Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Computing: Understanding Infrastructure as a Service

Introducing the notion of an alternative to AWS: Cloudcenters

Cloudcenters provide the same kinds of tools that all datacenter and server operators are already accustomed to, but with all the traditional advantages of cloud (i.e. self-service, pay-as-you-go, and scalability). Instead of creating completely new paradigms, cloudcenters are a methodology by which the customer can have a virtual datacenter hosted ‘in the sky.’

Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) is not the only way to build scalable Cloud Infrastructures. There are two emerging methodologies for constructing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) AKA “Cloud Infrastructure Services”. The first is what we call “cloudcenters”, which are essentially datacenters in the sky. The second is what we call an “Infrastructure Web Service”. GoGrid was one of the pioneers for cloudcenters, while AWS largely created the second model.

Understanding IaaS means looking closely at these two approaches. Clearly the notion of cloudcenters embodied by AWS competitors such as ourselves, FlexiScale, ElasticHosts, AppNexus, and others is important. My colleague, Michael Sheehan, will go into more depth on how we think this distinction modifies his earlier Cloud Pyramid (above left) in a follow-on article to this one.

Infrastructure Cloud Models

Understanding these two approaches is important because it directly affects your selection of a Cloud Infrastructure provider. These two models highlight a difference in core infrastructure and in target markets. Cloudcenters provide a direct equivalent to traditional datacenters and hence are usually more desirable for IT staff, systems operators, and other datacenter savvy folks. Infrastructure Web Services on the other hand are more analogous to Service-Oriented-Architectures (SOA), require significant programming skills, and are much more comfortable for software developers.

Infrastructure Web Services

I’m going to assume for this article that you are somewhat familiar with Amazon Web Services (AWS), but I’ll briefly re-cap. AWS provides a number of different ‘Web Services’ that can consumed individually or put together to support different kinds of applications, usually a batch processing or web application of some kind. These services include:

  • Object-based file storage via Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • Servers on demand via Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • Block storage on demand via Elastic Block Storage (a part of EC2)
  • Distributed database functionality via SimpleDB (SDB)
  • Content distribution and edge-caching via CloudFront
  • Messaging & queuing via Simple Queuing Service (SQS)
  • Payment processing via Flexible Payment Services (FPS)
  • Billing & re-packaging of the above services via Amazon Dev Pay

This is a robust ecosystem of services form which you can use any or all of in order to build your application, getting the traditional benefits of Cloud Computing such as self-service, pay-as-you-go, and massive scalability.

Unfortunately, every service above is based on an Amazon standard, not an industry standard.  S3 is not accessible via CIFS or NFS. EC2 provides Xen hosting, but image management and storage is completely custom. SQS does not use any standard queuing or messaging protocols such as JMS or STOMP. SimpleDB now has an ‘SQL-like’ interface, but is essentially a 100% ground up creation of Amazon.

A major advantage of using the Amazon approach however is that greenfield applications developed from scratch have a very powerful set of vetted, scalable services, that can be used to build that application. This means avoiding the intrinsic and extrinsic costs associated with deploying a separate queuing or database system.

The alternative, of course, is to use the same tools, paradigms and standards that you deploy in an industry standard Enterprise datacenter today.

More Stories By Randy Bias

Randy Bias is Co-Founder and CTO of Cloudscaling. His provocative views on the cloud computing disruption have made Randy Bias one of the industry’s most influential voices. He has inspired organizations to embrace cloud to transform business processes and position for success in a new world where computing resources are ubiquitous, inexpensive, instantly scalable, and highly available.

A vocal open systems advocate for more than two decades, Randy was the technical visionary at GoGrid and at CloudScale Networks. He led the open-licensing of GoGrid's APIs, which inspired Sun Microsystems, Rackspace Cloud, VMware and others to follow. In 2006, he co-founded Cloudscaling and since then has led teams that built and deployed cloud infrastructure for more than two dozen clients globally.

Randy was an early and vocal supporter of the OpenStack project, and led the teams that deployed the first public OpenStack storage cloud (Swift) outside of Rackspace, and the first public OpenStack compute cloud (Nova). He is a founding Board Member of the OpenStack Foundation. He also popularized the cloud server "pets vs. cattle" meme.

Randy blogs at Cloudscaling and Simplicity Scales, as well as GigaOm, CloudAve, O’Reilly Radar, TechCrunch and others. He is consistently recognized as one of the most influential social media voices in cloud computing. He is frequently interviewed in the media, and he speaks at dozens of industry events annually.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Early Bird Registration Discount Expires on August 31, 2018 Conference Registration Link ▸ HERE. Pick from all 200 sessions in all 10 tracks, plus 22 Keynotes & General Sessions! Lunch is served two days. EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2018. Ticket prices: ($1,295-Aug 31) ($1,495-Oct 31) ($1,995-Nov 12) ($2,500-Walk-in)
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.