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Is composable monitoring "the next big thing" or just another trend?

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By: Ahmed Banafa

Before defining "composable monitoring," it's important to understand that one of the challenges facing companies these days is the lack of a "perfect" system that offers the best performance across all parts of the system. Companies are often good at managing certain parts of an IT system, for example, but they may not be up to par on other parts. Keeping this concept in mind, a key element of any system is monitoring the performance of all units and reporting the states of those units in a well-organized and meaningful way to IT staff, and in some cases to executives, too.  

The ability to compose and select a solutioncomposable,-infrastructure,-IT.png (or components of solutions) from different vendors to meet these needs and to fulfill a unique set of requirements for both IT and C-level executives is attractive to many organizations. This ability is available through a new, disruptive trend in IT called "composable monitoring." Simply put, it's the process of using the best monitoring tools, regardless of the source, which promotes functionality over brand or vendor relationships. The freedom to pick the tools you want is very attractive, particularly to infrastructure executives looking for information and control.

The biggest obstacle that has kept companies from deploying this option is resistance from vendors to providing access to their devices' APIs to make the implementation of third-party tools possible. This kind of resistance has been demolished by the widespread use of open-source products, which has opened the door for approaches like composable monitoring.

Monolithic tools versus composable monitoring

The current monitoring tools are considered monolithic, and vendors support this approach in order to keep their customers locked in to their products and services, but many customers see the advantages of moving to a composable monitoring solution. These advantages include:

  • The ability to use the best tools to fulfill system monitoring needs without limitations or vendor restrictions
  • The ability to upgrade and update the tools as needed instead of waiting for vendors to provide the patches or fixes
  • A complete single interface with a holistic view of the system states
  • A cost-effective approach with the availability of many options in the market
  • Flexibility and the ability to change as needed to follow new technology trends
  • The ability to deal effectively with the high volume of data produced by multiple monitoring tools
  • The ability to optimize the collaboration between teams using the system by sharing the information and data produced by composable monitoring tools

The dual-layer architecture of composable monitoring

Composable monitoring has a dual-layer architecture that consists of an instrumentation layer and a management layer.

composable.jpg

The instrumentation layer is responsible for data collection and analysis from all the services throughout the system infrastructure. This might include application performance and cloud services availability, just to name a few. The biggest challenge for this layer is dealing with the "three Vs" of big data: volume, velocity, and variety.

The top layer is the management layer, sometimes called the manager of managers, or MoM, which oversees all the system's composable elements and gives an overview of the system. This layer is extremely important to fulfilling the main purpose of composable monitoring. One of the main roles of this layer is to keep everyone aware of what's going on within the system, including processes, tools, and user activities. In order for the management layer to achieve this level of control and information, it uses many new analysis techniques, including machine learning and advanced collaboration.

Challenges facing composable monitoring

Composable monitoring is hitting adoption challenges in some organizations. These often include:

  • Resistance to change by staff who've spent many years dealing with the status quo
  • Lack of qualified staff to manage composable monitoring tools
  • The cost of implementing new technology

But despite these hurdles, composable monitoring's benefits outweigh both the technical and business challenges. On the technical side, it leads to less hassle and better understanding by offering a full view of the infrastructure states. From the business perspective, it offers faster decisions, lower cost, and more options.

Companies that implement this approach will gain a competitive advantage by controlling their IT infrastructure and making decisions based on a holistic view and a wealth of information.

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