2. Flexibility and Peak Demands

By David Strom Print this article Print

Strategies that help ensure successful cloud-based projects.

2. Flexibility and Peak Demands

Second, the cloud can be flexible, if managed properly. “One of the reasons you go to the cloud in the first place is because peak demands can be handled flexibly over time,” says Savvis’ Doerr.

However, just because you have the flexibility to add or subtract capacity on demand doesn’t mean much when you need to have human intervention to make that happen. Yes, the cloud can be a terrific way to adjust capacity, but, says Doerr, “You want to develop a process to respond to these peaks—or when you have too much capacity—and act accordingly.

“As an industry, we can automatically provision stuff quickly, but what we can’t do yet is make decisions quickly. How long will it take to add capacity to this app? How long will it take to recognize a failure and respond?”

One of the nice aspects of using the cloud to run your applications is that “you can constantly be morphing your portal suite to what you want it to become,” says Doug Pierce, CIO of Momentum Worldwide, based in Clayton, Mo. Momentum is an interactive marketing agency that developed a collection of cloud-based applications and integrated them for common tasks, such as client management, Web conferencing, blogging and wikis. The entire collection has a single sign-on and is used by more than 2,000 staffers around the world.

Part of managing a move to the cloud might involve a series of stages, which are necessary to acclimate your staff to the cloud way of life. That’s what San Francisco-based Presidio Health did. “Presidio had to handle a 16-times increase in data volume in a year and replace some aging hardware,” says CTO Thomas Gregory. “We didn’t want a lot of capital expense, but we did want an environment that was safe and could spread our risk around.”

The healthcare-software provider took a multistage process toward cloud computing: At first, it kept the data inside its data center but migrated its apps to the cloud. “We were able to increase our computing power by 70 percent without increasing our IT budget,” Gregory reports.

The next step was to move its data to the cloud. “Having the first step of a hybrid cloud was more complex, but it gave us some experience with handling the cloud apps and understanding the security implications,” he says. “It was a lot easier to leave our back-end servers in our cabinets while we migrated the front end. Most of the cloud environment deals with the front-end interfaces, so that gave us time to work on those.”

Presidio Health uses a combination of Eclipse and Spring-based open-source software and Appistry for handling cloud-services management. The firm hosts everything at Sacramento-based StrataScale. “We wanted a provider that was close enough to get to in an emergency, but not located in the same earthquake fault zone as our offices,” Gregory explains.

What made this two-step process successful was that Gregory planned the entire move in advance. “You need to take the time to analyze what you have and find a solution that will allow you to scale what you have and make the necessary adjustments along the way,” he advises.

This article was originally published on 2011-01-28
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