Corporate and unincorporated IaaS: how not to get lost in the cloud market



    Until now, not everyone understands what IaaS means , and those who understand the meaning of this term are faced with a large number of companies that provide virtual server rental services, but hide behind the IaaS acronym significantly different solutions and technologies.

    Why is it important to single out the so-called “corporate IaaS” as a separate segment and understand its differences from the massive “unincorporated” cloud server rental market? Let's try to answer this question.

    The trend of "cloud" orientation is gaining quite serious momentum, and cloud infrastructure as a service (or IaaS mentioned earlier) is announced as the most popular cloud service in the corporate segment.

    And what do we see on the cloud server rental market?


    All IaaS service providers declare guarantees of the level of availability of cloud services 99.9% per month and higher, mobility and scalability, cost reduction, professional administration, data security, reliable backup system, flexible technical support 24/7/365 with all the ensuing. financial responsibility in case of unavailability of the service. It sounds more than optimistic, but at the same time, the cost of a service called “IaaS” from different suppliers can vary significantly.

    What is the reason for this difference in cost?


    And the difference - as usual - is in the implementation details. Not only the cost of virtual servers, but also the presence or absence of additional capabilities for working with these servers will depend on what site the equipment will be located, what equipment it will be, what virtualization platform will be used, and much more.

    On the other hand, let's say you are faced with the task of renting several virtual servers with a given configuration. When purchasing such a service, one customer wonders where his data will be physically stored and how the virtualization infrastructure will be implemented. To others, this information seems completely unnecessary. And both will be right, because for some tasks (let's call them corporate) this is really important, but for others, “unincorporated”, the primary criteria are price and usability.

    It turns out that we have two segments of the IaaS market - corporate and unincorporated (or mass). First, we’ll analyze these segments from the suppliers of both IaaS implementations.

    Mass IaaS provider (vps / vds hoster)


    Typically, these providers are traditional web hosts that expand their service package with a virtual machine hosting service.

    The implementation of the cloud platform in this case is made with emphasis on the automation of self-service and minimizing the cost of accommodation, hardware and hypervisor. Basically, these are proprietary server rooms (with reliability no higher than Tier 2), inexpensive servers with hard disks on board, deployed on top of them Open Source (free, open source) or container virtualization, plus a control panel (typical boxed or proprietary).

    At the output, we get satisfactory reliability (with the regular backup option turned on), somewhat limited functionality, relatively humane cost and a convenient management interface, mainly with full self-service, without the involvement of a hosting specialist. In this model, the hoster is building a familiar and cost-effective streaming process of mass service of a large number of predominantly small subscribers, and subscribers receive essentially “virtual machines”, cheap and cheerful.

    Enterprise IaaS Provider (IaaS Service Provider)


    Large data centers and system integrators are gradually turning into suppliers of corporate IaaS. Separately, we can distinguish the so-called “cloud integrators” that appeared on the wave of cloud technologies, which have incorporated the strengths of the first two industries and do not drag along their remnants.

    One way or another, such companies do not work in the mass market, being aimed at the corporate segment. Therefore, the cloud platform is located in reliable data centers with a reliability category from Tier 3, and the storage system is included in the hardware. Moreover, all critical nodes of the hardware and network are duplicated. As a hypervisor, we mainly take proprietary solutions of an enterprise level, and as a control interface we use the standard control panels of these hypervisors or there is no cloud management interface at all (when all settings are made by the provider’s specialists upon request).

    As a result, we get a relatively more expensive solution than the first option, which is less convenient in terms of automated self-service capabilities, but with significantly more flexible functionality, a high level of reliability and fault tolerance. Here we are not talking about virtual machines, but about a virtual infrastructure or virtual data center, which require fine-tuning for the needs of a large client and integration with its existing infrastructure.

    Who and why is willing to overpay for a more difficult decision?


    For our convenience, we will divide consumers into two conditional groups:

    Companies using large and / or critical information systems


    By a large information system we mean a service that serves a large number of users - employees of the company, its customers or partners. The more such users, the greater the damage from downtime or disruption.

    On the other hand, a critical information system is a corporate application on which the company's core business processes depend. Failure of a service critical for a key business process can stop all activities of the organization and lead to irreparable losses up to the complete termination of the company.

