A cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software components -- such as servers, storage, virtualization software and operating systems -- needed to meet the computing requirements of a cloud storage model.
A cloud storage infrastructure differs from a traditional data storage infrastructure in that it accesses files remotely over a network and is usually built on an object-based storage platform. Access to object-based storage is done through a Web services application programming interface (API) based on the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) or Representational State Transfer (REST) protocol.
Among the infrastructure requirements an organization will need for its move to cloud storage are secure multi-tenancy, autonomic computing, storage efficiency, scalability, a utility computing and/or chargeback system, and integrated data protection.
Some organizations may not want to deal with housing, running and maintaining an in-house cloud storage infrastructure. If this is the case, they can contract with a cloud storage service provider for the equipment used to support cloud operations. In this provisioning model, known as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), the service provider owns the equipment (storage, hardware, servers and networking components) and the client typically pays on a per-use basis.