Learn the building blocks of cloud infrastructure, and how they work together to provide accessible, scalable digital solutions for your organization.
Cloud computing has undoubtedly had a profound impact on the way business is done, from creating more efficient workflows to helping organizations achieve and scale digital transformation efforts. And since the pandemic upended many of the systems and processes businesses took for granted, it’s proved to be an even more vital component of resiliency than once thought.
Currently valued at $371.4 billion, the cloud market is projected to reach a value of $832.1 billion by 2025, a number underlying its significance in business today. And with 94% of enterprises using a form of cloud infrastructure in 2021, it’s clear there are a variety of benefits organizations can reap from the technology.
Keep reading to learn more about cloud infrastructure, how it’s built, and what it can do for your business.
The building blocks of cloud infrastructure
Cloud infrastructure refers to all of the components that work together to create a functioning cloud environment. This environment is then delivered through the internet or a network to the end-user.
Here are each of the components that go into creating this infrastructure:
While an end-user probably doesn’t have any physical hardware associated with their cloud services, the cloud infrastructure itself is dependent upon a variety of hardware to function.
Typical cloud hardware equipment can include things like servers, backup devices, firewalls, routers, load balances, and more. What’s more, these pieces of hardware can all be located in different locations. Virtualization makes it possible for these parts to work together as a whole, dividing and abstracting resources to then make accessible to end-users.
Once the foundation is laid, there needs to be a way for cloud resources to be able to reach the businesses utilizing them. This is where a network comes in. Third-party internet providers provide the networking capabilities needed to allow cloud services to move from their original systems to an office worker’s computer.
One of the most critical components of cloud infrastructure is storage. In order to provide data storage capabilities to their users, cloud providers invest in block, object, and file storage hardware within their facilities.
To render cloud services accessible to an end-user who may be thousands of miles away from the hardware providing that service, cloud infrastructure relies on something called virtualization. Virtualization allows businesses to rent and access a virtual version of the services cloud hardware provides, including things like data processing and storage, or a particular platform.
Cloud infrastructure v. cloud architecture
An easy way to think about cloud infrastructure is that it provides the building blocks necessary to create public, private, and hybrid cloud computing capabilities for businesses and people to use.
On the other hand, cloud architecture refers to the back-end functioning platform that orchestrates how individual technologies will be allocated and used collaboratively to create cloud computing environments. A good example of cloud architecture would be Google’s email platform, Gmail. Infrastructure informs architecture, which then provides the blueprint to create specific services.
What you need to build your own infrastructure
If you want to build your own private, on-premises cloud or want to create a cloud service you can then provide to other businesses, you have to ensure the proper infrastructure is in place. Before building a cloud infrastructure, you’ll need to meet these requirements:
Service and resource management are vital to a thriving cloud infrastructure. Service management in particular should include resource maintenance and guarantees, billing cycles, measured regulations, and more. And once live, management services should be able to help build policies for efficient workflows and data use.
Any cloud service today should support a data center’s existing IT infrastructure, while also utilizing other hardware, software, and virtualization. Being able to integrate these resources and tools is key to building a valuable cloud infrastructure.
Reporting & Visibility
A robust reporting and visibility management system is crucial to maintaining compliance and security. Without these systems in place, it’s nearly impossible to be able to do this. Another facet of this is reliability and resiliency. Your infrastructure must be able to operate even if one part is failing.
Developers, admins, and everyday users all need to have access to automated, self-service user interfaces. Especially for end-users, this allows easy management of virtual storage, networking resources, and more.
The future of cloud computing
Along with continuing to grow in market value, the cloud is set to evolve and scale over the next several years. Along with creating more secure data encryption strategies, many businesses are looking to cloud service providers to offer automated cloud orchestration and optimization.
As businesses begin to utilize more and more public cloud services, it will be vital to have these automated systems in place to help manage a growing quantity of interconnected services. Another big trend coming to the cloud space is the arrival of edge computing. Billed as “the new cloud”, edge computing promises more efficiency and faster processing abilities than traditional cloud models.
Unlike the cloud, which sends and stores data in centralized warehouses often hundreds of miles away from end-users, edge computing brings applications closer to data sources like IoT devices, bringing businesses much closer to the source of their data. When data is processed and analyzed closer to the source that created it, it can eliminate latency issues and even address certain security concerns. In the next 5 years, it’s estimated that edge computing will become a strong competitor to cloud computing.