    An important point here is the degree of penetration of IT into the company's business processes. The higher the level of informatization, the greater the dependence of the results of economic activity on the stability of the main IT services.

    A typical example is the large retail network with a centralized IT infrastructure, a large online store, a federal logistics company using a single automation system, etc. Any simple corporate information system for such companies results in significant losses, and in some cases may even threaten a complete cessation of activity.

    The main tasks solved by such companies in the IaaS cloud:
    • removal of all server infrastructure to the cloud;
    • placement in the cloud of corporate information systems;
    • Deployment of B2C and B2B platforms in the cloud for interaction with customers and partners (loaded online stores, trading platforms, etc.);
    • reserve site (DRS) .

    Companies that do not use large and critical information systems in their work


    On the contrary, if the degree of penetration into IT is low, the scale of the business is small, then the dependence on information systems is significantly lower. For example, a small car dealership or an engineering company, where most employees work mainly with local applications. In a situation where the main server is out of order and it takes several hours to restore it from the backup, such companies will not have serious problems. Similarly, a small group of software developers will calmly survive even many hours of simple server infrastructure allocated for the development environment.

    The main clients of mass IaaS host virtual machines:
    • typical sites with a small load,
    • terminal servers from 1C to several users,
    • development environment for a small group of developers.

    It turns out that depending on the size and criticality of the application, various requirements for the following characteristics may apply to it:
    • reliability,
    • fault tolerance and redundancy,
    • Information Security.

    In a situation where with the growth of informatization the risks and the size of the potential damage from IT failures increase, the increase in the cost of computing resources becomes justified. But the interdependent categories of cost and reliability are just one of the aspects on which the concepts of corporate and mass IaaS clouds diverge. Below we present the main characteristic differences between these segments of the virtual infrastructure market.
    Specific traitsCorporate IaaS / virtual infrastructure rental / virtual data center rentalUnincorporated, mass IaaS / VPS hosting / VDS hosting
    Client TasksCorporate IT infrastructure.
    Reserve site.
    Loaded Internet resources.
    Small software development projects. Collaboration with the accounting system of multiple users. Hosting sites.
    Customer Priorities
    Reliability, resiliency, performance, security, flexibility, technical support.Cost, launch speed, simplicity and convenience of the interface, convenience of payment
    Supplier PrioritiesReliability, Availability, Performance, Isolation, Security, Flexibility, FunctionalityReducing the cost of resources and support, simplifying functionality, increasing convenience, automating self-service
    Site Reliability LevelTier 3 and aboveto Tier 3
    EquipmentReliable servers + enterprise level storage. Using Enterprise solutions from leading manufacturers.Budget servers with disks on board or using entry-level storage systems. Using low end or middle range class solutions
    Virtualization typeVMware, less commonly Microsoft Hyper-VOpenVZ, Parallels Virtuozzo, Parallels Cloud Server, KVM, XEN, FreeBSD Jail, Microsoft Hyper-V
    Reliability assuranceDuplication of the main hardware nodes. High availability feature by hypervisor. BackupBackup. Fault tolerance at the customer application level
    SecurityUsing effective security methods and tools, following the “pace with the times”, meeting the requirements of security standards (for example, PCI DSS). Protection against all kinds of attacks, including DoS, DDoS. Ability to implement two-factor authentication and other security featuresThe implementation of security is minimal. Optional - DDoS protection
    Typical Secure Connection OptionsOrganization of software VPN. Hardware VPN. Connection via a dedicated channel - directly or through a traffic exchange point. Organization of software VPN
    Self cateringSome operations are carried out through contacting technical supportMaximum self-service through the management interface, interaction with support only for incidents /
    Control interfaceSophisticated, great functionality for flexible configurationSimple, convenient, limited functionality
    Virtualization Workload ManagementLoad balancing of a virtualized infrastructure using a scheduler. Ensuring automatic movement of virtual machines in accordance with the calculations of monitoring servicesLack of automated load balancing mechanisms for virtualized infrastructure. Manual movement of virtual machines by an operator. Human factor
    ContractSigned and agreed individuallyContract offer
    PaymentPostpay. Bank transfer, VAT invoices, acts.Prepayment. Payment by bank cards and electronic money
    TariffsIndividually agreed cost of resources
    Dependence of the cost of resources of a virtual data center on the quantity and quality of resources, as well as on the model of using virtual infrastructure
    Fixed tariff plans with included resources
    Typical tariffs with a limited set of offers
    Additional and higher level services (examples)Software rental
    OS administration
    Monitoring
    SaaS services (Exchange, 1C, ...)
    Selling Domains
    Website Hosting
    Email Hosting
    File Storage
    Service systemBusiness processes ground under consideration of individual quality parameters for each client with a unique level of services (SLA)
    Individual approach to each customer
    possibility of departing from the scope of the contract concluded with the client
    Addressing emerging non-typical tasks, with the possibility of additional resources
    Willingness to solve very complex problems
    Qualified specialists, even on the first line of support
    The business process is streamlined, the main task is the mass servicing of a large number of standard clients.
    Lack of an individual approach to the customer, everything within the framework of a standard contract.
    Lack of flexibility in the agreement on the level of service delivery.
    Technical support solves an exclusively standard set of tasks.
    Relatively lower qualification level of support specialists

