One of the big advantages of cloud services is that your company doesn’t need to operate servers on your premises in order to run key business software and services. However, you still need to track the performance of service delivery.
If you signed up for cloud infrastructure because you don’t want to run your own servers or hire technicians, then the news that you need to monitor that infrastructure might be an unwelcome revelation. It would be tragic if you were expected to buy servers and hire IT staff just to monitor the IT assets that you subscribe to on the Cloud. However, there are plenty of cloud-based services that will help you to monitor your cloud-based system. You still don’t need to start up an in-house IT section.
Here is our list of the six best cloud infrastructure monitoring tools:
- AppOptics Infrastructure EDITOR’S CHOICE A server performance monitoring system with application monitoring also available. A cloud-based service that can monitor cloud resources and also in-house infrastructure.
- Pingdom (FREE TRIAL) A website availability and response time tester that launches status checks from 100 locations around the world.
- Datadog Infrastructure An IT infrastructure monitor that will watch resource performance no matter where they are located. Delivered from the cloud.
- Paessler PRTG A complete infrastructure monitoring service that can supervise cloud services. Available as a cloud-based service or as on-premises software.
- Dynatrace A cloud-based infrastructure monitor that watches cloud resources as well as onsite infrastructure and website performance.
- Atera A complete monitoring system that supports managed service providers. This service is based in the cloud.
Why monitor Cloud infrastructure?
The sales pitches of cloud services explain that the hosting company takes all of the hassles of running servers off your shoulders. So, why are you then expected to monitor them?
There is less pressure on you over the physical performance of cloud servers. However, there are still aspects of cloud services that are your responsibility. Ultimately, you are responsible for all of your business’s infrastructure and strategies. If your business fails, you carry the can. So, you have the duty to ensure that everything is working smoothly.
Many cloud services offer performance guarantees. However, if you read the fine print, you will notice that those “guarantees” are not backed with financial compensation, so they are aspirations, not guarantees. Where providers offer refunds for missed performance targets, they frequently specify that each customer has to put in a claim – the compensation is not awarded automatically. So, how do you know if performance drops to a level where you are entitled to a refund? You need to check the performance of the service yourself.
Automated cloud infrastructure monitoring
Fortunately, cloud infrastructure monitoring isn’t as time-consuming or as complicated as you might think. There are automated tools available that do all of the work for you. These tools incorporate an alerting mechanism. That means that you can be sure of peak performance unless you are notified otherwise.
Another big help when monitoring cloud services is that those resources are not based on your own premises and so the monitoring tools that you use don’t need to be hosted in your offices either. A lot of cloud infrastructure monitoring services are cloud-based themselves.
If you are monitoring a website, then the best location to launch your status checks from is anywhere in your office. No doubt, your staff and you check on the website many times a day. Part of the daily tasks of running a website involves referring to the pages on the site. So, manual availability checking is a built-in side benefit of those tasks. However, that doesn’t mean that your site is available everywhere in the world.
Increasingly, governments and internet service providers are blocking websites. As a site owner, you don’t know that your site might not be available in another part of the country or to subscribers to ISPs other than your own or in other countries. So, getting someone else to check whether your website is available from somewhere else is an important performance test. Your new page might load quickly on the computers in your offices, but how is it performing for visitors accessing it from the other side of the world?
There are many performance checks that can be carried out off-site and there are many cloud-based service providers that are ready to provide those monitoring systems.
The best cloud monitoring tools
You can read more about each of these tools in the following sections.
AppOptics Infrastructure specializes in monitoring cloud infrastructure and it operates from the cloud itself. This system monitoring service focuses on the performance issues of a cloud server that are important to a subscriber, such as delivery speeds and processor capacity. While AppOptics Infrastructure focuses on servers, another package, called AppOptics APM, offers application monitoring and it also includes the Infrastructure plan.
