IaaS Providers Warming Up to Business
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years, and new information shows that both midsized and enterprise businesses are taking advantage of the offering, although in slightly different ways. As IaaS providers bring the technology into the mainstream, a clearer picture of the future of cloud computing is beginning to take shape.
IaaS is one of the three main pillars of cloud computing, along with Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service, and is probably the most defining factor of those three segments. IaaS allows companies to purchase an entire computing solution, complete with network resources and storage, which is actually just a piece of an off-site, multi-tenant environment. This allows companies to make their entire infrastructure elastic and responsive, without requiring an investment in any actual hardware.
IaaS took a little while to start gaining widespread adoption, mostly due to the complexity of migrating entire systems to the cloud and partially due to the security concerns of having every piece of data crunched and stored off-site. Today, IaaS seems to be taking its rightful place at the head of the cloud computing revolution.
As NetworkWorld points out, midsized businesses are rapidly adopting IaaS solutions. Enterprises are moving a few systems over at a time, essentially testing the waters, while midsized companies are moving their entire systems to the public cloud. If IaaS solutions prove successful over the next few years, expect more enterprises to make the jump with their entire systems. This will see IaaS prices decline as competition heats up and spur on innovation as providers attempt to offer things that their competitors cannot.
The Future of IaaS
As noted in this Gartner blog post, cloud computing providers are currently undergoing an alignment where two dominant players, VMware and Amazon, are dividing the market between them. Other players are either going after niche markets or aligning themselves to try and take down one of the big two. These are prime conditions for innovation, and IT managers at midsized firms will do themselves a favor by keeping an eye on programs like OpenStack and CloudStack as they try and compete with Amazon and VMware. The next big jump in IaaS, and cloud computing in general, will probably come from someone looking to supplant the major firms; the businesses that latch onto that technology first will reap the benefits over the next few years.
On another front, many analysts claim that the public cloud is simply too insecure and unreliable for widespread growth of whole-system replacement, but they predict that in a hybrid solution, IaaS could move into the big time. A hybrid cloud includes parts of a standard IaaS solution, but with the inclusion of on-premise hardware or some kind of private cloud. Hybrid solutions give the appearance of being more secure, while still offering many of the standard cloud computing advantages, making them an ideal first step into the world of IaaS.
IaaS has gone through some major changes over the past few years, but it now looks poised to come into its own and help complete IT's shift toward cloud computing. At first, the concept of turning over a complete system to an outsourced virtualized environment may seem frightening, but as more and more businesses are taking the plunge, they are finding that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Become a fan of the program on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.