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Hardware Scaling in the Cloud - Part 3 of 5

Week 3: Infrastructure as a service

In the previous two weeks, I wrote about why the cloud is important to you as a business leader and provided some rationale for economic justification of cloud adoption.

Over the next three weeks, I will take apart the three key components that comprise the cloud: infrastructure, platform and software as a service. Each is delivered as a cloud-based service. With an understanding of these components, you will be able to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to significantly impact your organization's top and bottom lines.

The main topic of this week and the most fundamental component of the cloud is infrastructure as a service (IaaS). This component refers to all the elements of delivering a Web-based service including servers, Internet connectivity, transport routing and sometimes higher-level functions for enhanced performance and scalability.

The bottom line with IaaS is that you never have to actually touch or code any of the above elements. You simply "order" them - often à la carte - connect to them over the Internet and then pay for what you use.

Let me give you a great example: Amazon's S3 network. S3 stands for "simple storage service." With a minimal amount of software code, any software solution can be set up to store files or images at S3 over the Internet and then retrieve those files on demand. Amazon has built an incredibly powerful network of servers, routers and other components to enable high performance and scalability of delivery at a very low cost. With S3, you literally only pay for what you use. You can put images on there served as a part of a Web site, or bulk files. Additionally, you don't have to worry about data backups, hard-drive failures, network outages or anything else - that's Amazon's job. You just use the service and pay for use accordingly.

Another great example is GoGrid. Let's suppose you want to do more than just store files. Suppose you need an entire server to host a Web site, intranet or other application. You could order a server, have it configured, attached to your network, work through the kinks of getting everything up and running and ultimately maintain the server as it goes through its various maintenance cycles. Or, armed with nothing but a credit card, you can order a server à la carte from GoGrid. Big ones, small ones, multiple ones; turn them on and off as fast you need them or don't need them.

The key thing to understand about IaaS is that in some cases you can save a lot of money, and in other cases you may not. Costs still are being driven down as competitors mature. There also are concerns out there about higher levels of data security. However, IaaS represents a significant opportunity to impact your business, and I urge you to keep an eye on it or check back here for new developments.

This was posted originally on the Central Penn Business Journal Gadget Cube.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.workxpress.com