The AppOptics system is very easy to set up. All requirements to get your servers included in the system are guided. The screens for the system are self-explanatory with a lot of color-coded graphics. The service judges acceptable performance thresholds, but the user can change those. If a threshold gets tripped, you get notified by an alert, so you can leave AppOptics to monitor regular service and then get your attention when problems emerge.
As well as monitoring cloud servers, the AppOptics Infrastructure system is capable of supervising your on-premises servers, no matter where they are. This means that the package has on-premises/cloud hybrid monitoring capabilities. There aren’t many network monitoring features in AppOptics as it is designed with cloud services in mind; where the Internet takes the role of the network.
The dashboard for AppOptics is accessed through any standard web browser and so it is possible to check on server performance from anywhere. The main screen of the system offers a summary of all servers included in the monitoring. This gives a consolidated check on all servers, no matter where they are.
The AppOptics system can be customized by activating specialized service add-ons. These extra services are free and they are called inclusions. They add extra sensors to the monitoring system and specialist service screens to the dashboard. Two important examples of these add-ons are the integrations available for AWS and Azure.
AppOptics Infrastructure is charged for by subscription with a rate per month and a lower monthly rate for those who pay annually. However, the selection subscription period has to be paid for upfront. There is no deposit requirement and no minimum service period. You can get a 30-day free trial of AppOptics Infrastructure.
AppOptics Infrastructure is our top recommendation for a cloud infrastructure monitoring tool because it is easy to set up and very easy to operate. You don’t need to be a technical expert to monitor cloud servers when AppOptics is engaged because it watches over many servers simultaneously, presenting all important metrics live in attractive and easy to follow color-coded graphics. The subscription pricing of AppOptics makes this an affordable option for those who don’t want to spend money upfront to get full infrastructure monitoring services. Start 30-day Free Trial: my.appoptics.com/sign_up OS: Cloud-based
AppOptics Infrastructure is our top recommendation for a cloud infrastructure monitoring tool because it is easy to set up and very easy to operate. You don’t need to be a technical expert to monitor cloud servers when AppOptics is engaged because it watches over many servers simultaneously, presenting all important metrics live in attractive and easy to follow color-coded graphics. The subscription pricing of AppOptics makes this an affordable option for those who don’t want to spend money upfront to get full infrastructure monitoring services.
Start 30-day Free Trial: my.appoptics.com/sign_up
Pingdom is a cloud-based service that checks the availability of websites. The tests are issued from 100 locations around the world and they also measure the load times of different elements on a page. The user of the service can set up tests for specific pages or services on a site. The frequency of those tests is down to which plan the customer chooses.
This is an essential service for eCommerce businesses. The tests are performed around the clock and provide useful source material when negotiating with a hosting service over outages compensation. The Pingdom system offers synthetic modeling checks and also real-user monitoring.
A synthetic modeling test examines whether a service is operating correctly and these checks can also be used to check on the website’s performance under high volumes of traffic. This type of monitoring is particularly useful to identify the areas of a site that can be improved.
Real user monitoring tracks typical user journeys of visitors to a site and also records usage metrics, such as time spent on a page by each user and the number of pages each visitor accesses.
Pingdom can be useful for logging hosting performance and provides documentation for use when negotiating with a host for better services or compensation. It is charged for by subscription and is available for a 14-day free trial.
Datadog Infrastructure is a cloud-based monitoring system that is able to supervise cloud and on-premises servers. This is a very good choice for startups and small businesses that don’t have in-house technical experts to watch over cloud infrastructure performance. It uses alerts to identify potential problems and notify key users that attention is needed.
Like AppOpics, the Datadog Infrastructure service can be adapted by integrations. The Datadog system includes integrations for out-of-the-box monitoring of AWS and Azure, you just have to turn it on. These integrations add extra screens to the Datadog Infrastructure dashboard.
The main screen of the Datadog Infrastructure console presents a statistical overview of all servers included in the monitoring system. The user can then drill down to see the performance of individual servers. However, if there is a problem anywhere in the system, it can be seen on the home screen. The well-organized console with easy-to-read graphical representations of performance data means the user doesn’t have to go digging around in back screens before a potential problem is unearthed.
