For years IT professionals have hotly debated the relative merits of agent-based and agentless approaches for IT monitoring and security. Agent-based solutions require you to install code on the system being monitored in order to capture the desired information; while agentless solutions communicate directly with API’s that provide rich information about the resources being monitored.

So which approach is better? In the years of legacy data center primacy, the answer was likely to be either “it depends” or “agent-based, of course!” However, in the era of hyperscale cloud platforms and emerging software development patterns, organizations are redefining how they monitor and govern these cloud environments.

The major clouds like AWS, Azure, and GCP all have vast portfolios of services that range from Virtual Machines (IaaS) where the customer takes responsibility for the OS and application, to platform services (PaaS) that leave the cloud vendor responsible for the OS and platform allowing the business to focus on the true business value at the application layer. To fully realize the cloud’s promise, companies are rapidly transitioning applications to PaaS -where agent-based solutions aren’t compatible- and reaping benefits in the form of enhanced speed, scale, agility, and automation.

Agentless approaches are quickly eclipsing agent-based alternatives in the cloud because they can support high-fidelity monitoring of your entire cloud estate, not just a small subset. Everything from serverless services, to data and analytics, and even those Virtual Machines, can be monitored through the cloud’s control plane APIs. With the sheer variety of available services and the majority being PaaS, with no ability to install an agent, modern cloud-native organizations need monitoring solutions that are integrated directly into the cloud control plane and don’t require agents installed on systems.

As a cloud operator you need to know, for example, when a risky change is made to a data lake configuration or whether a Lambda ran as a different identity than before. API’s and not agents, make it possible to inspect, secure, and gain insights into the state of critical cloud platform services. Major cloud platforms combined with API integrated, agentless governance and compliance tooling makes for great technology, but how does it translate into business value?

When companies can leverage PaaS or serverless services in the cloud they’re able to offload many complicated technical details to the cloud provider. This allows for the focus to be on delivering real solutions and quickly responding to the needs of the business rather than messy technical details and long projects. An agentless approach to governance and compliance in the cloud speeds up the time-to-value of business solutions and directly contributes to positive business outcomes.

Regardless of your cloud maturity or level of adoption it is imperative to have a well-defined, cloud-native governance capability in place in order to be truly successful. An agentless solution like OpsCompass, operating continuously and in near real-time, inspects configurations, detects drift, and provides compliance analysis. As your cloud evolves and scales, so does your governance and compliance capability with OpsCompass. Agentless cloud governance and compliance is here and it’s how the best companies are getting the most out of their cloud investment.

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