“The Cloud” is probably the biggest buzz phrase in tech right now – or really, any field, if you think about it. It’s no surprise, really. Cloud computing is actually a lot more complex than most people think; an amalgamation of several different technologies and services designed to make the user’s life easier.
It’s a lot easier to just talk about “the cloud” than describing each individual component, no?
Unfortunately, that means that cloud computing is, in many cases, both ill-defined, and poorly understood. Too many people – both within enterprise and without – have only a vague idea of what cloud computing is and does; this leads to a great deal of confusion when the time comes to discuss some of the finer points of cloud computing’s functionality.
Let’s see if we can define things a little more thoroughly. After all, in order to truly gain any benefit from the cloud, you need to actually understand what it does, no? We’ll begin with the difference between cloud scaling and cloud bursting – two different methods by which the cloud is used to help a business grow.
To fully understand scaling, you first need to understand something about cloud computing – virtualization software is a fundamental component of the technology. At the risk of oversimplifying things, cloud computing is essentially a virtualized product or service delivered through the Internet – whether it’s an application platform, operating environment, or simulated hardware resources.
With that in mind, cloud scaling is fairly easy to define – it simply involves adding new resources to already-existing cloud infrastructure. The important thing is that you’re provisioning additional resources for yourself on a permanent (or semi-permanent) basis through the cloud. Simple enough, right?
Bursting…well, bursting is a little more difficult.
Cloud bursting is used primarily to balance computing load. When a traditionally hosted application, server, or network requires more resources than it’s able to adequately provide, it ‘bursts’ onto a public cloud (essentially, a third-party cloud environment that’s accessible to more than one client).
Bursting allows a system to weather its way through periods of particularly high stress without any degradation in performance. Once the public cloud resources are no longer required, the application, service, or network no longer provisions them from the public cloud. That’s actually the primary difference between scaling and bursting.
The nature of bursting means that, while it allows users to pay only for the resources they use, it tends to be less secure – meaning care should be taken when storing particularly sensitive data in a system that ‘bursts.’
Clearing The Air
As one of the most prominent buzzwords in tech, “Cloud Computing” is also woefully ill-defined. What that means for many users is that, when they decide to make the leap to the cloud, they’re going in with only partial information – which is never a good idea. After reading today’s piece, you’ve hopefully formed a more complete understanding of cloud computing as a service, product, and tool – along with knowledge of your organization’s specific needs where the cloud is concerned.