Thursday, March 10, 2011

Infrastructure as a Service Providers

Cloud computing is generally acknowledged to comprise three levels. These are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). The most basic of these and the foundation of the others is infrastructure in the cloud.

Cloud computing providers offer infrastructure on demand. Infrastructure is pretty much what it sounds like. This the basic hardware and operating system software to make it work. Competition for infrastructure in the cloud is that same infrastructure in your own data center. So, why would you want to up and move to the cloud?

There are good business reasons for IaaS. Infrastructure is expensive to buy, it requires constant attention and frequent maintenance, and it starts going obsolete almost as soon as you have it installed. Computing infrastructure is also finicky. It needs a special temperature and humidity controlled environment, physical security and fire protection, and large amounts of both operating and backup power.

There’s also the matter of how much to buy. You certainly need enough resources to accommodate your anticipated daily activities. How about the unforeseen? It’s not that unusual for a company’s product to catch on suddenly, resulting in a flurry of unexpected orders. The same is true for any content that goes viral. One day you’re coasting along at a modest level of activity. The next day the word is out and your servers are brought to their knees by a sudden flurry of new users. All of the social networking sites have experienced this phenomenon at one time or another.

Cloud service providers offer a way to address the limitations of local data centers, often with a considerable cost advantage. Cloud infrastructure providers build a business on scale. They create a large data center with racks full of virtualized and dedicated servers. These are connected with pools of disk storage, security appliances, and multiple diverse network connectivity. All of this is housed in a high security, environmentally controlled facility with both battery and generator backup power.

Doesn’t this sound like what you’d find at a colocation center? Indeed, there are many similarities between colos and cloud service providers. One major difference is in elasticity. An elastic resource is one that can grow and shrink at will. When you install your equipment in a colocation facility or rent equipment and services from them, it is on a well defined contract. Certainly, you have the ability to change your requirements as business conditions improve or degrade. But there’s going to be a time lag of days, weeks or longer to make the necessary changes.

Cloud services are based on a model of utility computing. You don’t need to ask your electric company to give you more or less power. You simply turn equipment on and off. Only when your requirements exceed the maximum capacity you have installed, do you need to ask for a different level of service.

Infrastructure as a Service is based on a pay for what you use basis. The cloud service provider has far more servers, disk drives, Gbps of bandwidth and other resources that you can possibly use. Their economy of scale dictates that they serve many customers, each of whom has no awareness of the presence of the others. Your services are partitioned so that no other user will take your resources or interfere with your operation.

The advantage to business users is that IaaS gives them the resources they need, when they need them, at a cost that reflects actual usage and not spare installed capacity. Capital investments and perhaps difficult to obtain financing are not required. Staffing levels are reduced because the service provider takes care of operations and maintenance on a 24/7/365 basis.

Could your business benefit from using some or many cloud services? You can have a good basis to compare with what you are doing now by getting prices and services from cloud computing providers now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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