When you mention cloud computing, most IT pros probably think of outsourcing their company's applications and infrastructure. Certainly, that model is appropriate in some businesses. However, there are other circumstances that might call for cloud computing in a dynamic or temporary deployment, and a recent survey suggests that more businesses are looking at this model for uses such as big data or media files.
The survey was prepared by cloud security vendors CloudPassage and received input from 201 IT professionals ranging from C-level executives down to the systems administrators in the trenches. One of its key findings indicated that 70 percent more companies are planning to use public cloud environments for temporary workload or big data in 2013 as compared to 2012.
I spoke with CloudPassage's chief evangelist, Andrew Hay, about the survey results. "Netflix is definitely a great example," Hay said. "They'll fire up a server instance to serve a particular movie. During peak times, they'll fire up additional servers to combat the load or the customer demand to watch the movies. They're dynamically provisioning and serving information." In a typical business, you might think of serving training videos in a temporary cloud deployment, for instance.
In the case of big data, the temporary cloud can be useful for processing chunks of information. "One of the big use cases people usually go to in talking about temporary workloads is any sort of analytics or number-crunching," Hay said. "Data that you'd traditionally ship off to a mainframe or super computer to try and do computational analytics and statistics -- people are moving those kinds of workloads to the public cloud because it's far less expensive to maintain a public cloud that you can just fire up and then turn off when you're done as opposed to maintaining a huge super computer infrastructure on premises."
You should consider a temporary cloud deployment whenever you have workloads that are seasonally dependent; that is, if you have high-volume needs at certain times and not at others, this model would seem to be ideal. Certainly, businesses focused on holiday sales through their websites should be using this method, but there are also organizations that might be focused around special annual events, such as political organizations running campaigns. I'm also reminded of SharePoint expert Dan Holme's experiences working on the Olympics for NBC.
The CloudPassage survey also indicated that organizations are becoming more trusting of cloud computing, with 4 out of 5 respondents saying their company uses some type of cloud architecture, either public, private, or a hybrid. I think it's good to remember that you don't necessarily have to be committed to one model -- you can have hp microsoft private cloud solutions for essential infrastructure that you run all the time and rely on a public cloud for temporary workloads. Of course, keeping critical systems strictly on premises when your company feels that's necessary can be a part of this design as well.
You can find more about the survey, including a nice infographic of key statistics, on the CloudPassage blog. Meanwhile, if you've used, or are planning to use, cloud computing for temporary workloads, I'd love to hear about it.