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January 14, 2011 • Vol.33 Issue 1
Page(s) 22 in print issue

Bursts Of Cloud Capacity:
The Enterprise Cloud Gets Even More Dynamic
 The enterprise cloud is full of various iterations and technologies, with new tech being developed seemingly on a daily basis. One of the latest trends to arrive is cloudbursting, which Alan Murphy, senior technical marketing manager with F5 Networks (, defines as “the architectural principle that allows applications and services to be dynamically provisioned in the cloud based on need, consumed in the cloud by users, and then deprovisioned once that need goes away.” Cloudbursting is one of the most compelling models for cloud computing today because it is a true use case for a real-world hybrid cloud architecture. Here are four key areas of consideration before you implement.

Network Connectivity

The network plays one of the most important roles in any cloudbursting deployment, yet Murphy says it tends to be either taken for granted or dealt with outside the scope of bursting, both of which can impede a successful rollout. “For a cloudbursting solution that includes an external cloud provider, interconnecting the on-premises application network with the off-premises provider network should be top of mind,” he says. “Designing, managing, and building the network into the cloudburst solution will result in a more seamless deployment and more reliable manageability before and during a bursting event.”

Know Your Triggers & Metrics

Chuck Hobart, solutions architect for IT outsourcing at VMC Consulting, says the real key to cloudbursting is the analysis of trigger points. “In the case of cloudbursting, trigger points can be as simple as reaching 75% of your current processing capacity,” Hobart explains. “This would allow sufficient time to acquire the additional processing capability needed until the next trigger is reached.” He says triggers need to be well defined and tested.

Eric Mead, director of consulting at VMC, says the right metrics will also improve efficiencies. “The decision to utilize a specific technology environment is based on business or technical metrics that must be planned for and driven into the control point,” Mead says. “You need to continuously review decision metrics throughout the process and measure your efficiencies and, where appropriate, continuously tweak.”

Consider Your Management

According to Murphy, managing the deployment details and implementation can make or break the cloudbursting solution. “A successful cloudbursting deployment hinges on total control of the cloud infrastructure and the ability to control what is provisioned into the cloud, when it is provisioned, and under what conditions and circumstances,” he says. “Monitoring and real-time feedback plays an integral part of managing the cloudbursting infrastructure, as well—something that should be factored in when choosing a cloud solution.”

Mead also warns that “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” He says many companies may reduce the amount of appropriate planning because they know that cloudbursting can be used as a crutch. “Don’t make that mistake,” Mead says. “Ensure you continue to strengthen your planning and use cloudbursting where it makes sense. Make sure you continue to focus on the ROI of the entire process, as this will help you decide what is right for your company.”

Choose The Right Provider

Murphy says it’s crucial to choose a cloud provider, or other internal cloud-enabled technology, that best meets the business need. “Choosing a provider or solution that is focused on a hybrid architecture or one that is geared toward bursting, and one that most closely matches the existing infrastructure, can drastically improve manageability, deployment, and the success of the bursting solution,” he explains.

by Chris A. Mackinnon

Best Tip: Learn From The Past

Does your business normally lend itself to seasonal (holiday shopping) or event-based (planned release of downloads) peaks of traffic that push infrastructure over its capacity? According to Eric Mead, director of consulting at VMC Consulting, it’s important to keep a record of the effort associated with this work and use this information as an input into your future planning. “How much activity took place? Measure page views, unique users, time on site, total transactions, and what drove the activity, like a marketing campaign, environmental event out of your control, or announcement,” he advises.

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