Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, is rapidly becoming a popular choice among small and medium sized businesses that are making the leap to the cloud. This infrastructure includes many items that are present in a physical data center but are delivered instead by a cloud provider to a client – VMware and Microsoft are two key players in this industry, as an example, as is Amazon. These infrastructure services range from storage and bandwidth to security and also include promises relating to uptime backup speed. At the end of the day, a company must evaluate the cost they are paying for these services versus the returns they are ultimately seeing.
As the cloud is a fairly new technological evolution, evaluating ROI can be difficult on IaaS services, but there are a few metrics which can be reliably used. First, a business must consider how much it will cost to store their data and how much it will cost to access it. More money means more space and faster access, but initially companies will often see these costs as lower than purchasing a physical data center – it is their cost over time that must be considered. As well, companies must examine service level agreements and what kind of uptime they are paying for. Standard uptime agreements include a “five-9s” promise – 99.999% uptime, but the more nines a company wants the more they are going to have to pay. While a “ten-nines” service will be more expensive, the need for backup or disaster recovery should be far less.
These factors, in addition to scalability, bandwidth and security must all be evaluated by a company in order to accurately judge if a move upward to the cloud represents a reasonable ROI.