The next step is Cloud!
Cloud infrastructure can be provided in two ways:
- The first is IT infrastructure per se in the form of virtual machines located in high security data centres. This is known as Infrastructure-as-a-Service.
- The second is a more value-added form known as Platform-as-a-Service. Platform as a service comprises a combination of underlying infrastructure and certain applications designed to provide a particular type of service – such as Amazon AWS RDS, Elastic Beanstalk or Unified Communications. With PaaS, clients can develop, run and manage applications without having to develop and manage the underlying infrastructure.
Both IaaS and PaaS provide a continuously variable IT infrastructure literally at the click of a button (or API request), with minimal up front capital costs. Fixed costs, and the business risks that stem from them, become a thing of the past. So does hardware maintenance, the need to deal with hardware vendors and the need to develop infrastructure growth plans.
Both infrastructure and platforms can be scaled up or down as business activities expand, or in some cases contract.
Cloud infrastructure also provides mobility, flexibility and much greater reliability than traditional IT infrastructure. Staff can operate as if they are in their office, when they can be literally anywhere in the world. And in most cases, reliability is an order of magnitude greater than with on-premises infrastructure – with disaster recovery requirements covered easily.
The most customised aspect of cloud infrastructure is Software-as-a-Service.