Rick Vincent is Director of Solution Engineering for Faction.
There are two types of IaaS cloud providers in the marketplace, and oftentimes they are only compared/contrasted based on their consumption model – clouds that are consumed by the instance, a.k.a. the hyperscale cloud; or clouds that are consumed as a resource pool, a.k.a enterprise-grade clouds. Just as important as the consumption model is how we have traditionally compared and contrasted cloud services.
Cloud computing offers many advantages to businesses. The technology provides more flexibility, lower costs, greater availability and deep staff knowledge. In addition to developing strategies to ensure close alignment with current and future business needs, the cloud becomes an asset to the organization. Companies that span the cloud have become increasingly essential for business success, as their agility broadens and they aligned with business objectives. It's not really a question of whether companies should move to the cloud, but when.
Two Cloud Models
First, let’s define the two cloud types by their consumption model. A by-the-instance cloud provider is usually the simplest way to consume cloud. By-the-instance is ideal for companies that wish to scale horizontally and companies with read-only applications.
In contrast, there are no t-shirt sizes (S, M, L, or XL) for clouds consumed by a resource pool like hyperscale cloud. This isn’t the simplest way to consume cloud, but it is far more suitable for the complexities of most businesses. Resource pool clouds are ideal for companies with transactional applications and those that wish to scale both horizontally and vertically.
Cloud consumption models can help customers discover how well their cloud services are protecting their organizations and provide them with a broad view of their cloud usage. It can also help cloud service providers to better meet the needs of internal clients and predict future needs. The consumption model can also help you better govern your organization’s cloud adoption from end-to-end.
Which Cloud Consumption Model is Best?
Ask yourself how important performance and availability are to your company? Is 100 percent availability essential to your company’s survival? Do you have a highly available architecture? Is robust performance critical to your operational success? With by-the-instance cloud you will create both scale and availability by distributing content across multiple instances and geographies.
Alternatively, resource pool-based clouds are ideal for environments with large transactional systems that have an underlying HA infrastructure and scale, at a granular level, to fine-tune your compute, network, or storage independent of one another.
By-the-instance clouds tend to be less expensive on the front end since they do not include HA redundancy in the infrastructure. It is not ideal though if your environment requires seeding, retrieval and frequent movement of your data. In addition, when scaling horizontally, by-the-instance clouds produce additional copies of the data. While there may be higher front-end costs, resource pools are the most efficient when you are at scale. This is beneficial because fewer data copies are required, and fewer data movements occur in a resource pool cloud.
At first look, by-the-instance clouds appear flexible, however, they are constrained by the attributes of each instance (the t-shirt sizes S, M, L). There is no customization, and they must be purchased off the shelf. Typically resource pool cloud is more flexible because you can customize each element of the infrastructure to your needs. Customers can change resource allocations without rebuilding or moving data and can more easily scale into larger resource pools than in per-instance clouds.
By-the-instance cloud requires deep employee knowledge of the application(s) in order to operate and scale. Resource pool clouds do not. You can achieve HA architecture and availability even if you don’t have the deep employee knowledge of the application internals.
Ask the Right Questions
Don’t just look at the consumption model when weighing your cloud options. Most importantly, consider performance, costs, flexibility and staff knowledge. Thinking in this way will allow you to make intelligent choices related to initial design so that you can avoid potentially disastrous application redesigns as the application grows or changes and you are faced with new challenges.
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