November 11, 2016 - Alexander Vo
Driving Businesses Forward With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IT strategists and CIOs are in influential positions to deliver high-impact investments for businesses by 2017.
It’s no shocker that forward-thinking organizations want to be very fast and as 2016 is nearly over we figured it was time to recap on some of the important trends this year has brought to the cloud industry, but most importantly to the consumer cloud experience.
With cloud infrastructures on the rise and data center infrastructure spending declining, we’ll be covering what some of the major benefits of going “off-premise” and into the cloud brings to the table.
If you have your own “on-premise” data center, you know that you have to buy your own servers, take care of them, and to replace them once they reach their end-of-life. Let’s get this out of the way: hardware is expensive; to buy, maintain, and operate. Not every business can support having a dedicated IT team to manage all that.
And if any hardware breaks down, enough can be said. So instead, an IaaS approach or Infrastructure as a Service takes the infrastructure out of your IT, literally. By renting out IaaS, you end up paying a monthly subscription to have all your servers taken care of, patched with the latest updates and maintained daily to keep performance stabilized.
How does this relay to a common problem?
Maybe you want to do a migration to update an SQL server for a month in order to test out applications to see if they work properly. With an IaaS approach, you can provision a server for a month and then de-provision it when you don’t need it anymore.
Think of it this way, ever needed to just make one super-important phone call to someone but your own phone wasn’t working for whatever reason? Your options are:
- Borrow a friend’s phone (with the risk of private information on the line? Next.)
- Email or chat with technical support and hope to reach your provider over the dozens of other support tickets they may be currently dealing with.
- Since you can’t call them, run to the nearest vendor to get technical support in-person and wait until your problem is resolved.
- Figure out how to fix the problem yourself by following wikiHow DIY guides online.
- Buy a prepaid burner phone.
Wait, prepaid burner phones still exist? Yes exactly, who wants to get caught making a shady phone call on some early 2000s flip phone that is too often associated with criminal TV shows…
“If IaaS was a cell phone plan, your provider would already have been alerted that your phone wasn’t working and would send you an immediate working phone before you even became aware a problem existed.”
Oh, if only that plan existed in real life! But alas, this is just relaying a simple example of telecommunications. In a more realistic setting with actual business functions hanging on the balance, you can’t really compare a cell phone going down to a server meltdown. Those differences are slightly more grave.
A reliable infrastructure is not cheap. A reliable 24/7 infrastructure is not easy
Remember that IaaS is a core business for providers, which means they will be extremely focused on their infrastructure’s reliability. If a client isn’t satisfied with the infrastructure, that provider will likely go out of business.
Dependable infrastructure is much harder to accomplish internally and in-house because it’s so expensive and time-consuming to maintain. Sometimes when workloads suddenly expand, your IT department might not have the resources to cover the immediate expenses that happen so quickly on the fly and this can cause major downtime. This will not happen with Infrastructure as a Service since everything you need is readily available and with N+1 redundancy, you can be sure backup components are also on standby to provide true around-the-clock resilience.
Infrastructure as a Service needs to be flexible in order to handle customer requests for more infrastructure or computing power; something akin to “Anything as a Service” or XaaS. Having technical expertise on your side is never a bad perk in any industry. Whether you need more storage or don’t even know how much storage you need, IaaS providers can give you adjustable volumes because the infrastructure is entirely scalable so nothing is ever wasted. Maybe you simply start with a few gigabytes of files and eventually that size grows into a few petabytes over the next few days, you simply pay for exactly what you use right then and there.
It’s important to note that not all providers come with the luxury where you can cherry-pick your solution. Many large providers may have cookie-cutter packages etched in stone, while other smaller ones operate on a niche. Many times it could be all up to you and your team to navigate your own way through a maze of decisions and XYZ outcomes from packages A, B, or C. When all you really needed was some insurance to know your data would be protected if “worse came to worst.”
The need for market speed
The provisioning of a server can become a matter of minutes to deploy, instead of days and hours, or sometimes even months. With an IaaS approach:
- No more having to buy an order of servers online while interrupting your business flow waiting for them to be delivered to your doorstep.
- Eliminate the time it takes to install the operating system and then secure them into a proper cabinet with all the correct settings for bandwidth, cooling, and ventilation.
- Reduce spending vital resources to perform daily or weekly maintenance on your servers to check if they are working optimally.
Instead, if you need a server, IaaS providers can grant the entire provisioning process in a matter of minutes, instead of days or weeks.
Finally, the à la carte suite of options for that extra oomph
Critical features such as Disaster Recovery and Backup solutions are also quick and painless to arrange as well since a provider’s infrastructure is designed to deliver seamless integrations to their native solutions. If you have a DRaaS solution in place and the data center burns down, then that data just switches to another data center, automatically. If an accident happens to your data and you need a specific file version, regular backups can quickly recover your lost files. As great as these options sound, they are not for everyone, and that’s okay.
What matters most is to select the right solutions that directly solves your current and foreseeable problems, but more importantly, it also depends on the people you choose to entrust your data with.
Our advice: find a Business Associate’s Agreement or a BAA that you can live with
In the end, you can get all the bells and whistles to create a redundant and secure infrastructure straight from the source of any one provider. Or you can just get the bells separately and whistle your own tune if so desired. There’s more than one way to skin a cat just as there are more ways to design a cloud. That’s where the strength of IaaS shines; it gives you options.