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Learn all you need to know about cloud infrastructure—what it is, its components, types, and the main delivery models. Plus, reasons to consider cloud computing.


What is Cloud Infrastructure

Posted by Angela Davis on May 21, 2024
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Cloud infrastructure is all the hardware and software that supports cloud computing. It’s essentially the same as your on-premises infrastructure, except that it’s virtual. This means it’s more flexible and scalable than that legacy architecture.

It’s also more cost-effective, and you can deploy your assets rapidly (often in minutes). However, cloud infrastructure is complex, with lots of different components and models to consider. If you’re looking to bring the cloud to your enterprise, it’s important to understand these.

Here, we explore cloud infrastructure in detail, including the different types to choose from and the benefits you might see. We also give you tips on how to manage it effectively.

What is cloud infrastructure?

It's difficult to give an exact cloud infrastructure definition as the term encompasses several different models. However, broadly speaking, the hardware and software elements or components that enable cloud computing. 

This can include physical servers, networking equipment, and storage, as well as virtual machines (VMs).

Which components make up cloud infrastructure?

A variety of physical and virtual components make cloud computing possible. These cloud infrastructure components generally fall into the following categories: 

  • Hardware
  • Virtualization
  • Storage
  • Networking  


This is the physical infrastructure for cloud computing. Examples include servers, routers, firewalls, switches, and load balancers.

Hardware may be housed in several data centers, but it’s all connected with networking equipment (more on that later). This allows it to function as a single center with powerful processing and computing capabilities.


Virtualization abstracts physical resources, like data storage, and presents them as virtual resources that users can access via an interface. 

You can implement virtualization at the compute, network, storage, or application layers. For example, you can virtualize a physical machine into one or more VMs. This way, you can preserve your data and applications but enjoy the benefits of the cloud.


This is the space on a physical server (or servers) that houses your organization’s data. These servers are usually “rented” from a third-party cloud provider, so it’s easy to add or remove storage. You can access your stored data over the internet.

You can also migrate data from your on-premises legacy systems to cloud storage as part of a cloud migration strategy.


Networking equipment, like routers, switches, and wiring, connect hardware components physically or over the internet. This is what enables cloud connectivity. It also lets you direct and manage cloud traffic, including Ethernet, iSCSI, and FC.

Plus, virtual networking tools, like virtual switches, allow VMs to communicate with each other and with hardware. 

The types of cloud infrastructure

There are three major types of cloud infrastructure, and each has its pros and cons. They are:

  • Private cloud
  • Public cloud
  • Hybrid cloud

Let’s look at them in more detail.

Private cloud

Private cloud infrastructure is exclusively for one organization, so you don’t have to share resources with anyone else.

A graphic showing private cloud adoption percentages among enterprises.

Image source

There are two main types of private cloud:

  • On-premises. Your organization hosts the cloud infrastructure in its own data centers. This model gives you the greatest degree of control. However, you’re responsible for maintaining and managing the infrastructure, which can be expensive.
  • Externally hosted. A third party hosts your infrastructure on their servers, but you still don’t share resources with anyone else. This model is more cost-effective, but you have less control.

Both models give a high level of security and privacy, which is why a private cloud is the preferred option for some enterprises.

Public cloud

Public cloud infrastructure is owned by a third-party provider that makes its resources publicly available over the internet. In this model, multiple organizations share server space and other resources. This makes it a more affordable option.

With the public cloud, you only pay for the resources you use. You also don’t have the hassle or expense of maintaining your own infrastructure. So, public cloud is a more flexible option.

The downside is that public cloud infrastructure services can be less secure than private clouds. You also don’t always have control over the resources you’re using.

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud infrastructure combines public and private clouds into one system. In this model, you can keep your most sensitive data in an isolated environment while taking advantage of the greater flexibility of a public cloud. You could thus argue that a hybrid cloud can be the best of both worlds.

This model is especially useful for enterprises with fluctuating workloads. Instead of continually maintaining spare capacity, you can use a private cloud for normal workloads and supplement with a public cloud as needed. This is also more cost-effective, as you won't be paying for capacity you don't use.

Cloud infrastructure delivery models

Cloud infrastructure also supports a variety of service delivery models. Three main types are:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

You can use these separately or together. Which model(s) you choose will depend on your needs, as they each offer different levels of control.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

The SaaS model is arguably the most popular type of cloud service. In it, software providers develop cloud applications and offer them on a subscription basis.

For example, Salesforce provides cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software. Organizations pay a fee (monthly or yearly) to use this and can then access it over the internet.

The main advantage of this model is the associated cost savings. You don’t have to build or maintain your own infrastructure or applications. Plus, you can choose from several pricing tiers, so you only pay for the number of users and features you need.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

In the PaaS model, a provider offers a cloud environment for organizations to develop their own applications.

The global market share of PaaS (one cloud infrastructure delivery model), by offering, in 2021.

Image source

For instance, Google App Engine lets you build applications using APIs and run them on its cloud infrastructure. You don’t have to maintain your own infrastructure or create a development environment. Instead, you can focus your resources on other areas.


By subscribing to PaaS, you can save money and take advantage of sophisticated tools to build, test, edit, and deploy applications at scale. The downside is that you don’t have control over the operating systems or software.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

With the IaaS model, organizations subscribe to gain access to the provider’s cloud computing infrastructure. This includes all four component types (hardware, virtualization, storage, and networking).

