To some users, IaaS is about being able to carve out a private space within the public cloud infrastructure. They get similar availability, cost and scalability benefits as they do with pure IaaS, without the security concerns related to sharing infrastructure with others. Others like the idea of cloud IaaS but want some hand-holding rather than the purely self-service model.
Many enterprises, like Post-n-Track, fall into this latter category, as might be expected given IT's comfort level with using outsourcers and hosting providers for management help, says James Staten, principal analyst with Forrester Research.
Managed IaaS comes in three forms, Staten says.
If you're already using an IT outsourcer such as Accenture, Capgemini or IBM, going with that provider for managed IaaS can be the "cleanest, easiest and quickest" option, he says. "It already knows your systems, your applications and what SLAs you care about."
However, you will need to make sure your outsourcer's expertise matches up with your IaaS of choice. "A lot of these guys already have a cloud practice, managing at least the Amazon cloud. But the key thing is to make sure the company can demonstrate experience managing the cloud instance you'll be using," he cautions.
Managing the load
A second option is to select a traditional hosting company that has developed a cloud infrastructure and has a services arm that will help you manage the operating system, applications and anything else you'd like.
IaaS providers of this ilk include AT&T, Fujitsu, GoGrid, HP, IBM, NaviSite, Rackspace, SoftLayer, SunGard and Verizon Business, which includes Terremark.
"You're making a decision that you're going to use this particular cloud, and you're not necessarily going to value portability nor are you going to value having multiple clouds," Staten says.
"This company's expertise is going to be limited to its cloud, but those consultants are probably the most knowledgeable about what the cloud can do, and they'll have insider tricks because the guys who built the cloud sit right next to them," Staten says.
The data center host-cum-cloud IaaS provider model has worked perfectly for SaaS provider Cycle30, Jim Dunlap says, company president.
When the Cycle 30 team received the go-ahead to create a subsidiary, it decided not to spend "precious capital" on building its own data centers but rather to partner with a traditional hosting company, SunGard. "And that gave us the opportunity to look at our business model and determine whether or not we could use cloud computing as a way to decrease our cost of going to market," he says.