When I talk about cloud characteristics with clients, elasticity and scalability often come up in conversation. However, far too often clients jump to conclusions that auto scaling capabilities are out of scope or too complex for what they actually need. Many times they may be right, but a recent industry announcement provides a perfect case study as to why you should always consider auto scaling designs.
Yesterday, Google announced that it would be shutting down Google Reader on July 1, 2013. It was a painful announcement for me as my research is very dependent upon a meticulously designed news consumption strategy. Google Reader and RSS feeds is vital to my personal strategy for keeping up with the industry.
A lot has been published on Google Reader alternatives. One of the more popular options mentioned is NewsBlur. However, in parsing tweets and news today, NewsBlur has been having major trouble keeping up with the incredible demand on its service today from defecting Google Reader users looking for alternatives. Furthermore, I suspect the service issues at NewsBlur today may lead some prospective customers to conclude NewsBlur is not for them and move on to other alternatives. And that is too bad. Below is a tweet from NewsBlur today.
The waters are rocky now, but take note that I have some time to get things right. I’m working this week to get things stable, then scale.
— NewsBlur (@NewsBlur) March 14, 2013
Auto scaling application designs should not only rely on your internal forecast for growth and possible demand, but should also consider external forces that might drive additional demand your way. What if your top competitor or leader in the market announced tomorrow that they were shutting doors? What if that competitor had a catastrophic corporate or technical event? Are you ready and able to take on all their customers? If not, they might go to the next option – opportunity lost!
These scenarios do not apply to every application, but they serve as an interesting case study for your business being ready to respond to demand not only when you do something good, but also when your competitors do something bad. And the latter will likely come at the most unexpected times.