Cloud computing makes enterprise-class technology accessible to small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) and organizations that don’t have the budget or expertise to build and manage an in-house data center. Cloud-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) may just be the simplest way to gain the IT resources needed to run your business.
A co-location model enables you to rent rack space for your servers and storage at a third-party data center facility. Definitions vary but a managed hosting model typically adds a managed services component and may allow you to rent dedicated equipment from the service provider. Both are valid and valuable solutions.
IaaS is unique in that it moves your IT infrastructure to the cloud and shifts the responsibility for purchasing, deploying, maintaining, updating and securing that infrastructure to the service provider. You access network services, applications and data through any Internet-connected device, and pay a monthly fee for the use of these resources.
Benefits of IaaS include:
- Lower capital and operational costs. IaaS virtually eliminates upfront expenses, streamlines the onsite IT environment, reduces IT personnel requirements and enables SMBs to pay only for what they need.
- Faster deployment. Organizations don’t have to price, purchase, install, configure and test their own IT infrastructure. IaaS can be implemented quickly, enabling SMBs to accelerate ROI.
- Dynamic scaling. IaaS enables organizations to automatically scale IT resources up or down according to current business needs and workloads, using a pay-as-you-go model.
- High performance. Cloud-based services and applications are monitored around the clock by a team of highly qualified IT professionals to prevent and troubleshoot performance issues.
- Enhance productivity. Whether users are working in the office, on the road or from home, they can access business services, applications and data from virtually any desktop or mobile device.
- Greater control. IaaS allows organizations with a full in-house IT department to take advantage of cloud-based services while retaining control over unique systems and software.
- Reliability. Cloud service providers utilize redundant systems to ensure availability and accelerate disaster recovery.
- Strong security. Security is always a concern when business data and applications are stored remotely, but service providers typically have much better security systems and more expertise than your average SMB.
- Better infrastructure. Cloud providers make it possible for organizations to utilize sophisticated, enterprise-class hardware and software that would otherwise be unaffordable to most SMBs.
SMBs need to make sure they have a firm grasp of how IaaS can enhance their cost structure and business processes, and how these improvements will be measured. In other words, you need to have a specific business reason for moving IT resources to the cloud. Keep in mind that IaaS isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. A hybrid approach that moves only a portion of the IT infrastructure to the cloud often makes the most sense.
Also, clarify exactly what a cloud service provider is promising to deliver. Uptime guarantees look impressive, but outages are inevitable. Ask how you will be compensated if uptime guarantees aren’t met. Find out about the provider’s security and disaster recovery processes in order to understand the risk and cost of a breach or outage. Finally, assess and compare the levels of technical expertise of each provider so you can take advantage of a cohesive IaaS solution instead of being held back by a fragmented one.