What Elasticity Really Means

Next up at ECS was a panel session moderated by Ian Rae, CEO of Syntenic.

The Speakers were:

  • Jon Beck, SVP Sales and Client Services, OpSource, Inc.
  • Chad Swartz, Senior Manager, IT Operations, Preferred Hotel Group
  • Geir Magnusson, Consulting Architect, Platform, Gilt
  • Scott Clark, Director of Engineering Infrastructure, Broadcom
  • Josh Litwin, President and CEO, Memento Press

Definitions of Elasticity

Mathematics: Elasticity is the ratio of the incremental change of the logarithm of a function with respect to an incremental change of the logarithm of the argument

Physics: Elasticity is the physical property of a material when it deforms under stress (e.g. external forces), but returns to its original shape when the stress is removed.

Economics: Elasticity is the responsiveness of a function to changes in parameters in a relative way

Ian’s definition of Elastic Computing: An essential property of cloud computing providing us the ability to “automagically” provision computing resources on demand and release them when no longer needed.

  • Automation – policy driven and programmatic
  • Near “Instantaneous”
  • Pay per use?
  • Infinite scalability?
  • To be determined….wikipedia article is up for grabs!

Quotes & Highlights

Scott: If we have to train our own people, make our own mistakes, this limits our speed and responsiveness. It makes a lot of sense to take advantage of the cloud providers who already have that expertise.

Chad: It makes it much easier to manage my costs when I’m paying more like a cellphone plan – a fixed, predictable cost but that I can “go a little over” if I need to.

Jon: We’ve come full circle in SaaS space, but we’re looking for three things from cloud providers: portability, transparency and affordability. The good news is that there is a lot of room for growth in the market. Today we’re mainly using it for QA, dev, test and demo.

Chad: One of big lessions learned was that systems run more efficiently if you build them from scratch in the cloud than if you migrate existing machines across. You have to think differently about things like I/O.

Geir: Our biggest fear is Oprah – a huge number of people sign up all at once. Cloud computing is the only thing that lets us do that. Databases scale terribly in the cloud. You have to rethink your whole data layer.

Scott: One of the things we can gain is learning from someone much bigger than us. It reduces our cost burden by letting us participate in a bigger ecosystem.

Josh: For a small company some software prices become harder for us to afford. But cloud services are more affordable. The biggest issues we are facing at the moment are around speed and responsiveness.

Scott: Big cloud engineering companies can get the best talent to build the cloud infrastructure. As a small company that’s a great reason for us to use their services rather than to roll our own.

Geir: Architectures are changing and service models are changing. It’s important to look past the hype and pay attention to the detail of this stuff.

Chad: It’s not for everyone now, but it will be very soon. This is the start of a new era of the way we approach computers. Cloud computing offers us huge advantages in agile deployment.

Jon: You add an aas to anything and it’s in vogue now. But it’s a different business & delivery model and it’s good for the evolution of the market. Generation Saas is upon us.