How SaaS and IaaS are Changing the IT Landscape (Part II)

I hope you had a chance to review my last post related to SaaS.  If not, you might want to take a quick look as today’s post is closely related to the last one. Please click this link to review Part 1 (click here: Part 1).

Now that you understand what SaaS is and how SaaS can benefit your IT career, I’m here to introduce you to IaaS. This is pronounced as “I-AS”.

While SaaS, software as a service, can help you provide speedy solutions on a lot of the traditional IT tasks such as data backup solution, phone services, and email services, IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service. What this means is that your entire Infrastructure, anything and everything from firewall, your servers, the network that all the data traverses to and from, and down to your applications can all be provided by one of these IaaS providers. I’m sure many of you have heard of Amazon EC2 or AWS. These are IaaS services provided by Amazon. Basically, any company can sign up for their IaaS service, and in a very short time, set up their own servers along with all the necessary network components such as firewall, network and data connectivity all set up and ready to go. And the beauty of it all is that you only pay for what you use, and services can start as low as $40 a month.

You might think these IaaS providers are more for the big guys with big Cloud applications. Actually, that’s not true at all. Think about it. For $40 a month, you can get a server that has a 99.95 SLA (standard SLA, many IaaS provide even better SLA such as 99.999 or even 100 SLA, but be sure to read their fine print); this is a very inexpensive cost. If you were to go out and buy any decent server with 2 socket quad core and some reasonable amount of space, it could easily cost you $4000 a server. So for $40 a month, you could effectively host a server in the cloud for the same price for 100 months; that’s approximately 8 years. And during those 8 years, not only do you have a server, but a server that does not require maintenance. Yup, that’s right, these IaaS providers will take care of all maintenance in the background for you, from servers to network equipment, so that your environment is always up.

Image courtesy of stuart miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stuart miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Take a moment and consider if IaaS can help you with your existing Infrastructure. Why put a server in your office location? Whenever you have a piece of equipment sitting in the office, you have to worry about power, safety and bandwidth. What if you lose power in the office? Then all your employees are down, and you might as well send everybody home for the day. What if your ISP messed up your data circuit, now you have no email. Worse yet, what if somebody comes into your building and steals your server? Now you are in big trouble. Forget about data recovery, you don’t even have a server to recover to! Don’t think that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen. I’ve seen it happen.

With IaaS, you can deploy your critical infrastructure in the Cloud. All you need is some careful planning, and your domain controller, mail server, filer can all be in the Cloud. All you need is to set up a Site-to-Site connection back to your office(s). You are then up and running. If your office building’s power goes out, send everybody home, but not to do nothing; everyone should be able to work from home. IaaS is great if your company has many remote offices. Connecting remote offices to Cloud Infrastructure is a piece of cake, or cookie I should say; each site’s network can simply be a cookie cutter setup and can all have access to the same infrastructure as your headquarter. Of course, how you want to control access is an entirely different topic, but distributing access would be drastically simplified.

Now of course these IaaS providers are targeting big players with big cloud applications as well.  or example, NetFlix is a good example of a big guy with a big cloud application in the cloud. NetFlix uses Amazon for their online subscription based media distribution product. NetFlix is a big enough company. If they think it is a good idea and more cost effective to host their own servers and infrastructure, I’m sure they would do it. But if NetFlix, being such a big company, would choose to use a IaaS provider instead of building their own private cloud, these IaaS providers are certainly adding value to the process.

By now, you might be a bit worried. If SaaS can help with all the traditional IT services such as email, phone, and backups, and now there is Iaas to help with the infrastructure so no one needs to take care of and maintain all the servers, and network equipment, then what else is left for IT to do? Aren’t we just working ourselves out of a job?

Well, my friends, don’t you worry. Be open minded; don’t worry about these low level tasks, and start worrying about the higher level tasks.

There really isn’t much pride in being an expert in knowing how to swap out a couple of bad hard drives or setting up some basic firewall and network rules. These are yesterday’s problems. Now we have to step up a level and think about how to bring resources and services to our end-users and clients quicker than ever before. These IaaS providers give you the Infrastructure, but someone still has to manage the Infrastructure, how this infrastructure is supposed to function, along with all the applications running within it. To state it simply, it is like somebody gave you a super powerful computer, but how you run it and what applications you run on it is completely up to you. The content and results of what you run on this super computer is likely what will make or break your computer, not so much the computer itself. But it is nice to have a computer that you know you’ll never have to maintain or worry about it going down. So what I am saying is don’t worry about the infrastructure, and don’t worry about the basic server and network. But worry very much about your products, your services, your core worth and how you are going to deliver them and delivery them quickly. Quicker and more securely than anyone else on the market. That’s going to be why you are worth what you are worth.

I’ve mentioned Amazon, but don’t think Amazon is the only IaaS provider out there. I’m by no means endorsing any one IaaS provider. There are many, many IaaS providers out there. Again I’m not endorsing anyone, but just to give you an idea, here are a few: Amazon, SoftLayer, RackSpace, Terremark, Hosting.com…etc.

If you do consider moving forward with a IaaS provider, you want to make sure you understand the fee structure. They only charge you for what you use, but they will charge for everything that you use. They will certainly charge you for the use of their servers; for every CPU upgrade or memory upgrade there will be additional fees. Bandwidth will likely be charged as well, and they are frequently calculated as separate upload and download fees. Anyhow, there are a lot of different things that they can and will charge you for. It is best that you make sure you understand all the charges before you sign the contract.

Lastly, please understand I’m not saying that IaaS is the best invention since sliced bread and that it would work for every single company. Every company’s product is unique and its requirements for infrastructure will be different based on many different factors. There are plenty of good reasons to still do private cloud; there is really no one size fits all solution. If after you do some serious homework and calculation, you find that it would be financially or administratively beneficial to do your own private cloud, then that’s what you should do. Or if public cloud is the way to go, then you should embrace it. By the way, there are plenty of companies out there who are doing hybrid cloud, partly private cloud and partly public cloud. You should always go with whatever makes the most sense to you and your company. I’m simply here to encourage you to explore the new world of IT and not be afraid to try them out.

-David H.

2 Comments

  1. Comment by http://lynnraedesigns.com:

    “MaximizeMyITCareer – Gone Are The Days of IT as You Know It…How is
    SaaS and IaaS Changing the IT Landscape (Part II)” was in
    fact a wonderful posting, can’t help but wait to read more
    of ur blogs. Time to waste a lot of time on the net haha.
    Thank you -Rodrigo

  2. Comment by more info:

    I enjoyed reading your information. Good ideas.

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