What is this thing called Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)?

Last time I wrote a blog about Cloud Computing and now I wanted to follow up with one of its components: IaaS.

A simple definition – a provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers, and networking components.  The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running, and maintaining it.  The client typically pays on a per-use basis.

Characteristics and Components of IaaS:

  • Utility computing service and billing model
  • Automation of administrative tasks
  • Dynamic scaling
  • Desktop virtualization
  • Policy-based services
  • Internet connectivity

So, let’s take a look back at the three main elements that are inherent in cloud computing and see if there’s a match.

  1. Sold on demand: IaaS – per-use basis
  2. Elastic: IaaS – dynamic scaling
  3. Service fully managed by the provider: IaaS – the service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running, and maintaining it.

www.SearchCloudComputing.com recently published a white paper from CIO-Customs Solutions Group and NTT America, “IT Infrastructure at Your Service”.

NTT America http://www.us.ntt.net/ NTT Communications provides consultancy, architecture, security and cloud services to optimize the information and communications technology (ICT) environments of enterprises.

One particular point noted is:

“…While IT capabilities are arguably the lifeline of most companies, IT departments are also under increasing pressure to achieve more with reduced capital and constrained operating budgets for infrastructure facilities, technology acquisition and refresh, and staffing. Adding to the challenge of sustaining operations with tighter budgets is the fact that IT departments are being asked simultaneously to support more services and more users—with the expectation of higher performance and, in some instances, with formal internal SLAs accompanying internal IT charge-backs to the lines of business…”

So, the internal corporate battle has begun.  In today’s tough business economy no department gets a pass.  Now, for the IT Department, it is shape up, perform, and produce.  Conversely, corporate executives are looking at who’s using the most resources and why.  They now are holding specific departments, organizations, or even projects/programs accountable for costs.

One of the major concerns of IT executives is security and control.  Security can be handled by maintaining critical data in-house on private servers.  However, IaaS providers can also work smoothly with corporate IT providers after both sides gain confidence and trust.

Here are some components of an IaaS strategy and implementation plan:

  • Corporate IT Strategy:
    • What’s the overall IT strategy for the firm?
    • How large is the IT function of the firm?
    • What’s the global corporate footprint?
    • How fast are technology and applications changing in the corporate industry?
    • How safe is our data and what is our disaster recovery plan?
    • What IT equipment do we currently use and what are our expected needs over the next 12 – 18 – 24 – 36 months?
    • What is the status of our corporate cash flow situation and receivables?
  • Corporate IaaS Considerations and Strategy:
    • Can we get “mind-share” from our existing IT staff to consider IaaS?
    • What ramifications would IaaS have on our existing IT operations?
    • What parts of our existing IT infrastructure would we consider as a potential outsource to a IaaS provider?
    • What global or regional limitations, regulations, impairments, or considerations would have to factor into our IaaS strategy?
    • What implications does IaaS have in our industry and current operations?
      • Has one of our competitors already implemented IaaS?
    • How do we protect our data in an IaaS environment?
      • What kind of Service Level Agreement can we get from an IaaS provider?
    • What implications and factors must be considered in the cash flow role for internal IT expenses & equipment vs. IaaS monthly payments?
      • How volatile is our industry capital structure?
      • What global events could affect the cost of raising capital to cover internal IT expenditures?
    • What would be a “cut-over plan” and how long would implementation take?
  • IaaS Provider Considerations:
    • What is their expertise area?
    • Who are some current clients?
    • What is their global footprint?
    • What does their financial capital picture look like?
    • Where are their operations centers?
      • Multi-lingual staff?
      • Staff expertise and credentials
      • Where will our corporate data be held?
    • What equipment vendors do they use?
    • What is their disaster recovery plan like?

I’m sure there are many considerations that I’ve missed.  Why not comment and give our readers your experience and expertise.

NOTE: All comments are welcome but I always want comments to contribute to an ongoing conversation.  Please copy and paste you comment back to my original blog:

http://ImpalBizbuzz.wordpress.com

Regards – Dom

Dominic J. Frúges

@DomFruges

DomFruges@gmail.com

 

What is this thing called “Cloud”?

Everyone has been hearing about something called “Cloud” or its’ formal name, “Cloud Computing”.  So, I wanted to create this blog post to help explain Cloud, its’ parts, and answer some questions.  Before I go on at this point I would advise those who are heavy into IT or telecom IT to perhaps stop reading.  My goal here is not to present a technical white paper or review.  It’s really to provide information to people who work at companies – small, mid-size, or large – where cloud computing is happening. Perhaps you’re seeing it as a consumer just downloading applications (apps) from your favorite web store.

What is Cloud Computing? 

Here is the text book definition provided by www.TechTarget.com at http://whatis.techtarget.com/

Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that’s often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.

A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic — a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access). Significant innovations in virtualization and distributed computing, as well as improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.

So, the big thing to remember here is that cloud computing revolves around a hosted service concept.  Additionally, you may hear the development portion of cloud is based on a “multi-tenant” architecture.  To explain that in simple terms just think of a house.  If it’s a one family house then that sole family pays for all the related housing costs.  Everything.  Additionally, much like a house there are those hidden costs that just pop up over the course of owning the house.  How about cleaning the gutters?  New hot water heater?

What cloud had done is simply take the apartment house concept and applied it to the computing industry.  Now in that scenario there are six or eight families sharing the costs for the house.  Hence the term “multi-tenant”. As opposed to a per license-based software application, many companies are inherently paying the development costs associated with perhaps a software application. The development service provider is then able to break out the development costs across a number of clients. So instead of one company having to pay $500,000 for development there are perhaps 10 or more companies paying $50,000 or far less for the same development costs. This concept has also expanded to other types of services like security, storage, infrastructure, and platforms.

Additionally, let’s get back to those hidden costs with our house example.  Typically, in a software example 90% of the associated costs occur after implementation. They are the “unseen” costs associated with IT staffing, software upgrades, server upgrades, and maintenance just to name a few.

What cloud computing does is to create a different model:

  • Lower costs
  • Reduced time to deploy new functionality
  • Access functionality (not currently available or generated by the business IT operation)
    • Offer the opportunity to provide specific software (or other cloud services) to just a few employees when needed for specific tasks and when needed to accomplish those tasks.
  • Free up resources
    • Typically, this would be IT staff, money, space, or any number of items.

In short, the one great benefit of cloud computing is that it lets client companies concentrate on their core business, not on becoming or staffing an IT resource.

The three major segments of cloud computing (although this is a fast evolving space) are:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas)
    • Amazon Web Services
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
    • SalesForce.com
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
    • Many hundreds of software applications coming into our technology space almost daily.

If you would like to comment on this blog post I’d ask that you please copy your post to my original blog site so we can keep the conversation going:

https://impalbizbuzz.wordpress.com/

Regards – Dom

Dominic J. Frúges

@DomFruges

DomFruges@gmail.com