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FireHost Flexes Its Cloud Scaling Options

FireHost is extending its scaling options, adding a scheduling capability to its cloud service offering. In addition to scaling on demand, the scheduled scaling feature lets customers that can predict demand manage capacity more effectively.

Auto-scaling allows customers to set thresholds of cloud server utilization so that, if an unexpected spike occurs, the application automatically scales. However, to allocate the resources to a server, each server is required to reboot, causing a potential 30 seconds of downtime. "Going dark for even 30 seconds during a peak can be troublesome, and the third scaling feature, scheduled scaling, addresses this," says Jason Verge, research analyst, hosting, Tier1 Research, said

The scheduling feature is as easy to use as Microsoft Outlook, says FireHost. Unlike the auto-scaling option, which is considered more of a fail-safe mechanism for unexpected spikes, customers can plan when to scale up and down based on time of day. The scheduled events can be set as one-time or as repeating events at an interval of the customer's choosing. The company says customers can also add multiple servers to any event, and scheduled events that contain multiple servers also provide the ability to set the reboot order.

Scheduled scaling is a smarter way to adjust infrastructure proactively, says Verge. "The schedule scaling feature better addresses the needs of customers with somewhat predictable traffic spikes than the autoscaling feature does. While the autoscaling capability provides a great safety net for unpredictable traffic spikes, there is potential for a slight delay when scaling up as the server reboots itself. For certain customers, even that slight delay can be troublesome, forcing them to manually configure scaling ahead of each predicted spike. For potential and current customers who have a reasonable intelligence as to their traffic patterns, scheduled scaling saves them time over configuring this manually, each and every time."

He says the trend in the dedicated hosting space is to automate as much as possible. This is FireHost approaching the problem from the other direction, providing the security and management benefits of hosting on dedicated hardware atop of cloud rather than trying to "cloudify" a dedicated hosting setup. "This is just as flexible and secure as a much more costly managed private cloud--the only other option comparable in terms of this level of security and flexibility," he says.

While the company doesn't expect all of its customers to embrace the new capability, it does expect it will appeal to a lot of them. In the month since its release, about 20% of its customers are using scheduled scaling.

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