When deciding on cloud infrastructure, there are many aspects that IT managers should consider, such as cost, security, performance, availability, and reliability. While the magnitude of these aspects is extremely important when it comes to cloud infrastructure, there are a few other areas that have become increasingly important: cloud elasticity and cloud scalability. Oftentimes, people interchange these words as if they mean the same thing, but they possess very distinct differences.
Elasticity was meant to match the sources allocated with the actual amount of resources needed at any given point in time. Scalability controls the changing needs of an application within the confines of the infrastructure by adding and removing resources to meet application demands if needed. In many cases, this is handled by scaling up or scaling out. Elasticity works well in environments with ever-changing demands, such as e-commerce, retail, SaaS, mobile, and Dev Ops. Businesses with a predictable workload may be better off using scalability.
What is Elasticity?
Elasticity is the ability to grow or shrink infrastructure resources dynamically as needed. This is to adapt to automatic workload changes and maximizing the use of these resources. This can result in tons of savings in infrastructure costs. Cloud elasticity is most associated with scale-out solutions (horizontal scaling). This allows for resources to be added or removed when necessary. Although this may sound great, this type of cloud asset isn’t great for every business. Businesses that do not experience sudden changes in demand may not benefit from elastic services. Basically, elastic services mean that all resources, such as hardware, Qos, software, and other resources in the infrastructure are elastic.
Elasticity is generally associated with public cloud resources. It’s more commonly featured in pay-per-use services. This means that IT managers are not paying for more resources than they are using at a given time.
A great example of a business that would need cloud elasticity would be retail with fluctuating seasonal activity. Think about Black Friday, Christmas, and other holidays that shoppers spend in their favorite stores. During those specific times of the year, there are sudden spikes in demand in retail stores all across the world. Instead of these retail stores spending money on permanent infrastructure capacity to hold a couple months of high load out of the year, they would benefit more by using an elasticity solution. Those stores would need that elastic infrastructure to be able to shrink and expand during those points of high demand. Investing in elasticity also allows the IT managers limitless headroom if needed. While any cloud can be made elastic, the practice is most common in a public cloud space.
What is Scalability?
Scalability refers to the ability to increase workload size within an existing infrastructure, such as hardware or software, without impacting performance. In cloud terms, scalability can refer to the creation of additional machines. The resources allocated to support this are typically pre-determined capacity with a limited amount of headroom built in to handle maximum demand. Scalability also has the ability with additional infrastructure resources, and sometimes without a limit.
Scalability can either be vertical (scale-up within a system) or horizontal (scale-out multiple systems). Because of this, applications have room to scale up or scale-out to prevent anything from hindering performance. Of course, there are cases where the IT manager knows that they will no longer need resources, and scale down the infrastructure statically to maintain a smaller environment. For example, a small business has a small database application supported on a server. As the business grows, so will the database and the resource demands. If a business or IT manager is able to predict the business’s growth rate, they can purchase provisioned infrastructure (network, compute, and storage) so that the database application has room to grow to its maximum capacity. Scalability is truly a steady pay-as-you-grow solution. It’s also generally delivered more readily in private cloud.
Cloud Elasticity Vs. Cloud Scalability
Most cloud providers solve the problem of having to choose between the two, as any cloud is capable of having elasticity and scalability. They are highly desired, after all! There are distinct differences between elasticity and scalability. When deciding which cloud service to use, it ultimately depends on your business needs. A good rule of thumb is to remember that cloud elasticity is generally delivered more readily in public cloud environments, while scalability is delivered more in private cloud environments. Hostirian allows you to effectively manage and optimize both scalability and elasticity. Not only do we optimize our infrastructures for performance and efficiency, but we also operate with our data centers on-premises so that any technical problem can be tackled immediately. If you have a cloud question or you’re interested in getting started with a private cloud environment, let us know! We are here to help!