CloudBursting: Handling Demand Caused by the Facebook IPO

Earlier this month, Facebook filed for their IPO with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This is an exciting time for what could be considered as the largest cloud computing platform available. To me what was interesting about the Facebook filing was the effect this had on the SEC Website. Most of the time the SEC Website has reasonably constant traffic which its servers can handle comfortably. However, with the interest in the Facebook IPO, millions of people decided to go to the SEC Website to view the IPO. The effect was to crash the Website. This is not an isolated incidence for a high profile site and many other organisations have suffered similar unpredicted peaks in traffic that caused their sites to crash.

For some sites, an unpredicted spike in traffic may be expected, its just exactly when its going to occur that is not possible to predict. Many news sites, such as CNN and the BBC are examples, when big news events occur such as the earthquake in Japan then these sites will be heavily visited. It is for sites like this that a cloud computing solution known as cloudbursting is ideal. Having a large number of servers provisioned permanently for these types of sites is not a sensible approach – they would sit idle for much of the time. Cloud bursting is a technique when unexpected demand on compute resources can be met with resources instantaneously provisioned from the cloud. These resources will automatically scale to meet demand and then scale back as the demand returns to more normal levels. The beauty of this solution is that the costs incurred are only whilst the services in the cloud are being used during peak times.

Engineering a cloudbursting solution requires a thorough knowledge of a cloud providers infrastructure and how this can be automatically provisioned and released according to demand. Further, how this can be integrated with the existing application infrastructure is an important consideration. It is this type of scenario and solution that is discussed in Learning Tree’s Introduction to Cloud Computing course. If you are interested in discovering how cloud computing could benefit your organisation why not consider attending.

Chris Czarnecki

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