Cloud computing has revolutionised the way businesses operate, allowing them to access resources on-demand and pay for what they use. Cloud elasticity is a key feature of cloud computing that allows businesses to adjust, either manually or automatically, the volume of resource available to a workload, in response to changes in demand. This ensures workload can operate efficiently and cost-effectively, regardless of the level of demand.
In this blog, we will explore:
- What cloud elasticity is
- The benefits it brings to businesses
- How it to succesfully implement it, in order to unlock its full potential
Whether you’re new to cloud computing or looking a how to improve your existing setup, this blog will provide insight on how to leverage cloud elasticity to boost the efficiency and scalability of your business.
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What is cloud elasticity?
Simply put, cloud elasticity is a concept that is able to adapt to meet the demands of your business. Allowing you to match your available cloud resources as close to current demand as possible. Cloud elasticity can be automatic, where resources are adapted to meet organisational demands, or manual, where your organisation will be notified that your resources may not be running optimally, meaning you can choose whether to add or reduce capacity as required.
Cloud elasticity is most commonly used in Public Cloud as, depending on the needs of your organisation, this area will allow for the quick expansion, or reduction, of resources as needed.
It’s most commonly used in, and benefits, businesses with dynamic workloads that have changing demands on their infrastructure services, such as:
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
Benefits of cloud elasticity
Regardless of the sector you work in, your business can unlock many benefit from cloud elasticity such as:
- Cost savings: ‘Pay-as-you-Go’ resources means your business only pays for what it needs. Depending on your current infrastructure, you could be save a significant amount of money
- Ensured cloud performance: Quickly expanding and decreasing resources as and when you need, means you can be assured of optimal cloud performance even during peak times
- Reducing legacy infrastructure: As you no longer have a set amount of server capacity in an agile system, existing on site infrastructure will be minimised or, in some instances, completely removed
In order to unlock the potential benefits cloud elasticity can bring to your business, its imperative to ensure you follow best-practice, and ensure this is part of your wider strategic roadmap.
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How to implement cloud elasticity
While migrating to the Cloud, it’s key to implement elasticity into your new infrastructure. To do this, you must consider the four Is; identify, implement, investigate and iterate.
Before cloud elasticity can be implemented, you need to thoroughly audit your current infrastructure. Taking a look at the following requirements:
- Workloads that have a variable load: This refers to computing tasks that experience fluctuations in the amount of resources, such as CPU and memory that is required to operate. These workloads may experience high and low demand, and the resources needed to function correctly may change over time. An example of a variable workload is a batch processing job that may have varying amounts of data to process
- The range of your workload: To effectively support your variable load, it’s vital to understand the range of your workload. This refers to the total number of instances that need to be running at its peak and minimum capacity whilst still running correctly
- Application limitations: It’s key to understand what applications may limit elasticity, therefore all applications and business requirements are audited in order to understand what can, and cannot, be scaled
- Increase in demand: Understanding what can and cannot be addressed by temporary automatic scaling is imperative to the success of cloud elasticity. If your business has grown, for example, and you’re now using more capacity than before, elasticity in this instance would not be a permanent fix. If you’re an e-commerce business that offers limited time sales, cloud elasticity would be a useful tool to help you deal with peak seasonal sales and minimise overhead costs
Once you’ve identified what you need from your Public Cloud, it’s time to set up cloud elasticity.
Not every application has elastic capabilities by default. However, this doesn’t mean you are unable to implement cloud elasticity. Depending on your chosen cloud provider, they may have auto scaling applications that enable software to temporarily stretch to meet increased demand. For example, AWS’s Auto Scaling application allows exactly this and you can scale your cloud computing infrastructure. Alternatively, Azure’s App Service has auto scaling built in, and Google Cloud can be set up with auto scaling through the use of ‘Instance Groups’.
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Once cloud elasticity is set up, it’s important to run in-house tests. This will ensure that your new cloud structure can and will meet your business requirements.
An example of a test you can conduct is a load test. This simulates a high level of traffic or demand to an application or system, and measures how the system responds. This can be carried our in five simple steps:
- 1. Identify the specific application or service that you want to test, and the expected range of traffic or demand
- 2. Set up a test environment that simulates the target workload, including any dependencies you may have
- 3. Use a load generation tool to simulate a high level of traffic or demand in the test environment
- 4. Monitor the performance and resource of the system during the test, including CPU, memory disk, and network usage
- 5. Analyse the results to determine how well the system performed under high load, and where the cloud elasticity mechanisms were able to respond and scale as expected
To ensure your cloud elasticity tool continues to meet your requirements, it’s vital to regularly audit your system and run tests. This can help you identify any issues so you can take appropriate action to resolve them.
To regularly update your cloud elasticity mechanism, it’s vital to investigate:
- Resource utilisation, such as CPU, memory, disk space and network
- The number of scaling events to ensure the system is responding to changes as expected
- Performance metrics, such as response time, throughput, and error rate
- Your security and compliance requirements, and any changes that may need to be made
- That monitoring and alerting systems are able to detect potential issues
Cloud elasticity: key takeaways
- Cloud elasticity automatically or manually adjusts resources available, helping workload to operate efficiently
- Most commonly used in Public Cloud services
- It can benefit your business by reducing legacy infrastructure, saving money, and ensuring cloud performance during peak times.
- Must be implemented with a strong, best practice roadmap
In conclusion, cloud elasticity is a powerful tool which allows businesses to adapt their cloud resources to match current demand. By automatically or manually adjusting the amount of resources available to a workload, cloud elasticity helps to ensure that the workload can continue to operate efficiently and cost-effectively.
Businesses with dynamic workloads, such as e-commerce, SaaS, mobile, and DevOps, can benefit from cloud elasticity by saving costs, ensuring cloud performance, and reducing legacy infrastructure.
To implement cloud elasticity, businesses must identify their current infrastructure, including variable workloads, the range of their workloads, and application limitations, then implement a plan based on best practices, regularly investigate and iterate to ensure optimal performance.
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