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SoftLayer’s latest move may make moving to the cloud a little more palatable for the cautious among us. Earlier this month, Dallas based SoftLayer Technologies announced the availability of its monitoring solution leveraging Unified Monitoring from Nimsoft. The partnership, originally announced in May, allows SoftLayer to provide customers more insight into how their hosted environment is functioning.

Many potential cloud-computing customers have expressed concern about the inability to manage hosted solutions using the sophisticated operations management tools common for internal systems. This concern is precisely what SoftLayer’s newest capability addresses.

The ability to detect how a system is performing has always been important within the walls of organizations. As applications and data leave the boundaries of organizations, so does the importance of monitoring. The need for operational visibility has superseded monitoring of internal servers and now reaches all the way into the cloud.

Service Offerings

SoftLayer’s new monitoring service has two approaches for distributing operational information, graphing and alarms. Alarms notify users that a service is outside a configurable expected range. Alarms are viewable from the web interface or sent via email. Graphing provides a visual depiction of usage over time. The information provided by alarms is useful for addressing immediate system concerns, while graphing is beneficial for longer-term system planning.

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SoftLayer's monitoring reports

The monitoring solution does more than allow visibility into server and operating system statistics. The advanced service allows customers to view application statistics as well. Many customers will appreciate being able to go to a single dashboard to view CPU utilization and Tomcat responsiveness.

Currently, SoftLayer offers three levels of service for monitoring. They are basic, advanced and premium. All customers have access to the basic level service. Access to advanced and premium services requires an additional fee. The basic service includes:

  •  Cpu, Disk, and Memory Monitoring Agent
  •  Process Monitoring Agent
  •  Remote System Monitoring Agent
  •  Windows Services Monitoring Agent

The advanced service enhances the basic offering with more health monitoring features including network protocol response monitoring and mounted file system monitoring. The premium service adds the adapters for applications and web page response times.

In addition to the out of the box features, the monitoring solution has a fully exposed programming interface with two-way data integration. This enables customers to integrate SoftLayer's management services into internal IT operations environments and have a comprehensive view of how all systems are functioning.

SoftLayer, recognized in the 2009 Gartner (newssite) Magic Quadrant for hosting, has added key differentiator to its service offerings. The sophistication of its monitoring definitely makes it an option as a hosting provider for organizations with mature operation management practices.