IaaS Market Enters Adolescence

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 11-16-2011 Print Email
Infrastructure as a service is maturing as an alternative to on-premise application deployment and raising questions for how the next generation of IT will take shape.

Robust Internet connectivity plus virtualization, along with a heavy dose of managed hosting experience equals infrastructure as a service, a utility model where compute, storage and virtual machine instances are available at a moment's notice and paid for based on usage.

Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is the granddaddy of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings and is setting many of the de facto standards for how early adopters use the companies on-demand, readily available computing instances. In particular application programming interface (API) methods for the deployment and management of public cloud resources in Amazon s EC2 are gaining traction.

At the same time, a plethora of IaaS providers are entering the market, often distinguishing themselves based on service level commitments, hypervisor platform, management access and other premium services. The growing number of options means IT managers at medium to large enterprises must factor in not just compute cost but service level agreements (SLAs), tiers of service and technical compatibility with existing, on-premise virtualization tools.

Based on discussions with vendors and customers, it s clear that the IaaS market is just entering the early adopter phase. So, if your company has considered IaaS but has not yet taken the plunge, you're in a pretty big crowd. As IT managers consider how IaaS might play out as a strategic platform on which applications are developed and deployed, consideration should be given to a number of technical factors. What hypervisor platform is offered by the provider? Many premium services are built using VMware s vSphere virtualization platform. Open-source Xen and Red Hat's kernel virtualization mode (KVM) and other options are sometimes available. In all cases, there is a question of how the virtual machines and the workloads on those systems are managed by the service provider. What storage choices are offered? How does IT get at systems that are in trouble?

There are a range of adjacent issues, some technical in nature, some not that are also crucial to understand. How is the SLA measured and what steps are taken to ensure a speedy recovery from unexpected downtime? What management tools will work with the IaaS environment? Is it possible to mix and match traditional hosted services with IaaS systems? What cost-control measures are available? What is the disaster recovery plan for the IaaS provider, and what are the options when it comes to getting applications up and running after a loss of service? What are the implications for regulated and/or sensitive data when it comes to encryption, accidental loss and legal action that seeks to search and examine data that is used or stored outside your organization s direct control?

And the elephant in the room is what will happen to on-premise IT staff if a portion of the private data center is shipped to an IaaS provider? It s clear that widespread outsourcing will reduce the need for cable pullers and rack-and-stack front line staff. At the same time, the number of subject matter experts covering everything from storage and networking to system administration and security will also likely shrink as workloads move off premise.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: IaaS Enters Adolescence



 

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