Infrastructure for cloud computing

A cloud server is powerful physical or virtual infrastructure that performs application- and information-processing storage. Cloud servers are created using virtualization software to divide a physical (bare metal) server into multiple virtual servers. Organizations use an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model to process workloads and store information. They can access virtual server functions remotely through an online interface.

Key features:

  • Computing infrastructure that can be physical (bare metal), virtual or a mix of the two depending on use case.
  • Has all the capabilities of an on-premises server.
  • Enables users to process intensive workloads and store large volumes of information.
  • Automated services are accessed on demand through an API.
  • Gives users the choice of monthly or as-you-go payment.
  • Users can opt for a shared hosting plan that scales depending on needs.

Why cloud servers

Icon representing the cost effectiveness of cloud servers

Cost effectiveness

With cloud servers, organizations only pay for what they need and reduce the expense that comes with maintaining server hardware.

Icon representing the scalability of cloud servers

Scalability

Users can scale computing and storage resources to meet changing needs. This is particularly helpful for organizations with fluctuating needs.

Icon representing the integration capability of cloud servers

Integration

An organization’s cloud servers are networked to ensure uninterrupted communication and fast deployment. A “single pane” enables complete control.

Considerations for cloud servers

  • Virtual servers vs. physical servers

    Physical (bare metal) servers are best for data-intensive workloads. Virtual servers are better for highly variable workloads.

  • Virtualization

    Cloud servers can be physical or virtual. Virtualization software options include VMware, Parallels and Hyper-V.

  • Customization

    Physical servers have numerous customization options, such as more processing power, additional RAM and backup power.

  • Security

    Security options for cloud servers include firewalls, anti-virus software, monitoring and host intrusion protection.

An IBM perspective: Choosing a cloud server

Kevin Hazard, IBM Cloud Platform infrastructure marketing leader

Kevin Hazard
IBM Cloud Platform – Infrastructure Marketing Leader
Twitter: @khazard

Cost vs. technology vs. provider
I've observed or been a part of buying decisions for a few thousand server customers, from small-business owners getting a website online for the first time to established platforms with tens of millions of visits every day. While each of those purchasers had different requirements and priorities for a cloud server, a few key deciding factors were consistent across those decisions:

Cloud server purchasing factors: cost, technology, hosting provider

How much will it cost? What configuration/technology is best? Which provider is most trustworthy?

Every website administrator has had to answer those three questions. While they seem pretty straightforward, they end up overlapping, and the buying decision starts to get a little more complicated:

Three overlapping circles of the cloud server purchasing factors: cost, technology, hosting provider

The natural assumption is that everyone will choose a cloud server that falls in the "sweet spot" where the three circles overlap, but server decisions are not made in a vacuum. Completely valid hosting decisions can target every spot on that graph.

Let's break the chart down into a few distinct zones to look at why a user would choose a server in each area:

Illustration of user zones mapped to the three purchasing factors for cloud servers

Zone 1: Budget takes priority over everything else.

Zone 2: IT administrators at huge enterprises that have on-premises servers or loyal customers who do not wish to change providers.

Zone 3: Buyers who need the fastest, most powerful, most scalable infrastructure on the market.

Zone 4: Customers who are loyal to a provider as long as that loyalty doesn't take them out of their budget.

Zone 5: Users who love having the latest technology and value being able to manage it through one provider.

Zone 6: Will choose the cloud environment that provides the best performance for their budget, regardless of the provider.

Zone 7: Buyers who value all three of their priorities equally and can choose an environment that meets all of their needs.

A lot of transitioning happens between an initial buying decision and a follow-up decision.

Illustration of how zones change during the buying process for cloud servers

Regardless of how you make an initial buying decision, when it's time for the next cloud server, there is a new factor to take into account: you'll probably want to grow in the same place.

Moving between providers can be a pain, managing environments between several providers is more difficult, and if servers have to work together, they're generally doing so across the public Internet, so you're not getting the best performance.

If you had to choose a zone that best describes your buying decision, which one would it be?

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