Organizations adopting cloud computing solutions experience guaranteed benefits of all sorts, right from easy accessibility and centralized infrastructure to larger gains like cost-effectiveness, scalability, and strengthened security. All these benefits are clearly useful to business, but the computing service’s ability to dynamically change as per the enterprise’s altering needs, popularly known as cloud elasticity, is becoming a powerful way of expanding businesses to the next level.
What is cloud elasticity?
Cloud elasticity in cloud computing is the ability to quickly and dynamically allocate cloud resources such as computing, memory, and storage resources in response to organization’s changing needs. The objective of cloud elasticity is to avoid over or under provisioning of certain services or applications. Over-provisioning (too many resource allocations) will cost you more than you need, but under-provisioning (too few resource allocations) will restrict the service offerings from reaching its full potential.
Elastic cloud services allow you to use more of these resources when you need them and free them when you no longer need it, enabling quick and efficient scaling up and down of cloud-based services. For example, public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud support fast resilience where, the faster a cloud provider can allocate different resources to dynamic customer demands, the more resilient the cloud service gets.
Without elasticity, enterprises may find it challenging to identify changes in their capacity needs beforehand. This would increase their dependency on IT teams to manually provision or deprovision resources based on fluctuations in demand.
Cloud elasticity and its importance
Cloud elasticity works independently and helps evade resource constraints. Monitoring tools allow organizations to add storage or memory capacity exactly when needed. As the demand for computing resources decrease, enterprises can reduce their capacity, giving themselves the opportunity to optimize costs by not spending on unused resources and also redirecting these savings to other areas of business. Elasticity enables businesses to swiftly accommodate to dynamic market demands ensuring IT teams that their applications and infrastructure support the business needs exhaustively. It also helps prevent disruptions that can negatively impact customer experiences and business profits.
Types of cloud elasticity
Scaling up or down – also known as vertical scalability, is the reference to addition or removal of resources to or from an existing infrastructure, in order to raise or diminish its performance under changing workloads.
Scaling out or in – referred to as horizontal scalability, is the enlarging or contracting of an existing infrastructure’s resources by adding new or removing old and existing components.
Comparing cloud elasticity and cloud scalability
They are often used interchangeably as both cloud elasticity and cloud scalability refer to the ability of the system to quickly adapt to changing demands of the market. Let us weigh out the minor differences between cloud elasticity and cloud scalability for better clarity.
Cloud scalability means that the system is operational and responsive over time in response to fit in larger loads when the business has grown over a period of time and is unable to maintain the supply-demand balance. Large companies experiencing steady growth consider scalability for efficient business management and performance. Scalability is usually a strategic means of increasing or adding new resources for growing consumption demands. For example, an apparel site that gets most of the traffic towards the end of the year just around Halloween, Christmas and the New Year has to ensure to keep its system up and running and respond to unexpected spike in demand.
On the other hand, cloud elasticity is the ability of cloud to expand or contract infrastructure resources to meet the provisional changes in workload requirements. It is most suitable to environments with fluctuating resource needs 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. For instance, an auction website or a concert ticket portal that gets a lot of traffic in a very short span of time.
Both elasticity and scalability in cloud computing play a vital role in improving business efficiency and performance. However, your reliance on either feature depends on the nature of your business and the nature of your customers’ demand (predictable or highly variable workloads). For more details read our blog on Cloud Elasticity Vs. Cloud Scalability.
Use cases on cloud elasticity
The goal of cloud elasticity is to ensure that the allocated resources match the number of resources actually needed at any given point in time. Let us look at some use cases to understand real-time scenarios better:
Example 1 – The e-commerce website may experience events that attract far more customers than usual, such as sales, promotions, and special item releases. The resilience of the cloud helps these sites properly allocate resources during periods of high demand, allowing customers to continue to confirm their purchases.
Example 2 – Streaming services need to handle events such as popular new albums and new TV series releases appropriately. For example, Netflix claims that “adding thousands of virtual servers and petabytes of storage in minutes” allows users to enjoy their favourite entertainment programs no matter how many users watch it at the same time.
Example 3 – Insurance companies often deal with major surge in renewal of policies when users hit the website to beat the deadlines at around the same time each year. The need to provision for increased traffic without disrupting real-time performance is a prerequisite that can be easily fulfilled by cloud elasticity.
Benefits of cloud elasticity
Increases agility: Cloud elasticity eliminates the need to plan, purchase, configure or install infrastructure on cloud. With any unexpected fluctuation in demand, it enables enterprises to flexibly provision for the spike at any given point in time, leading to increased agility and ease of operations.
Flexible pricing: Cloud elasticity enables paying for only those resources being used for a set timeframe. Since resources can be allocated or deallocated based on increase or decrease in demand, enterprises can pay only for resources that are in use, generating almost over 60% savings.
High availability: Cloud elasticity aids in fault tolerance and high availability to ensure business services remain uninterrupted and there is zero or minimal downtime risk. Replicating VMs or containers on cloud with immediate effect, in case of failure during provisioning or deprovisioning of resources ensures consistent user experiences.
Cost- efficiency: Automatic analysis and tracking of resource utilization against resource allocation via monitoring tools helps in improving system performance and cost effectiveness.
Speed / Time to Market: Enterprises can access capacity in minutes instead of weeks or months of traditional procurement processes.