Hybrid cloud continues to emerge as an evolving standard of business operation, but while its most obvious benefits – economic efficiency, scalability and lower total cost of ownership – appear at the top of most IT managers’ priority lists, there are numerous other benefits that are less-frequently discussed. One of these is cloud-bursting.
Cloud-bursting happens when demand for computing capacity exceeds that available in a private cloud or internal data center. It represents one of the key advantages of hybrid cloud technology, since its presence as a failsafe means that an enterprise or business is not hamstrung by going overcapacity and having a system crash. A second advantage is that it represents essentially a pay-as-you go service, paid for as needed, rather than existing as a fixed, or sunk cost even during periods where no spillover is needed.
These two benefits of hybrid cloud are sufficiently important to warrant special attention by CxOs considering either an initial move to the cloud, or perhaps the next step in the transition.
Customers Down On Downtime
In the world of e-commerce, for example, it is well-known that cart abandonment and page abandonment are key causes of commerce failure. Customers have very little patience but a great deal of awareness of their own mobility. Industry giant Amazon.com can expect to lose over $66,000 in revenue for each minute of downtime, but the argument need not go as large as Amazon or as long as 60 seconds to have serious implications. Even a page load delay of one second can be enough for an individual shopper to move on to a competitor, which is what they do, in record numbers and at breakneck speeds.
Failures from overcapacity are not restricted to ecommerce businesses. Enterprises of all types rely on computing power for virtually every area of operations. Downtime – even from a momentary spike, can cause significant damage and delay.
The Demanding Spikes
In years past, IT managers would purchase computing resources with spikes and excessive demand in mind, requesting and paying for more space, energy and computing power than was generally needed for day-to-day operations. This caution was well-founded but resulted in higher fixed costs, which no company generally welcomes.
The ongoing acceptance of the cloud as a platform for mission-critical data, and not simply the extraneous stuff, means that senior management in general is now recognizing the many valid reasons for blending their on-premise power with that provided by a cloud vendor. The capacity to accommodate cloud-bursting is one of these. Not only do spill-over resources become available as-and-when needed, resulting in a variable and manageable cost rather than a fixed cost, additional savings can realized by investing in a private IP line to deliver the data, for example, rather than incurring standard data transfer fees.
A reputable cloud vendor will work hard to identify such opportunities for their clients, as this is the very nature of hybrid cloud – taking over the nuts and bolts of data processing and data storage in a dynamic and proactive manner on behalf of their clients.
Credit, Compliance and Confidence
As with all cloud arrangements, there are additional issues to consider, such as compliance, especially when it comes to the location of sensitive data, such as consumer credit card information. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is very specific about the location and encryption standards of credit card information, and this is something that businesses and their cloud providers must be explicitly clear on.
Another matter of great significance has to do with the apps and software that are used to shift data to the cloud, either as a matter of course, or in an emergency burst situation. The danger of redundant or duplicate copies of databases being created, and the assignment of a single application server to a transaction – a concept called state management – can cause problems if they are not adequately accounted for by a cloud provider.
Two additional considerations: it is essential that the cloud platform that hosts the burst capacity is compatible with the platform where development/testing happened, and it is also important that as much as possible the processes for bursting are automated, so as to avoid the risk of human error at such a critical time.
In sum, the capacity of hybrid cloud to act as a safety net during times of extreme stress on an enterprise system denotes yet one more advantage to its incorporation into a company’s IT plans. Flexibility and up-to-date emergency procedures become the responsibility of the provider, once again allowing a client company to focus its resources on its core competencies and its financial success.
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By Steve Prentice
Steve Prentice is a project manager, writer, speaker and expert on productivity in the workplace, specifically the juncture where people and technology intersect. He is a senior writer for CloudTweaks.