Datadog infrastructure doesn’t monitor applications – that’s a task covered by Datadog APM. These two modules fit together to give a complete view of performance, so tacking up both packages together is worth considering.
Datadog charges for all of its modules by subscription with the option to pay monthly or yearly. There is no deposit required and there is no minimum service period. You can access a Free version that covers up to five servers. There are two paid editions, called Pro and Enterprise. You can get a 14-day free trial of either of these packages.
Paessler PRTG is a bundle of infrastructure, application, and services monitors that can be acquired as software for an on-premises installation or subscribed to as a cloud service. The server and application monitors in the PRTG package are all capable of monitoring cloud servers and services. The package also includes internet connection monitoring and website uptime testing utilities. The uptime monitor operates from different data centers around the world to endure that a website is available globally.
Each customer of PRTG tailors the service by deciding which monitors in the package to turn on. The price of the service depends on how many monitors are active. Each monitor is called a sensor.
There are sensors available that check on Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Analytics, and Azure servers. There is a long list of sensors for AWS services: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), and Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS). There are also sensors that will test the statuses of remote cloud servers.
The PRTG software installs on Windows Server. The cloud version is called “hosted PRTG” and it is charged for by subscription, which is levied in bands of sensors per month. The on-premises version is available for a 30-day free trial with unlimited sensors. Hosted PRTG is offered on a 10-day free trial.
Dynatrace offers three levels of cloud service monitoring from its cloud-based platform. These are Full-stack Monitoring, Infrastructure Monitoring, and Digital Experience Monitoring.
The Infrastructure Monitoring package covers networks, internet connections, and servers and the Full-stack Monitoring packages supervises application performance as well as all of the features of the Infrastructure Monitoring service. The Digital Experience Monitoring service watches the performance of websites.
Dynatrace uses AI methods to set performance status thresholds. This is a great help for those who don’t know where to set delivery standards. The monitor will keep watch over normal operations of your system and it includes on-site and cloud resources. If one aspect of service delivery drops, the Dynatrace system will raise an alert and indicate exactly where the problem lies.
The Dynatrace monitoring system includes specialized live status reporting for AWS, Azure, and Google services, among other cloud platforms. The dashboard for the system includes live data visualization and it is accessed through any standard browser. The system includes task automation services as well that cover system management routines as well as monitoring utilities.
Dynatrace is charged for by subscription with a rate per month and it is available for a 15-day free trial.
Atera is a support platform for Managed Service Providers (MSPs). It includes all of the monitoring systems required by a technician to support a client’s system. This includes the supervision of networks, servers, and applications. As it is a cloud-based system, Atera is capable of monitoring infrastructure anywhere and it can unify the monitoring of the on-premises and cloud-based resources used by an MSP’s client.
As well as monitoring infrastructure, Atera includes systems management tools. A Professional Services Automation (PSA) module in the Atera platform also provides all of the business systems that an MSP needs in order to operate.
The Atera platform is charged for by subscription with a rate per technician per month. This is a fantastic deal for freelance operators who want to start up independent monitoring services. It is also a good service for rapidly expanding MSPs because there are no minimum service periods or deposit requirements – an MSP can add or drop seats quickly. You can get a 30-day free trial of Atera.
Choosing a cloud monitoring tool
If you opted for cloud-based services, the chances are that you don’t have an IT department to look after technical resources. Therefore, you will need to focus your search on monitoring services that optimize those scarce technical human resources that you have.
If you are a sole trader or small business and you don’t have the volume of technical work that justifies hiring a specialist employee, you will need to find a cloud infrastructure monitor that anyone can set up and run. Such systems do exist.
When researching the market, we looked for cloud infrastructure monitors that are suitable for all types of business. We identified monitoring tools that work well for businesses with their own team of technicians and also tools that are suitable for use by sole traders with little to no technical expertise.
All businesses large and small need to save time and money, so we prioritized cloud infrastructure monitoring tools that automate supervision tasks and offer very good value for money.