What Is Elastic Computing? Definition, Examples, and Best Practices


Elastic computing is defined as the ability of a cloud service provider to swiftly scale the usage of resources such as storage, infrastructure, memory, etc., up and down to meet workload requirements dynamically. This article explains elastic computing in detail and shares useful best practices for elastic computing in 2021. 

Elastic computing is the ability of a cloud service provider to swiftly scale the usage of resources such as storage, infrastructure, computer processing, CPU memory, RAM, input/output bandwidth, etc., up and down to adapt to changing resource demands and dynamically meet workload requirements. Elastic computing is a part of cloud computing that entails dynamically managing the cloud server. 

How Elastic Computing Works

More and more businesses recognize the benefits of elastic computing and are rapidly shifting to minimize their infrastructural costs and overcome the challenge of managing resources manually. But before we begin to unpack the concept of elasticity, it’s essential to understand cloud computing first.

A prerequisite to elastic computing, cloud computing is a widely used system by IT organizations across the world today. Cloud computing allows small and large organizations to move their data to cloud storage and use various services such as online servers, software data platforms, storage space, and others over the internet. 

A cloud service provider’s support to quickly expand and shrink capacity at any given time provides organizations with incredible flexibility to make quick adjustments in resources without disrupting the flow of their operations. 

Cloud Elasticity

Elastic computing is more efficient than a regular IT infrastructure. The system’s ability to be up and running, and remain operational and responsive during unexpected fluctuations and spikes in user demand, is proof enough of its prowess. Its automated system optimizes the allocated resources and offers uninterrupted access without breakdowns, lags, or service interruptions. It has no impact on capacity planning and engineering, even during peak usage. 

Elastic computing results in overall IT cost savings, reduces dependence on human capital, and minimizes infrastructure costs. Elasticity ensures that your company doesn’t end up paying for idle resources or investing in unnecessary additional resources. It balances the load by efficiently deploying the actual amount of resources required. As such, there is neither over-provisioning (allocating additional resources) nor under-provisioning (allocating lesser resources). Over-provisioning leads to higher expenditure for the service provider. On the other hand, under-provisioning results in an unpleasant service experience for customers.

Comparison of Static Capacity With Cloud Elasticity

It is also important to note that elastic cloud service will notify you when you need more resources and also allows you to release them when you no longer require the extra capacity. Just like an elastic band, you can stretch it as much as you want and release it when you need to. This sensitivity makes elastic computing truly smart and exceptional. 

The elasticity process should happen promptly, almost in a flash. Delays in scaling up could lead to overloading and outages, whereas delays in scaling down could lead to your servers remaining idle, which would result in unnecessary cloud expenses.

Benefits of elastic computing

Elastic computing is witnessing innovations at an increasingly rapid pace and is driving digital transformation across the IT sector. Let’s look at the benefits of elastic computing and its effects on organizations today.

1. Pay-per-use feature 

The compelling pay-for-what-you-use feature of elastic cloud computing is one of the main reasons for its growing popularity and massive adoption rate. What separates elastic computing from on-premise computing is that you pay only for the resources you’re using, not a penny more. This is unlike on-premise computing, where you keep paying the same amount no matter how many resources you use. This helps organizations save a significant amount that was previously being unnecessarily spent on idle resources. 

2. Cost-effectiveness & flexibility

Elastic computing enables organizations to avoid huge costs and expenses related to adding extra resources to their data centers. With elastic computing, you no longer have to pay additional costs for unutilized capacity. Formerly, businesses had to purchase more resources even if they didn’t require them every day, just to be prepared for an unexpected spike in demand. However, the pay-as-you-go model has solved this problem, wherein you’re only charged for the capacity that you actually use. 

3. On-demand computing 

Gone are the days when surges in website traffic or bandwidth spikes were solved by expanding the architecture with additional servers. The problem with this effort was that it often required thorough capacity planning that needed to be done months in advance, along with enduring enormous up-front costs spent on setting up hardware. Businesses that leverage the advantages of elastic computing no longer have to worry about capacity since it’s already in place and completely ready to scale up or down as and when required. 

See More: What Is Software as a Service (SaaS)? Definition, Examples, Types, and Trends

Examples of elastic computing 

Elastic computing is gaining immense popularity with each passing day and is increasingly being used by several ecommerce and mobile & web development companies across the world. Organizations today are focused on enhancing their digital efforts by staying ahead of the competition and seeking continuous scalability and agility. This is where elastic computing comes into the picture. Now that we’ve understood the concept of elastic computing, let’s look at a few examples.

1. Ecommerce applications 

Amazon is one of the best examples to explain the elasticity concept. Let’s assume Amazon runs a special sale for any festive occasion such as Christmas, Halloween, or the much-anticipated Black Friday Sale. People across the world wait eagerly for these occasions to grab special offers, promotions, and discounts and finally come back to their abandoned carts and check off the desired items in their wishlist. 

