If you’re familiar with the world of cloud computing, you’ve probably heard of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). IaaS is one of the most common cloud computing services, promising to make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to manage their computing resources.
But what exactly is IaaS, and how does it fit into a cloud computing model? Keep reading to learn more about IaaS, including its use cases, its advantages and disadvantages, and how it compares to PaaS and SaaS.
What is cloud computing?
First, let’s go over the basics. Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing resources, such as storage, databases, software and analytics, using the internet. Instead of owning the IT hardware themselves (e.g. servers and databases), individuals can access hardware as needed on a pay-as-you-go basis via cloud servers.
Cloud computing has become hugely popular due to the many benefits its offers. The ability to only pay for what you need offers huge cost savings, and since you can easily add or remove services as needed, you can benefit from increased agility, flexibility and scalability.
The three most main types of cloud computing services are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Let’s discuss IaaS in more detail below.
What is IaaS?
IaaS provides you with the basic building blocks of your cloud computing environment. IaaS delivers essential storage, compute and networking resources on demand and on a pay-as-you-go basis via the cloud. This eliminates the need for businesses to have their own IT infrastructure such as servers and data centres.
The main benefit of IaaS is that capital expenditure is reduced when businesses no longer need to supply their own IT hardware. Plus, due to the on demand nature of the service, businesses can easily scale up their resources to deal with abnormally high workloads, and then scale them down again when they’re no longer needed to save money.
Your IaaS provider will manage your servers, hardware and data storage for you while you remain in control of your software, operating system (OS) and applications. As a result, IaaS provides the lowest degree of vendor management out of the three main types of cloud computing, making it very attractive to those who want the flexibility of cloud computing but need more control or customised solutions for their projects.
Public vs private cloud
With IaaS, you can choose a public, private or hybrid cloud model. A public cloud service means that your compute, network and storage resources are made available over the public Internet. As the cloud is public, it’s open to anyone. Public cloud services are usually cheaper than other services, making them an appealing option for small businesses.
However, if you have greater security requirements, public cloud may not be the best choice for you. Instead, you may prefer a private cloud, which is dedicated to one user or organisation. This virtual isolation from other users can boost security and data privacy, and since you have your own dedicated resources, you don’t have to worry about other users taking up more than their fair share and slowing you down. Naturally, private cloud is more expensive because you’re paying for the privilege of having dedicated resources and complete isolation from other users.
A great in-between option is hybrid cloud, which combines aspects of public and private clouds. Hybrid cloud is a mixed computing environment where applications are run using resources in different environments, including public clouds, private clouds and on-premises data centres. This means you can migrate workloads across different environments and setups according to your needs. In addition to this flexibility, you can benefit from increased reliability because the use of multiple environments guarantees the stability of workflows, even if one location runs into issues.
IaaS use cases
So, which business scenarios is most suited to the use of IaaS?
Smaller businesses are typically drawn to IaaS due to the cost savings involved in not having to buy and maintain your own IT hardware. Plus, getting rid of IT hardware means you won’t have to spend as much time on training your IT teams or maintaining hardware, as all hardware maintenance and resource management is taken care of by the IaaS provider.
Businesses that are experiencing rapid growth (such as startups) are also drawn to IaaS. This is because using virtualised resources rather than maintaining your own hardware will allow you to add and remove resources as needed, enabling you to rapidly scale without having to worry about modifying IT infrastructure.
Here are some other use cases that are particularly suited to IaaS:
1. Dev and test environments
Due to the agility of IaaS, your dev teams can rapidly set up and dismantle testing environments as needed. This will help you bring new applications to market faster.
2. Data storage and backup
Since you don’t have to maintain databases and storage hardware yourself, you can easily scale up your resources to handle growing storage needs and periods of high demand. Plus, with IaaS, you can easily manage your backup systems to ensure that your data is always secure.
3. High-performance computing
The flexibility and agility of IaaS make it ideal for high-performance computing scenarios, such as financial modelling and simulations. If you work with complex problems, IaaS may be the perfect solution for you.
4. Web applications
Your IaaS provider will deliver all of the infrastructure and resources you need to support web apps, with the ability to quickly deploy them when you need. As demand fluctuates, you can scale resources up and down.
IaaS, PaaS, SaaS – what’s the difference?
As mentioned earlier, IaaS is only one of three major cloud computing services. In addition to IaaS, you can also take advantage of PaaS and SaaS, but what’s the difference between all of these types of cloud computing?
IaaS is regarded as the basic foundation for cloud IT. The cloud provider will deliver all of the network, compute and storage resources you need, which means you won’t have to buy or maintain your own IT hardware (such as servers or data centres). IaaS involves the least vendor management as you’re still in charge of your own software, OS, middleware and applications.
