Intelligent Infrastructure

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Differentiation in the infrastructure-as-a-service market

Cloud resource provisioning can be enhanced with flexible, interoperable solutions.

Many of the concepts behind offering cloud storage and other services are the same regardless of the provider. As an MSPMentor article recently pointed out, the core value of the cloud is customers' ability to provision resources from the provider. It may seem like vendors following similar models would offer the same value, but technology decisions can play an important role in how effective those services are. This results in significant differences even when examining infrastructure-as-a-service offerings.

Many providers opt for off-the-shelf cloud solutions to facilitate faster time-to-deployment. However, solutions that offer little in terms of customization may backfire as needs expand and demand for new features rises. This may save time initially, but could end up lengthening time-to-market down the road. As a result, the article noted the value of building custom cloud hardware solutions.

"The classic scenario is an MSP that offers services based on VMware, services that only a larger enterprise can afford," the article stated. "The maturity and feature set of the leading turnkey cloud platforms give you a way to create new tiers of cloud service, quickly and easily, and expand into other parts of the market."

Adaptability is one of the cloud's core value propositions, so it makes sense that the backbone of the technology should also be flexible. In many ways, cloud providers are addressing many of the same challenges as their customers. Just as fears over vendor lock-in are prevalent among buyers, providers can benefit from avoiding solutions that would inhibit future expansion. As GigaOM columnist Barb Darrow observed, the benefits of cloud solutions can be improved through mixing and matching services to come up with an optimal solution.