Cloud Computing

Jacqui Taylor (Global) - Bursting the IT Legacy

Given that we are in the midst of the worst recession in living memory I'm amazed that so few businesses are slashing costs by retiring their legacy IT infrastructure and replacing this with cloud services.

There is a genuine opportunity to innovate beyond the expensive on-premises solutions businesses have been saddled with for years, to cloud services that would allow the creation of added value services and new business models. I believe the delay is because there is one aspect of cloud services that is still not understood as a key reason to move: Cloud Bursting.

The majority of focus from a business viewpoint is still on the infrastructure provision, known as Infrastructure as a Service or the IaaS layer. The use of IaaS commonly provides a flexible environment for development and test environments, and provides this temporary capability at a fraction of the cost of the on-premises equivalent.

However, when a business shifts to using Platform as a Service (PaaS) as a Cloud provision this is where the paradigm shift of Cloud Services comes into play. Rather than temporary IaaS environments, provision of a PaaS allows the build of a production environment that would perform the same function as an on-premises live service but at a reduced cost.

In our legacy IT systems, we built to manage the capacity of a peak hour, day or month irrespective of how many of these existed in the business year. This ensured that our IT systems had capability and resources available year round to cope with the relatively few peaks, so unused capacity was the norm and services were therefore expensive.

When we build a PaaS we build only the minimum of infrastructure resources (‘provisioned' in Cloud-speak) so that you only pay for what you use at any given time and to meet the peaks we burst additional resources as required, hence the term Cloud Bursting. This is only possible using Cloud technology, as it requires very rapid creation (and corresponding destruction) of infrastructure resources.

The cost reduction which can be achieved using a PaaS service is therefore in direct proportion to the profile of the resources required to run the service at any given moment. The "peakier" the profile of the system, the more overall costs can be reduced, and the more flexible the service provision.

An example of a Cloud service which has implemented this Cloud Bursting capability in its ultimate form is a certain TV programme which would be live on a Saturday evening for just 1 hour and includes an audience vote for the winning act. It would be cost prohibitive to build an IT system along legacy lines to collect audience votes for less than an hour once a week. By comparison it's relatively cheap to build a PaaS which assumes a huge burst in resources to collect the audience votes between 8pm and 9pm.

Most businesses have a peaky profile and could dramatically change the cost of their IT infrastructure if they moved to a PaaS provision, and burst their Cloud Service to directly meet the peak profiles. I fully expect Cloud Bursting to be a key reason why moving to PaaS provision is the start of the second wave of Cloud adoption.

by Jacqui Taylor, CEO of FlyingBinary



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