Cloud computing is the process of storing and accessing computer services — servers, storage, databases, software, networking, intelligence, and analytics — over the internet (“the cloud”) instead of a local device such as your computer or a corporate server maintained in a closet down the hall.

Cloud computing lets you rent your IT instead of buying it, allowing for a more flexible, faster, and economical approach to IT services. Today cloud computing is widely used; you’re probably “on the cloud” right now.

SaaS (Software-as-a-service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-service), and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service) are all cloud computing services. Gmail, Facebook, Salesforce, Dropbox, and the like are all common cloud-based applications.

What Is Infrastructure in Cloud Computing?

Cloud infrastructure refers to the components, both hardware and software, needed to enable cloud computing. The term includes elements such as storage, networking, computing power, virtualization software, services, and management tools.

Where Is Cloud Infrastructure Located?

Despite the name, cloud services don’t simply float around in cyberspace. Cloud infrastructure is found within individual enterprise data centers and server farms located around the world.

What Are the Main Components of Cloud Infrastructure?

Experts recognize the following three key components of cloud infrastructure:


Major public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer cloud services based on shared, multi-tenant servers. This model has a large computing capacity requirement, to balance demand across fewer servers and handle sudden changes in user demand.

Because of this, cloud infrastructure comprises high-density systems with shared power, which is often multi-socket and multicore servers.


Cloud infrastructure uses locally attached storage such as hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) instead of shared disk arrays on a storage area network.

These storage systems are combined using a distributed file system (DFS) such as block, big data, or object, custom-designed for each storage scenario.

Decoupling the storage control and management from the physical infrastructure using a DFS further simplifies scaling, and helps cloud providers match capacity to user workloads. It does this by incrementally adding computer nodes with the required number and type of local disks.


Cloud computing requires high bandwidth connectivity to transmit data smoothly. It’s why cloud infrastructure also includes Local Area Networks (LAN) equipment, such as routers and switches. It also needs virtual networking support and load balancing to distribute network traffic optimally.

What Is the Role of Cloud Infrastructure?

The main role of cloud infrastructure is to support cloud computing by separating every hardware and software component’s features and functions.

It uses an abstraction technology or a process like virtualization to present virtual resources (virtual machines, networks switches, firewalls, storage) and services from physical hardware, and then pools them into clouds. From there, a cloud service provider — or an IT department, in case of a private cloud — hosts and delivers those virtualized resources to users over a network or the internet.

Basically, cloud infrastructure allocates virtual resources and services and provides new environments, allowing users to access what they need, when they need it.

What Are the Types of Cloud Infrastructure?

Cloud infrastructure is present in the following three cloud computing deployment models:

Private Cloud

In this model, an organization builds and owns the cloud structure components and houses them within its own data center. It has a single-tenant environment, meaning the organization will be the only one using the infrastructure and services. Businesses with very stringent regulatory requirements or security demands can benefit from using a private cloud.

Public Cloud

In this deployment model, a third-party public cloud provider will own the cloud infrastructure components. It has a multi-tenant environment, where all the cloud resources are shared among customers.

Customers pay for capabilities and services based on core infrastructure resources, such as storage, CPU cycles, and bandwidth. Public cloud deployment is a good fit for software development and collaborative projects.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud consists of public and private deployment models to form a single logical cloud for the user. Organizations can use the private cloud to run sensitive applications or host sensitive data, while other apps and data can run in a public cloud. This deployment is recommended for businesses balancing big data analytics, and hence have strict data privacy regulations.

What Is the Difference Between Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud Architecture?

Cloud architecture indicates how all components and individual technologies that make up clouds — hardware, networks, virtual resources, automation, operating systems, middleware, among others — will be connected to create cloud environments.

Cloud infrastructure includes the tools you need to build a cloud. Cloud architecture is the blueprint for how you will build it.

What Is the Difference Between Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) And Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)?

IaaS is a cloud-based service that allows the virtual delivery of resources (or through the cloud) to organizations. It has a pay-as-you-go system for different services, such as virtualization, storage, and networking.

PaaS provides developers with cloud components to build custom applications. It delivers a platform or framework (rather than software) to developers, so that they can use it to create online software and applications.

The main difference between IaaS and PaaS is that IaaS offers administrators direct control over operating platforms. PaaS offers users more flexibility and ease of operation.

IaaS is the foundation of building a cloud-based service and can include anything: content, software, or even a website to sell physical products. PaaS is the platform on which developers can build apps without worrying about hosting.

Reciprocity’s ZenGRC helps you manage controls across multiple frameworks, as well as monitor key performance indicators for compliance and IT security efforts. Learn more by visiting our Technology Product Page.