The cloud promises compelling business advantages such as better cost–efficiency, faster response times, and easier access to resources. At the same time, migration represents some formidable unknowns:
How will application performance be impacted? Will operating in the cloud introduce new security risks? Were we better off before?
Throughout the process, companies need a reliable means of baselining, modeling, and comparing application performance, security, and the user experience delivered by cloud–based systems to those achieved in the physical world.
Optimizing performance throughout cloud migration requires different tools and techniques at different stages:
Before you migrate…
The only way to know how migrating applications to the cloud will impact application performance is to take a look and measure quality before you do it. Ixia’s Hawkeye™ performance monitoring solution gives IT teams the ability to see how a service will act upon being moved from one environment to an other.
This is achieved by installing software–based agents within the prospective new cloud–based system and using them to measure the end–user quality of experience (QoE). Running realistic transactions across the system lets IT see what users will see to aid in fine–tuning configurations and eliminating blind spots—without impacting users or placing company assets at risk.
Using Hawkeye agents, IT can assess and compare performance in the existing physical and intended cloud environments from a desktop PC. First, they can run applications to internal servers where applications are currently hosted, then run the same application through their cloud provider’s network and measure the difference.
Maintaining performance in production clouds
Like the physical network, the cloud environment continues to change. The successful migration of an application or service needs to be followed up with ongoing visibility into performance and security.
Virtual visibility improves customers’ ability to do both by:
- Equipping them to detect problems before they impact users
- Helping them hold providers accountable
- Maintain compliance
In physical networks, access to data used to monitor and troubleshoot performance is achieved using physical taps deployed on individual links. In the cloud, virtualized versions of taps capture and aggregate the same types of data from virtual machines (VMs) within hypervisors.
Ixia’s Phantom™ Virtualization Taps (vTaps) aggregate data from VMs and send it to the same Ixia network packet brokers (NPBs) used to intelligently distribute data to security and monitoring tools in the physical network. Tools then receive the exact mix of data from physical and virtual links that they need to make precisely the right decisions.
With vTaps in place, users don’t need to wait or rely upon service providers such as Microsoft and Amazon to supply the performance data needed to troubleshoot issues.
Tenants can deploy vTaps on their own to eliminate blind spots, maintain audit trails, and preview the user experience with services such as Office 365 and Rackspace. While they don’t control the back end so to speak, users can maintain “agents” to prequalify and run through scenarios before they actually migrate applications and equip IT to keep a close eye on how services are performing at all times.
Ongoing visibility intelligence also delivers the data needed to verify that customers are actually receiving the level of service promised by cloud providers.
Case in Point: Healthcare Provider Saves Time and Money Analyzing Virtual Data
A large US health insurance provider to more than one million people uses server virtualization technology to optimize scale and efficiency. With its network 95% virtualized, the carrier required visibility to secure traffic between virtual machines, and to filter out patient data as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
In upgrading its compliance processes, the company wished to evaluate performance analytics solutions from multiple leading vendors using serial testing of each tool during a 12–month period. To evaluate results, the company knew it needed visibility into its virtualized infrastructure. They looked at installing physical taps, but quickly realized the limitations of this approach.
“If we had tapped the physical links, we would have seen too much and not enough,” a Senior Network Engineer at the company explained. “Regulations and policies prohibit that.”
The company needed a way to copy only specific virtualized network traffic with minimal affect to the performance of the hosts and VMs. “We had achieved scale, and we didn’t want to re–evaluate our capacity assumptions of the entire data center just to copy virtual traffic,” said one Senior Network Engineer.
The company then tried a virtual tap solution and encountered a 30% performance loss. Finally, they found and deployed Ixia Phantom™ Virtualization Taps (vTaps) and network packet brokers (NPBs) to selectively filter and monitor only the traffic the company wanted to see. The solution maintained compliance by enabling analyze while securing virtualized data without impacting protected data.
With the Ixia visibility infrastructure in place, Ixia recommended a change to the original Proof of Concept (PoC) plan that allowed the provider to evaluate all of its prospective new performance monitoring solutions simultaneously. The Ixia NPB captured filtered packets from Phantom vTaps and replicated it to each of the tools under evaluation.
Performing a head–to–head test took approximately one month instead of the eleven originally estimated, which in turn led to savings of some $300K to select the right tool within just 30 days. And unlike the alternative solution, Phantom vTaps provided full visibility without impacting network performance. Virtually filtering traffic also helped to improve network utilization during the exporting of data for analysis.
To discuss how Iris Networks can help you with your cloud migration strategy, CONTACT US today!