One example is Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides on-demand computing capabilities via the cloud. This means you don’t have the expense of creating and maintaining your own infrastructure. Instead, you can leverage Amazon’s.

IaaS usually comes with a high degree of automation and scalability. Some providers also offer extra services, like short messaging service (SMS), service fabrics, and serverless architecture. What’s more, you can deploy your own OS and software.

Benefits of cloud infrastructure

Although there are several cloud infrastructure and delivery models available, they share some common benefits over legacy alternatives. Four of the biggest are:

  • Security
  • Flexibility and scalability
  • Rapid deployment
  • Cost savings


Migrating some or all of your data and applications to the cloud can improve security. This is because providers typically protect their cloud infrastructure with a range of security measures, such as:

  • Encryption
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Role-based access control (RBAC)
  • Intrusion detection
  • Identity management (such as one-time passcodes and OpenID)
  • Physical security measures (for instance, CCTV and security guards at data centers).

What’s more, if you use a hybrid integration platform for cloud migration, you can keep your most sensitive data on-premises and otherwise rely on cloud security.

Flexibility and scalability

The cloud is also far more flexible and scalable than legacy systems, especially if you pay for third-party infrastructure. 

If you need more resources, you can scale up your subscription. Then, when you no longer require these, you can scale down again. You don’t have the cost of idle servers一instead, you only pay for what you use.

Rapid deployment 

Cloud-based resources are much faster to deploy than physical resources, too. Many platforms offer drag-and-drop functionality, allowing you to quickly build and deploy applications.

In addition, cloud infrastructure can provide a performance boost, as you won’t have monolithic hardware slowing you down.

Cost savings 

Moving to the cloud also frees up capital that you would otherwise spend on your on-premises systems for maintenance, labor, utilities, and so on.

As you can use cloud infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis, you only pay for what you actually use. If you’re not burning through as many resources as you thought you would, you can simply scale down your subscription.

Cloud infrastructure management: Tips to get it right

Managing cloud infrastructure can be challenging. After all, there are many different components and processes to keep track of. So, it’s important to invest in the right service management tools. 

Below are some best practices you should follow to manage your infrastructure effectively.  

  1. Manage resources and workloads dynamically 

Your cloud infrastructure should respond dynamically to your changing needs. For instance, the system should automatically scale up your computing capacity in times of peak demand, then scale down again when this is no longer required.

The types of policies used to optimize cloud costs.

Image source

Service management software can track your resource use over time and identify over- and under-utilized resources. This helps you optimize these and ensures you only pay for the capacity you need.

Some software can even forecast demand peaks based on historical data to help you plan for these in advance.

1. Give administrators a centralized view of your infrastructure 

Your system administrators should have a centralized view of your cloud infrastructure and associated resources. Unified management software is one option. This provides a unified view of your entire infrastructure, including all physical and virtual resources.

Administrators can monitor the capacity, availability, and performance of your resources from one interface. They can also perform tasks like:

  • Adding or removing capacity
  • Optimizing resource usage
  • Analyzing and optimizing costs
  • Creating virtual resources or resource pools.

In addition, you can give developers access so they can see all your existing assets and service offerings and create new ones.

2. Monitor your infrastructure in real-time 

It’s essential to monitor your cloud infrastructure in real-time. This includes performance, SLA compliance, security, billing, and more. The right monitoring and reporting software is essential.

For example, performance management software measures the performance of your infrastructure and services. It analyzes KPIs like data transfer rate and response time and alerts you if any resources are under-performing.

You can also use this software to determine the capacity you need to meet your performance goals.

3. Ensure you have robust integration with legacy systems 

Finally, if you’re planning to undertake legacy modernization, you must ensure your cloud infrastructure integrates seamlessly with your legacy systems.

Integration may not be an issue if you intend to upgrade your existing infrastructure yourself, but this is time-consuming and expensive, and may not always be feasible. On the other hand, migrating all your legacy assets to the cloud may not be doable either.

A hybrid approach that integrates cloud computing with your legacy systems is often best. For instance, with OpenLegacy, you can use APIs to expose your core systems to the cloud. This allows you to extend the value of your legacy systems with minimal code changes.

Connect legacy systems to cloud infrastructure with OpenLegacy 

Infrastructure in cloud computing is one of the building blocks that makes modernization possible. With OpenLegacy, you can connect your legacy systems to such infrastructure and bring the benefits of the cloud to your business.

You can deploy your legacy assets to any type of cloud infrastructure, including private and public. You can also generate services as you need them in the format and language of your choice. Plus, with options ranging from no-code to full-code, you can bring modernity to your enterprise however you choose to.

Why not schedule a demo to see how OpenLegacy could benefit your business?

More FAQs about cloud infrastructure

How do you secure cloud infrastructure?

Security varies according to the cloud infrastructure model you use. For instance, with the public cloud, your third-party provider will handle this, whereas with an on-premises private cloud, it’s your responsibility.

Make sure you or your provider use robust security measures, like encryption, RBAC, monitoring tools, and authentication. Also, ensure you comply with any relevant government regulations.

How can you build cloud infrastructure?

Due to its complexity, it’s best to take a phased approach to building cloud infrastructure. Typical steps will include:

  • Understanding your existing legacy infrastructure, including its components and processes.
  • Virtualizing your legacy resources so your employees can access them anywhere and anytime over the internet.
  • Deploying service management tools to automate the monitoring and management of your infrastructure. 

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