Meeting Demand

May 14, 2009 by James Smith

With the development of rich web based applications comes the risk that usage explodes overnight. This is great for the provider as they have obviously delivered something of value, however it does require a change behind the scenes, that is, how the service is hosted. What does this mean? Well, put simply, the processing power required to support 100 users as opposed to 10,000 is very different.

What is required? An infrastructure that is capable of automatically scaling to meet demand.

A simple concept, but one that is difficult to achieve. The service must remain unaffected by these ‘background’ changes otherwise users will become disgruntled and stop using it. Also the provider cannot simply throw lots of processing power at every service, this would be costly and in-efficient. A scalable hosting platform is required, one that is capable of recognising variation is demand and increasing and decreasing as required.

Solutions such as the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Microsoft Azure demonstrate this concept is sound. Organisations are now recognising the benefits and adopting this approach, not just with externally hosted solutions but also within the organisation. The advent of ‘private clouds’, where an organisation is using technology products like VMware vSphere 4 to implement their ‘cloud’ and realise the benefits.

So what can we take from this? It is clear that the infrastructure is intrinsically linked to the applications and the two must be considered together to ensure the benefits expected from the new application development methods are realised. With this in mind Warwickshire County Council are ensuring that both application and infrastructure strategies are developed together.

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