Cloud bursting is the practice of dynamically scaling public cloud resources to run workloads when on-premises data center resources are at their peak capacity. The overflow traffic “bursts” to a public cloud without causing an interruption in service. This allows organizations to handle big changes in workloads without maintaining excess cloud resources.
Cloud bursting provides several advantages, such as the ability to handle spikes and fluctuations in traffic and to pay for additional cloud resources only when they are needed.
Cloud bursting can be triggered automatically (when demand reaches a certain threshold) or manually (by request). When a cloud burst is triggered, the application switches over into the public cloud with no interruption in service. When the traffic spike is over, it can be moved back into the data center.
There are several techniques for handling cloud bursting:
- Manual bursting requires the manual provisioning and deprovisioning of public cloud resources and is usually used for temporary deployments
- Automated bursting provisions public cloud resources automatically when capacity reaches a limit defined by IT. With this form of cloud bursting, IT uses cloud tools to set policies or capacity limits that dictate when cloud bursting occurs.
- Distributed load balancing operates workloads simultaneously across the public cloud and on-premises data center. Load balancing operations share traffic between the two. This form of cloud bursting requires a standby deployment to run in the public cloud so that it can scale up as needed.
Cloud bursting offers a number of advantages for organizations looking to optimize their IT infrastructure. Some of these benefits include:
- Cost savings: Cloud bursting allows organizations to pay for public cloud resources only when they’re needed, relying on their own on-premises infrastructure the rest of the time. This is particularly effective when businesses deal with occasional spikes in traffic, where it would be costly and impractical to maintain the level of resources required for maximum demand when actual usage most of the time is much lower.
- Flexibility: The use of cloud bursting enables organizations to handle spikes in demand and dynamically scale up or down as needed. This allows them to free up resources and quickly adjust to fluctuations in traffic.
- Business continuity: By preventing applications from crashing during periods of peak demand or system failures, cloud bursting helps avoid disruptions in service. Using public cloud resources provides an added layer of redundancy, allowing businesses to seamlessly redirect workloads to the public cloud when needed. From the user side, there are no interruptions.
Despite its advantages, there are several challenges that can make the use of cloud bursting difficult or impractical in certain situations. Organizations that are thinking about using cloud bursting should be sure to consider the following issues:
- Security: Cloud bursting introduces security challenges due to the movement of data and applications between different environments. Organizations must carefully assess the security practices of their public cloud provider and ensure that it meets their standards. Implementing strong encryption and security protocols can help mitigate the issue.
- Compliance: For organizations in industries with strict compliance standards (such as healthcare and finance), the use of a public cloud may not meet compliance standards, especially when transferring data across borders. For this reason, cloud bursting may not be a good fit for workloads with regulatory compliance requirements.
- Incompatibility:Bursting between an on-premises data center or private cloud and a public cloud that uses different technologies, virtualization platforms or management tools may lead to potential compatibility issues and interoperability challenges. To address this issue, organizations should consider cloud-native solutions that can seamlessly run and manage a multi-cloud architecture.
Cloud bursting is particularly useful for fluctuations in traffic or workload, whether they are expected— like for seasonal sales or marketing campaigns that generate a lot of temporary traffic —or unpredictable. During periods of low demand, an organization can rely on its private cloud infrastructure, and when there is a sudden surge in traffic it can use cloud bursting to scale up resources and handle the increased load.
Cloud bursting is also effective for resource-intensive applications that require significant computing power, such as big data analytics or machine learning. By using cloud bursting, organizations can use additional resources available in the public cloud to enable these applications to work more efficiently.
It’s best to use cloud bursting for apps that are designed to be easily scalable and aren’t heavily dependent on a complex infrastructure or integrations with on-premises resources. Applications that can be readily deployed and run in both the private and public cloud environments are ideal candidates for cloud bursting.
In some cases, cloud bursting may not be the best fit. It’s not recommended to use cloud bursting for applications that involve critical business operations or handle sensitive data, as the movement of data between the private and public clouds can introduce security and compliance risks. In these cases, organizations may prefer to keep sensitive applications and data within a controlled on-premises environment.