There would be customers who perform different actions at the same time, including searching for products, adding items to their carts, buying products, making payments, reading reviews, and so on. This definitely brings in more traffic and load on Amazon’s servers. With elastic computing, you could add more resources to your applications during peak festival seasons to meet customers’ demands. After the sale, you could return the additional capacity you no longer require to your cloud service provider and keep only what’s needed to run everyday operations. 

2. Ticket booking applications

Imagine the BTS are in your city for a music concert. The mention of a BTS concert will spike the loyal BTS army’s interest in booking tickets for their favorite boy band’s live performance. The extra surge in traffic on the booking app is sure to add more load on the servers. There’s even a good chance for website slowdowns to occur, delays in ticketing, or even the website crashing altogether. Thanks to elasticity, you no longer have to worry about any of these issues.

3. Streaming services 

Here’s another great example that is sure to stick with you. Netflix just released a new season of the eagerly awaited historic drama series ‘The Crown’. The new season’s arrival brings millions of fans to the platform that want to watch or download the new episodes, which leads to a sudden spike in the viewership of the streaming application. This is where elasticity saves the day. The addition of extra resources can handle both sudden and expected traffic surges at any given point, allowing millions of users to watch their favorite shows seamlessly at the same time. 

4. Temporary projects 

The best part about elastic computing is that it perfectly aligns with the current world scenario and equally supports an organization’s vision for digital transformation. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of the workforce started working remotely. With elastic computing, you can now scale virtual desktop infrastructure on the cloud for employees working remotely or even for contract-based temp workers as well as freelancers. It can also be useful for unplanned projects with tight deadlines and temporary ones such as data processing, data analytics, media rendering, etc. 

5. Data backups 

Apart from these examples related to meeting unexpected spikes in consumption, elastic computing can also be used for internal organizational purposes, such as taking data backups in situations where the company deals with critical information. As such, elasticity also supports businesses in disaster recovery and business continuity. 

See More: What Is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)? Definition, Examples, Types, and Best Practices

Key Components of Elastic Computing

Elastic computing is a powerhouse of agility that allows large enterprises across the world to drive their business toward success. Elasticity eliminates the need to invest in additional IT hardware resources. Instead, it enables you to bring on board as little or only as many resources as you require to manage unexpected surges in demand. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba Cloud Platform, Digital Ocean, and Heroku are among the most popular and reliable cloud service providers helping organizations boost their business efforts in this manner. This brings us to the main components of elastic computing that are common to many of these cloud service providers listed above.

Key Components of Elastic Computing

1. Operating system support

Under elastic computing, cloud service providers support a list of ever-growing multiple operating systems (OS) to provide organizations with as many choices as possible, such as Oracle Enterprise, Linux, Microsoft Windows servers, and many more.

2. Instances 

An elastic cloud computing instance is a virtual server or virtual computing environment that includes several components such as operating system, CPU, memory, disks, and network configurations. There exist different types of instances with particular specifications. 

3. Images 

Images provide operating systems with initialized data of applications and pre-installed software such as Linux and Windows server operating systems. 

4. Storage options

Elastic cloud service providers offer additional storage space to suit organizational needs and their workload requirements. This is known as elastic block storage space (EBS), which provides superior performance consistently and helps reduce latency to a great extent.

5. Snapshot

A snapshot is like a backup data file consisting of snapshots of all disk categories to back up or restore an entire disk. A snapshot allows you to create custom images and also captures and highlights the exact point-in-time status of a disk. Snapshots are a great tool in situations where disaster strikes, and you may end up losing critical data, for which recovery data backup is essential.

6. Networks 

Enhanced networks deliver substantially higher packet per second (PPS) performance and lower latencies and network jitters, if any. Common networks used are virtual private clouds (VPCs) built on an isolated private cloud network and a classic network built on shared infrastructure networks. 

7. Regions or zones 

Elastic cloud computing service providers offer the ability to place instances in multiple locations that are classified as regions and availability zones. This protects your applications from getting entangled in failure from a single location. Availability zones are distinct locations that provide cost-effective, affordable, and low-latency network connectivity to other zones in the same region. Region refers to separate geographic areas or countries consisting of one or more availability zones.

Many organizations believe that implementing elasticity is as simple as stretching an elastic band. But in reality, it takes a lot of time, patience, technical prowess, knowledge about components, and a fair idea to map the exact need of resources to make elasticity work. You should start implementing elasticity by identifying the workloads with a variable range and how much space they require. Next, you need to identify all the areas of the application that can limit elasticity. Also, remember to test elasticity, both up and down, to verify if it meets the requirements for load variance. You can also use docker containers to accelerate the launch speed of the application. 

Also Read: What Is Private Cloud Storage? Definition, Types, Examples, and Best Practices

Top 8 Best Practices for Elastic Computing in 2021

Elastic computing is one of the most significant innovations of the 21st century and has truly revolutionized how IT industries function today. Organizations can leverage the benefits of elastic cloud computing to build high-performance, scalable, reliable, and failure-resilient applications.

