Cloud Computing Infrastructure: Structure, Components, and Functionality

Synopsys Editorial Staff

Oct 30, 2022 / 5 min read

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As chip design's computational demands continue to increase, on-premises electronic design automation (EDA) grows more cumbersome and expensive. Many semiconductor companies are turning to cloud-based EDA tools so they can take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing. 

Before jumping to the cloud, you should understand the underlying hardware and software that comprise a cloud computing infrastructure. Further, the different cloud service models available and what you’re responsible for as the end-user. 

What is Cloud Computing Infrastructure?

Cloud computing infrastructure typically refers to the hardware and software that enables cloud computing. Hardware and software include storage devices, processors, networking equipment, operating systems, user interfaces, and applications. Infrastructure is generally divided into two parts:

  1. Frontend cloud computing infrastructure consists of applications, machines, and user interfaces. Clients then use it to interact with the cloud.
  2. Backend cloud computing infrastructure comprises all the hardware, storage, operating systems, networking logic, and security mechanisms that support the frontend infrastructure.

The client’s access to and control over each aspect of cloud computing infrastructure varies depending on the service model of the cloud offering. There are three basic service model types:

  1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Cloud applications are delivered as a software subscription. The SaaS provider manages all aspects of the software and backend infrastructure, so end-users don’t worry about hardware or software.
  2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). A cloud platform is provided to the client, who then develops, runs, and manages their own applications with it. The PaaS provider handles the backend infrastructure and provides an interface that clients use to host and integrate their own software.
  3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Virtualized resources like servers, storage, and networking technology are delivered to clients via the cloud. The IaaS provider manages the hardware and uses virtualization, allowing clients to configure, modify, and manage those resources to support their services and applications.

The IaaS model gives users the most control over their cloud infrastructure. However, that also means the user must do more work to get their cloud-based applications up and running. On the other hand, SaaS delivers a complete cloud application that clients can begin using with little-to-no upfront work. But, clients can’t access the underlying infrastructure for things like scaling or performance optimization.

Types of Cloud Computing | Synopsys Cloud

Exploring the Components and Structure of a Cloud Computing Infrastructure

Let’s examine the core components of a cloud computing infrastructure on both the frontend and the backend. First, frontend cloud computing infrastructure includes:


Graphical User Interface (GUI)

The GUI gives clients access to their cloud services and workloads. This may be a SaaS application such as Gmail or Microsoft 365. It could also be a web portal used to access IaaS resources or cloud software that the client developed themselves.


Client-Side Software

Client-side software refers to a local application installed on the user’s device, which is used to access cloud services. One example would be using the Outlook desktop client to access email hosted in Microsoft 365. Another would be using a web browser (e.g., Chrome or Firefox) to access cloud-based EDA tools. 


Client-Side Hardware

The client-side hardware includes the networking equipment (like routers and switches) used to connect users to the internet to access cloud services. Additionally, it includes the physical machines that run the client-side software (like laptops and smartphones).

Frontend cloud infrastructure is often referred to as “client-side infrastructure” because most of it (laptops, internet connection, and desktop software) is the client’s responsibility to purchase and maintain. However, clients aren’t always responsible for the GUI, especially in the case of SaaS cloud computing.

On the backend, cloud computing infrastructure includes:


Cloud Hardware

When most people think about cloud infrastructure, they think about the underlying hardware on which everything runs. This infrastructure includes the physical servers, storage devices, processors, routers, switches, load balancers, and power distribution units (PDUs) that cloud providers maintain. This hardware resides in provider-controlled data centers. The best cloud vendors have many of these data centers distributed around the world for redundancy and global performance. 



Virtualization decouples computing functions and services from the underlying hardware. This process allows providers to host platforms and software for multiple clients on shared hardware without anyone seeing or accessing each other’s services. In the case of IaaS offerings, virtualization also gives users the ability to manage their cloud infrastructure through a user interface without accessing the physical hardware. 



Cloud storage is another form of virtualization because the storage capacity available to clients is decoupled from the underlying storage hardware. That means an end-user can easily scale their storage capacity up and down on-demand without worrying about buying and installing additional storage devices. On the provider’s end, public cloud storage virtualization means they can distribute client data across whatever storage hardware is available, even in multiple data centers.



In addition to the physical networking devices, cloud computing infrastructure relies on networking logic such as routing and load balancing. This logic may be tied to physical devices. It may also be virtualized using network function virtualization (NFV) or software-defined networking (SDN). Virtualization makes it easier for providers to manage and optimize the large and complex network architectures required to deliver cloud services.



Security infrastructure includes things like firewalls, access control, and malware prevention. Cloud security follows what’s known as the shared responsibility model, meaning the duty of protecting cloud computing infrastructure is shared between the client and the provider. The provider must secure the physical infrastructure (using things like security cameras and door locks), the network infrastructure, the storage and computing systems, and their applications. Clients must secure the systems and infrastructure they use to access cloud services and the applications they develop and host on cloud infrastructure.

Cloud-based EDA providers like Synopsys use cloud computing infrastructure to deliver powerful chip design solutions that scale on-demand.

Synopsys, EDA, and the Cloud

Synopsys is the industry’s largest provider of electronic design automation (EDA) technology used in the design and verification of semiconductor devices, or chips. With Synopsys Cloud, we’re taking EDA to new heights, combining the availability of advanced compute and storage infrastructure with unlimited access to EDA software licenses on-demand so you can focus on what you do best – designing chips, faster. Delivering cloud-native EDA tools and pre-optimized hardware platforms, an extremely flexible business model, and a modern customer experience, Synopsys has reimagined the future of chip design on the cloud, without disrupting proven workflows.


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Synopsys technology drives innovations that change how people work and play using high-performance silicon chips. Let Synopsys power your innovation journey with cloud-based EDA tools. Sign up to try Synopsys Cloud for free!

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