section below.

Reference

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Cloud Computing Selection: Cloud Infrastructure Service Providers

cloud-computing-service-providers

There are list of solution which provides Cloud Infrastructures for Hardware as a service (HAAS) or Software as a Services(SAAS).

AllenPort
AllenPort’s technology handles file management chores like backup, file sharing, disaster recovery, remote access and managing user requirements.

AppZero
AppZero offers OS-free Virtual Application Appliances that are self-contained, portable units, meaning enterprises can experiment with moving applications to the cloud while avoiding cloud lock-in.

Boomi
Boomi and its AtomSphere connect any combination of cloud and on-premise applications without software or appliances.

CA
NetQoS’s monitoring prowess and Cassatt’s data center automation and policy-based optimization expertise, CA can boost the functionality of its Spectrum Automation Manger to let it manage network and systems traffic in both public and private cloud computing environments.

Cast Iron Systems

Cast Iron offers an option for integrating SaaS applications with the enterprise. That method, which involves configuration, not coding, can in some cases slash integration costs up to 80 percent.

Citrix
Citrix Cloud Center (C3) ties together virtualization and networking products, arming cloud providers with a virtual infrastructure platform for hosted cloud services. The service, which is available on a monthly, usage-based pricing model and support mode, is an architecture comprising five key components: a platform powered by Citrix XenServer; applications and desktop services via Citrix XenApp; delivery powered by Citrix NetScaler; a bridge using Citrix Repeater; and orchestration through Citrix Workflow Studio.

Elastra
Elastra makes software that enables enterprises to automate modeling, deployment and policy enforcement of the application infrastructure. Its products tie in with provisioning and virtualization tools. Elastra’s Enterprise Cloud Server software handles the management and provisioning of complex systems. Users can quickly model and provision application infrastructure; automate changes to the system deployment process; efficiently utilize internal, external and virtualized resources on demand and enforce IT policy rules. Elastra Cloud Server can also run on Amazon Web Services.

EMC
With its Atmos and Atmos onLine offerings, EMC is evangelizing its approach to the cloud to deliver scalability, elasticity and cost savings by building, virtualizing and deploying services and applications. Atmos onLine is a cloud storage service built on Atmos, EMC’s policy-based information management platform. EMC Atmos onLine provides Cloud Optimized Storage, or COS, capabilities for moving and managing large amounts of data with reliable service levels and in a secure fashion.

Informatica
Informatica basically pioneered cloud computing for data integration, offering a host of offerings for customers of various shapes and sizes. It offers fast and easy pay-as-you-go and pay-for-use options that let users move data into or out of the cloud or manage data within the cloud of from one app to another.

NetApp
Call it IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) or call it an enterprise cloud infrastructure. Data ONTAP 8, NetApp’s latest cloud computing infrastructure, ties together its two previously separate platforms: Data ONTAP 7G and Data ONTAP GX. It delivers improved data management functions and tighter integration with data center management systems. Ultimately, NetApp Data ONTAP 8 enables storage, server, network and applications layers to talk to each other.

New Relic
New Relic is running full throttle with its RPM offering, an on-demand performance management tool for Web applications. It takes only minutes to implement and offers visibility and code-level diagnostics for Web apps deployed in both private and public clouds, along with traditional and dedicated infrastructures, and any combination thereof. With RPM, New Relic delivers real-time metrics, unlocking the ability to monitor, troubleshoot and fine tune app performance in the cloud.

Novell
Novell is looking to the cloud to tie together all things IT. It is combining products like Moblin, a cloud-centric desktop OS developed by Novell and Intel; the SUSE Appliance Program, a program for ISVs to build software appliances and receive go-to-market support; Novell Cloud Security Service; and PlateSpin Workload Management Solutions for IT managers.

Open Nebula
This open-source toolkit fits snuggly into existing data center environments to build any type of cloud deployment. OpenNebula can be used to manage virtual infrastructure in the data center or to manage a private cloud. It also supports hybrid clouds to combine local infrastructure with public cloud infrastructure for hosting environments. Additionally, it supports public clouds by offering cloud interfaces to expose its functionality for virtual machine, storage and network management.

OpSource
OpSource is all about cloud operations, offering everything from an enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure to fully managed hosting and apps management. Essentially, OpSource Cloud is a virtual private cloud within the public cloud, giving users control over their degree of Internet connectivity. Meanwhile, OpSource On-Demand combines technical operations, application operations and business operations into a Web operations offering that includes application management, compliance and business services. Lastly, OpSource Billing CLM is a self-service offering for SaaS and Web customer on-boarding, subscription management and payment processing.

