What is Cloud Monitoring?

Visibility and monitoring of IT environments are essential to all businesses’ operations. This visibility is necessary for ensuring efficiency, productivity, and regulatory compliance.

While many organizations have the necessary visibility and monitoring capabilities in their on-prem infrastructure, the same is not always true in the cloud. Cloud monitoring is intended to overcome the common challenges of achieving visibility in cloud environments and enable organizations to efficiently and scalably collect the data required to ensure that their cloud infrastructure is operating as expected and is compliant with applicable regulations.

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What is Cloud Monitoring?

Types of Cloud Monitoring

Cloud monitoring must provide visibility into all applications of a cloud environment. Examples of essential types of cloud monitoring include:

  • Application Monitoring: Cloud environments provide a range of options for deploying applications, including both traditional and serverless options. Cloud monitoring must provide the ability to monitor the usage and performance of these applications and provide security visibility to detect potential vulnerabilities and attempted exploitation.
  • Data Monitoring: Many organizations are moving data storage to cloud-based databases. Cloud data monitoring includes monitoring access to the cloud-based databases and tracking performance, availability, and other metrics.
  • Network Monitoring: Cloud-based applications and other resources are connected via virtualized networks. Cloud network monitoring uses virtualized firewalls, load balancers, and other network and security solutions to monitor and manage traffic flows within cloud networks to optimize performance and ensure security.
  • Virtual Machine Monitoring: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings enable companies to host virtual machines (VMs) on infrastructure managed by the cloud provider. Cloud VM monitoring tracks the usage and performance of these machines.
  • Website Monitoring: Companies may host their websites on cloud-based infrastructure. Key metrics to track for these websites include availability, traffic volume, and resource utilization.

Key Features of Cloud Monitoring Solutions

Cloud monitoring solutions should provide visibility into all types of cloud-based resources, with these key features:

  • Cross-Platform Support: Attempting to individually monitor each cloud environment can be complex as companies move to hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments. An integrated cloud monitoring solution can provide centralized visibility across an organization’s entire cloud-based infrastructure.
  • Automated Collection: Regular access to metrics can help to improve cloud performance, security, and regulatory compliance; however, collecting these metrics can be time-consuming. Automated collection provides regular access to critical metrics.
  • Metrics and Alerting: Cloud monitoring solutions should enable the creation of custom metrics and generate alerts if metrics are violated. This enables personnel to rapidly respond to availability, performance, or security issues.
  • Security Monitoring: Availability and performance monitoring are valuable, but cloud security visibility is essential as well. A cloud monitoring solution should offer in-depth visibility into the security of an organization’s cloud-based resources.
  • Intuitive Interfaces: Collection of a range of metrics from multiple cloud platforms can result in an overwhelming amount of data. Cloud monitoring solutions should offer a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to understand the overall status of a cloud environment and find specific data of interest.
  • Automated Reports: Information on cloud environments is essential for compliance and other reports. Cloud monitoring solutions should offer built-in data collection and report generation for common reports.
  • Solution Integration: Cloud monitoring solutions may identify security or performance issues that require attention. Solutions should be integrated with the rest of an organization’s infrastructure to enable easy remediation of identified issues.

The Benefits of Cloud Monitoring

Cloud monitoring provides insight into the health and security of an organization’s cloud infrastructure Some of the benefits of cloud monitoring include:

  • Comprehensive Visibility: With cross-platform monitoring, an organization can track the status of its cloud environments from a single dashboard. This integrated visibility reduces complexity and enables more consistent performance and security.
  • Scalability: Scalability is a major selling point of cloud-based infrastructure, and, as cloud-based applications and data storage scale, monitoring capabilities may struggle to keep up. Cloud monitoring solutions leverage cloud scalability as well, enabling them to grow with the company’s needs.
  • Improved Security: Real-time monitoring can rapidly identify potential security misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, or attacks within an organization’s cloud environment. This enables an organization to rapidly take action to minimize security risks.
  • Simplified Compliance: Demonstrating regulatory compliance requires in-depth visibility into an organization’s IT infrastructure. Cloud monitoring makes it easier to collect the required data for compliance reporting.
  • Threat Hunting Support: Proactive threat hunting can enable an organization to identify previously-undetected risks and threats within its IT environment; however, it requires in-depth visibility into an organization’s infrastructure. Cloud monitoring enables threat hunting by providing this vital cloud visibility and threat intelligence.

Challenges of Implementing Cloud Monitoring

Cloud monitoring can be an invaluable tool for an organization; however, it can be difficult and expensive to implement without the right tools. Some of the common challenges of implementing cloud monitoring include:

  • Ephemeral Assets: On-prem networks are largely comprised of static, physical appliances, while cloud environments consist of virtualized assets that enable greater flexibility and agility. As a result, on-prem monitoring solutions may be complex and time-consuming to keep properly configured in ever-changing cloud environments.
  • Technological Differences: Cloud infrastructure is fundamentally different from on-prem environments. Many on-prem monitoring solutions rely on certain constructs, such as SPAN ports and transparent bridging, that are non-existent or expensive in cloud environments.
  • Agility and Automation: Cloud-based applications change rapidly due to cloud agility, flexibility, and automation. This makes it difficult to develop effective models for differentiating between legitimate and malicious application behavior.
  • Growing Data Volumes: Cloud environments tend to generate more data in motion than on-prem data centers. This increase in data volume may overwhelm traditional security solutions and teams.
  • Missing Context: Automated alerts from cloud monitoring tools built into cloud platforms often provide inadequate contextual information about an event. As a result, additional investigation is needed to take action based on an alert.

Cloud Security Monitoring with CloudGuard

As organizations transition to the cloud, many are attempting to implement cloud monitoring using security information and event monitoring (SIEM) and other traditional solutions. However, these tools are largely designed for on-prem environments, and the differences between on-prem and cloud-based infrastructure create significant visibility gaps. At the same time, monitoring solutions provided by cloud vendors are often platform-specific, performance-focused, and lack vital context needed to make their alerts and insights actionable.

Security monitoring is essential in cloud environments, and the best way to achieve the necessary in-depth visibility across multi-cloud environments is with a third-party security solutions provider. To learn more about how to effectively implement cloud monitoring, check out Check Point’s Challenges and Recommendations for Cloud Data Analytics and Monitoring report. You’re also welcome to sign up for a free demo of Check Point CloudGuard to learn how it can help your organization access vital cloud intelligence and support threat hunting in the cloud.

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