abattre

Removing barriers to cloud computing for the Small & Medium Business space.

Introduction to Infrastructure Cloud Computing for Small Business

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Cloud computing is a game changer for the small and medium business space.  In a nutshell, it provides enterprise class software and hardware infrastructure at a utility price that is affordable for the small and medium business user.  Gartner places the market size at $30B by 2014.  In essence, cloud computing levels the game in ways not possible until the last two years AND it has huge market potential.  I personally think $30B is a little low given worldwide trends.

What is IaaS?

I would argue that Infrastructure-as-a-Service, IaaS, is the most heated space in cloud computing.  It is still early in the cloud computing adoption cycle and no one vendor is a clear leader yet and probably won’t be for another few years.  To be a IaaS vendor, you must provide a compute platform with a nominal amount of management tools to run virtual machines in a hosted data center.  Most vendors use XenKVM or vmware as their primary hypervisor platform to provide compute capabilities.

Outside of compute capabilities, all IaaS vendors provide some sort of blob storage to provide speedy retrieval and download of large files.  Two very good examples are Amazon’s product called S3, Rackspace’s aptly named Cloud Files.

Hence, A Definition

Infrastructure-as-a-Service, IaaS, is a platform that provides two key components, compute capacity typically delivered via virtualization technology in a data center and file storage for very large file types.  Customers purchase both services at a utility price which is typically based on usage and capability of the compute resources reserved on their behalf.  The pricing is typically fixed and non-negotiable.

How do you decide on a vendor or find out who the vendors even are?  Most rely on Gartner to provide initial research into making those type of decisions.  Let’s look at their most recent publication of their magic quadrant for IaaS.

The 2011 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Infrastructure

gartner-iaas-magicq.png

This past quarter of 2010, Gartner published their most recent review of all the vendors in the Infrastructure business.  At first glance, you notice that Amazon is clearly the most visionary of the vendors in their eyes, in fact, many would argue that Amazon created this space back in 2006 when they launched Elastic Computing based on virtual machine technology which is now marketed as EC2.

However, others have been in the hosting business for a very long time and easily could take the lead over the next 3 years.  Savvis, Rackspace, Terramark and GoGrid are four very strong contenders that provide both compute and file storage.  And they have tons of small businesses already running their web sites on their servers.  They are veteran hosting providers and understand Internet infrastructure needs in addition to having excellent reputations with many small and medium businesses.

Of significant note, Rackspace recently launched OpenStack in a partnership with NASA which is an open-source cloud computing platform.  This is exciting because they’ve actually said, we’ll compete on service and completeness of solution, but we’ll allow anyone else to see the actual application code upon which they run their solution.

Decisions

Choosing an Infrastructure provider can be difficult.  When making the decision, choose a vendor you feel you can trust and is willing to provide excellent service.  Get a phone number to call when you run into issues and do your homework.  All vendors are not alike, find one willing to invest in you.

I like Infrastructure-as-a-Service because it allows businesses the freedom to move applications to the cloud and minimize their capital expenditures, on hardware/software/data center costs, while improving operating margins on the applications they use to run their business.


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Written by abattre

January 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

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