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Infrastructure as a Service: How to maintain control

Buying Infrastructure as a Service is a mouth-watering prospect for CIOs and IT departments eager to drive down costs and speed up provisioning. But once IT is outsourced, keeping control of it can be a major challenge.

Infrastructure as a Service, or the ability to rent servers and storage by the hour in a pay-as-you-go way, is not only real but also saving companies millions of dollars and fundamentally changing the way IT organizations operate and support the business.

In 2006, Inc. launched its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service and unconsciously kick-started the utility computing market. Now, companies buy servers as fast as you can buy a book, thanks to advances in virtualization technology, service-oriented architecture (SOA), secure multi-tenancy and the proliferation of broadband networks.

But watching this shift in IT is like witnessing a toddler taking his first steps: all smiles and confidence and, then, bam! He falls flat on his face. Buying Amazon Web Services is disarmingly simple, so watch out. This is only the beginning of a long shift toward IT as a Service, and there will be many false starts and painful bruises along the way.

That's not to say don't try it. Companies that have dipped their toes in have learned quickly. And as the model matures, they will be ready to take full advantage of cloud computing.

For now, though, those cloud providers pushing Infrastructure as a Service have their work cut out for them. In this three-part series, we talk about IaaS with users and discuss their desires for more pricing models, tighter security and improved service-level agreements that guarantee reliability.


Infrastructure as a Service: How to maintain control
How one growing firm uses Amazon's EC2
Cloud computing concerns slowing widespread adoption
Understanding cloud computing pricing

Jo Maitland is an executive editor in the Data Center and Virtualization media group at TechTarget. This article features additional reporting by Christina Torode, a senior news writer in the CIO media group and TechTarget.

Editors' note: This chapter on Infrastructure as a Service is the fourth part of an e-book on cloud computing that also includes chapters on CIO strategies for the cloud, development for the cloud and Software as a Service.

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