The ScaleArc report also notes that like collocation, public cloud solutions seem attractive owing to their assumed economies of scale. Nevertheless, organizations with security concerns (banks and government agencies, for example) still shy away from the cloud because of privacy concerns. Also, cloud systems can introduce latency that impacts application performance beyond acceptable levels. And again, cloud economics aren’t always what they seem. Under full operation, cloud expenses typically run higher than when businesses own and run their own infrastructure.
ScaleArc believes that maintenance costs for an active/active architecture are lower because the tasks can be done during work hours rather than requiring a crew in the middle of the night. They also require fewer staff members because organizations can keep the application running during maintenance, so developers and other application specialists don’t need to be involved.
“For only a 20 percent increase in costs, organizations will enjoy 33 percent more system capacity, along with the additional economic benefits of reduced downtime, lower operational costs, better asset utilization, and likely higher total revenue,” ScaleArc writes.
Customers may not understand computing architectures, but they do want their apps and data to be available, all the time. Any vendor that fails to provide 100 percent uptime risks losing customers and revenue.
Al Sargent, senior director at OneLogin, said from a financial perspective, topline revenue dwarfs what companies spend on IT budgets. One study shows that companies spend between 3 and 7 percent of revenue on IT. “Shifting to active/active architectures might increase an IT budget a fraction of a percent, but will prevent outages that could erode revenues by many percentage points,” he said.
Some of these cost downsides are lessened with a cloud-based SaaS solution, where a common management environment can be automatically maintained across both sites. The cloud enables fast scale out times, so you can deploy a reduced (smaller footprint) failover infrastructure that can restore applications almost instantly during a disaster incident, enabling better SLA, Hariharan said.
Foster said both scenarios are valid to an enterprise disaster-recovery strategy. Many applications and even infrastructure (storage arrays in the enterprise space have created active/active grids through single namespaces that can cross data centers as well) have developed this technology to make it easier for companies to provide business continuity plans and recovery in the case of an infrastructure outage.
“The problem is the cost of maintaining and running these infrastructures. If an application or service has requirements to truly be a 'dial tone-like' system (always on – never without) then a business will spend the dollars required to ensure the five nines of availability and then some,” he said.
Most critical applications with these needs have these types of failover mechanisms built in so that secondary or tertiary systems can resume if one has a failure, Foster added. Clustering has also been around for a long time for servers and as that technology has moved down the stack into the infrastructure services, the ease at which availability can be provided is greatly improved – just at a cost.
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