To derive the maximum benefit of elasticity and ensure that it meets the requirements of your target workload, check out this list of the top eight best practices for elastic computing that you should be familiar with.

Elastic Computing Best Practices

1. Start with security 

Security is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to elastic computing. Even the biggest organizations in the world are not fully secured against security breaches and serious attacks that happen over the internet. Cloud-based solutions are also an easy target for hackers and attackers because of their increased exposure to the internet. Therefore, it becomes imperative for organizations to follow strict security practices in managing access controls and credential management policies and procedures.

Implement enough security in every layer. You should have a system to encrypt data in transit and data at rest. Protect your credentials by regularly creating, distributing, and rotating keys and also revoking access credentials. You should also look after frequently patching, updating, fixing, and securing the operating system and applications that run on instances. 

2. Get more storage space 

Elastic cloud computing offers unlimited storage capacity and can accommodate and store as much data as you want. For this, you should use elastic block storage space (EBS) for the operating system versus your data. You can also store your temporary data on the instance store. 

However, it is important to ensure that you have a cluster with a replication factor that provides fault tolerance if you use the instance store to store your database. Another crucial thing to note is that once you stop the process, you should hibernate or terminate the use of your instance, and the data stored in the instance storage will automatically delete itself. 

3. Look into resource management 

The core benefit of elastic computing lies in the cloud service provider’s ability to offer organizations additional resources to manage their workload dynamically. However, you also need to plan the exact need for an increase in resources and put in a request for the same in advance. As such, resource management is extremely essential here. Pro tip: You could also use instance metadata and custom resource tags to track and identify the status of the additional resources you have requested. 

4. Plan for backup & recovery 

Setting a process of backing up and recovering data is important for various reasons. Different cloud service providers offer flexible and reliable backup and recovery solutions for you to choose from. It is also critical to regularly back up your EBS using snapshots and image creation. This is useful for saving the existing configuration as a template for future instances. Deploying application data over multiple availability zones and systematically replicating data is another process that you should most definitely follow. 

5. Prepare for failure

Being prepared for failure is a lot better than being caught off guard. Start by thinking that everything is bound to fail, and accordingly design solutions backward. The purpose of doing this is to ensure that the application continues to function even if certain instances fail, are removed, or get replaced. Employing fault-tolerance services should be the main priority for your applications. 

Leveraging fault tolerance deploys a replica of failing servers that can be immediately activated with continuous monitoring. This helps redeploy the same copies of a production server in just a few minutes. Getting on board with a practice like this lets servers be engineered for failure, which, in turn, helps create uniform servers that are easy to duplicate without investing a whole lot of time and money into their setup.

6. Set notifications for idle or underutilized resources 

You are bound to foot a huge bill if you have no clue about the number of resources that are left idle since the cloud service provider will charge you whenever a resource is in use, even if it is just for a few hours. You should consider stopping or terminating resources altogether if they are underutilized for a long time. As such, signing up for a monitoring tool will trigger notifications any time a resource is idle or not being utilized, which will help you save unnecessary costs and maximize the value you get from a service. 

7. Decouple your components 

It makes sense to have loosely coupled components that do not have tight dependencies on one another. This helps in case one component was to fail, respond slowly, or not respond at all. By building loose components, you can ensure that the other components in the system continue working seamlessly as if no failures were happening elsewhere. 

8. Automate your infrastructure 

Another benefit of using an elastic cloud computing environment is the cloud application programming interface’s (API’s) ability to automate the deployment process. Taking the time to create an automated deployment process very early on reduces the chance of human-induced deployment errors, facilitates an efficient and scalable updating process, creates a strong environment that is resilient to failure, and helps during the migration process. It is safe to say that automation helps in providing more control over your cloud-based resources.

See More: Top 10 Hybrid Cloud Security Solution Companies in 2021


There’s no better time than now to make elasticity one of the core features of your IT infrastructure. Elastic computing is becoming highly desirable as more and more businesses realize its benefits. The ability to provision resources as and when required and dynamically manage them during peak stages has a huge impact on your business’s flexibility and availability. This has resulted in many organizations migrating at least a part of their IT workloads to cloud platforms or entirely moving all of their operations to cloud service providers. 

Elastic computing has given organizations the freedom to work with large data sets and deploy automated enterprise AI applications in the most affordable and scalable manner. It is the perfect combination of cost-effectiveness, consistent performance, and an uninterrupted operational facility round the clock. Companies looking to leverage the benefits of elasticity are sure to experience an overall digital refresh in terms of data and business continuity that is very much in line with the current market situation and demands.

Its ongoing growth across organizations of all sizes and ability to support multiple industries have made elastic computing a natural choice for many organizations worldwide. From providing unlimited storage space to offering computing resources at a low cost, elastic computing truly democratizes the cloud segment. 

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