Simple, cheap IaaS helps cloud ecosystem grow

A stripped-down version of IaaS is beneficial to both cloud providers and customers, removing lock-in and making way for a partner ecosystem.

While the main competition to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) remains traditional IT, IaaS needs to stay cheap -- very cheap. For cloud vendors to offer cheap IaaS, they need to focus on three main factors: simplicity, uniformity and scalability. Keeping IaaS inexpensive also opens the door for a comprehensive cloud ecosystem.

IaaS vendors need to invest in and nurture the expansion of their ecosystem of services and vendors, which in turn, will help the cloud market and economy flourish.

If IaaS is going to rule the world of IT -- not simply for the modern, scalable startups, but for traditional enterprises -- IaaS vendors need to maintain a reliable, highly available infrastructure. Instead of building complex platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities on top of their baseline infrastructure resources, global expansion ought to be a priority; providers should focus on creating highly robust, efficient and cost-optimized data centers with operations that aim for 100% uptime.

Many applications today, particularly enterprise legacy apps, are not designed to run on IaaS, and a middle ground has yet to be formed -- meaning, most companies need to start from scratch, rebuilding legacy apps for the cloud. As the IaaS 'moves up the stack,' additional professional services are required, along with knowledge about the application itself. These hurdles compromise scalability and put enterprise cloud adoption at risk.

The new competitive cloud market

There is no doubt that Amazon Web Services reigns over the cloud computing market, holding onto its cost structure as the added value over traditional data centers. Recently, however, other cloud vendors have been edging in. It's clear that Google's entry into the cloud market triggered Amazon's recent price reductions.

With the market maturing quickly, this newfound competition puts IaaS use cases and cost structure in the spotlight. As a result, in order to minimize vendor lock-in and enjoy a rich multi-cloud environment IaaS, consumers must maintain the interoperability by putting distinction between basic compute resources, such as instances --servers -- and storage, and 'up the stack' features, such as operations and automation. As a result, vendors in an IaaS provider's partner ecosystem may be the sole providers adding value to cloud infrastructure, including management and automation tools, removing the anxiety that generally stems from IaaS vendor lock-in.

Salesforce has taught us that a rich ecosystem is also crucial for cloud vendors as it has a direct impact on the business, generating strong and steady revenues. IaaS vendors need to invest in and nurture the expansion of their ecosystem of services and vendors, which in turn, will help the cloud market and economy flourish. Likewise, IaaS will benefit from keeping things simple, scalable and uniform. As a result, the ecosystem fills any gaps -- rather than take the route Amazon is currently on, which is, by definition, not scalable.

About the author:
Ofir Nachmani is a business technology advisor, blogger and lecturer. Ofir's extensive experience in the world of business technology has made his critically acclaimed blog, IamOnDemand.com, the go-to guide for modern technology startups and developers in the world of cloud computing. Today he advises organizations, leading them through new IT market modifications, while building and executing a modern go-to-market strategy.

This was first published in April 2014

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