What is cloud infrastructure?
The cloud infrastructure is an all-encompassing concept that refers to servers, storage, compute resources, applications, processing power, databases, networking, analytics, intelligence, security elements, and more delivered as a service to be consumed over the Internet.
This collection of on-demand services provide flexible resources where users only pay for the specific cloud services they use in order to reduce operating costs, run the overall cloud computing infrastructure more effectively, and scale as needed.
In essence, the cloud is comprised of back-end and front-end platforms that connect over a network to deliver computing services as requested. The front-end is the face of the cloud the end user interacts with, such as a computer or mobile device. The back-end is the physical and software infrastructure that is accessed via Internet processes requests and is the operational center behind the scenes.
In this article, we explore the world of infrastructure as a service along with the strategies, mix of ingredients, and best practices to get the most out of it.
Best strategies for a cloud infrastructure architecture
Cloud infrastructure is one of the most common services rendered through the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. Users who opt for this cloud computing service can deploy their own IT infrastructure and organizational operation along with processing, storage, and networking resources, similar to a physical data center enterprise infrastructure.
A cloud computing infrastructure provides flexibility and customization in terms of design and is also more efficiently managed than a traditional, physical infrastructure that typically requires manual procurement and maintenance of servers, storage, computing power, and networking components. With the cloud, users can easily scale, personalize, modify, or remove infrastructure components, tasks that would be more time consuming with physical infrastructure.
Some of the key infrastructure strategies that IT teams should consider when implementing cloud infrastructure architecture include:
- Select a cloud computing service provider that is flexible and is capable of scaling up or down as needed.
- Plan for a heterogeneous and integrated cloud that aligns hardware, virtualization, and software solutions along with existing data centers or other software components.
- Develop a strategic plan and list of exact infrastructure components that you need for your architecture to work.
- Determine the budget amount available to have as a price point reference when selecting from various cloud computing vendors.
- Ensure you have sufficient security measures in place to protect your data and select a vendor that is careful about your infrastructure’s safety in the face of potential cyber attacks.
Now, let’s take a look at the mix of ingredients that make cloud infrastructure more likely to succeed.
Selecting proper cloud ingredients
Cloud infrastructure components
Cloud infrastructure consists of servers, storage devices, network connection, cloud management and deployment software, and platform virtualization. The main list of components usually includes:
- servers, which are hardware or cloud resources (IaaS) for building computational resources, one of the core components of the infrastructure.
- platform virtualization software or hardware implementation of resource separation of hardware such as processor time, access to peripheral devices, and access to memory, very often providing separate virtual operating systems or containers on the same hardware.
- a hypervisor, a program or hardware that provides or allows concurrent, parallel execution of multiple operating systems on the same host computer. The hypervisor also provides isolation of operating systems from one another, protection and security, resource management and sharing in the cloud.
- networks, which are the most valuable and same time most sensitive component of the cloud system. This concerns the access network of clients to the cloud system. It also includes firewalls, routers, hubs, and security systems.
- storage devices are represented as information storage systems or can be used in the form of Database as a Service as an external resource.
- management and deployment software to place customer application or service on the cloud such as AWS CodeDeploy, Chef, CicleCI, TravisCI, etc.
Selecting a proper cloud component includes the following steps:
- analyzing the number of customers
- calculating the size of storage and network traffic size for a single average customer
- analyzing the increase in the number of customers per month or per year
- analyzing the separation of customers applications if necessary
- analyzing requirements for redundancy level for specific types of customers
All virtualized components are hosted by a service provider or vendor that delivers them via the Internet or over a network. The cloud components are selected according to the type of expected cloud system, such as private, public, community or hybrid cloud.
But infrastructure components also impose constraints on cloud systems transparency, scalability, intelligent monitoring and security may be degraded to some extent. Balancing these constraints distinguishes well-organized cloud system from ineffective cloud infrastructure.
Attention should also be paid to the impact new clients and increasing requirements for each component of the infrastructure will have on overall functionality.
Cloud infrastructure services
Cloud infrastructure services is a very common model that accommodates a wide spectrum of customers and specific business needs. Almost all cloud providers use the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. In this case, the customer manages the provided resources. Subscribers are provided with basic information technology resources such as virtual servers with the necessary computing power, an operating system (usually pre-installed by the provider) and the required access to the network. IaaS is the lowest level for cloud service models. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and DigitalOcean are the best known IaaS cloud providers.
Another model of cloud services is a PaaS, or Platform as a Service. In this case, the cloud system provides a platform or framework for deploying a software project to PaaS. It includes middleware, an effective scalability mechanism, an integrated distributed database, as well as a control and monitoring system. Google Application Engine, Microsoft Azure and Heroku are the most popular examples of PaaS. Almost any programming language, including C#, Java, RoR, Python, JS, etc., can be used with PaaS.
