March 9, 2016
Cloud bursting is a term to describe the temporary utilization of cloud resources via a hybrid cloud environment.
Generally speaking, many high performance, non-critical applications can benefit from a cloud bursting strategy. When resource requirements exceed what can be provided by the on-premise or colocated data center, the application will temporarily shift data into a public cloud to free up space in the primary data center.
Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, and the Value of Cloud Bursting
The public cloud enables companies to utilize the near endless resources of enormous cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. Through their massive data centers, entire environments can exist and be accessed from these remote and distant locations without equipment on-premise. We no longer need to think of our environments in terms of equipment down the hall.
With such immense capabilities within reach, why only use the public cloud sometimes?
Yes, entire public cloud deployments can be useful solutions for some, but they can give other IT directors pause. While the public cloud does provide ample security, hosting a full IT environment in the cloud may not be the most cost-effective option. Furthermore, this data often travels across the standard internet WAN to reach the organizations end points, so latency can become a concern.
Cloud bursting addresses this dynamic by allowing an environment to only utilize the cloud when and if it is needed with non-essential or non-confidential applications. It provides the best balance of allocating resources and maximizing cost efficiency.
How to Burst into the Cloud
Currently, there are several strategies used for cloud bursting and many are supported by the largest names in the technology industry. Here are just a few.
- Cisco Intercloud Fabric: The intercloud is a term used to describe the cloud of clouds. If a single cloud is a collection of virtualized servers to create a ubiquitous pool of resources, the intercloud is a collection of clouds pooled into one enormous and seamless data center. At the grandest scale, this is still theoretical, but Cisco offers a product called the Cisco Intercloud Fabric which allows hybrid cloud environments to utilize multiple clouds as needed. You can set how much capacity you need and when as well as which provider or providers you require.
- Microsoft Azure: In the past, application developers would have to overprovision their storage and sever resources in order to account for increased demands of their testing environment. The problem was that these developers didn’t know how much compute power or storage space they need, so IT directors would purchase far too much hardware just to be safe. Microsoft Azure instead encourages developers to build in the expanse of the cloud. It allows users to pay only for the resources they use and when they use them.
- Equinix: Equinix puts an interesting twist on the public cloud game. Instead of relying on the public WAN to access data in the cloud, Equinix supplies you with a direct VPN connection to your data within the shared environment. With this strategy, IT directors can achieve the best of both worlds in a public cloud environment.
- VMware NSX: NSX is VMware’s software defined networking solution. The intelligence is abstracted from the networking equipment using a software overlay. Once the network is virtualized, IT administrators can provision and reprovision networks with the same speed and flexibility as virtual machines.Among other uses, these virtual networks can be drawn to include cloud deployments. Therefore, IT departments can use NSX to move data seamlessly in and out of the cloud as needed.
Cloud Bursting Use Cases
As IT environments continue to refine and become more sophisticated, the ability to cloud burst may become a more and more useful option.
- Retail Environments: In the retail industry, the holiday shopping season can create an influx of data beyond the capabilities of their current data centers. Instead of purchasing new equipment to account for a two month swell, bursting into the cloud is a cost effective option.
- Marketing Campaigns: Huge national campaigns can generate a large amount of web traffic in a short amount of time. Bursting into the cloud will help allow for that influx.
- Financial Applications: The end of month, end of quarter, and tax season are brief data intense periods for financial applications and institutions. Cloud bursting helps keep infrastructure low while maintaining capabilities and agility.
- Software Developers: When creating or testing a new web application, the ability to utilize the near endless resources of the cloud proves valuable.
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