According to IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2016 Predictions, at least half of IT spending will be cloud-based by 2018 and grow to as much as 70 percent of all IT infrastructure spending (all software, services, and technology) by 2020. That growth is being largely driven by infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which has transformed the way IT departments around the world function and has changed the way business is done.
Essentially, IaaS brings the benefit of the needed computing power and the desired computing capabilities without the added burden and costs of equipment, maintenance, and housing. Although that’s a very big deal, its benefits and impact are much further-reaching as it continues to rise and transform all facets of business for everyone from the SMB to the global enterprise. To understand its rise and importance to every business, it’s crucial to understand the many potential benefits that it brings to the business.
Cost Reductions and Increased Security
In the digital business era, data is the engine fueling the business, so data growth and its associated needs have made it untenable to rely solely on in-house data centers. Whether public, private, or hybrid, Infrastructure as a service has completely transformed the business landscape by enabling cost reductions while drastically improving agility, scalability, flexibility, and security.
Managing a traditional data center and its complex infrastructure is costly. That’s one reason why the current maturity and dominance of IaaS is rooted in its ability to dramatically reduce costs in ways that enable businesses to reduce or even eliminate their data center footprint. The virtual nature of IaaS means that businesses can:
- Forgo the major operating-expenditure purchase for hardware
- Reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) due to reduced on-site data center maintenance and provisioning costs that tie up IT teams
- Focus on core capabilities such as providing solutions, business transformation, and overall support of corporate strategic goals
Businesses must struggle with viable means of securing data at rest and in transit while also dealing with data growth. Cyber threats, as well as other disasters that can mean downtime at best and data loss in the worst-case scenarios, are increasing in lockstep with a shifting mix of regulatory compliance needs for customer and client data. With IaaS, the leading providers maintain state-of-the-art facilities, security, firewalls, and higher operating standards that meet or exceed SOX, FDA, PCI, and HIPAA requirements.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR)
The rise of IaaS has been fueled by the fact that any disaster, whether man-made or natural, that threatens operational uptime and data availability must be avoided. In the on-site data center world, necessary redundancy comes at too high a cost, so IaaS provides a consolidated business continuity and disaster recovery infrastructure that:
- Reduces storage costs while increasing and simplifying manageability
- Makes capacity scalable to meet unpredictable demands and sudden or growing storage requirements
- Enables backup to the cloud technology and system or application restoration on demand
- Provides high-availability support for cloud apps via fail-over options on both a regional and global level, including automated backup options, and is a redundant network of provider data centers
- Delivers core design networking firewalls and security, as well as providing SLAs boasting overall reduction in unplanned downtime to obtain a record of 99.999 percent system uptime with built-in redundancy
Increased Business Flexibility, Agility, and Elasticity
While cost reductions and increased security have played a major part in the rise of infrastructure as a service, these are just some of the benefits that are tied to its ability to enable greater business flexibility, agility, and elasticity. Some of the more salient ways that IaaS increases these attributes for business are:
- It enables greater flexibility in integration and divesting of data centers and allows for quicker ramp-up/ramp-down of infrastructure
- It provides practical cloud bursting for fluctuating capacity needs and enables speed to innovation
- It frees up time, money, and manpower to further innovation, application development, and business growth by enabling scalable, on-demand DevOps and application flexibility in the face of changing workloads and demands
- It enables born-in-the-cloud apps to go mobile and still have the scale and speed advantages of IaaS
- It offers real-time application monitoring and optimization to meet changing business, customer, user, and market demands
Infrastructure as a service has reached a maturity level that removes the doubt of adoption by large and small businesses. As it continues to mature, it also continues to evolve to be compatible with the evolution of technology, as well as the needs of businesses across sectors operating globally. While IaaS is not a ready-made panacea for all challenges and goals, its building blocks hold the key to customized cloud services approaches that fit the needs of every business today and tomorrow.