What the heck is burstability?
Have you seen cloud hosting companies buzzing about the cloud being burstable and wondered what the heck that means? Come on, raise your hands. Burstability seems most often used when discussing cloud hosting for small and medium-sized businesses. This marketing term actually has great benefit. It is definitely worth learning more about, especially if you are a small or medium-sized company.
What is it? Cloud servers offer “burstability” because CPU power can quickly expand (or burst) to accommodate periods of increased website traffic, then retract once the period is over. This temporary traffic growth can be planned (seasonal businesses) or unplanned (such as a funny video virally shared among social media sites).
If a company opts for a dedicated server, burstability isn’t possible if they are already using there allotted maximum CPU amount. If you suddenly max out your server, the results could be:
Bad customer experiences because the website response time is very slow.
Lost potential customers because they left when the site was down or too slow.
Since companies should plan for growth, they typically opt for a more powerful (more expensive) dedicated server that is big enough to handle such traffic spurts. However, they end up spending over double the money for the smaller space they actually regularly use. With cloud hosting, you only pay for the amount of computing space you need most of the time. Should traffic temporarily explode (good for you!), the cloud server bursts and then retracts. Your bill only goes up for the time frame of higher traffic, then goes back to normal. Companies can save big with the burstability offered by cloud servers.
Here’s a non-computer related analogy: Say you have a big, extended family that lives out of town. Do you buy a house big enough so everyone can stay when they are visiting? You clean, heat and cool that big house all year long so you are ready for that one time a year you’re all together. Or, do you save money by buying a small house and just get hotel rooms for that big family when they are there? Consider that small house your cloud server and the hotel as offering burstability. And, yes, the dedicated server is that big expensive house.