The term cloud infrastructure refers to all of the components needed to enable cloud computing, the system by which data storage and computing power are available on demand without direct input from the user.
While cloud computing involves the delivery of computing services — such as servers, software, analytics and more — over the Internet, cloud infrastructure deals with the structural elements that ensure those services run smoothly.
Read on to learn more about cloud infrastructure, what it includes, the various deployment and service models and the benefits cloud infrastructure can provide for businesses of all sizes.
How Does Cloud Computing Infrastructure Work?
A cloud infrastructure model includes both hardware and software components, as well as a virtual interface that enables virtualization of the cloud computing resources. Once these resources are assembled in the cloud servers, they can be accessed remotely via the Internet, or through other network configurations such as wide area networks (WANs) and telecommunications networks.
Cloud computing infrastructure is generally categorized into three segments that combine to create a cloud service:
- Computing, by which infrastructure delivers cloud services via server racks
- Networking, which depends on routers and switches to transfer data between systems
- Storage, which often includes a mix of hard disks and flash storage to hold large amounts of cloud infrastructure data
Infrastructure Cloud: Key Components
Cloud infrastructure encompasses a range of virtual elements that mimic a physical infrastructure and include important components such as hardware, network switches, servers and storage clusters.
Physical hardware is a critical component of any cloud infrastructure model and includes networking equipment, such as firewalls and routers, as well as backup devices, servers and disk storage systems.
The virtualization side of cloud infrastructure includes the software needed to separate IT services and functions from the hardware. Through virtualization, the end-user receives a digital rendering of the physical hardware resources.
Cloud infrastructure enables scalable storage, which enables users to deliver substantial data storage without the need for expensive on-site hardware. Companies use cloud storage to store documents, files, customer data or inventory. Businesses rely on cloud storage for backups and disaster recovery capabilities.
The network component of a cloud infrastructure model includes both physical and virtual components. On the physical side, the network requires equipment such as wires, switches and routers, while the virtual side is composed of subnetworks called virtual local area networks (VLANs). All of the resources from the cloud are delivered over the network so users can wirelessly access cloud services as needed.
Cloud Infrastructure vs. Cloud Architecture
Although both concepts deal with the cloud environment, cloud infrastructure and cloud architecture refer to two separate things.
Similar to a blueprint used by architects, cloud architecture provides a framework for how different cloud components should be configured in order to best work together and provide the needed cloud services. Cloud architecture is an abstract outline of how cloud infrastructure should be designed. Cloud infrastructure is the embodiment of this theoretical design.
Infrastructure Cloud Deployment Models
There is no one way to go about deploying a cloud infrastructure model, and the route you take depends on your specific needs and security requirements. Cloud deployment models include public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud.
The Public Cloud model provides cloud services over a network that is available for public use. In this scenario, customers have no say in the infrastructure’s location, and users share the costs of the service — although it is typically free. This model is preferred for organizations that need to facilitate both the host application and other applications that users access.
The Private Cloud model is employed when an organization is the exclusive user of the cloud infrastructure. This deployment model empowers the organization with greater control over security, which typically includes a firewall and can be managed internally. This is the preferred solution for organizations with rigorous security demands and high availability.
The Hybrid Cloud model makes use of both public and private clouds while keeping the two branches separate. For example, an organization may choose to engage with users via the Public Cloud but store data securely on the Private Cloud. When this model is deployed, cloud services may be managed and provided either internally or externally. Compared to other models, Hybrid Cloud deployment makes it possible for organizations to provide more scalable, flexible and secure services.
Cloud Infrastructure Service Models
There are three common models for delivering cloud services to clients: Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Cloud Software as a Service provides cloud software applications over a network server to customers via a web browser. This type of service model is typically subscription based. Common cloud SaaS models include Salesforce, Google Workspace and Office 365.
Cloud Platform as a Service equips organizations with networked computers that operate in a hosted environment. This service model also typically extends additional development support. Organizations who use PaaS benefit from dynamic scalability and data backups that are automated. Real-world models of PaaS include Google App Engine and Cloud Foundry.
Cloud Infrastructure as a Service provides organizations with the physical hardware and virtualized operating system needed to facilitate cloud services. This service model typically incurs a monthly service fee for the computing power used to run the cloud software. Popular cloud IaaS providers include Amazon EC2 and Google Compute Engine.
Benefits of Using Cloud Infrastructure
Organizations of all sizes can benefit from moving their in-house infrastructure configurations to a cloud computing model. Doing so allows organizations to access needed resources and services virtually from anywhere they have an Internet connection. The four key benefits of migrating to a cloud infrastructure model include:
- Greater flexibility: The deployment of cloud resources and services are easily adjustable to the needs of the user.
- Enhanced reliability: Automated data backups mean fewer outages and system failures.
- Cost effectiveness: No expensive up-front costs and pay-per-use models help organizations meet budgetary constraints.
- Increased security: Consistent monitoring and testing protects infrastructure from cyber threats.
Would you like to learn more about how cloud infrastructure can improve your organization’s operations? Click the button below to explore our cloud infrastructure services and speak to a Secur-Serv specialist today.