Can You Trust Stats from a Cloud Platform that’s a Monitoring Service, too?

Big News.

Can a Cloud Host Also be a Cloud Monitoring Service?

San Antonio, TX-based Rackspace, the cloud hosting company, has bought cloud monitoring vendor Cloudkick. Rackspace’s rationale in buying Cloudkick, according to analysts, is to enhance its cloud management capabilities and improve customer experience for its cloud users. Cloudkick, which is based in San Francisco and has 12 employees,  mainly works with two large cloud platforms — Rackspace and Amazon.

Analysts theorize the business benefits of the purchase: Pushing customers to Cloudkick should “dissuade users from other third-party management tools and redirect revenue to Rackspace. Tied in with this is improved mindshare. The more customers use Cloudkick versus other third-party management tools, the more they will identify with Rackspace as an end-to-end cloud provider and innovator. If Rackspace performs well, Cloudkick will allow it to draw more customers to its cloud through performance data aggregated and compared with competitors. This can be used to sell its services and also serve as a source of competitive intelligence.”

Excuse me, but am I the only one out here thinking that IT pros using a cloud monitoring tool that’s in the same bed as a cloud provider may come to distrust the SLA data that that cloud monitoring system is producing? Actually, I see potential conflicts of interest on two levels:

— Hosting companies are naturally inclined toward showing high service level agreement (SLA) numbers for their own hosting customers (and Rackspace/Cloudkick would not be immune to this);

— How can Rackspace-owned Cloudkick now provide monitoring services to customers of other cloud-hosting providers, such as Amazon, without all kinds of statistical integrity issues coming up…never mind competitive issues?

If you think this is just the rantings of a jealous competitor, look at what analysts had to say:

“Rackspace has promised that Cloudkick will continue to support the other public clouds that it monitors today. While that may be true in theory, the reality is that this deal creates an opening for other public cloud monitoring firms such as AppFirst, Monitis, Nimsoft (with On Demand) and Tap In Systems to get more business from Amazon EC2 and other public cloud environments.”

Well we certainly plan on making that easier for those public cloud customers. Stay tuned!

  • I expect that the market for management tools in the cloud space will develop in a similar way as that traditional data center management tools, with the IaaS providers taking the role of the OEM’s. So all maor IaaS vendors will have their own monitoring and management services. Some will claim that they support the clouds of other providers, but few, if any, will be very successful with that. In addition there will be a number of independent providers of monitoring and management services for companies that do not want to be locked in and/or use multiple public or possible public/private hybrid clouds.

    So the Rackspace / Cloudkick acquisition, just as the CloudWatch announcements by Amazon can be seen as the beginning of the evolution of the cloud monitoring and management market.

    Fred van den Bosch