An increasing number of enterprises are using Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) for certain applications as the cloud industry continues to expand. A June 2014 Gigaom article predicted that the public IaaS market will exhibit 47.8% growth from 2014 to 2015, increasing from $23 billion to $34 billion. An August 2014 Gigaom survey indicated that although other benefits are recognized, cost is the primary motivation for tech buyers to adopt a cloud strategy.[/dropcap]
Through our enterprise-consulting experience, we have learned that there are advantages not every potential cloud buyer is considering. That being said, the best cloud infrastructure strategy for some companies and applications is to hold off, as the in-house infrastructure economics may be much more favorable. But it is not just about the economics. Different companies have different goals. If you are an enterprise evaluating potential cloud strategies, we recommend considering the following IaaS advantages before making your decision:
1. Price and Performance Changes Will Continue to Increase the Value of IaaS Services
As cloud technologists continue to innovate and as Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) find more ways to compete, prices will continue to drop while virtual machine performance will continue to improve. Large IaaS players, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Rackspace, have updated their platforms and hardware to introduce higher performing offerings year over year while continuing to drop prices. We have learned that not all enterprise applications are currently more economical on an IaaS service. However, the increasing price-performance value from lower prices and higher performance will make migrating to CSP infrastructure a more economical choice at some point for many enterprise applications – even the ones requiring the highest performance.
2. The Immediacy of Resources Will Slash Development Time
The time between requesting a server and that server’s availability can be reduced to seconds or minutes within an IaaS environment. Rather than waiting for hours, days or weeks for in-house machine resources to become available, developers can immediately begin projects once IaaS machines are provisioned. Combined with APIs, hundreds of VMs can be provisioned across multiple geographical locations, SSH keys can be pre-installed, OS images can be mounted, and custom processes can be automated in a matter of minutes with a few lines of an API script. All major cloud providers have robust APIs that allow you to easily leverage the advantages of IaaS.
3. Pay Only for What You Use
Not all applications need to be running all the time. However, with many in-house options, the business must pay for the machine whether or not the application needs to be running; annually, the cost is the same whether you use your machine(s) for one hour, a few months, or 24/7/365. IaaS offerings, on the other hand, allow you to pay only for the time when the VM resources are provisioned. Most commonly, users are charged by the hour, but some providers, like Google Compute and ProfitBricks, can bill by the minute. At Cloud Spectator, we run tests continually from day to day, and leverage provider APIs to terminate and re-create machines between runs to save on VM costs.
4. Reduce Spending Without Risking Application Failure by Right-Sizing Your Machines
In our experiences with consulting projects, we’ve frequently seen generously sized machines with their native applications utilizing only about 10% of system resources. The remaining resources sit idly and consistently waste money. On the other hand, public cloud enables you to resize your VMs or scale out flexibly according to demand. You are able to select VM sizes that best fit your application requirements, and therefore avoid unnecessary spending on additional resources.
5. Purchasing for the Future is a Thing of the Past with On-Demand Scalability
Building on advantages #3 and #4, cloud IaaS eliminates the need to purchase resources in advance for expected spikes in performance such as periods of peak-time traffic. You can add resources when you need them by scaling vertically (adding more hardware resources such as processing power or disk space) or horizontally (duplicating existing machines). After peak hours, you can scale down to save money that may not be saved with in-house servers. This can be automated through APIs.
These five advantages are critical to keep in mind when planning your cloud-based IT strategies. In order to fully leverage the value that cloud infrastructure brings, we recommend that you begin with testing and standardizing performance and cost structures across cloud vendors. By taking this performance and cost structure data and comparing it with application requirements, you can save time and money as well as mitigate risk for cloud-based IT strategies in the future.
If you have further questions regarding public cloud services or your cloud-based IT strategy, feel free to contact us.