Journeying through IaaS: the past, the now and the future

Back in 2010, I ran the infrastructure for a small company in the South of Glasgow, Scotland, while also progressing through my MSc in Network Security.

The Company’s IT budget was very small but their demand for performance was high – not only for internal staff but for the public. Our in-house infrastructure had a few of the most common components: Active Directory Domain Services, Mail Server, Site to Site VPN Solutions, NAS and Document and Print Services.

We used a lot of Open Source Projects such as Apache and SendMail to try and cut back costing but, as the business grew, so did the demand. We had to upgrade a lot of the hardware, which we eventually got the budget for. Within the next two years multiple components had to be upgraded or replaced due to resource constraints or failures.

When confronted about these costs by the company Director, the only answer I could come up with was: "Everything fails all the time".

This scenario is one which is very common in any business where the board of Directors doesn’t fully understand technology, and it can be very frustrating for those in charge of the infrastructure who have to explain. UPS, Switches, Routers, Cabling, Firewalls, DMZs and Servers are all key components of any network infrastructure. In today’s world we focus on saving money and having a higher ROI – increasing profits while lowering costs – yet we still demand perfection, and so do our consumers.

My biggest regret is not having the knowledge about Cloud Computing before I joined that company, but the frustrations I faced there led to my conclusion that I needed to be a part of this state of the art technology shift.

I applied to Cloudreach because they specialise in AWS, Google and Microsoft Cloud Platforms. My new contract also helped me achieve two of the company’s requirements: to obtain AWS Certified Solutions Architect and Google Apps Deployment Specialist vendor certificates.

What I think is wonderful about Cloud platforms is that they allow small companies and enterprises alike to save on capital expense and, more fundamentally, to totally remove a lot of the major costing involved in day to day infrastructure tasks.

Amazon launched Amazon Web Services in 2006, with the main goal of providing the most common components of Network Infrastructures, but hosted within one of their many data centres and thus allowing companies to take full advantage of Amazon’s global resources (AWS Global Infrastructure).

By utilising their Cloud Based solutions, Amazon claims the following six advantages of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):

  • Trading capital expense for variable expense
  • Benefit from massive economies of scale
  • Stop guessing capacity
  • Increase speed and agility
  • Stop spending money on running and maintaining data centres
  • Go global in minutes

I remember when I first heard about AWS and the offerings, but at the time I assumed it was still a very new concept and I wasn’t sure if it would take off. I definitely wasn’t certain that it would become the De-FactoStandard of Cloud Computing.

Still, this infrastructure problem needed fixing and I left my old job at my previous company and did some initial investigations into Cloud Computing. I decided to use my Master’s year to increase my knowledge of how Cloud Computing works and later wrote my thesis on "An Analytical Performance Comparison of the top 3 Virtualisation Solutions in Today’s Market"

If you take anything from my story, let it be this: transitioning from "what we know" to something new and scary can be time consuming, especially within the scope of an R&D project. If, however, you can see a problem that clearly needs fixing, it’s worth pushing your curiosity towards solutions, and being bold about it.

Cloudreach’s approach to culture and infrastructure is similar: remember to "Keep it Cloudy" and always "Be One Step Ahead"!