Jan 09 2014

IaaS: 10 Ways the Cloud Enables Better Computing Services

Agencies aiming to streamline computing should look no further than Infrastructure as a Service.

In addition to providing scalable infrastructure for day-to-day computing needs, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) can be an enabler for a growing array of services built on top of it. Agencies that take advantage of services on demand are preparing to meet next-generation challenges: more competition, greater pressures and faster time to market. At the same time, they are meeting the needs of today’s workers, who want more self-service; an anytime, anywhere workplace; more virtual collaboration; and greater flexibility.

1. Computing as a Service

Computing as a Service, or CaaS, is exactly what it sounds like: access to computing resources on demand. Like all cloud-based models, it’s a pay-as-you-go approach that applies to virtual server access for a wide range of applications. With this model, users can quickly add capacity for busy periods or important projects, and reduce it when requirements change, all managed with a self-service, web-based portal.

2. High-performance computing

This is used to help solve the most complex problems, such as those involving hedging, risk management, complicated simulations and millions of scenarios and calculations. These calculations require expensive supercomputers that are much more easily provided via the cloud than purchased for on-premises use.

When delivered via IaaS, high-performance computing can be useful outside its traditional realms of science and engineering. It can be applied for analyzing and monitoring large volumes of data and workflows, and it can help analysts simulate product designs.

In addition to providing the ability to analyze complex data sets, a high-performance infrastructure can increase innovation while decreasing time to market.

3. Analytics or business intelligence as a service

Many IaaS providers include some level of analytics capabilities with their services, such as management dashboards for tracking daily activity and usage in real time. But increasingly, organizations want more. With the underlying storage and computing power already available, layering analytics as a service or business intelligence as a service on top makes a lot of sense.

These tools provide the same technology as on-premises solutions — analysis and data mining of historical and current data; the ability to find insights and patterns and predict outcomes; and application of business rules and parameters — but on a pay-as-you-go basis, without owning the underlying infrastructure. With both structured and unstructured data growing so rapidly and the need to include new data sources, such as social media and sensor data into analysis, analytics as a service is a good option.

Many areas within an organization can benefit from analytics as a service. For example, in the area of demand forecasting, marketers can more easily determine which products will be in greater demand during the coming season. Service-based enterprises can use analytics to identify which customers may defect to the competition based on a selection of criteria. The finance arm of an enterprise could use the technology to identify which investments are likely to yield the best returns within a specific time frame.

4. Testing and development

In many cases, testing and development are the first functions enterprises use when they move infrastructure to the cloud. That’s because they take advantage of one of the cloud’s chief strengths: scalability.

With testing and development, systems analysts and engineers need large amounts of computing and networking power for short periods of time. IaaS supports all phases of testing and development, with the necessary security and SLAs to support even the most mission-critical projects.

5. Web apps

With cloud-based infrastructure, enterprises have instant access to storage, web and application servers and other functions necessary to build web-based apps, and the scalability to run those apps even if the demand is unpredictable.

6. Web hosting as a service

IaaS provides the base for building and managing websites and deploying web apps without using in-house resources. Many IaaS providers also offer tools and applications that help with search engine optimization, along with web-building tools.

7. Storage as a service

Organizations may want to consider storage as a service for a variety of reasons. Hiring a storage vendor allows the enterprise to avoid a capital outlay and outsource the often complex task of storage management. Storage requires skilled personnel to manage different tiers of data and ensure its retention for legal and compliance purposes.

When remote and branch offices are involved, each with its own storage needs, the situation becomes even more complex. Enterprises also may have to buy more storage than required to handle demand spikes during testing and development, seasonal rushes and analytics requirements. And because data keeps growing, storage needs continue to rise, requiring complex and costly data migration.

With storage as a service, the IT department can centrally manage a consolidated storage infrastructure, reprovisioning storage or checking on retention compliance via a web-based console.

8. Desktop as a service

The deployment of virtual desktops to users within an enterprise is a simple matter once the underlying infrastructure is in place. With desktop as a service, enterprises can provision or deprovision a virtual desktop to a user instantly. Once provisioned, a user can access the desktop on any device with a network connection after verifying his or her identity.

This structure also allows organizations to centrally and securely manage desktops. Desktop as a service is increasingly useful in enterprises with remote or traveling workers.

9. Networking as a service

Enterprises can benefit from the state-of-the-art networking infrastructure that IaaS providers must maintain for their customers. This pay- per-use model allows organizations to scale up network resources to support short- or long-term projects and efforts surrounding Big Data, mobile communications and other initiatives.

In fact, according to a report from Ovum, a technology research firm, networking as a service is the next big frontier for IaaS. This is mainly because network challenges can be so time-consuming and difficult.

10. Disaster recovery as a service

While IaaS, by its nature, provides some level of disaster recovery capabilities,
it’s possible to take the concept to a higher level. With infrastructure at the base, organizations can use a service provider’s processes to consolidate their disparate disaster recovery systems into one virtualized environment.

Many services are being built on top of IaaS, and more are being developed every year. These include backup as a service, monitoring as a service, communications as a service, database as a service and IT service management as a service.

Download our free IaaS: Performance Upgrade white paper for more information.