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:


Regards – Dom

Dominic J. Frúges