Paglo
This IT search and management service startup recently launched its Log Management application to let IT managers capture and store their logs as well as search and analyze them in the cloud. Paglo compares it to a Google-like search for logs, collecting data from all network devices. Paglo has also recently launched a new application to monitor Amazon EC2 application instances, such as disk reads and writes, CPU utilization and network traffic. Users can access the cloud-based information from any Web browser.

RightScale
RightScale’s Cloud Management Platform eases deploying and managing apps in the cloud and enables automation, control and portability. The platform helps users get into the cloud quickly with cloud-ready ServerTemplates and best-practice deployment architectures. And users retain complete visibility into all levels of deployment by managing, monitoring and troubleshooting applications. Lastly, RightScale’s Cloud Management Platform helps users avoid lock-in by letting them choose their deployment language, environment, stack, data store and cloud for portability.

Stoneware
Stoneware’s mission is simple: To enable organizations to move from a client-centric to a Web-based, private cloud computing environment. With products aimed specifically at core verticals education, healthcare, manufacturing, legal, financial and enterprise Stoneware offers private cloud technology that is being used to create solutions that enable organizations to access applications, content, data and services from anywhere in a secure fashion.

VMware
Last August, VMware acquired SpringSource which provides Web application development and management services. SpringSource speeds the delivery of applications in the cloud using a process that has become known as lean software. VMWare also acquired Hyperic, an open-source monitoring and troubleshooting vendor. The VMWare-SpringSource-Hyperic trifecta creates an amalgamation that ties together VMWare’s virtualization vision, SpringSource’s strong development tools and application servers as well as Hyperic’s monitoring.

Zeus Technology
Zeus gives users the ability to create, manage and deliver online services in cloud, physical or virtual environments, letting companies visualize and manipulate the flow of traffic to Web-enabled apps. And early this year, they will release the Zeus Cloud Traffic Manager so customers can monitor and control cloud usage, offering a single control point for distributed applications, reporting on datacenter usage and allowing for goals like cost, SLA, security and compliance to be applied.

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5 Keys to Automating Configuration Management for Application Infrastructure

automating-configuration-management-for-application-infrastructure

5 Keys to Automating Configuration Management for Application Infrastructure

One of the trends being discussed in business, among vendors and in the analyst community is the importance of automating the functions performed by IT. Growing demands by the business, tight budgets and compliance pressures together accentuate the need for IT to be more agile, efficient and responsive to business stakeholders.

Naturally, vendors rush into this environment, each touting the unique benefits of its solution set and the urgency to move forward immediately.  A key area targeted for IT automation is the area of ‘configuration management.’  As it relates to automating day to day IT functions, configuration management can mean many different things: patch management, server and network management or others.

One of the newer targets for configuration management techniques is the application layer itself.  Think about that great stack of software that comprises a contemporary J2EE application—application server, web server, database, middleware and so on—typically from different vendors.  But they all adhere to industry standards, right?  So they all must plug and play together nicely, right? Not really.

In fact to make the entire stack work effectively, there are many individual configuration files, each one with a long list of their own parameters, which need to be edited, tuned and controlled.  And because the set of software is so complex, each element is managed by its own specialist in isolation without much knowledge of the other pieces of the puzzle.

The combination of many software assets, configured manually without much knowledge of dependencies leads to predictable results.  Someone makes a change in one area while stability and performance problems show up elsewhere.  Once the problem crops up, a team of IT specialists will take hours, maybe days to track down the problem and provide the solution.  Analyst firms like Enterprise Management Associates and Forrester Research agree problems in the configuration of the application infrastructure are now one of the leading causes of downtime.

Some vendors and businesses are now focused on a comprehensive approach to tackling this problem. The five building blocks required are easy enough to understand:

  1. Discovery and mapping—What application element and software assets do I have in my environment? How are they configured, item by item?
  1. Change monitoring—Inform management not only about the applications that have changed, but tell them how they have changed.

 

  1. Release Management—Sometimes called ‘provisioning,’ this relates to the ability to model configuration changes to the application infrastructure and then deploy those changes consistently across all phases of the application life-cycle.
  1. Auditing and Reporting—Show the business that IT supports corporate governance initiatives, not only at the server and network level, but also at the critically important application layer.

