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Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is flourishing as one of the fastest growing categories in public IT cloud services with global IaaS markets expected to reach USD$59 billion by 2023 according to Market Research Future (MRFR). Key to this trend, however, is a strategic imperative to balancing investment versus output.

“In many cases, the use of IaaS/Cloud is both an offensive and a defensive strategy. Offensive, as it allows enterprises flexibility to differentiate their offerings and stand out from their competitors; and defensive, as invariably their competitors are also using IaaS/Cloud and an enterprise dare not be left behind,” says Andrew Cruise, managing director at Routed, Africa’s only vendor neutral Cloud infrastructure provider.

He says that although it is well known that IaaS/Cloud isn’t necessarily cheaper than owned hardware from an overall billing perspective, enterprises are better enabled to allocate resources towards their primary business focus through IaaS deployment, where the combined effect of savings and growth can lead to substantial additional profitability. “By using IaaS/Cloud, the operational risk inherent in owned infrastructure is segregated and offloaded to the Cloud provider. In addition, IaaS/Cloud can offer technologies and software which are costly or impossible to deliver on owned hardware, and this can facilitate further differentiation to drive business growth.”

“However, not all enterprises’ strategies would include Cloud. In industries which are heavily technology focussed and where the infrastructure is a core differentiator, it is more likely that businesses will choose to retain their own infrastructure. Efficient Cloud usage is also dependent on fast, reliable and cheap internet – in areas where this is not available businesses may not benefit from using IaaS financially or operationally,” says Cruise.

Amid the current hype and overabundance of information surrounding IaaS, decision makers are faced with concerns around security, performance and availability of services which need to be addressed. “Fortunately, many Cloud providers are demonstrating credibility through their track records, and there is also a wealth of material readily available to provide comfort to CIOs that their choice to move to Cloud is well made. Providers are also assisting by providing a myriad of training materials and motivating the use of Cloud consultants,” notes Cruise.

He adds that enterprise decision makers should question which Cloud option best satisfies business requirements to avoid falling into the trap of assuming that Cloud is best for any enterprise and workload. “It may well be that there are, for the moment, none that do. I would caution that there is no silver bullet and decision makers should carefully consider the available Cloud options to make sure that strategically and operationally their requirements are being met.”