Elasticity is not cloud computing, but it does have implications for cloud computing. According to Reuven Cohen, elasticity can be defined as

The quantifiable ability to manage, measure, predict and adapt responsiveness of an application based on real time demands placed on an infrastructure using a combination of local and remote computing resources.

That’s not a bad definition, but what does it mean? Here’s what I think it means in a nutshell:

Elasticity is the quality of expanding and contracting computing resources to meet demand in real time.

That’s a bit more simplified, but in layman’s terms it really means that your computing architecture is designed to allow your business to utilize available computing resources on demand by automatically drawing upon external resources or scaling back to use only local resources as the momentary situation dictates. That can really free up your IT team to focus on important matters instead of always trying to meet your current demands.

In order for elasticity to work efficiently, you’ll need resources available to you in the cloud. You do not necessarily need a datacenter or managed servers off location. You can simply have access to computers in the cloud that you can draw upon from your local computers in the event that demand momentarily grows at any time.

Whatever your need for cloud computing systems, elasticity is a quality that can be met in a variety of ways. It’s a powerful quality and one that I’d recommend pursuing.