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Articles / 12/07/2016
Cloud Computing Stack 101 (III): IaaS
If you asked a random group of people to define cloud computing, would any of them be able to define it accurately? Probably not.
The unfortunate truth about this is just about everyone has used a cloud service. Do you use Facebook? That is a cloud service. What about Google Drive? That is also a cloud service. The current tech environment would not function without cloud computing.
For a small business, the whole concept of the cloud may seem scary and futuristic. But it does not have to be. There are countless benefits to using the cloud that businesses of all sizes have already discovered. Today we are going to focus on just one cloud service: Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS.
Infrastructure as a Service: What is it?
Before defining IaaS, let’s give some more explanation as to what cloud computing and cloud services are. Cloud computing is a computing resource that is delivered as a service over a network connection. Instead of using local hardware or software, cloud computing relies on sharing virtual resources.
There are three types of cloud services: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Think of these three services as a pyramid with IaaS being the bottom tier. IaaS is essentially the building block for all other cloud services.
Now to get into definitions, IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service. Just like the name says, it provides virtual computing infrastructure.
Traditionally, a business would have to purchase the hardware or equipment to build its infrastructure. Using this service, however, allows a business to access its infrastructure remotely via an internet connection.
Businesses that switch to IaaS receive countless benefits. A huge upside is a scalability, as the cloud infrastructure can be adjusted to fit your storage needs. Due to this, IaaS is billed off of usage. You only pay for what you need.
The cloud service provider also sets up and maintains any physical hardware needed to support the cloud service, which gives your business one less thing to worry about. Since it is a cloud system, the infrastructure can be used anywhere you have an internet connection. And even if your networks go down, IaaS will continue to run on another network or server.
IaaS and Small Business
Small businesses are, well, small. There are plenty of small business owners out there, thinking there is no way they have the resources to run a cloud system. That sort of technology is only for large companies, a cloud service is just not practical for the little guys.
That assumption, however, is wrong.
Small businesses are just as good candidates for cloud computing as large corporations. Certainly, the dynamics of running a small business versus a large business are very different, but that does not mean the cloud cannot be molded to fit companies of all shapes and sizes.
Here are a few examples as to how a small business can utilize and benefit from IaaS:
IaaS can be used for firewalls, IP addresses, servers, routers, load balancing, virtual desktop hosting, storage, and much more.
IaaS takes out all the purchasing costs, fees, and maintenance associated with hardware.
Most small businesses do not have the time or resources to manage equipment, which makes IaaS a great alternative.
Like many small businesses, new companies do not have the capital to invest in brand new hardware. IaaS is a pay-as-you-go service saving a business with a tight budget a ton of money.
Small businesses often grow into big businesses, which means they need infrastructure that will grow with them, and IaaS does just that.
The Dilemma of Integration of Infrastructure as a Service
As great as this all sounds, the real question is, how can a small business integrate IaaS into its existing infrastructure?
This may seem like a job for only the tech-savvy, but it can be done by anyone. As mentioned earlier, IaaS is the building block of all other cloud services. Integrating IaaS with PaaS or SaaS should not be a difficult process at all.
But how will IaaS integrate with systems that are not cloud-based?
The reason why this can be tricky is the cloud, and the already existing systems have to share data, but that data may not be structured the same. It is crucial the data transfers correctly between the two systems, or else there will be problems with the data.
Rest assured, there are plenty of solutions to these problems, but it is up to the business to decide which method works best for them. You can use the old FTP method, which is the grueling process of transferring the data from the preexisting system to the cloud. This can only be done once or twice a day, and it does not account for the differences in how the data is structured.
Your business always has the option to develop its own integration technology from scratch, but writing the code can be a challenge for even experienced IT professionals. If you are a small business that does not even have a tech department, this may not be the best option.