Private cloud and elasticity: Friends or foes?
Too often companies are faced with a choice: elasticity or security.
On the upside, the benefits of cloud computing are achieved through elasticity as much as anything else. As Craig Sheridan notes:
“More specifically then, elasticity in the cloud is the ability of an application to automatically adjust the infrastructure resources it uses to accommodate varied workloads and priorities, while maintaining availability and performance in a context-aware environment.”
Elasticity, then, enables businesses to tap into what can be understood as the cost saving mechanisms of cloud. The ability to scale up and down resources as you need them enables businesses to pay for what they actually use rather than provisioning a guestimate for what they will need and accepting the potential money lost.
However, for many enterprises, elasticity of cloud is at odds with their current abilities. These enterprise architectures are not designed to take advantage of elasticity benefits for a number of reasons, from legacy components, to security. Enterprises are also well established in using budgets to justify the purchasing of projected resource allotments, even if the reality of usage doesn’t ever live up to the capital expenditure.
“These enterprises cannot, therefore, maximize return on investment by achieving quality of service in performance, high availability and automation of requirements by instead provisioning manual storage, network and server resources based on best guess peak usage,” says Sheridan.
Security in particular presents a challenge to achieving the benefits of cloud’s instant elasticity.
As Ariel Dan notes: “Implementing data security in the cloud is not the same as implementing data security inside an enterprise data center.”
Utilizing scalable resources usually means utilizing the public cloud, which means shared resources. This concept is inherently opposed to the traditional IT concept of dedicated, private infrastructure that many enterprises have relied on for decades. This also presents a problem where achieving compliance aims are concerned.
However, there are emerging ways around these issues that enable dedicated infrastructure to be matched with scalability and elasticity in the traditional cloudy sense. Split key encryption is one potential area.
There are also other technology strategy questions that can successfully guide scalability in a private infrastructure set up. Knowing what workloads work best for different clouds is important, as is syncing infrastructure strategy with development strategy to enable scalability in an application itself.
Working with a managed service provider who specializes in private clouds can be a fast track to achieving the elasticity requirements balanced with security requirements.