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Is IT resilience and elasticity a reasonable goal?

Having an IT operation that is quick to changing needs, responsive to demands and robust enough to overcome service problems should be a goal for many organizations, according to Jon Toigo of Toigo Partners International.

But it is not as straightforward as vendor marketing suggests. In fact, IT resilience and elasticity, while desirable, are no substitute for disaster recovery.

Elasticity, for example, is the "golden dream," Toigo told his TechTarget audience. "It doesn't take virtualization to bring it to the fore. The idea is we can say we have a plan for how much capacity the application is going to require, so we provision to that. But we end up with the inefficiencies of unused capacity."

He said the other option, planning capacity at too low a level and risking application failure, can lead to "a career-limiting event."

What elasticity offers is the capability to allocate capacity changes as they are needed. "It goes into a shared abstracted resource pool of capacity, and provides capacity just in time for whatever the application needs at any given time," Toigo said. He also said the technologies aimed at providing these capabilities are "not yet ready for prime time."

Toigo also discussed IT resilience, which he called a fault-tolerant capability that is a combination of dependability, security, performance and survivability to disruption. This requires necessary resources fulfill all the provisioning requests made in an environment -- which can mean IT resources calling for more of an organization's budget.

"Now, all of a sudden, you're in the same mix that IT is always in, which is the conflict between priorities for the business and budget," Toigo said. "This doesn't change because we're doing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software-defined data centers. In fact, it gets worse, because we set expectations very high, courtesy of our vendors, who said this stuff was going to happen in an agile way."

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