Thought Leadership piece with Robert Hogg, Managing Partner, Ancero
If your small to midsize business is facing a network hardware refresh or upgrade, you’re not alone. Many companies are still running Windows Server 2008, which reached its end of life on January 14 of this year. That means Microsoft is no longer offering security patches or support for that equipment unless you’re willing to pay top dollar for temporary, paid options. These organizations often understand the risks but choose not to invest in new infrastructure because capital expenditures are so high.
Thanks to the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud model, large upfront costs can be avoided.
For example, Ancero has been providing managed services to a trucking company in New Jersey that was facing an expensive modernization of its IT infrastructure. The out-of-pocket costs to purchase and install new servers and storage for their on-premises data center would have been in the $60,000 range. Instead, we helped them migrate their workloads to the cloud, which will cost $1,100 per month with minimal capital outlay.
With technology evolving so quickly, small to midsize businesses are increasingly reluctant to buy, build, and maintain expensive IT assets when they can simply “plug in” to the cloud.
What Is IaaS, and Why Does It Make Sense for Small Businesses?
IaaS provides you with instant access to computing infrastructure, which is provisioned and managed over the internet. A cloud provider, such as Microsoft Azure, is responsible for maintaining, updating, and securing physical hardware and troubleshooting problems.
Instead of buying and building infrastructure with high upfront costs, the infrastructure resources you need are delivered “as a service” from the cloud for a monthly fee. You’re only responsible for software, such as operating systems and applications.
With the cloud, you only pay for the resources you need. IaaS can be quickly scaled up or down according to current demand, allowing you to maximize operational efficiency.
In a traditional data center, organizations typically purchase enough infrastructure to support peak demand. During slower periods, resource utilization rates tend to be very low.
On the other end of the spectrum, IaaS provides the agility to quickly scale up IT resources to support rapid growth. We were contacted by a company with a traditional, on-premises network environment that had just received a huge order to provide more services to a customer in the pharmaceutical industry. To purchase, stage, and deploy new equipment would have taken at least 30 to 45 days. Additional cloud resources could have been ready to go in two days.
IaaS also improves business continuity and disaster recovery. Hurricane Sandy decimated the data centers of shore area businesses, which were forced to restore backups – if they had backups – from remote facilities. With the built-in redundancy of the cloud, infrastructure resources are always accessible from any location as long as you have an internet connection.
Finally, an IaaS platform provider can provide security solutions and expertise that even the largest enterprises can’t match. Ancero uses the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, which can provide security for your applications and data, in addition to securing the infrastructure you use.
Common Use Cases for IaaS
In addition to running applications quickly and easily in a cloud production environment, production data can be saved and stored in the cloud, which provides virtually unlimited capacity. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on local storage, you can store your data in a cloud environment and avoid purchasing and maintaining additional hardware.
IaaS also provides you with a hosted disaster recovery environment so you always have access to mission-critical resources. This involves more than backing up local server and desktop environments and data in different geographic locations. Hosted disaster recovery also includes pre-configuring standby servers that can be spun up in the cloud if your main production environment becomes inaccessible.
Ancero works with a manufacturer that operated its own backup and disaster recovery site. They had purchased hardware and leased space in a colocation facility. Instead of buying additional hardware and space to support the company’s growth, we were able to dismantle their hardware, terminate the lease, and move their data into the Microsoft Azure cloud. Primary data is replicated in real-time in Azure and servers have been preconfigured so they’re ready in case of emergency. In addition to making backup and disaster recovery more reliable, we reduced the cost of their disaster recovery solution by about 40 percent.
Another emerging use case for IaaS is testing and development. We have a healthcare company client that wanted to build a test and development environment for a new application. Rather than squeezing this into their production environment or purchasing new hardware, we were able to add cloud resources for as long as they were needed and remove them when the project was complete.
Build Your Own or Rent from the Cloud? Easy Choice.
Although certain workloads are better off in an on-premises environment, at least for now, IaaS makes the most sense for the vast majority of small to midsize businesses that need to modernize their infrastructure. The cloud allows you to shift from a capital to operational expense, increase scalability and efficiency, improve agility and security, and move the maintenance and support burden to a cloud provider.
If you’d like to learn how Ancero can help your organization take full advantage of the IaaS cloud model, contact us to schedule a consultation with our cloud experts.