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Cloud Computing Service Elasticity

Services must scale in the cloud

Many enterprise IT decision makers are probably currently, or will be shortly, contemplating some type of cloud computing solution that promises to deliver benefits to their operation. After all, cloud computing solutions, when utilized prudently, are hard to resist. As these decision makers prepare to weigh the pros and cons of such solutions, there is one consideration that is perhaps more important than all others: Will this solution enable elasticity among my services and applications?

Hopefully the answer to the above question is a confident 'Yes'. A lot of discussion is given to providing virtualized, dynamically scaled resources such as servers, processors, operating systems, etc. and rightfully so. By optimizing the usage and consumption of these infrastructure resources, IT operations can be significantly enhanced. However, these resources are often times just a mean to an end, that end being service delivery. IT provides services and applications to end-users that are critical in terms of revenue generation or optimal business activity. These are the resources that most need elastic capabilites to ensure that end-users are continually provided responsive service. Cloud computing solutions need to address this capability by providing the means to package services in manageable units and deliver the ability to govern the scale of these units in an autonomic fashion.

Note, that in the question above I used the word enable. This was deliberate since it is hard to comprehend how any cloud computing solution could provide "out-of-the-box" service elasticity. The implementation of a SOA architecture becomes a necessary partner to achieving true service elasticity. Services must be developed in such a way that they are loosely coupled from other services and required components such as databases. Otherwise, the ability of one service to dynamically scale may be implicitly connected to another service's ability to achieve such elasticity. In this type of intertwined architecture, maximum elasticity will never be achieved.

What do you think about the current cloud landscape? Is there enough focus on service elasticity, and is service elasticity even the most valuable aspect of cloud computing?

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.

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