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Cloud bursting is a capacity-management strategy that involves requesting additional resources from the cloud when demand (computing, space, memory) exceeds the capacity of the production platform. The applications run on a stable platform (in a private cloud or traditional hosting service) and, at peak times (demand peaks), send part of the workload to a public cloud. This is what is known as a hybrid cloud. The strategy described improves the responsiveness of the applications and the client only pays for the additional computing resources when they are needed.
Thus, an application can be deployed locally or on the cloud provider in order to send any demand peaks that may arise to the public cloud. We can also move less critical applications to a public cloud to free up resources in our private cloud and allocate them to business-critical applications.
In all events, we must check that the levels of security and privacy provided by the public cloud provider meet the requirements of current legislation. Experts recommend using cloud bursting with non-critical applications that handle non-sensitive information.
With cloud bursting, we can maintain a suitable performance level without oversizing our platform. Traditionally, the infrastructure supporting an application was designed to withstand the worst possible scenario (demand peaks). This led to the oversizing of infrastructure, which was under-used most of the time.
Typical scenarios for the use of cloud bursting can include:
Firstly, we must define the layer of our architecture that we want to make "elastic" (it can grow or shrink by taking resources from the cloud). For example, with web applications, this layer is typically that of the web servers or application servers. These components have a series of characteristics rendering them ideal for this type of approach (features that other components such as databases do not usually have).
The first requirement is that this layer be capable of horizontal scaling, i.e. we can add more servers of the same type to the platform very rapidly, and that the work will be distributed automatically to all the servers in the layer. In our example, we need to easily add a web server and the workload (website visits) should be divided automatically among four servers (the three old ones and the new one). This behavior is achieved with a number of tools and techniques (load balancing, shared storage, stateless computing), which should have been taken into account in the design of the architecture.
Once these requirements are met, we need to automate the creation and implementation of new servers in the cloud so that we can ask the public cloud for identical new servers to the ones we have in production.
From this point on, all that remains is to know when to create new servers in the cloud and when to destroy them. Thus, we need to introduce an "orchestrator", which is a software capable of monitoring demand and server load (e.g. by monitoring the response times of the website or CPU status) and of responding intelligently by requesting more resources from the cloud (creating servers) or releasing (deleting) them.
The result is a layer of "elastic" servers in which the orchestrator constantly checks the status of the base platform servers and reacts to demand peaks by automatically increasing or reducing their capacity.
The big advantage of this model is that, due to the pay-per-use model of the cloud, you only pay for the additional infrastructure for very short periods (demand peaks), which results in considerable savings (the bigger the peak demand (in comparison to normal demand), the bigger the savings).
Cloud bursting is a technique for improving the management of resource capacity, offering real-time adaptation to demand without incurring oversizing costs. Instead of a fixed cost and variable service quality, a fixed service quality is established and the costs are made variable.
This strategy can also be efficient in helping to scale fast-growing websites in which the rate of increase in traffic exceeds the IT capacity of the organization to obtain, prepare and implement an infrastructure.
It is important to stress the importance of organizing and configuring our infrastructure in line with a good architecture that follows best practices and recognized design principles in the industry. In our example, we saw how the ability to use these advanced techniques depends entirely on having an architecture prepared for automated horizontal growth.
As a cloud computing provider, Nexica designs scalable architectures and implements private cloud platforms managed on demand with the ability to temporarily increase capacity using the cloud bursting model.