Cloud infrastructure consists of the software and hardware needed to create computing resources shared over the internet. While cloud computing is out of sight, out of mind for many people, cloud environments are built using a combination of hardware and software, just like any other computing device. Cloud infrastructure can be spread out over a wide geographic area and is typically housed in data centers—physical buildings where servers and networking equipment operate.
Four main components comprise cloud infrastructure:
- Hardware. Physical devices that include servers, firewalls, routers, load balancers, and switches.
- Storage. Disks for memory storage and data backup.
- Virtualization. Technology that abstracts a piece of hardware’s resources.
- Network. The actual wires, routers, and switches that build the various different networks within a data center.
While the two terms are closely related, cloud infrastructure should not be confused with cloud architecture. You can think of cloud infrastructure as the tools needed to build a cloud environment. Cloud architecture is a plan on how to specifically use those tools to build a cloud environment.
Cloud infrastructure also plays a role in infrastructure as a service (IaaS). With IaaS, IT companies sell parts of cloud infrastructure—like servers and storage—as a service. Common examples of IaaS include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud.