The most basic category of cloud computing services. With IaaS, you rent IT infrastructure – servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems – from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an instant computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the internet. It’s one of the four types of cloud services, along with software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and serverless.
IaaS quickly scales up and down with demand, letting you pay only for what you use. It helps you avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing your own physical servers and other datacenter infrastructure. Each resource is offered as a separate service component, and you only need to rent a particular one for as long as you need it. A cloud computing service provider, such as AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, manages the infrastructure, while you purchase, install, configure, and manage your own software—operating systems, middleware, and applications.
Common IaaS business scenarios
Typical things businesses do with IaaS include:
Test and development. Teams can quickly set up and dismantle test and development environments, bringing new applications to market faster. IaaS makes scaling dev-test environments up and down quick and economical.
Website hosting. Running websites using IaaS can be less expensive than traditional web hosting.
Storage, backup and recovery. Organisations avoid the capital outlay for storage and complexity of storage management, which typically requires skilled staff to manage data and meet legal and compliance requirements. IaaS is useful for handling unpredictable demand and steadily growing storage needs. It can also simplify the planning and management of backup and recovery systems.
Web apps. IaaS provides all the infrastructure to support web apps, including storage, web and application servers, and networking resources. Organisations can quickly deploy web apps on IaaS and easily scale infrastructure up and down when demand for the apps is unpredictable.
High-performance computing. High-performance computing (HPC) on supercomputers, computer grids or computer clusters helps solve complex problems involving millions of variables or calculations. Examples include earthquake and protein folding simulations, climate and weather predictions, financial modelling and evaluating product designs.
Big data analysis. Big data is a popular term for massive data sets that contain potentially valuable patterns, trends and associations. Mining data sets to locate or tease out these hidden patterns requires a huge amount of processing power, which IaaS provides economically.
Advantages of IaaS
Eliminates capital expense and reduces ongoing cost. IaaS sidesteps the upfront expense of setting up and managing an on-site data centre, making it an economical option for start-ups and businesses testing new ideas.
Improves business continuity and disaster recovery. Achieving high availability, business continuity and disaster recovery is expensive, as it requires a significant amount of technology and staff. But with the right service level agreement (SLA) in place, IaaS can reduce this cost, meaning you can access applications and data as usual during a disaster or outage.
Innovate rapidly. As soon as you’ve decided to launch a new product or initiative, the necessary computing infrastructure can be ready in minutes or hours, rather than the days or weeks (and sometimes months) it could take to set up internally.
Respond more quickly to shifting business conditions. IaaS enables you to quickly scale up resources to accommodate spikes in demand for your application – during the holidays, for example – then scale resources back down again when activity decreases to save money.
Focus on your core business. IaaS frees up your team to focus on your organisation’s core business rather than on IT infrastructure.
Increase stability, reliability and supportability. With IaaS, there’s no need to maintain and upgrade software and hardware or troubleshoot equipment problems. With the appropriate agreement in place, the service provider ensures that your infrastructure is reliable and meets SLAs.
Better security. With the appropriate service agreement, a cloud service provider can provide security for your applications and data that may be better than what you can attain in-house.
Gets new apps to users faster. Because you don’t need to first set up the infrastructure before you can develop and deliver apps, you can get them to users faster with IaaS.