Infrastructure As a Service

IaaS: Infrastructure as a service

Cloud infrastructure services, known as infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), are made of highly scalable and automated compute resources. IaaS is entirely self-service for accessing and monitoring computers, networking, storage, and other services. IaaS allows businesses to purchase resources on-demand and as needed instead of buying hardware outright.

Iaas Delivery

IaaS delivers cloud computing infrastructure through virtualization technology, including servers, networks, operating systems, and storage. These cloud servers are typically provided to the organization through a dashboard or an API, giving IaaS clients complete control over the entire infrastructure. IaaS provides the same technologies and capabilities as a traditional data center without physically maintaining or managing all of it. IaaS clients can still access their servers and storage directly, but it is all outsourced through a “virtual data center” in the cloud.

As opposed to SaaS or PaaS, IaaS clients manage aspects such as applications, runtime, OSes, middleware, and data. However, providers of the IaaS manage the servers, hard drives, networking, virtualization, and storage. In addition, some providers offer more services beyond the virtualization layer, such as databases or message queues.

IaaS Advantages

IaaS offers many advantages, including:

  • The most flexible cloud computing model
  • Easy to automate the deployment of storage, networking, servers, and processing power
  • Hardware purchases can be based on consumption
  • Clients retain complete control of their infrastructure
  • Resources can be purchased as-needed
  • Highly scalable

IaaS Characteristics

Characteristics that define IaaS include:

  • Resources are available as a service
  • Cost varies depending on consumption
  • Services are highly scalable
  • Multiple users on a single piece of hardware
  • Organizations retain complete control of the infrastructure
  • Dynamic and flexible

IaaS Use Cases

Just as with SaaS and PaaS, there are specific situations when IaaS is most advantageous.

  • Startups and small companies may prefer IaaS to avoid spending time and money purchasing and creating hardware and software.
  • Larger companies may prefer to retain complete control over their applications and infrastructure, but they want to purchase only what they consume or need.
  • Companies experiencing rapid growth, like the scalability of IaaS and can change out specific hardware and software easily as their needs evolve.
  • Anytime IT leaders and teams are unsure of a new application’s demands, IaaS offers plenty of flexibility and scalability.

IaaS can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Compute resources delivered through a cloud model can be used to fit a variety of use cases. The most common use cases for IaaS deployments include the following:

  • Testing and development environments. IaaS offers organizations flexibility when it comes to different test and development environments. They can easily be scaled up or down according to needs.
  • We are hosting customer-facing websites. This can make it more affordable to host a website than traditional means of hosting sites.
  • Data storage, backup, and recovery. IaaS can be the easiest and most efficient way for organizations to manage data when demand is unpredictable or might steadily increase. Furthermore, organizations can circumvent the need for extensive efforts focused on data storage management and legal and compliance requirements.
  • Web applications. The infrastructure needed to host web apps is provided by IaaS. Therefore, IaaS can provide the necessary storage resources, servers, and networking if an organization hosts a web application. As a result, deployments can be made quickly, and the cloud infrastructure can be easily scaled up or down according to the application.
  • High-performance computing (HPC). Specific workloads may demand HPC-level computing, such as scientific computations, financial modeling, and product design work.
  • Data warehousing and big data analytics. IaaS can provide the necessary computing and processing power to comb through big data sets.

IaaS Limitations & Concerns

Many limitations associated with SaaS and PaaS models – such as data security, cost overruns, vendor lock-in, and customization issues – also apply to the IaaS model. Prospective buyers may perceive the following risks.

  • Security. While the customer controls the apps, data, middleware, and the OS platform, security threats can still be sourced from the host or other virtual machines (VMs). Insider threats or system vulnerabilities may expose data communication between the host infrastructure and VMs to unauthorized entities.
  • Legacy systems are operating in the cloud. While customers can run legacy apps in the cloud, the infrastructure may not be designed to deliver specific controls to secure the legacy apps. As a result, a minor enhancement to legacy apps may be required before migrating them to the cloud, possibly leading to new security issues unless adequately tested for security and performance in the IaaS systems.
  • Internal resources and training. Additional resources and training may be required for the workforce to manage the infrastructure effectively. Customers will be responsible for data security, backup, and business continuity. Due to inadequate infrastructure control, monitoring and managing the resources may be complex without adequate in-house training and resources.
  • Multitenant security. Since the hardware resources are dynamically allocated across users as made available, the vendor must ensure that other customers cannot access data deposited to storage assets by previous customers. Similarly, customers must rely on the vendor to ensure that VMs are adequately isolated within the multitenant cloud architecture.

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Major IaaS Vendors and Products

There are many examples of IaaS vendors and products. IaaS products offered by the three largest public cloud service providers — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, and Microsoft — include the following:

  • AWS offers storage services such as Simple Storage Service (S3) and Glacier, as well as compute services, including its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers storage and computing services through Google Compute Engine.
  • Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines offers cloud virtualization for many different cloud computing purposes.
There are also many other more minor or more niche players in the IaaS marketplace, including these products:
  • Rackspace Managed Cloud
  • IBM Cloud Private
  • IBM Cloud Virtual Servers
  • CenturyLink Cloud
  • DigitalOcean Droplets
  • Alibaba Elastic Compute Service
Updated on June 27, 2023

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