The Changing Face of IaaS

Two-FaceIn a recent blog post I stated that 2013 will be a pivotal year for the use of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions. I will use my next two posts to elaborate on some of the changes that I see happening in that environment.

The initial set of IaaS solutions that were brought to market by Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) were the basic compute and storage services that are necessary to run applications. It is difficult to imagine how any CSP could differentiate basic compute and storage services. These services are clearly commodities and it is difficult for any vendor to be very profitable offering just commodity services.

In part to avoid being limited to just offering commodity services and in part to respond to changing requirements, a number of IaaS providers either already have, or are currently in the process of deploying myriad new services. These new services include disaster recovery, virtual private data centers and high performance computing. So, one of the big questions relative to the IaaS market in 2013 is the degree to which IT organizations begin to use these new services.

In order to better understand the IaaS market, I recently surveyed roughly 200 IT professionals. One of the survey questions asked the respondents to indicate the interest that their organization has in adopting these emerging IaaS solutions. Their responses showed very significant interest in disaster recovery solutions, and almost as much interest in virtual private data center solutions. There was notably less interest in high-performance computing solutions, which is reasonable as this is somewhat of a niche application.

I also asked the survey respondents to indicate the factors that are driving and inhibiting their organizations interest in IaaS solutions in general. It was not surprising that lowering cost was one of the primary drivers. However, it was not the primary driver. The primary driver was agility. By agility I mean a combination of the ability to dynamically add new capacity and the ability to reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy new functionality.

It was not at all surprising that concern about the security and confidentiality of their data is, by a wide margin, the primary inhibitor to the increased adoption of cloud-based IaaS solutions. It seemed somewhat paradoxical, however, that although cost savings are the second most important driver of the adoption of cloud-based IaaS solutions, the survey respondents indicated that the fact that their organization does not see significant enough cost savings is the second most important factor that inhibits their adoption of cloud-based IaaS solutions.

It is common to associate the concern about the security and confidentiality of data as a key inhibitor of cloud-based IaaS solutions. It was curious, however, to realize that the same concern is also the primary inhibitor to the increased adoption of private IaaS solutions, although not by as wide of a margin as is the case with cloud-based IaaS solutions. Another key inhibitor to the increased adoption of private IaaS solutions is the fact that a high percentage of IT organizations still lack a strategy for how they will adopt IaaS solutions.

One of the key conclusions that I draw from the survey data is that a large number of organizations have already made a very limited, tactical use of IaaS solutions. In 2013 I expect to see those types of deployments continue and I also expect to see a modest percentage of IT organizations develop a strategy for the broader adoption of these solutions. In my next blog, I will discuss the survey results in more detail and will focus on the networking services that IT organizations expect to see as part of cloud-based IaaS solutions.

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