Thursday, August 12, 2010

Every Penny Counts in the Cloud

There are many potential benefits of cloud computing that an organization can evaluate, but my favorite one to talk about is the efficient use of your I.T. dollars that is made possible by the elasticity of the cloud. This is easily explained through 2 simple diagrams that you can jot down on a nearby whiteboard or napkin whenever the opportunity arises. There are more elaborate versions of these diagrams out there in slide decks, but you can tell the story effectively just by drawing a couple of lines and narrating them.

The first diagram has a wavy line showing changing application load over time. To this we add a staircase which depicts cycles of hardware purchases (the vertical parts of the staircase) and time passing (the horizontal parts of the staircase). What this shows is that companies are forced to buy more capacity than they really need just to be on the safe side—in effect, spending more money than is necessary or spending it earlier than necessary. Even worse, if there is an unexpected change in load an undersupply situation can result where there is insufficient capacity. This arrangement is what we’re used to in the enterprise—but it is hardly ideal.

The second diagram has an identical wavy line showing changing application load over time. Instead of being joined by a staircase, the wavy line is paralleled by another wavy line that is nearly identical. This second line is the size of your footprint in the cloud. It is dialed larger or smaller in accordance with the load you measure. Anyone can see quite readily how more efficient this is.

Does this superior arrangement the cloud makes possible come at a price? Yes it does: you need to monitor your application regularly and expand or reduce your deployment in the cloud accordingly. Failure to do this will undermine the financial premise of using the cloud. Today this monitoring and adjusting is not something Windows Azure does for you as an out-of-box feature. However, you can achieve the monitoring and adjusting programatically via the Windows Azure Diagnostic and Service Management APIs.

1 comment:

c_marius said...

Hi David,
Excellent article, most valuable content!

C. Marius