Understanding cloud infrastructure and the relevant elements including identity and access management, is imperative in the current business environment. The move to the cloud was already happening before COVID-19, but the pandemic accelerated this trend.
With that in mind, the following details what you should know about cloud infrastructure and its current and potential future business implications.
Cloud infrastructure refers to a combination of resources and virtual tools used together, giving users a way to connect remotely to a central network. You can see how this would become extremely critical in a remote or hybrid work environment.
A cloud infrastructure supports the delivery of cloud-based services and products to the end-user.
Cloud infrastructure can be created and then ultimately accessed through the internet, as opposed to a traditional physical means of access.
Cloud infrastructures are based within a cloud service provider like AWS or Azure instead of within an organization. To simplify all of this, what your employees and customers need to access is available online.
In a conventional office setting, you need hardware, computers, servers, and of course, the space to store these elements. The physical space you need leads to high costs. You need not only the physical space but also the people to maintain and power these resources.
A cloud infrastructure takes those things and puts them instead in unlimited virtual space, with inherent scalability and flexibility.
When you’re a company relying on a cloud infrastructure, you can create a backend that supports all of your needs while resources are brought together seamlessly, flexibly, and efficiently.
A cloud architecture takes each individual cloud element and brings it together.
These components that make up a cloud infrastructure include hardware, virtualization, storage, and network.
The physical equipment of cloud infrastructure can be stored anywhere. The hardware is the equipment needed to link machines to a cloud. Hardware components include servers, memory and storage, processing units, and power supplies.
Virtualization is the second component, which is foundational to cloud computing. Virtualization connects hardware to one another to make sure devices can work without a physical connection to the said hardware.
Virtualization separates a service from a physical location, so users, which may be your employees, can access services and applications from anywhere.
The third component is storage. Storage makes sure all data is backed up continuously and connects all of the things together that are needed for remote access.
Virtualization resources bring together hardware and storage.
The fourth component of a cloud infrastructure is the network. The network begins physically, and then layered on that physical presence is virtual support and communication so that cloud resources are sharable among users who are part of a unified network.
What this means in terms of business is that the network is what lets employees log into an intranet server and then access relevant files from a remote work location.
How Does Infrastructure Compare to Architecture?
You may also hear the term cloud architecture. Cloud architecture is how the components named above are configured, while infrastructure includes the tools themselves then used in the design and build of the architecture.
As a business, you can build your own architecture based on the tools you’re using. Your architecture is unique to your organization.
The Pros and Cons of a Cloud Infrastructure
There are typically more upsides than downsides of using a cloud infrastructure, but still, both have to be considered. When you migrate from a physical setup to one in the cloud, there are lower costs for your setup and over the longterm because you don’t have to rely on physical software and applications.
There’s a reduction in the need for ongoing maintenance, which characterizes the presence of a physical data center. You can save money on space, IT requirements, and the other expenses associated with having a physical data presence.
You’re paying as you go, so you’re only budgeting for what you’re using and saving money on things you don’t use.
You can have more flexibility in your overall operations, as well as how you grow. You’re a more agile business in many cases because you can quickly adapt to changes. The need to be agile and adaptable was never more evident than it was during COVID-19.
Cloud infrastructure helps users gain access to the same data no matter the device. It’s a highly efficient way to operate, and there’s more security. You can protect your internal and external resources more effectively.
Your scalability can often occur at the click of a button with a cloud infrastructure.
Now, what about the downsides or possible limitations?
One of the big ones is that the rapid speed that innovation happens at means some cloud provider scan get outdated and become obsolete very fast. Cloud vendors are always shifting and changing, and you could face risks because of something going on with a vendor.
A robust and reliable network connection is required for effective, efficient operation. If your employees are working remotely, they’ll depend on the network, and that could lead to potential challenges as well.
You have to shoulder some loss of control because the cloud service provider is responsible for data management.
Managing a Cloud Infrastructure
If you’re going to change to an infrastructure reliant on cloud computing, you should prepare for a seamless transition. This begins by first getting all relevant stakeholders onboard.
Give yourself time to do the research to choose the infrastructure that will best meet your needs in terms of delivery models and cloud networks. You also want to think about how you can harness the power of technology within a cloud infrastructure, such as artificial intelligence.
Overall, with cloud infrastructure, as a business of any size, you have the opportunity to design it in a way that grows with your company and scales up or down if needed. You can design an architecture that’s adaptable to particular needs cost-effectively and securely.