In recent times, cloud computing has dramatically changed the way enterprises around the world manage and organize their IT systems and resources. This also means that the traditional on-premise IT infrastructure has been replaced by a cloud infrastructure allowing especially small and medium-sized businesses to increase their IT capabilities without having to invest large sums into computer equipment, data centers, and in-house development.
But what does a cloud infrastructure encompass and how does it work in practice? Instead of establishing their own IT infrastructure, companies can simply rent cloud infrastructure components and capabilities on an as-needed basis. This offers flexibility, and scalability and reduces up-front costs.
What is Cloud Infrastructure?
Cloud infrastructure is a collection of the components and elements required to provide cloud computing. This includes computing power, networking, storage, and an interface that enables users to access virtualized resources.
Virtual resources mirror those of physical infrastructure, and they include components like memory, network switches, servers, and storage clusters. They are required to create applications that users can access through the cloud or retrieve via the internet, telecom services, and wide-area networks (WANs). The cloud infrastructure approach offers benefits like greater flexibility, scalability, and lower cost of ownership.
Cloud infrastructure enables organizations to access data storage requirements and computing capabilities as and when they need them. Rather than creating on-premise IT infrastructures or leasing data-center space, organizations can now rent cloud infrastructure and their required computing capabilities through third-party providers.
Cloud infrastructure is available for private, public, and hybrid cloud systems. It can also be rented through cloud providers and via several cloud infrastructure delivery models.
How does it work?
There are three main forms of cloud deployment models – public, private, and hybrid. A public cloud is a cloud deployment model where IT services are delivered through the internet instead of on-premise. This model is the most prevalent and offers the most choice in terms of computing resources and solutions to meet the growing needs of businesses of all sizes. There are three Service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Public cloud resources range from virtual machines to applications and development platforms. These resources offer security, universally available applications, and infrastructure.
In a private cloud model, the cloud is used solely by a business or an organization. In a private cloud model, services are not shared. The private cloud, like the public cloud, utilizes hardware and software computing to host within a data center. When a user connects to the data center it enables them to enhance scalability and agility.
A hybrid cloud model uses both public and private cloud services. The hybrid cloud orchestrates and monitors multiple cloud services, or a blend of on-premise and cloud environments, through one central control application. A hybrid cloud migrates cloud platforms in different environments while monitoring ongoing performance. Many organizations will utilize both public and private cloud infrastructure. For example, a company may choose a private cloud infrastructure for stronger security, whereas a public cloud model would be used for global scalability benefits.
Cloud Infrastructure Benefits
Using a cloud infrastructure holds many benefits for companies of all sizes which is why more and more enterprises are moving from an in-house infrastructure and the on-premise approach to cloud computing, accessing their resources more abstractly and virtually.
But what are the main advantages and most compelling arguments that speak for working with a cloud provider?
- Flexibility: While an on-premise infrastructure is rather rigid and difficult to down- or upscale, cloud infrastructure provides resources that can be easily adjusted to the individual needs of the customer. This means that all resources are utilized in the best way possible and the infrastructure can organically grow with the business without extra delays or capacity issues.
- Reliability: On-premise data centers bear a certain performance risk that is mitigated by relying on third-party cloud providers. Thanks to their expansive infrastructure and redundancy options, outages or system failures are less likely to occur. Automatic backups and tried-and-tested capabilities make cloud infrastructure more reliable than one that is privately owned and managed.
- Cost: One of the biggest benefits that cloud infrastructure offers especially to small businesses and start-ups, is the fact that it requires no large upfront capital costs like an on-premise infrastructure. The pay-per-usage model is a predictable operational expense and allows companies to stay within their budget, outsource maintenance and not waste any resources.
- Security: Even though companies were initially concerned about data security when cloud computing became an industry trend, these worries have largely disappeared. Cloud providers are constantly improving their abilities to effectively protect their infrastructure from potential security threats and provide better security measures than a poorly maintained in-house infrastructure.
The limitations of using Cloud Infrastructure
As with any technology solution, one of the biggest challenges that cloud infrastructure faces is the constant innovation of the industry. Some of the key limitations include:
- Speed of change. The speed of innovation means that some cloud providers quickly become outdated and overtaken by more sophisticated and updated models. Cloud vendors are changing constantly and companies can be left exposed to risk should their central vendor face challenges with their connection or security.
- Networking strength. Operating in the cloud means the network is reliant on a strong network connection to operate effectively and efficiently. Those working remotely or accessing the cloud infrastructure as a customer from their device will require a connection to access the cloud, which can present challenges to those logging in from far-flung locations.
- Loss of control. The cloud service provider is responsible for the overall management of data, rather than the organization’s own internal IT department or third-party team. This means that should a data breach occur, companies can lose the reliability and trust of their customer base.
What activities are typically included in developing a Cloud Infrastructure?
- Cloud strategy development. Defining your vision and developing a comprehensive roadmap to realize the optimal cloud deployment for your opportunities and challenges.
- Cloud migration. Making a smooth, seamless transition to cloud-based solutions, accelerating business transformation through a preferred cloud model. Leveraging proven methodologies, migration frameworks, blueprints, and partners to facilitate a rapid, low-risk, and minimally disruptive cloud migration.
- Cloud management and operation. Utilizing one or more as-a-service options to ensure the cloud experience remains optimal and aligned with your clinical and business objectives. Ensuring that applications and platform services remain in an optimal state and that you continue to have all the cloud resources you need without paying for any you don’t.
Why Cloud Infrastructure?
Cloud infrastructure can be managed much more efficiently than traditional physical infrastructure, which typically requires that individual servers, storage, compute, and networking components be procured and assembled to support an application. With cloud infrastructure, DevOps teams can deploy infrastructure programmatically as part of an application’s code.
Cloud infrastructure is flexible and scalable, making it ideal for enterprise computing. Using technologies such as hyper-converged or composable infrastructure, you can turn your on-premises data center into a cloud-like infrastructure that can be integrated into a multi-cloud system and managed from a single dashboard.
With digitalization and artificial intelligence changing the way we live and conduct business at lightning speed, it is only a matter of time before most organizations have switched over to a cloud infrastructure. Not only does it offer cutting-edge IT solutions that are easily accessible via virtualization, but it also helps companies to save on unpredictable IT costs.
Cloud service providers are also quick to incorporate technological innovations and offer a competitive advantage to their customers who get to adjust the service offerings to their workloads.