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follow-the-sun data center

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco
This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Enterprise IT infrastructure in the age of cloud: A guide for CIOs

A follow-the-sun data center is a data center that moves workloads to different geographic locations to more efficiently balance resources and demand.

One method of implementing follow-the-sun computing involves constantly moving virtual machines (VMs) among geographical locations. The idea is to minimize the average distance between servers and end users in an effort to reduce latency and maximize the data transfer rate (DTR).  However, according to Fast Packet blogger Ivan Pepelnjak, it is physically impossible to move running VMs over long enough distances to make this approach work in the real world, particularly when it involves global-scale migration to take advantage of spare resource capacity during nonworking or nighttime hours.

Follow-the-sun computing can be achieved to some extent by using DNS-based load balancing or anycast between data centers, and local load balancing within the data center. It is also possible to use Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to create elastic resources based on geographical load distribution.

This was last updated in June 2013

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