 

  1. Integration with the IT environment—Insure that the tools for configuration management of the application infrastructure work seamlessly with your problem management system or your configuration management database.

1.‘Discovery’ is usually where these solutions should start—as long as they do not end there!  In order to provide the IT team with a solution to managing the thousands of configuration settings in a J2EE application stack, you need to have a repository of the environment itself, a working model that reflects your application infrastructure.  With this repository of data in place, IT can then begin to comprehend how the various elements on the application layer are actually

2.‘Change Monitoring’ represents a critical component of a configuration management solution for application infrastructure.  With so many servers, instances and individual parameters, the number of configuration items quickly runs to the thousands per application.

Change monitoring must identify not only that a component changed, it must also identify exactly where the change was made and on which server(s).  Right now, IT specialists comb through text files trying to figure this out when there’s an application outage or when the application can’t make the transition out of the lab and into production. At mValent we call this “Hack and Hope”– they hack into text files, make a change and hope that it resolves the problem.  Automation tools instead can be used not only to find the change, but to find only relevant changes, ignoring unimportant differences.

Another key component of change monitoring to be addressed would be the notion of versioning and roll-back.  This is a well understood capability that exists in source code control systems and was applied by Documentum among others to the content management problem.  Now, we should focus on providing versioning and roll-back to the thousands of configuration settings which comprise a J2EE application stack.  Rather than have IT scramble to figure out what has changed when there’s an outage, let’s just re-instate a known working version of all of the configuration settings.  Then, IT can take the analysis and resolution off-line without the pressure to restore service immediately.

3. ‘Release Management’ is an important forward-looking area of a configuration management solution for application infrastructure. Right now, IT teams use a mixture of scripts and manual methods to deploy changes to application infrastructure settings. New solutions look to apply true automation to this process, insuring that configuration changes are modeled, evaluated and approved prior to deployment. Release management also validates that the process applies changes correctly. This also offers automatic deployment of changes to configuration settings and provides ‘out of the box’ templates for deploying new versions of an application server or a complete J2EE application stack.

These tasks currently take days to achieve and are error-prone.  Applying automation reduces cost and time while advancing quality.

4. ‘Audit and Reporting’ in a configuration management solution for application infrastructure refers to a capability report on the application infrastructure at a detailed level.  This would include reporting on change activity—which applications are driving the most change and causing IT execs the most headaches with SLAs.  Currently, this information exists at the server and network level, but less commonly for the applications themselves where change and upheaval is more likely.

Audit and Reporting also measures how your application infrastructure complies with recommendations, standards or your best practices for how the infrastructure should be configured.  Which assets are in compliance? Which are out of compliance?

Solutions should also measure change activity. Who made the change, Why, When, and so on.  And, it would be appropriate to measure whether changes were made according to your change process or were made outside that process.

5. ‘Integration with your IT environment’ in a configuration management solution for application infrastructure refers to the ability of the solution to fit with the other elements in the IT ecosystem, like your problem and incident management system, your Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB), a source code management system or your corporate LDAP directory.

Ideally the solution will integrate directly with these items and create a ‘closed loop’ environment for managing change to the application infrastructure.  As an example, when a ticket is opened requesting a change to the configuration setting for the web server, the solution should automate the actual change process, include the ticket number in the reason for change and report back to the incident system so that the ticket can be closed.

This eliminates yet another manual process and opportunity for error in IT management.

Benefits & Summary.  The major benefits of a configuration management solution for application infrastructure relate to reducing complexity and promoting compliance for IT.  By transforming today’s manual, error-prone tasks into a sequence of automated processes, your IT team will see benefits in:

·  Improving the productivity of your IT Infrastructure Team, by upwards of 50% and enabling them to spend more time on new initiatives rather than fire-fighting

·  Accelerating time-to-value for applications by 25%

·  Improving the quality and uptime of your applications by reducing the key elements that cause most of today’s outages

·  Providing comprehensive best practices and compliance reports to management and stakeholders.

With today’s IT struggling to meet increasing demands without headcount increases, a configuration management solution for application infrastructure offers important sources of value. configured.  More important, IT can begin to understand the dependencies between, say, how the data base is configured and its impact on the application server.  Thus, application configuration problems can be averted before they arise.

 Source: http://www.cmcrossroads.com

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