Review of the Top IaaS Providers on the Market

Top IaaS providersOne of the key factors to achieving a successful IaaS cloud migration strategy is finding the right Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider. An IaaS provider whose capabilities align with your company’s unique array of needs and objectives will boost your chances of attaining a good ROI.

Finding the right Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, one whose capabilities align with your company’s unique array of needs and objectives, is key to achieving a successful IaaS cloud migration strategy. Ideally, each organization should have its own set of criteria to find the right match.

What is IaaS?

IaaS is one of the primary forms of cloud computing service models that deliver on-demand on-premises IT infrastructure services to consumers via the Internet. An organization leveraging IaaS doesn’t require an on-premise data center since fundamental servers, virtualization, network, and storage gets handled by the cloud service provider (CSP).

With IaaS, you no longer need to procure and manage your own hardware and software or even space to host them. This way, IaaS shifts all the IT teams’ maintenance processes in organizations to the CSP, where all the costs get computed based on a “pay-as-you-go” pricing model.

IaaS ensures consumers have complete control of their infrastructure by providing them with a dashboard or application programming interface (API) to deploy and manage the IT infrastructure.  Like other “as-a-service” cloud models such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-as-a-service(PaaS), IaaS is scalable and upgradable.

IaaS Use Cases  

Test and Development 

IaaS allows organizations to set up test and development environments easily. Instead of acquiring the infrastructure required for testing, companies can utilize the highly scalable infrastructure of their IaaS provider that’s easy to set up and can be dismantled later on. 

Disaster Recovery  

Disaster recovery can be too expensive and complicated for most companies. IaaS allows them to store data off-site and replicate it across multiple locations without hiring a dedicated team. The provider is responsible for the management of data storage, backups and recovery plans.  

High-Performance Workloads 

High computing workloads – such as genomics, weather forecasting and oil and gas simulations – require supercomputers or computer clusters. IaaS can provide fully-managed High-Performance Computing (HPC) environments for HPC workloads on usage-based pricing. 

Big Data Analytics 

Big Data is at the heart of modern marketing, but storing and processing such massive volumes of data to identify patterns and trends requires virtually unlimited storage and huge computational power. IaaS can provide these resources and can integrate with BI tools to drive actionable insights through Big Data Analytics. 

Key factors to pick an IaaS provider

Since most organizations have understandably limited knowledge of the full capabilities of each cloud provider out there, it might be difficult for them to draw up a realistic set of criteria that would match what IaaS providers could offer. You can simplify that problem by comparing IaaS providers based on the following key factors combined with your own criteria: 

Top IaaS providers in the market

Let’s now take a look at the top IaaS providers in the market today and discuss how they fare against the basic criteria we outlined earlier.

Amazon AWS

As the first to offer IaaS (and cloud computing services for that matter), Amazon Web Services or AWS continues to be a leader in the industry, introducing new technologies and services at breakneck speed.

Certifications and standards – AWS is compliant with several industry and regional laws, standards and frameworks, including FIPS, PCI DSS, GDPR, HITRUST, and SOC (1, 2, and 3) to mention a few. More importantly, they have a massive selection of resources (attestations of compliance, reports, online agreements, white papers, etc.) that can help customers meet their own compliance responsibilities.

Service Level Agreements – AWS has a comprehensive list of SLAs for each of the services they offer. For example, they have SLAs for EC2, S3, Redshift, etc. In each SLA, they explicitly define their service commitment and the corresponding service credit percentage, which is basically how much (in %) will be reduced from charges in the event the monthly uptime commitment is breached.

Technology compatibility – AWS supports a wide range of technologies that can meet the varying needs of their IaaS subscribers. For EC2 users, for example, AWS publishes a vast selection of AMIs consisting of different OS/application server/application and other combinations. These are further augmented by AMIs contributed by members of their equally vast AWS community.

Vendor lock-in – Because AWS offers so many proprietary services that make tasks so much easier and efficient, you could certainly get locked in if you relied heavily on them. However, it’s worth noting that they also offer a lot of alternatives that can mitigate that risk. For example, if you’re using AWS Lambda (yes, we know it’s technically FaaS) with standard HTTP REST API, then that’s migratable. But if you’re using it with, say, AWS SNS, then that could introduce some migration problems in the future.

Microsoft Azure

Although Azure entered the cloud market much later than AWS, it’s been posting higher growth rates. And because it’s from Microsoft, it’s able to leverage the fanbase of well-established products like Windows and Office.

Certifications and standards – Like AWS, Azure takes certifications and standards very seriously. Customers can take advantage of over 90 compliance certifications. 50 of those are specific to global regions and countries, including the US, EU, Japan, UK, India, and China. They also have compliance offerings for industry-specific regulations and standards.

Service Level Agreements – Azure groups SLAs in a very intuitive manner. If you’re a new customer and aren’t familiar with specific Azure service names, you can easily navigate the SLA page because services are grouped in highly descriptive categories like AI + Machine Learning, Compute, Databases, etc. Like AWS, Azure clearly states their service commitment and corresponding service credit percentage.

