Cloud Elasticity vs Scalability

Elasticity vs Scalability - Complete Controller

Information technology (IT) managers and business CIOs (chief information officers) must consider a wide variety of cloud computing aspects when adopting cloud services within their corporate infrastructure. Security, performance, cost, availability, accessibility, and reliability are common areas to consider. Cloud elasticity and scalability are additional criteria added to this list of factors that will influence your decisions. They are as impactful to cloud computing as bookkeeping is to financial reports.

Although many people use these technical terms interchangeably, there are several contrasting differences between elasticity and scalability. Interpreting these distinctions is imperative to ensure your business needs are optimally met.

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Elasticity vs. Scalability

Elasticity matches the allocated resources with the resource amounts required at a given instance. On the other hand, scalability tackles an application’s varying requirements within the parameters of the infrastructure by removing or adding resources statically to fulfill application needs whenever demanded. This phenomenon is handled, in most cases, by vertical scaling (scaling up) and horizontal scaling (scaling out). Regarding sizing, elasticity is less targeted and powerful than scalability.

Typically, cloud elasticity performs optimally in applications including mobile, service-as-a-service (SaaS), DevOps (Development and IT Operations), e-commerce and retail, and other environments that exhibit persistently varying needs in infrastructure services. Cloud scalability is expected to render better cost-saving advantages for organizations that demonstrate a feasible workload featuring stable performance and capacity planning and can predict a growing or constant workload.

Cloud Elasticity

Typically, elasticity is a system’s ability to shrink or expand infrastructure resources potentially as required to adjust to workload variations autonomously, ensuring resource efficiencies. Not everyone can take advantage of elastic services. Environments not experiencing cyclical or sudden requirements variations may not see most of the cost-saving benefits that elastic services can offer. Application of ‘Elastic Services’ usually means that each resource available in the system infrastructure has to be elastic. Such resources include software, hardware, connectivity, Quality of Service (QoS), and other matters utilized in inelastic applications. Thus, it may be a negative trait where specific applications’ performances should have guaranteed performance.

Cloud elasticity is a renowned feature related to horizontal scaling or scale-out solutions that allows system resources to be added or removed dynamically whenever required. Elasticity is generally featured in pay-as-you-expand or pay-per-use services and is commonly related to public cloud resources.

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Cloud Scalability

More often, scalability includes the system’s ability to grow workload sizes within pre-existing hardware, software, and other related infrastructure without impacting performance. Resources that need to support the workload have pre-planned capacity featuring a certain amount built in to tackle peak requirements. In some cases, even without a hard limit, the ability to grow with extra infrastructure resources also falls under scalability. It can either be horizontal or vertical. 

Thus, applications must have enough room to scale out or scale up to prevent performance hindrances due to a lack of resourcefulness. There are several cases where a company’s IT manager knows there is no further need for resources and scales down the infrastructure statically to support a new, smaller environment.

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Where Scalability and Elasticity Cross Paths

Some cloud services are considered adaptable solutions with incredible services that offer both elasticity and scalability. Each allows an organization’s IT department to contract or expand its services or resources according to its needs while also offering the benefits of pay-as-you-grow to scale for output and resource requirements to fulfill Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Effective incorporation of these potential capabilities is paramount for an organization’s IT manager, whose system infrastructure is persistently fluctuating without any pause.

The supplementary infrastructure is only utilized initially in a pay-as-you-expand model and subsequently ‘shrinks’ back to a decreased volume for the rest of the year to handle the grown capacity. It also ensures extra unanticipated and sudden sales activities throughout the year whenever required without affecting availability or performance.

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