Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) has evolved. Users have choices. The “one size fits all” of the initial years of IaaS—is no longer acceptable. There are advocates for each available choice. There are splits and opinions that have to be seriously examined before decisions are made. One such split is between commodity hardware and highly engineered systems.

Engineered systems are on premise Cloud offerings that deploy a pay as you go model with CPU capacity on demand, elasticity and reduced setup administration with generic Cloud computing infrastructures. For instance, Oracle Engineered Systems integrate pre-tuned, pre-tested systems that are especially optimized for business applications that run on Oracle databases, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle virtualization technologies powered by Exadata, Exalogic and SuperCluster machines.

Commodity hardware based IaaS is broadly defined as hardware that is easily available and affordable and is capable of running a variety of available operating systems without requiring special devices or software. Amazon’s IaaS offerings are often cited as examples of Commodity hardware systems.

A closer look at the above two definitions will reveal that the argument is not new. This is the argument between closed and open systems. Which of the two should an organization favour?

Engineered systems and commodity systems have much to offer to their advocates. The advocacy is driven by the need.  Those who want pre-built systems and do not want to expend time and energy in designing custom applications will be excited by the availability of engineered systems for IaaS. It is assumed that the extra costs that may be incurred on engineered systems will be set off by the time and money saved on designing and deploying custom applications on commodity hardware.

The differences between commodity hardware and engineered hardware are tabulated below for ease of understanding:

Commodity hardware Engineered System
Commodity hardware has an average amount   of computing resources Engineered Systems use   specialized computing resources
Existing hardware can be used Specialized hardware will have   to be acquired
Commodity hardware is affordable Engineered Systems come with an   implication of quality with cost
Commodity hardware can be used in roles   for which it was not specifically designed Engineered hardware can only be   used for roles for which it was specifically designed
Interfacing between the disparate   hardware components can be expensive Interfacing is done during the   engineering process. It is part of the cost of product acquisition