Cloud elasticity comes with a wide range of benefits—but also some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of before you use it. We’ve already given a general overview of cloud elasticity in our article “What is Cloud Elasticity?” Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of cloud elasticity, so that you can decide whether cloud elasticity is right for you in your next system or application.
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The Pros of Cloud Elasticity
The pros of cloud elasticity include:
- High availability and reliability: Cloud elasticity allows users to enjoy a highly consistent, predictable experience, without the risk of services failing or becoming unavailable. Resources are automatically provisioned behind the scenes, without the end user even aware. The system remains smooth and highly performant throughout.
- Facilitating growth: Like its cousin, cloud scalability, cloud elasticity helps your organization adopt a growth-oriented mindset. The elastic cloud makes your IT infrastructure more agile, nimble, and ready to acquire new users and customers.
- Automation: Cloud elasticity requires a greater amount of automation in your IT environment, which has benefits of its own. By automating the provisioning and scaling of resources, you can free up time for IT staff to focus on your core business functionality.
- Cost-effectiveness: To be “elastic” in the traditional on-premises model, businesses had to purchase more powerful infrastructure than they would actually use on a day-to-day basis, just as a contingency for spikes in demand. Cloud elasticity is much more cost-effective: it offers a “pay as you go” model in which you’re only charged for the resources that you consume.
The Cons of Cloud Elasticity
The cons of cloud elasticity include:
- Finding the right talent: Cloud elasticity makes your day-to-day life easier, but it also adds complexity to your IT infrastructure behind the scenes. If you don’t choose a fully managed solution, you need to have access to the right technical talent to ensure that it’s dealt with correctly. This means finding cloud developers, engineers, and architects who can help implement cloud elasticity and integrate it with the rest of your workflow.
- Learning curve: While cloud elasticity sounds good in theory, there’s a not-insignificant learning curve involved before you can actually use it effectively and start enjoying the benefits. Employees may need to familiarize themselves with new programming languages, cloud environments, and automation tools and other software.
- Security issues: Although most IT leaders agree that the cloud is generally secure, cloud elasticity can throw a wrench into your security workflow. Elastic systems may only be running for a limited amount of time, which means that you’ll have to rethink how you perform incident response, root cause analysis, forensics, and audits.
- Risk of vendor lock-in: Large public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure all have offerings to help customers employ cloud elasticity—but these offerings also come with the risk of vendor lock-in. You might find yourself entrapped by the “golden handcuffs” of the public cloud, seeing the benefits of leaving but ultimately unable or unwilling to do so.
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Cloud Elasticity: Is It Right for You?
Ultimately, most businesses find that the benefits of cloud elasticity outweigh the potential drawbacks. Cloud elasticity may be right for you if some or all of of the following conditions apply to you:
- You have access to a team of skilled developers who can help you implement and oversee elasticity for your cloud deployments.
- You’re concerned about overconsumption (i.e. paying for resources you don’t need) or underconsumption (i.e. blocking some users from access during times of peak demand) of your cloud resources.
- You have a use case in which high availability and uptime are extremely important (e.g. an e-commerce website or an on-demand streaming service).
- You want to switch to a “pay as you go” cost model.
Note that, as we highlighted in our article “What is Cloud Elasticity?”, elasticity and scalability aren’t the same thing. (Click on the link for a refresher of the two terms.) You can use both cloud scalability and/or elasticity as it best suits your needs and your IT environment.
Cloud elasticity is becoming more and more in-demand as businesses come to understand the benefits of elasticity for their cloud environments. That’s one reason why we built IronWorker, a hosted task management system that powers some of the world’s most visited websites. According to Greg Avola, co-founder and CTO of Untappd:
“Using Iron.io, IronMQ, and IronWorker to get to the next level is so important. We wouldn’t be able to process that many check-ins and queue up so many jobs with any other service that we’ve tried in the past.”
IronWorker is a serverless, highly elastic solution that works no matter which IT environment you prefer: in the public cloud, on-premises, on a dedicated server, or using a hybrid model that combines the cloud and on-premises.
Want to try out the benefits of cloud elasticity for yourself? Get in touch with our team today for a chat about how cloud elasticity can benefit your business needs and objectives—and to start your free trial of the Iron.io platform.
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