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Considering IaaS: Seven real reasons organizations are moving to the cloud


Many organizations are evaluating Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms as a part of a cloud offering, largely due to the number of benefits in a more agile environment. IaaS is an ideal introduction to the cloud for middle-market companies that want to gain efficiencies, reduce risks and maintain control while better managing costs. The flexible infrastructure solution improves computing, storage and networking capacity in a sustainable manner while increasing platform stability and regulatory compliance.

IaaS opens doors to previously unattainable technology solutions, capitalizing on existing investments and providing big business benefits that can help establish a competitive advantage. The following are seven reasons IaaS solutions are often a good fit for middle-market organizations: 

The inherent scalability of IaaS solutions can give you increased flexibility, agility and financial control to run your business. The need for more storage and more functional infrastructure is increasing quickly. Recently, the standard for networking equipment was 1 gigabyte (GB); now organizations are feeling the need to move to 10GB. It is also likely that storage demands will outgrow your current systems sooner rather than later. Making those upgrades internally could cost an organization tens of thousands of dollars.

However, that expansion capability exists immediately in many IaaS solutions, incrementally adding capacity as you use it with no fear of running out of room. You only incur costs for what you use and can easily scale up or down with a minor service request, instead of investing in solutions for immediate needs without clear expectations of future needs. Your costs match your use, rather than spending for technology you may not utilize for years into the future.

Flexibility: Most organizations will face a time when technology must be implemented that was not budgeted or planned for. That situation often requires a large capital expenditure, and uncertainty as to  whether or not your design is properly scaled to fit this new need. In an IaaS environment, when unplanned technology needs arise, new hardware and concerns about storage or network capabilities are unnecessary. You must only integrate the application and pay the operational expense for the incremental services (server, storage, etc.) to house that application. 

Ease of migration: A key feature that attracts organizations to IaaS is that it is generally very easy to implement, saving valuable time and resources. Your servers retain the same look and feel, but since they are virtualized in an IaaS environment, the migration headache and angst are diminished compared to moving to a SaaS or a public cloud platform. You don't have to completely rework your business processes, disrupt work flows or change how you use technology.

Minimal risk: Many organizations are particularly interested in IaaS because it's a nice step forward in technology without a lot of risk. You can operate your servers as you would if it was in your physical facility or on your hardware in a shared data center or co-location facility. In an IaaS structure, you turn the connectivity and hardware over to another organization, gaining increased scalability and efficiencies while retaining power over the servers themselves.

Gaining economies of scale: Utilizing IaaS within your organization allows you to realize economies of scale on several levels. IaaS introduces powerful, proven technology that is more scalable and on demand, while also improving your regulatory environment. For example, your IaaS platform can provide higher uptime with hardware and software, as well as network connectivity and stability. With middle-market companies, an infrastructure investment normally reaches a point of diminishing returns, as implementing in-house redundant power grids and network connectivity is often not cost effective nor prudent.

Modifying your platform as needs dictate: Once you implement an IaaS solution, it is easy to add additional services  without relinquishing control of your environment. Even if you do engage a provider for a fully-managed IaaS offering, the maintenance of your servers and your information remain at your discretion. An established provider can also provide a wealth of managed services options, from monitoring to fully managed and all points in between for your environment, helping to ensure your needs are satisfied and your technology is performing as expected.

Whether for necessity (lack of staffing) or for strategic visioning, you can improve the way technology is leveraged within your organization by layering those additional managed services, such as patch management, server management or help desk services. When adding to an IaaS platform, there is an underlying standard that is followed, in addition to best practices, equipment, software and configurations that make it easier to add related services.

Cost control: Many organizations fall into a trap where IT refreshes do not occur in regular intervals, resulting in large unplanned projects that are harmful to the budget and operations. Leveraging an IaaS offering allows your organization to avoid front-end hardware and software expenses as well as disruptions that ultimately occur with maintaining infrastructure in-house. For example, if you need to move from your 2008 server to a 2012 server, after verifying compatibility and utilization, you discontinue the use of that 2008 server and quit paying for it. You only incur a transition cost instead of a sunk infrastructure cost.

If you have outdated equipment, moving to a new environment in-house can be painful without the luxury of scale. You need enough space to move information to, even if you are re-using some of your existing equipment. After migrating to new hardware, the potentially time-consuming shifts in software, operating system and applications must also take place. In an IaaS offering, you can move your existing environment directly to an IaaS provider's environment and incrementally move servers and applications as needed, and as it makes sense, based on your comfort level.

IaaS solutions provide several significant benefits to organizations, increasing agility and service quality while mitigating risk, reducing waste and integrating new innovations to react to competition. With IaaS, you maintain control of your servers and data, but benefit from a proven organization providing the maintenance surrounding the underlying hardware, connectivity and data center, further alleviating the respective headaches. After easing into a cloud deployment with IaaS, you can layer additional services to fit your needs, but never give up control unless you choose to.