Monitoring a Multi-Cloud Environment Using Stackdriver Workspaces

SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

By Simon Margolis | Associate CTO, AI & ML

As we round out 2018, one of the major themes in Google Cloud Platform’s enterprise evolution is the acceptance and push towards a multi-cloud and hybrid cloud world. The cloud giant’s message is clear: an enterprise doesn’t house all cloud workflows in one cloud environment – either with the rollout of Istio earlier this year (the partnership with Cisco for hybrid cloud), or the overall rollout of Google Cloud Services.

In order to keep control of a sprawling cross-cloud infrastructure, Google has matured its Stackdriver Monitoring platform into a robust performance tool that supports a variety of infrastructure setups. Before its acquisition in 2014, Stackdriver billed itself as a cloud monitoring tool that supported not just Google Cloud, but also AWS and even Rackspace. Google’s path for Stackdriver was always clear – integrate the tool deeply with GCP, but also pave way for hybrid and multi-cloud.

Stackdriver Workspaces Replaces Stackdriver Accounts, Supports GCP, AWS and Hybrid Cloud

In September this journey eventually led to the announcement of Stackdriver Workspaces (formerly Stackdriver Accounts). With Workspaces, Google aims to allow enterprises a flexible, centralized approach to monitoring workflows, whether they are in Google Cloud, AWS or on-premise. A Workspace consists of at least one hosting project that must be specified upon creation, and then up to 100 Google Cloud projects or connected AWS instances. By building upon the functional units of GCP,  Stackdriver Workspaces simplifies the setup considerably by allowing managers to centrally set permissions once for the workspace rather than on a project by project basis.

Within a Workspace, the choices for configuration are numerous. Google suggests organizing Workspaces by team function, organization, or environment depending on your business needs. You can also further drill down the monitoring frame by creating Stackdriver Groups, which can be defined with numerous criteria that can hone in on a specific microservice or business unit. Within Workspaces and Groups, creating dashboards is as modular and easy to configure as before, with all Stackdriver users having the same view permissions into a single Workspace.

Simplified, Consumption-Based Billing is Now Available

Following a simplification of pricing in 2018, Stackdriver is now consistent with other GCP services in that it bills by usage with a generous free tier. Essentially, with the free tier allotments effective in June and November this year, small and medium-sized organizations will not be paying for Stackdriver Logging and Monitoring. While this move is consistent with free tiers for other public cloud performance monitoring platforms, Stackdriver sets itself apart by the ease of use and transparency of billing. Google even provides a cost calculator as well as new views to allow visualization of Monitoring and Logging usage that helps active customers trend their future costs.

For organizations concerned about overuse and unnecessary logging costs, Google suggests setting up monitoring schedules thoughtfully, with metrics that are read frequently enough to provide value, but not excessively leading to cost. Google also suggests avoiding logging costs by setting up an exclusion filter that selectively ingests logs into Stackdriver, pushing a certain percentage out to Pub/Sub or BigQuery instead.

Lastly, organizations are encouraged to set up alert thresholds to notify when usage is nearing the monthly allocated budget. Stackdriver’s transparency and affordability ultimately contribute to a managed cloud infrastructure that invites users to adopt more Google Cloud Platform offerings as a result.

Monitoring and Logging Affects End Users: Read Up and Learn

When running a business critical service, the difference between 20 minutes and 2 minutes of an outage is traceable to the bottom line. Stackdriver Error Reporting allows organizations to be more responsive and agile with notifications that contain new error details, which can also be integrated with Slack alerts for quicker response. Despite the ability to create a well-oiled monitoring and logging platform, Google knows that organizations can easily skimp on both, especially in complex multi-cloud environments, and this is why they offer a plethora of training material beyond the Stackdriver documentation. Qwiklabs offers an introductory course that introduces Multiple Project Monitoring by leveraging Workspaces.

While any organization can get started quickly with Stackdriver, SADA’s team of experts can guide you through the process, helping you get the most out of your monitoring and more cost effectively. Multi-cloud enterprises especially need to pay extra attention to health across interconnected business-critical services, as quickly tracing root cause and solving performance problems is expected by customers in real time.


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