Businesses always like to be prepared for the unexpected. The well-organised ones can take on anything with aplomb: the last minute rush, the unexpected outage, or the state of emergency. But for the rest of us, sudden change can lead to real pressure on all but the most agile of organisations.
That's where the cloud - and, in particular, the hybrid cloud - comes in: its flexibility is ideal for handling stressful moments. A sudden spike in demand for access to corporate systems, for instance, can be handled by cloud bursting - the technique where a private cloud set-up can instantly call on the resources of the public cloud.
It's certainly popular with many businesses: according to a ZDNet survey, 25 percent of organisations already use some form of cloud bursting, with 49 percent planning to increase its use.
The attractions are obvious. To take an example, let's say the Chancellor in a little bit of pre-budget bribery announces a large cut in alcohol duty, warning that the opposition may put it back on instantly. This is good news for everyone but wine retailers, which would expect a sharp and immediate spike in traffic. It's here that the hybrid cloud comes into play.
It allows businesses to monitor what's happening within the private cloud. After all, you can't make decisions about whether to use the public cloud without knowing whether or not your traffic is meeting a critical point. It's therefore imperative that you have an excellent management system in place.
On top of this, business systems require a high degree of automation so that, when the traffic reaches that critical point, its private systems immediately call on public cloud services. If there's a need for human intervention at this moment, then your set-up is all wrong.
Above all, organisations need set plans and firm service level agreements in place so they know exactly what levels of public cloud resource they're calling on and how much it's going to cost. After the crisis is over, companies then need to scale back when those extra resources are longer needed - many have been hit with bigger bills than expected because of a failure to shut down cloud instances.
The drinks firm can be happy that its customers' orders have been fulfilled, its website hasn't crashed, and it has not been left with a hefty bill - and that's all thanks to the hybrid cloud.