Overall, IaaS will give you the building blocks for creating a cloud-based application. For the actual dev work, you can use PaaS, and if you want to access a ready-made software solution, you’ll want SaaS.
- Microsoft Azure
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Compute Engine (GCE)
- Oracle Cloud
- IBM Cloud
- Digital Ocean
PaaS is used for the development and deployment of cloud-based applications. PaaS delivers infrastructure like IaaS, but it also provides middleware, development tools, database management systems and more. These tools can support the whole web app cycle, including building, testing, deploying, managing and updating your app.
As demonstrated, PaaS comes with a greater amount of vendor management as more tools and systems are supplied. This can save you a lot of time, helping you focus on the development of your apps and services.
- SAP Cloud
- Google App Engine
- Microsoft Azure
- Apache Stratos
- AWS Lambda
Finally, with the greatest amount of vendor management, we have SaaS. This is a cloud-based software delivery model whereby end users can access software applications over the internet. With SaaS, you rent the software on a subscription basis and access it via your web browser, eliminating the need for installation. Plus, the vendor will handle all software maintenance and updates, so all you have to do is pay for your subscription and access your software whenever you need it.
- Google Workspace
- Microsoft Office 365
Advantages of IaaS
Why is IaaS so popular? Now that we know more about IaaS and how it’s different from PaaS and SaaS, let’s go through the main reasons why businesses rely on IaaS for their IT infrastructure.
1. Cost reduction
When searching for new business solutions, the service that delivers the most for the best price will always be in favour. By eliminating the need for businesses to buy and maintain their own IT hardware, IaaS can significantly reduce capital expenditure. Plus, with pay-as-you-go billing, you only pay for what you use, reducing overall costs.
Due to the lack of vendor management, IaaS offers the most flexibility out of the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS cloud computing services. You’re free to manage your own OS, software, middleware and applications, allowing you to have full control over your business outside of resource provision.
3. Increased scalability
Since you’re renting resources as needed, you can quickly and easily scale up and down to accommodate different workloads. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed during busy periods and overpaying for extra resources at quieter times. This is especially useful for fast-growing businesses, as you’ll be able to scale your resources to support your business at all times.
4. Increased performance
Thanks to this scalability, you’ll have the performance you need to take on any spike in workload. You’ll be able to deliver resources faster than ever before to support your teams and grow your business.
5. Increased stability
It’s your provider’s responsibility to perform hardware maintenance, troubleshoot issues and ensure that your infrastructure meets service-level agreements (SLAs). This gives you an incredibly reliable and stable IT infrastructure that you don’t even have to manage yourself.
6. Improved security
Thanks to these SLAs, your provider is committed to ensuring the security of your infrastructure against potential attacks and breaches. Often, the security they provide can be better than the measures you implement in-house. Plus, if you need extra privacy and security, you can opt for private cloud IaaS to isolate your infrastructure from other organisations.
7. More control
IaaS providers manage your IT infrastructure, but you retain control over everything else. This means you can install your own software, OS and applications and scale your resources up and down whenever you wish.
Disadvantages of IaaS
Of course, IaaS isn’t perfect for everyone. Before you decide whether IaaS is right for you, have a look at some drawbacks that can be found with this cloud computing service.
1. More training and expertise required
Less vendor management can be positive or negative depending on your needs. Although IaaS gives you more control, you’ll also have more responsibility for managing your software and applications. This can be time-consuming, especially if you need to train your staff to deal with the new systems.
2. Process changes
Switching to IaaS could cause difficulties with some of your legacy systems if they don’t integrate well with the new infrastructure. These systems may need to be updated before you move over to IaaS, which can be difficult and time-consuming.
3. Possible security risks
Although IaaS can improve security if your provider implements robust security measures (such as firewalls, encryption and multi-factor authentication), it can also compromise security in some cases. In particular, if you use a multi-tenant environment like a public cloud, you could be vulnerable to cyber attacks and a lack of data privacy. Also, since you’re still in control of your software, OS and apps, you’ll ultimately be responsible for mitigating security threats in these areas.
4. Vendor lock-in
Once you’ve switched to one IaaS provider, you may find it difficult to move to another one as this could cause issues for your infrastructure. This can make IaaS less flexible than it appears, as you may be over-dependent on one provider.
Interested in cloud computing? Contact Fasthosts now to learn more about our cloud hosting services. Our cloud servers come with super-fast speeds, low latency, full root access and down-to-the-minute billing, giving you all the flexibility and scalability you need.