What is Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)?

Alan Cooke, Researcher at TrustRadius
Alan Cooke
January 7, 2020
IT & Development

What is Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)?

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a virtualized computing infrastructure provisioned over the Internet. Typically, IaaS providers provision everything that would normally be found in an on-premises environment such as servers, storage and networking hardware in addition to the virtualization layer. IaaS platforms usually also include multiple services like monitoring, load balancing and clustering, and storage capabilities such as backup, replication, and recovery.

IaaS is an alternative to Private Data Centers

An IaaS environment is an alternative to running a private data center. Modern businesses increasingly do not want to invest in and manage servers, storage, and networking for private data centers for a number of reasons, notably cost. Building a private data center is extremely expensive. However, renting the infrastructure from a major cloud service provider reduces logistical and financial barriers to entering new markets without being constrained by IT resources. 

Benefits of IaaS

If your organization’s IT resources are provided by an on-premise data center, switching to an IaaS replaces high costs for equipment and personnel with an easy-to-manage and much more affordable cloud services model. In particular, IaaS scales infrastructure components up and down with demand and avoids the difficulties of over-provisioning endemic to on-premise systems. 

Who Uses IaaS

IaaS, unlike its close cousin PaaS, is not aimed at application developers, but rather at IT Operations professionals. An IaaS is a service providing the most fundamental layer of cloud services including compute, storage, and networking services. 

IaaS platforms provide IT professionals with a robust computing infrastructure. But IT staff must select, configure and monitor the platform components that they want to use. There is considerable overhead to getting started with an IaaS, but these systems are highly configurable, providing administrators with granular control over servers, storage, and networking services. 

Is IaaS for Everyone?

Renting a computing infrastructure makes sense for companies that are already somewhat invested in cloud computing. IaaS is really a rental option providing computing, storage, and networking capabilities at relatively low cost. An IaaS removes the risk and expense of building in in-house data center while also providing flexibility to scale up and down at will. 

However, highly-regulated companies subject to numerous compliance regulations often feel that cloud computing platforms like IaaS are inappropriate for their industries due to security concerns. A recent study reports that 77 percent of respondents said cloud security is a challenge

But cloud experts argue that the cloud is actually more secure than on-premise data centers. After all, cloud vendors spend more money on securing their data centers than most organizations could ever spend, and they tend to employ the most highly trained IT security professionals in the world. Increasingly, cloud computing, and specifically IaaS technology, makes sense for companies of all sizes who just want to focus on their core competency and not on running a data center.

Examples of Iaas Platforms

There are a large number of available choices, but the market is dominated by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. See the TrustRadius article “Iaas: Looking Beyond the Big Two” for an analysis of the potential advantages of using a niche platform. The following products are among the better-known platforms. Reading reviews of these products on TrustRadius can provide a comprehensive understanding of the most appropriate use case, and the pros and cons of each product.

About the Author

Alan Cooke, Researcher at TrustRadius
Alan Cooke
Alan attended the University College Dublin where he received his BA and MA in English Literature and Philosophy and he received his MBA from HEC Paris. He has held many roles at various companies including Director of Product Management at HP, Dazel, Inquisite, and Convio. His research interests both at work and outside of work include complex, technical topics (ironically).

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