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Cloud computing represents a cost-effective paradigm to deploy a wide class of large-scale distributed applications, for which the pay-per-use model combined with automatic resource provisioning promise to reduce the cost of dependability and scalability. However, a key challenge to be addressed to materialize the advantages promised by Cloud computing is the design of effective auto-scaling and self-tuning mechanisms capable of ensuring pre-determined QoS levels at minimum cost in face of changing workload conditions. This is one of the keys goals that are being pursued by the Cloud-TM project, a recent EU project that is developing a novel, self-optimizing transactional data platform for the cloud. In this paper we present the key design choices underlying the development of Cloud-TM's Workload Analyzer (WA), a crucial component of the Cloud-TM platform that is change of three key functionalities: aggregating, filtering and correlating the streams of statistical data gathered from the various nodes of the Cloud-TM platform, building detailed workload profiles of applications deployed on the Cloud-TM platform, characterizing their present and future demands in terms of both logical (i.e. data) and physical (e.g. hardware-related) resources, triggering alerts in presence of violations (or risks of future violations) of pre-determined SLAs.