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As businesses grow exponentially, the stress on physical and software infrastructure grows exponentially. With both space and liquid cash in short supply, the option is to look beyond one’s environment to efficiently scale the business.

Third party vendors provide the much-needed relief to an overburdened corporate by taking away the pain of purchasing hardware, upgrading software, balancing network loads, storing data and all of the other one hundred things that keep the business running, but eat up time and valuable resources.

Today, one has the option to outsource enterprise infrastructure (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or software as a service (SaaS). The advantages are many – improved scalability, location independence, quick recovery from failure and reduced Capex.

Microsoft 365, Citrix GoTo Meeting, Cisco WebEx are examples of SaaS. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine are examples of IaaS while AppFrog, and Apprenda are examples of PaaS.

The downside is that one has to trust the cloud – private, community or hybrid – to seamlessly integrate with your business needs. This can be daunting – an act of faith in placing one’s confidence in the unseen. Other than the emotional distress, there is always the risk of exposing one’s data to the internet.

On the flip side, there is enhanced locational security of the Virtual Data Center with adequate checks and balances by way of end-point security, usage logs, disaster management and role-based access controls.

Does one actually save costs by moving to the cloud? Apart from the obvious advantages, the vendor lock-in period and estimation of what services are really adequate for your business, will, eventually determine whether you will be saving costs in the near term or the longer term, say, over a period of 4 years. There is no black and white scenario here – with every assurance you seek, service level agreements such as 99.99% uptime, RAID stacks, inline recovery and back-up, geographic availability and configurability, the costs could gallop northwards.

The secret to a successful Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) engagement is in judicious determination of expectations, realistic estimation of expected scaling of the business and the comfort of dealing with virtual service providers.

Either way, IaaS is here to stay. The sooner businesses embrace the new paradigm, the better they will be able to do what they need to do – run their business effectively!

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