A third model, SaaS or Software as a Service, is very popular. SaaS provides ready-to-use software for clients. Examples include Google Docs, Salesforce, and Microsoft Office 360.
Examples of cloud computing infrastructure
Some of the most popular IaaS vendors are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Microsoft Azure, and IBM. Let’s briefly explore each one.
Amazon Web Services: Cloud services platform that provides computing power, database storage, content delivery, and other functionalities to help organizations grow and scale. AWS Cloud provides a robust and comprehensive set of on-demand infrastructure services. These range rom computing power, storage options, and networking, to databases, all available quickly and on a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
The technology allows subscribers to have a complete virtual cluster of computers always available through the Internet. AWS virtual computers have most of the attributes of real computers, including hardware devices (processor, graphics card, local and RAM, hard disk or SSD); the operating system to choose from; and network (including IP address, firewalls, and security tools).
Amazon provides two main infrastructure cloud services: EC2 and S3. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is responsible for virtual computers or a cluster of computers as a core of infrastructure for many types of potential customers. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) makes it possible to save a huge amount of data in the cloud and effectively access it by API from any location in the world. Both services provide availability, redundancy, and security at the highest quality level. Amazon has more than 70 services in addition to EC2 and S3. It claims to scale faster and be cheaper for a client company than building its own physical server cluster.
Google Cloud: Global fiber network that operates as a single, global computer for ongoing data flow. It provides a core of cloud computing services including computing, data storage, data analytics, machine learning, and more. The Google Cloud Platform provides infrastructure as a service under the name of Google Compute Engine. It enables users to launch virtual machines on demand.
Google Compute Engine is a fundamental part of Google Cloud platform. It provides virtual machines from a single instance to large scale clusters with load balancing systems. Google provides Unix and Microsoft Windows operating systems for infrastructure, redundant service, and persistent disk including fast SSD, network management with a routing table to manage traffic for a certain IP range in the cloud. Additionally, it offers fast computing power on virtual machines based on the 64 bit x86 architecture with possible GPU and Cloud TPU.
Google has over 90 products in the Google Cloud including compute, database, networking, big data, Cloud AI, IoT, etc. Google uses green energy for cloud systems and declares that their "global network of data centers consume 50% less energy than the typical data center".
Microsoft Azure: Through instant and scalable infrastructure, Microsoft Azure plans, procures, secures, and manages IaaS needs to meet application demands. Azure offers consistent cloud services across on-premise and cloud environments to distribute data.
Azure provides one of the fastest infrastructures as a service on the market. Additionally, it has an option for obare-metal infrastructure to scale in a huge system for a critical application. Azure has a very good global presence in more than 19 regions and 58 zones. Their virtual machines in cloud support Linux, Windows Server, SQL Server, Oracle, IBM, and SAP.
Another advantage of Azure is its integration with Microsoft operating systems. . Now Azure extends its cloud presence actively in such areas as image and computer vision, artificial intelligence, big data, and Internet of Things.
IBM Cloud: High-performance global cloud infrastructure that provides powerful and robust IaaS offering designed to provision servers on demand from a variety of server types. The IBM Cloud infrastructure services include bare metal servers, virtual servers, POWER8 IaaS bare metal servers, GPU, computer services, and IaaS management.
IBM cloud is one of the best providers if you consider its bare metal server with incredible characteristics and virtual machines as well. One more great option is a customizable bare metal server in 2–4 hours. If you need even more computing power, then Linux on POWER8 superscalar symmetric multiprocessors will be the right solution. From the point of view of operating systems, IBM offers various choices, including such systems as Microsoft Windows Server, Citrix XenServer, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, VMware ESXi, Vyatta, and Parallels.
IBM Cloud Catalog has over 170 services, including artificial intelligence, analytics, mobile integration, migration, the blockchain, etc.
Cloud infrastructures continue to move forward as a force to be reckoned with. Their popularity is increasing, specifically for companies that want a less hands-on approach to maintaining and managing servers, storage, and networking elements. In the age of digital transformation, the cloud is a powerful alternative to have in your arsenal of tools and strategies.
Through cloud systems, businesses are achieving unmatched performance in solving complex operational challenges and using the right amount of computing power to scale quickly and be flexible, all through the power of virtualization of servers and other software components.
In a world that demands streamlined processes and workloads, it is no wonder that companies are turning to cloud infrastructures to maximize profits. Cloud solutions can be as complex as you need them to be, with multiple, wide-ranging capabilities that provide the right infrastructure to help businesses run effectively and successfully. In essence, the right cloud infrastructure can help you accelerate and improve your business by transferring suitable workloads to a virtual workspace that yields high-performance results.
At Luneba, we are passionate about helping our clients plan, architect, and integrate cloud infrastructure solutions across different environments. We have a talented team of dedicated infrastructure professionals who are proficient in AWS, Google, Azure, and more, and thus provide our clients with deep expertise on all major cloud providers.