Rightscale came out with a wonderful report on the state of the cloud industry, and we learned some important new things:
- 77% of organizations are at least exploring private cloud implementations
- 82% of enterprises are executing a hybrid cloud strategy
- 26% of respondents are now listing cost as significant challenge – ironically, given the importance of cost-cutting in the early growth of cloud services
The growth in hybrid cloud adoption is particularly striking: by Rightscale’s count, only 6% of companies are exclusively looking at private cloud, 18% are exclusively looking at public cloud , while a full 71% have a toe dipped into each pool.
Meanwhile, Cisco estimates that two thirds of all Internet traffic will traverse at least one content delivery network by 2020 – which tends to imply that most organizations are, right now, invested in getting the most out of some combination of private cloud, public cloud, CDN, and, presumably, physically-managed data center.
Fundamentally, there are a few core ways that we see organizations using this market basket of delivery pathways – and, naturally, our Openmix global server load balancer – to better serve their customers, and to protect their economics as demand grows, apparently insatiable. The core strategies are:
- Balance CDNs, offload to origin. For web-centric businesses, delivering content across the Internet is fundamental to their success (possibly their survival), so they tend to rely upon one or more CDNs to get content to their users effectively. Over time, they tend to expand the number of CDN relationships, in order to improve quality across geographies, and to make the most of pricing differences between providers. Once they get this set to equilibrium, they discover that there is unused capacity at origin (or within a private or public cloud instance) to which they can offload traffic, maximizing the return they get on committed capacity, and minimizing unnecessary spend.
- Balance clouds, offload to CDN. For businesses that are highly geographically-focused, it is often more effective to create what is essentially a self-managed CDN, establishing PoPs through cloud providers in population centers where their customers actually originate. Even the most robust internally-managed system, however, is subject to traffic spikes that are way beyond expectations (and committed throughput limits), and so these companies build relationships with CDNs in which excess traffic is offloaded at peak times.
- Balance Hybrid Cloud. Organizations at the far right of Rightscale’s cloud maturity scale (in their words, the Cloud Explorers and Cloud Focused) are starting to view each of the delivery options not as wildly distinct options, but merely as similar-if-different-looking cogs in the machine. As such, they look at load and cost balancing through a pragmatic prism, in which each user is simply served through the lowest cost provider, so long as it can pass a pre-defined quality bar (a specified latency rate, for instance, or a throughput level). By shifting the mindset away from ‘primary’ and ‘offload’ networks, organizations are able to build strategies that optimize for both cost and quality.
Of course, to balance traffic across a heterogeneous set of delivery networks (and provider types), while adjusting for a combination of both economic and quality of service metrics, requires three things:
- Real-time visibility of the state of the Internet beyond the view of the individual publisher, in order to be able to evaluate Quality of Service levels prior to selecting a delivery provider
- Real-time visibility into the current economic situation with each contracted provider: which offers the lowest cost option, based on unit pricing, contract commitments, and so forth
- Real-time traffic routing, which takes the data inputs, compares them to the unique requirements of the requesting publisher, and seamlessly directs traffic along the right pathway
Not an easy recipe, perhaps, but when found, it results in the opportunity to apply sophisticated algorithms to delivery – in effect to exercise a Wall Street-level arbitrage approach, which results in a combination of delighted customers, and reduced infrastructure costs.
Or, put another way, the opportunity to make your hybrid cloud strategy pay for itself – and more.
To find out more about real-time predictive traffic routing, please take a look around our Openmix pages, read about how to deliver 100% availability with a Hybrid CDN architecture, and visit our Github repository to see how easy it is to build your own real-time load balancing algorithm.