Optimizing Infrastructure as a Service

Sudhakar Singh, Editor, CIOReviewIndia

Optimizing Infrastructure as a Service

Advent of cloud computing has leveled the playing field for businesses. It has in particular come to the rescue of small and medium sized enterprises by endowing them with computing environment and resources on a pay-as-you-go basis. Infrastructure as a Service has emerged as the most flexible attribute of it, and cloud service providers are customizing their offerings to the varied requirements of enterprises. The ease of management makes way for more and more enterprises to afford to rely on service providers capable of taking care of storage, networking and security. Looking to get these benefits in the form of reduced complexities and curtailed expenses, enterprises are increasingly getting on board with IaaS vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. As a result, the IaaS market is expected to continue showing a steady growth streak amounting to more than 30 percent CAGR till 2024.                

However, IaaS providers as well as users face a challenge of optimizing it to its full potential. Although the compute and storage resource management within IaaS have undergone considerable advancement, the same cannot be said for network resource management. There remains a daunting task to be accomplished of connecting the data center to multiple IaaS providers to ensure data security and seamless migration. Businesses have to deal with serious network performance issues and data transfer cost. Moreover, there is a lack of visibility into the IaaS infrastructure and the control over it. Even though the raison d’etre of cloud is to make efficient use of resources and pay only for what you use, it does not seem to be fetching considerable savings for many enterprises. On the contrary, they seem to be overspending as compared to their pre-engagement estimate.  

“CIOs looking to prepare their organization to thrive in the upcoming turns must take a differentiated approach to cloud computing,” says Gregor Petri, Vice President Analyst, Gartner. “It will be essential for CIOs to develop a formal strategy that helps to put individual cloud decisions in the context of the enterprise’s strategic goals.”

According to Gartner, as much as 80 percent of customers have been found to be overshooting their IaaS budget by 70 percent or more in the initial 18 months of adoption. Hence, there is an urgent need to optimize. Experts believe that by 2024, almost all of the legacy applications migrated to IaaS will need to be optimized in order to save cost. Cloud providers will be focusing on reinforcing their in-house optimization capabilities, allowing enterprises to opt for the suitable architecture tailored to their business requirement and performance expectation. The ability to scale on-demand is going to be a decisive factor for customer acquisition and not just a window dressing. Although it requires sweeping changes to reach to the zenith of optimization, there are some conspicuous ways that can be traversed before that. For instance, enterprises should try to rope in IaaS providers that have solid state drives (SSDs) in place to meet the demand for high performance and speed in modern applications. Also, the preference should be given to IaaS providers who support open source technologies to avoid the quandary of vendor lock-in.         

The Panacea  

One of the revolutionary breakthroughs that can be applied in this area is Software Defined Networking (SDN). SDN has shown promise of having the capability to bring about significant optimization of IaaS. However, before it comes into the picture, what is required is the virtualization of network functions. A comprehensive virtualization framework that can virtualize network functions into building blocks connected together to effectuate communication is the need of the hour. Once the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) architecture renders the networking functions, SDN manages them by enabling the network behavior to be programmed through software using open APIs. It makes it possible to allocate and manage network resources in an automated and pre-defined fashion. Through bifurcation of hardware from the software, new services can be launched rapidly, breaking the shackles of proprietary platforms.  

"Datacenter SDN no longer attracts breathless hype and fevered expectations, but the market is growing healthily, and its prospects remain robust," mentioned Brad Casemore, IDC Research Vice President, Data Center Networks, in a report, Worldwide Datacenter Software-Defined Networking Forecast, 2018 – 2022. "Datacenter modernization, driven by the relentless pursuit of digital transformation and characterized by the adoption of cloudlike infrastructure, will help to maintain growth, as will opportunities to extend datacenter SDN overlays and fabrics to multi-cloud application environments." SDN will be increasingly perceived as a form of established, conventional networking, Casemore said.  

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