May 21, 2013
As the demand for the consumption of computing resources becomes more relevant, it’s time to consider moving your infrastructure to a more flexible model, the cloud.
I’d like to start off with a scenario: Suppose your SharePoint Solution is comprised of several physical servers: one with Active Directory, one with SQL Server, and one with the SharePoint application. Deploying your SharePoint solution into a physical environment is generally a great idea: dedicated resources, no interference from other solutions or tenants, full control over the OS and application layer, etc. What happens if one (or all!) of your SharePoint physical servers run out of resource availability? Or worse, what if there is a hardware malfunction (Technical term for: “The sucker blew up”)? You are bound by the limitations of the hardware currently installed in your physical machine. Once you run out, taking the physical machine offline is a must, not an option. What if your business heavily relied on SharePoint? Is 1 – 4 hours of downtime acceptable? And, what about the time leading up to the resource allocation constraint? Can you afford for your solution to be slow or inaccessible?
This is where the flexibility of the cloud can jump in. In my travels, I’ve found that most are fairly cautious with moving from the physical environment into the virtual. Does virtual hosting have its own share of problems and downtime? Sure it does, but how it handles it is the key difference. Good cloud architecture, such as SingleHop’s VMware based cloud, allows for virtualized fault tolerance. Node blows up, no problem; your resources are automatically spun up in a new node, generally without missing a single ping. What happens if the storage device blows up? No problem, redundancy is built in there too.
Here is where the cloud really becomes synonymous with reliability and flexibility. Scheduling hardware maintenance or upgrades is a thing of the past. Admit it, if you had the choice, you’d find even the slightest of downtime unacceptable these days. Let’s go back to the previous SharePoint example. What if you could just trust the virtualized cloud environment to scale your resources when needed? It’s 5 am in the morning (5 AM = morning so either use 5 AM or 5 in the morning) and the SharePoint application server runs out of memory! Where are you? Hopefully, you’re asleep, because it will scale on your behalf to keep it online and running. What if you were about to bring in an additional 1,000 users to SharePoint Schedule more RAM to be added to your physical server? Migrate to another physical server? Who wants that – forget it! Virtualization allows you to easily alter your resource allocation up or down, in most cases, without even a reboot.
The virtual environment still grants you all the goodies from a physical server: dedicated resources, full control of the OS and application layers, and add-on appliances like firewalls and PCI. On demand resources, flexibility with tools like auto-scaling and load balancing are the future – downtime is no longer necessary.