What is Cloud Bursting?

Cloud bursting is a configuration method that uses cloud computing resources whenever on-premises infrastructure reaches peak capacity. When organizations run out of computing resources in their internal data center, they burst the extra workload to external third-party cloud services. Cloud bursting is a convenient and cost-effective way to to support workloads with varying demand patterns and seasonal spikes in demand.

Why is cloud bursting important?

Traditionally, organizations purchased and maintained their own computing infrastructure, such as servers, storage devices, and network hardware, in a private data center or colocation facility. However, with the advent of third-party cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, organizations can now use publicly available computing infrastructure that is secure, can easily scale up or down to meet workload demands, and is available in many regions around the world. It became more convenient to use infrastructure that was fully managed by others. The term public cloud emerged to differentiate between the internal infrastructure and the external third-party cloud resources.

Many organizations want to continue using their existing on-premises computing infrastructure and also get the benefits of the public cloud. They can deploy a cloud-bursting hybrid cloud architecture to access public cloud resources when they have no more on-premises compute capacity. By implementing cloud-bursting techniques, cloud consumers can do the following:

  • Use local resources efficiently
  • Reduce further investment in on-premises infrastructure costs
  • Enjoy the scale and flexibility that public clouds bring
  • Avoid service interruption to business-critical applications due to sudden workload spikes

When do organizations use cloud bursting?

The following are common examples of cloud-bursting use cases:

Marketing campaigns

Like product launches or seasonal sales, marketing campaigns generate a huge traffic influx that subsides after the event ends. Although your on-premises resource capacity might be adequate at other times, it might not be able to manage the overflow traffic. You can use cloud bursting to meet peak demands at these times without having to purchase extra computing resources.

Big data analytics

Big data modeling tasks, such as 3-D rendering or machine learning, often require more resources, like processor capacity and internal memory. Because these tasks are not the norm, they are suited for cloud bursts to the public cloud. Public cloud providers also have specially optimized resources for big data analytics and artificial intelligence tasks.

How does cloud bursting work?

IT administrators configure the capacity limits of their on premises computing resources. When an application's workload reaches the limit, the application switches to using public cloud resources. Load balancer technology redirects incoming requests for the application to the cloud.

The following are types of cloud-bursting architectures.

Manual bursting

Manual bursting is a cloud-bursting method that you can use to manually provision and de-provision public cloud services as needed. Load balancing software monitors resource use and sends alerts that you can act on manually.

Pros and cons

Organizations use manual bursting to create large but temporary cloud deployments for specific tasks. Manual bursting helps test new cloud-bursting projects. However, it increases the risk of human error and deployment oversights.

Automated bursting

Automated bursting uses cloud-bursting tools to automatically provision resources from your public cloud provider. You can set up policies that define how the tool handles greater demand. The tool dynamically provisions cloud resources when they are required and de-provisions them when demand falls.

Pros and cons

Automated cloud-bursting tools can automatically create, grow, shrink, and remove cloud resources. They reduce the risk of human error and efficiently use both your public and on-premises infrastructure.

Distributed load balancing

Distributed load balancing is a cloud-bursting approach that operates workloads simultaneously between the public cloud infrastructure and your data center. You have to set up a standby deployment in the public cloud with some minimum capacity. You also have to set load thresholds in your on-premises infrastructure and distribute them as needed. Load balancing operations share traffic between your on-premises infrastructure and public cloud, automatically scaling up the standby deployment to deal with greater loads.

How can organizations implement cloud bursting effectively?

To implement cloud bursting effectively, organizations require the following features.


Cloud provider services should include granular visibility to fine-tune bursting. By monitoring resource use in detail, organizations can overcome complexities and increase their hybrid cloud capabilities.


Organizations need to implement software and tools that can automatically orchestrate cloud computing resources. Manual balancing is effective only for small operations and specific use cases. Organizations need to implement automation if they want to scale effectively.


You need monitoring capability to track resources and ensure that they are properly provisioned without service interruption, especially during peak demand times. Cloud-bursting tools and services that implement monitoring and reporting reduce costs and increase efficiency over time.

How can you implement cloud bursting on AWS?

AWS hybrid cloud services deliver a consistent AWS experience between on-premises and AWS cloud resources. Select from the broadest set of services to build cloud-bursting architectures that meet your specific requirements and use cases. Cloud services include compute, networking, storage, security, identity, data integration, management, monitoring, and operations services.

For example, you can use these services:

  • AWS Storage Gateway gives on-premises applications access to virtually unlimited cloud storage.
  • Amazon CloudWatch is an observability service that unifies your view of the resources and services that are running on AWS and on the premises.
  • AWS Systems Manager is a centralized hub that you can use to track and resolve operational issues across your AWS and on-premises resources.

Get started with cloud bursting on AWS by creating an AWS account today.

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