Cloudonomics: High Availability Should Be a Part of your Cloud Computing ROI Calculation

High Availability In the Cloud

(Editors Note: At Ringio we have learned a good deal over the last 12 months about cloud computing and we thought it would be a useful topic to discuss in the Ringio blog, as so many of Ringio's customers are in the high-tech field.)

The typical factors considered when evaluating the ROI of the cloud compared with traditional data centers are:

  • Machine Utilization, Elastic Demand and Auto Scaling. Most services do not need all servers all the time. The cloud allows you to scale up and down and reduce cost at low demand times. This is especially well described in Joe Weinman's cloudonomics blog where he states that "even if cloud services cost, say, twice as much, a pure cloud solution makes sense for those demand curves where the peak-to-average ratio is two-to-one or higher." In a traditional setting you would have to be provisioned for peak demand all the time.
  • Power. In physical data centers the cumulative power cost outweighs the machine cost somewhere in year 2 or 3 onward. In the cloud, the unit machine cost includes the power cost.
  • Human Resources to run the data center. Due to no physical work such as cabling, the expected personnel count required to support data center operations is less in the cloud.

However, in addition to the above mentioned factors, one also needs to look at the out of the box high availability tool set that is provided by the cloud in order to provide a more thorough analysis.

The cloud provides the following benefits in the High Availability arena at a fraction of the costs of a traditional data center setting.

  • Geographic Redundancy and Diversity
    • The Cloud Way: The cloud - out of the box - gives you the power to instantiate your services in geographically diverse regions.
    • The Traditional Data Center: To do the same with your own data centers is very costly / time consuming / resource intensive. In addition you need to pay for inter site connections and point to point links. This can cost in the hundreds of thousands dollars extra. Now you need to instantiate 2x the peak demand in any one data center assuming that any one data center can take over all of your traffic.
  • Point In Time Data Snapshots
    • The Cloud Way: The cloud gives you block storage that allows for snapshotting which allows for data protection and point in time recovery.
    • The Traditional Data Center: The same capabilities can cost tens of thousand of dollars or more when being implemented at local data centers by the way of SAN's and NAS's.
  • Shared Data across Multiple Geographic Regions
    • The Cloud Way: With a highly available Network Attached Like Storage your data is available in multiple regions. In additions block data can also be snapshotted and made available across multiple regions
    • The Traditional Data Center: You need to work with ISPs regarding bandwidth and Point To Point(P2P) connections and then worry about the availability of these P2P connections. You need to purchase SANs and NAS's at each site for the data to be replicated.
  • Load Balancing & Basic Monitoring
    • The Cloud Way: The cloud provides this at a basic level and gets you off the ground quickly.
    • The Traditional Data Center: You don't need to implement your own solution unless you really need to do some advanced loadbalancing for example.

One of the key disruptions of cloud computing has been the commoditization of High Availability offerings, some of which are mentioned above. This is a boon for all startups like Ringio and for any existing enterprise that is looking at the cloud as well as high availability.

In my view when comparing the two approaches it's not just the cost to run a service but the cost to run a service in a highly available manner - that's where the cloud truly shines.

photo credit - calle vieja blog.