Cloud IaaS providers like AWS provide on-demand access to massive pools of IT infrastructure resources making it possible to instantly build virtual IT infrastructure on a shared platform.
Those businesses able to host applications on a shared platform have benefited by eliminating costs associated with operating physical infrastructure and gaining greater IT and business agility.
However, cloud IaaS is not a replacement for physical IT environments because it does not provide sufficient control of infrastructure, choice of technologies or network service providers, and customization when compared to on-premises or colocation environments.
As a result, IT Operations* continues to build and manage physical environments, usually in colocation facilities, and leverage cloud IaaS for certain use cases - the so-called hybrid approach.
The issue – building physical environments takes months, requires vendor negotiations, capital expenditure, long-term commitments, and management of the colocation facility, all of which, adversely impacts IT agility and time-to-value for businesses.
This white paper will examine requirements for building scalable physical IT infrastructure that combines the control, choice, and customization of a colocation environment with the instant provisioning and OpEx of cloud IaaS so IT Operations can achieve greater IT agility while maintaining full control of the systems that process and store their critical data.
Control of Infrastructure
Businesses want IT agility and find cloud IaaS services appealing but the lack of control over IT infrastructure is a barrier to adoption by IT Operations.
In traditional colocation environments IT Operations maintains full control of the environment, whereas with cloud IaaS control of infrastructure is reserved for the service provider - this is an example of why cloud IaaS is not replacing the need for physical IT infrastructure and the reason 55% of enterprises opt for hybrid cloud as a preferred strategy**.
Here is the crux of the problem – IT Operations wants full control of infrastructure because they are better positioned to meet security, governance, risk management, performance, and compliance requirements, but cloud IaaS providers can’t relinquish control of the virtualized infrastructure due to the potential risk to compromise security, performance and uptime for tenants of the shared devices.
From a technical implementation perspective, maintaining full control of IT infrastructure requires:
- Console access to all physical network, security and storage devices to enable access to the operating system and the full functionality of the devices
- Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) access to monitor and manage the physical host systems
- Power management to power any device up or down
- Ability to network any port on any physical device into a custom network topology
Key requirements – The platform must dynamically support: 1) console access to all physical security, network, and storage devices; 2) IPMI access to server infrastructure; 3) power management for all devices, and 4) the ability to connect any device port into a custom network topology.
Choice of Technologies
When IT infrastructure is provisioned in a colocation facility, IT Operations can use any product or service to best address their needs. Existing vendor relationships can be leveraged, new vendor relationships can be forged, and evaluations of emerging technologies are possible. This ensures IT Operations has the tools to manage and protect critical data and deliver reliable business services.
In contrast, Cloud IaaS limits choice to only the products and services the provider offers and/or supports. To highlight this concept, take AWS’ Security Groups service as an example. Security Groups is a port-filtering security service for protecting EC2 and VPC environments and is the core security service for protecting data stored on the AWS platform.
What if a next-generation physical security appliance is required, such as Cisco’s FirePOWER appliance? This is not possible because the provider, in this case AWS, does not support physical security appliances, even though these types of devices enable IT Operations to provide better protection and security over their IT infrastructure. The inability to choose a physical security appliance is a major limitation with most clouds IaaS platforms.
Important point - The cloud IaaS model inherently limits choice of technology because no single cloud provider can compete feature-by-feature with an army of vendors that are expert in specific technologies. In other words, it will be difficult for AWS, as a general cloud service provider, to compete with Cisco whose expertise is building next-generation security technologies. With cloud IaaS choice of technologies is significantly limited.
Key requirements – The platform must dynamically support: 1. Choice of hardware and software technologies; 2. Choice of infrastructure vendors; 3) and network services, including Internet, WAN, and Metro Ethernet.
Two popular off-premises IT infrastructure service delivery models are: colocation and cloud IaaS. Both models have its distinct benefits and limitations. Colocation provides consumers near absolute control and choice of their infrastructure and network topology, which is not possible with cloud IaaS offerings. Meanwhile, cloud IaaS provides consumers speed and agility in provisioning and scaling compute and storage infrastructure resources, which is not possible with colocation.
The benefits of agility on a business’ overall goals and strategy may be compelling, but the lack of control and customization prevents its adoption by IT Operations. They lack the ability to choose infrastructure components from preferred vendors, deploy physical devices, or build custom network topologies to secure their critical data and monitor access.
There is a need for a new dynamic infrastructure delivery model that delivers the benefits of colocation and cloud IaaS and simultaneously overcomes the limitations of both.
New Infrastructure Delivery Model
A new type of infrastructure service is emerging that delivers the agility and automation of cloud IaaS combined with the control, choice, and customization of a colocation environment. This new model can be considered the first true alternative to traditional colocation. The leader in this space is Ns3i.
Ns3i operates the first dynamic infrastructure marketplace enabling the instant sourcing and provisioning of IT infrastructure from a large eco-system of providers.
From a web browser, IT Operations can dynamically source and provision physical and/or virtual (network, systems, security and storage) devices of their choice and create custom layer-2 network topologies of arbitrary scale and complexity to connect their devices. They maintain full control of their infrastructure, including console and IPMI access to all physical devices and the ability to power any device up or down.
By dynamically delivering full control of infrastructure, choice of technologies, and network customization along with instant provisioning and OpEx, Ns3i is pioneering a new service delivery model for building scalable physical IT infrastructure, and extending the possibilities of cloud infrastructure as a service.
We want to thank you for taking the time to read this whitepaper. Our intent is to clarify off-premises service models and highlight the trade offs with each option. Note: no single model is superior; in the end, it’s about understanding requirements and the solutions that best meet your needs.
Contact us to request our matrix and checklist to help you find the optimal IT service model for your next IT infrastructure project.
About the Authors
- Yogesh Angrish is Founder, CEO, and Chief Product Officer of Ns3i. Yogi is a network and infrastructure expert with 17 years' experience as a network engineer and architect. Yogi has designed, built and scaled some of the world’s largest multi-tenant Cloud IaaS networks. In 2008, he designed and led the implementation of GoGrid’s global network that spanned both the North American and European continents and supported thousands of customers.
- Mario Olivarez is Co-Founder and CMO at Ns3i and manages sales, marketing and business development. Mario brings more than 15 years of experience as a technology product management, marketing and sales executive and serial entrepreneur. Prior to co-founding Ns3i, Mario was on the founding team of GoGrid, a pioneering cloud IaaS provider.