There are various ways in which cloud computing services have been benefitting growth of businesses. Combining cloud technology with managed services to fulfil business needs, helps enterprises to enhance their productivity and performance. Before getting on to cloud, it is however essential to assess some common aspects of cloud infrastructure services, such as cost, security, performance, availability and reliability. All the same, with refinements in the computing approach, cloud elasticity and scalability are some new criteria to be understood and assessed before moving on to cloud. Elasticity and scalability are two terms that have been used interchangeably since long though they are quite distinct. Let us take a detailed account of their differences to create a better understanding of what they are and how they deliver business needs.
Elasticity is the ability of cloud to expand or contract infrastructure resources like computer processing, memory and storage to meet the provisional changes in workload requirements. It is most suitable to environments with fluctuating resource requirements where you pay only for the specific duration in which resources are used without having to cater to capacity planning for peak usage. This flexibility helps bring down cloud infrastructure costs significantly and is extensively used in pay-as-you-go model of public cloud services. Cloud elasticity can handle the unexpected varying demands on a temporary basis as the implemented infrastructure can be readily rolled back to the original volume, eliminating wastage of resources.
Take the example of small outsourcing companies providing customer care service for tech giants. During the festive seasons, the sales of these companies shoot up, and they need more resources for a small duration of 5-7 days (or sometimes for a few months). This is where cloud elasticity works aptly for them, where they can quickly scale up resources for the needed timeframe and decrease it when the workload reduces without having to permanently invest heavily on infrastructure.
Scalability refers to the long-term increase or decrease of resources to meet the changes in workload demands. When enterprises need higher capacity, storage, memory and performance, they can add servers to their existing cloud infrastructure. It is mainly the ability of the system to fit in larger loads when the business has grown over a period of time and is unable to maintain the supply-demand balance. Giant companies experiencing steady growth consider scalability for efficient business management and performance. This approach is manually planned and predictive, enabling addition of resources or servers in a defined area of business either vertically or horizontally.
For instance, consider a five-year-old small-scale business working in its nascent stages, functioning in a smaller region (a single state) for which the requirement of resources is fairly low. However, after two years, the business eventually starts growing and expands across the country. This increases their need to expand their billing systems or cloud storage and that is where cloud scalability comes into the picture. It is best suited for businesses depicting a definite increase in demand with respect to long-term expansion.
Both cloud elasticity and cloud scalability come with considerable benefits:
- Facilitates easy capacity administration leading to smooth business operations.
- Upgrading or downgrading cloud architecture becomes quick and efficient.
- Scalability of architecture ensures reliable and consistent performance.
- Ensures cost effectiveness with customers paying only for the resources used in a given time period while eliminating redundant infrastructure and unnecessary resources.
Incorporating cloud elasticity as well as scalability is a vital decision most IT leaders have to make in order to meet changing infrastructure demands. Even with differences in both cloud solutions, enterprises needs to comprehend what suits them best based on their business needs at that given point in time with the sole intent of optimizing and managing infrastructure for higher business performance and efficiency.