Technology compatibility – In Azure, you’ll hardly recognize Microsoft’s previous perception of a monopolistic enterprise. Linux VMs are displayed alongside Windows VMs, so customers are free to choose whichever operating system they want to work with. In fact, Azure supports different Linux distros, including RedHat, SUSE, Ubuntu, CentOS, and others.

Vendor lock-in – Despite Azure’s relatively more open environment compared to the Windows walled garden of old, it’s unavoidable for it to still have a darker tinge of vendor lock-in-ness. Azure services will always be much easier to integrate with other Microsoft services like Office 365, Windows Virtual Desktop, or Azure Active Directory on Azure compared to similar services in other IaaS providers.

Google Compute Engine

Google Compute Engine’s revenue is not yet at par with those other two IaaS providers up there. However, it’s been making significant strides in specific industries like retail, education, and finance, where it’s able to tie-up with other Google products like Adwords and Chromebooks.

Certifications and standards – Although smaller than AWS and Azure in terms of revenue, Google Compute Engine is no laggard when it comes to certifications and standards. Like the other two, Google is compliant with regional and industry-specific standards and shares relevant information, best practices, and documentation with customers.

Service Level Agreements – Google Cloud likewise provides SLAs with clearly stipulated monthly uptime percentages as well as their corresponding service credit percentages.

Technology compatibility – GCE supports various Linux distros (Debian, CentOS, CoreOS, SUSE, Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and FreeBSD) as well as various Windows Server versions (2008 R2, 2012 R2, and 2016).

Vendor lock-in – Google Cloud Platform supports several OSS (open source software) such as Kubernetes, AppScale, and Apache HBase. Customers who use OSS are less susceptible to vendor lock-in because solutions using them can be easily ported to another IaaS provider. While it’s true that AWS and Azure also support these same OSS, Google doesn’t have as many proprietary services as those two.

Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud’s main clientele is in mainland China. However, it has a global infrastructure consisting of 63 availability zones in 21 regions, making it a formidable player in the IaaS space.

Certifications and standards – Alibaba Cloud adheres to several well-known industry-specific standards like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and MPAA, as well as a few regional standards. Although its list of supported compliance standards isn’t as exhaustive as AWS’, Azure’s, or even Google’s, it’s got regions where it operates in (mainly in Asia) adequately covered.

Service Level Agreements – Monthly uptime percentages and service credits are clearly stipulated. Both metrics are competitive with what the other larger IaaS providers offer.

Technology compatibility – Like its western counterparts, Alibaba Cloud offers a variety of options that enable technological flexibility. In ECS (its version of AWS EC2), for example, Alibaba offers dozens of instance types, different Windows and Linux-based OSes, and support for custom images.

Vendor lock-in – Alibaba Cloud has its own growing collection of proprietary technologies. However, it also has a couple of programs, like Global Marketplace and AliLaunch, that allow technology partners to bring in their solutions. Some of these solutions are open source.

Oracle Cloud

Aside from the usual compute, storage, networking, and database services, Oracle cloud is known to offer (as an option) products and services as an integrated set. This lowers costs and deployment time.

Certifications and standards – Although not as comprehensive as the larger IaaS providers, Oracle Cloud still supports a wide range of industry-specific and regional compliance standards.

Service Level Agreements – Monthly uptime percentages and service credits are clearly stipulated. Both metrics are competitive to what the other larger IaaS providers offer.

Technology compatibility – Aside from the usual offerings, Oracle also offers what it calls the Oracle Integrated Stack. This is a complete hardware and software stack based on Oracle products like Oracle Sun Storage arrays, Oracle VM Servers, Oracle Database, Java EE, and Oracle Peoplesoft, to mention a few. While using this stack speeds up deployment, it also reduces flexibility.

Vendor lock-in – If vendor lock-in is an issue to you, you might want to stay clear from the integrated stack we mentioned earlier.

Parallels RAS supports multiple IaaS service providers

Each of these IaaS providers has its own strengths. You will want to pick AWS if you want access to the widest range of services, or Azure if you want an IaaS provider that tightly integrates with Microsoft solutions. You will likely also want Alibaba Cloud if you operate in China. There are several reasons for selecting any one of these vendors.

There are also an increasing number of organizations that are now shifting to a multi-cloud strategy. A multi-cloud strategy allows you to take advantage of the individual strengths of each cloud provider while also mitigating the risk of vendor lock-in.

If you do pursue a multi-cloud strategy, it is also important to make sure the solutions you work with are built for this kind of architecture. One solution that is perfect for a multi-cloud infrastructure is Parallels RAS, a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that delivers applications and virtual desktops to any device, anytime, anywhere.

Parallels RAS can be easily deployed on a variety of IaaS cloud environments which it then augments in terms of security, scalability, and availability. By deploying Parallels RAS on these IaaS clouds or in a multi-cloud infrastructure, you can deliver applications, desktops, and other digital assets to your users (regardless of where they are and what device they are using) in a secure and cost-efficient manner.

Download the Parallels RAS trial now and make the most of what your IaaS provider can offer.


References:

Oracle

Parallels RAS