IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

What it is and why it matters

According to TechNavio, the global Infrastructure as a Service market is predicted to grow at a compound annual rate of 45% between 2012 and 2016 reaching over $24 billion.

Sixty-seven percent of organisations report a budget reduction after an IaaS implementation, according to zdnet.com.

Australia is seeing growth as well. “Uptake of cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) within Australian enterprises doubled in 2013, according to Telsyte”, says Dylan Bushell-Embling with technologydecisions.com.au. “The research firm estimates that more than half of all Australian organisations with more than 20 employees are now using public cloud IaaS for at least part of their IT infrastructure.”

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) gives organisations access to virtualised computing resources that exist “in the cloud”. It is typically available over the Internet where a service provider delivers virtualised hardware and computing infrastructure. These services may include virtual server space, bandwidth, network connections, and load balancing.

In reality, these resources are taken from a plethora of servers and networking equipment scattered across multiple data centres. This allows a client to be given access to virtualised equipment, which they can use to build their own platform.

IaaS is frequently used for:

Organisation Infrastructure

IaaS can include private and public networks. Private networks are only available to your organisation, while public networks are shared with the world. This allows organisations to utilise pooled networking and server resources, which they can use to run applications and store data for day-to-day business. This infrastructure can easily be expanded by requesting more services which increases the size of the pool.

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting provides a pool of virtualised servers. These can be used for websites including internet-based applications, which exist on multiple servers scattered across a vast geographically-dispersed network. Cloud hosting can be scaled to handle unexpected demands on your website and application more easily than traditional web hosting.

Some examples are:

IaaS Benefits

IaaS allows organisations to create scalable, cost-effective IT solutions without the complexity and costly hardware required to do so in-house.

IaaS provides:

  • Lower upfront cost – you don’t have the huge capital expense of new servers and networking equipment at setup; this is all handled by the IaaS provider
  • Predictable cost – you only pay for the services that you actually use
  • Simple scalability – you can easily scale up or down resources as needed
  • Increased reliability – since IaaS has no single point of failure, it increases reliability over the entire network. If one piece of hardware fails, other equipment will immediately take its place.
  • Improved physical security – with IaaS, you no longer have to worry about securing your own data centre; the provider does that for you

Challenges of IaaS

Before signing an IaaS contract, you should:

  • Check the IaaS provider’s information
  • Evaluate your regulatory compliance requirements
  • Verify data protection controls

Check the data centre’s information

The data centre’s location can play a big role in service quality and operation. A data centre close to an area that frequently gets natural disaster damage may have down time. Just because a data centre claims to have “full disaster recovery” doesn’t necessarily make it true.

It’s a good idea to research past clientele to check and see if the provider has the certifications to back up its claims. It’s also important to know if the service provider owns the data centre or if it’s a multi-tenant data centre and has the security compliance you need. A data centre claiming to have “100% security compliance” is something to watch out for as these companies often don’t meet certain security requirements.

Verify data protection controls

“In May, the Ponemon Institute and CA Technologies released a survey that indicated many organisations have not been practicing due diligence when it comes to selecting cloud providers. The survey, which fielded responses from 748 IT professionals, found that only 49% of organisations evaluated security before deploying IaaS in 2012,” according to InformationWeek.

According to Dave Cullinane, chair of the Cloud Security Alliance Board, "You should evaluate (classify) the data you will be processing in that environment. How sensitive is it? Does it have value as intellectual property? Will you be processing transactions? Is it subject to regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard? Are there privacy restrictions that apply--for example, HIPAA or Safe Harbour?"

Once your organisation has defined the security controls that are needed to protect your information, you will need to work with the IaaS provider to ensure they provide appropriate controls. These can include both physical and logical access controls.

Keys to successfully moving to IaaS

Many organisations have successfully implemented IaaS. While Amazon is currently the top IaaS provider, other companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and more specialised providers like Rackspace and RightScale all have their place in the field.

When it comes to IaaS, there are five main things to consider:

  1. Assess your current workload and processes
  2. Select a service you can trust that provides data sovereignty
  3. Fully review their service level agreements
  4. Make sure they provide adequate
    • Storage capabilities
    • Network bandwidth
    • Compute power
  5. Make sure they have financial stability

“A smaller provider may be the subject of an acquisition. An acquisition can cause significant changes in the direction of a business and may result in a service transition period if the merged companies consolidate their platforms. Take some time to research annual reports, financial statements and ask potential providers to back up their financial claims,” says The Three Essential Steps to Successful Cloud Migration.

“Increased cloud investment does not spell the end for on-premise IT. Many Australian organisations are using virtualisation technology to implement cloud architecture under their control, and more organisations are implementing and considering adopting private clouds”, says Bushell-Embling.

Based on IaaS’ future growth, it is clear that more organisations will be utilising the functionality provided by IaaS.  With the simple scalability, hardware reliability, and a predictable cost, IaaS allows easier management of large amounts of resources that would otherwise have to be in-house.

R & G Technologies IaaS Solutions

Interested in exploring IaaS for your organisation?

We have experience helping organisations make the transition can can help you see the benefits of increased efficiencies, improved productivity and minimised downtime.

Request an IaaS assessment today.

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