    Both of the considered IaaS options can be equally useful and interesting for different categories of customers and customers. In this context, it turns out that an unincorporated IaaS versus a corporate one means renting a virtual server vs renting a full-fledged virtual data center.

    In which case, the choice of corporate or unincorporated IaaS will be justified?


    In which case, the choice of corporate or unincorporated IaaS will be justified? Suppose the developers of a company turned to the cloud provider, the degree of IT penetration in which is quite low. The company's developers are working on a temporary project, which is why it became necessary to rent cloud services on a temporary basis. As they say: "finished the project and forgot." Data accessibility for this company is important, but not critical. Developers need to quickly and cheaply access dedicated resources. At the same time, the company does not have the task of managing a large project, everything is quite primitive and straightforward. In this situation, it’s more logical to pay attention to unincorporated IaaS, since the project is temporary, low in resources, not requiring the solution of the task of attracting Enterprise solutions, Yes, and you can save money. Similarly, when choosing an IaaS provider for hosting a typical site or a small online store, you should focus on mass hosting providers, since the cost of accommodation and usability will be of primary importance.

    Or another example: a large development company needed a highly accessible, high-performance cloud platform to support the process of on-line testing of new versions of a wide range of subsystems. The customer wants to see adequate automation of work with the cloud. Availability, stability, the possibility of flexible integration and unlimited increase of the cloud component resources, as well as flexible payment mechanisms upon the use of resources will be important criteria for choosing a platform for such a task. And this is a choice in the direction of corporate IaaS.

    And if the existing IT infrastructure in your company with a large number of clients, domains, terminal servers, highly loaded application and database servers requires large-scale modernization, and the decision is made to move the servers to the cloud of the corporate IaaS provider, then this is the right way of thinking.

    Thus, the main criterion in terms of the choice of two types of IaaS is the possibility of an adequate assessment of the level of IT penetration in the company and a clear vision of the answer to the question: will there be enough of the opportunities that this or that hosting provider of cloud services has? Will it be able to ensure the operation of my company's IT systems when transferred to the cloud, taking into account the characteristic features of the current IT infrastructure?

    There is a lot to consider when moving infrastructure to the cloud. If the customer company has growth potential and an understanding that the resources allocated today may not be enough tomorrow, consider all the risks. Will the cloud provider offering IaaS as a service cope with the demands of increasing resources and loads that may follow in the near foreseeable future? Does the cloud provider offer the so-called “On-demand self-service”, namely the availability of services in any volume, if the customer needs it? In no case do not miss the security issue, both physical and network. Most suppliers, as a rule, far from the corporate format, do not provide any accurate information about the principle of operation of their systems, and therefore about the quality of the protection they provide.

    Here we examined two polar models for the provision of IaaS services with their distinctive features. Of course, there are mixed and intermediate options of varying degrees of "corporate", reliability, flexibility, etc., etc. For more information about the corporate option of providing IaaS services, we write in the first blog about corporate IaaS . As an illustration of a typical corporate IaaS provider, one can cite the IT-GRAD company , and as an unincorporated 1cloud.ru

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