Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is one of the three main components of cloud computing services (the other two being software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). In an IaaS model, a cloud provider hosts the infrastructure components that conventionally exist in an on-premises data center, including networking and storage hardware, servers and even the virtualization/hypervisor layer—a virtual machine monitor (VMM) that enables various virtual operating systems to run concurrently on a computer system.
In addition to the actual infrastructure components, a variety of additional services are also supplied by the IaaS provider. These services, such as monitoring, log access, detailed billing, load clustering and balancing, and storage resiliency services such as replication, backup and recovery, are progressively becoming policy-driven, allowing IaaS customers to support vital infrastructure tasks by leveraging superior levels of automation and orchestration.
Accessing resources and services through a WAN (wide area network) such as the Internet, IaaS customers can leverage the cloud provider’s services to install the outstanding elements of an application stack. A customer can, for instance, log into their IaaS platform and create virtual machines (VM) and install operating systems in each of the VMs; they can then deploy middleware (software that connects computers and devices to other applications), create storage buckets for workloads and/or backups, and install the enterprise workload into the virtual machines. Then, using the provider’s services, the customer is able to track costs, monitor performance, troubleshoot application problems, balance network traffic, and manage disaster recovery.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are examples of independent IaaS providers; a cloud computing model needs the participation of a provider, who is typically a third-party company that specializes in selling IaaS.
Advantages of IaaS
IaaS customers are generally billed on a pay-per-use basis—normally by the hour, week or month; alternatively, some providers charge their customers based on the quantity of virtual machine space they employ. Either way, the SaaS model eliminates the capital expense of utilizing in-house software and hardware.
IaaS provides organizations with the opportunity to simply rent or lease infrastructure from another business as a faster, simpler and more cost-efficient way to manage a workload without needing to buy, manage and support the required infrastructure themselves.
For short-term, experimental workloads or those that suddenly change, IaaS is an effective model. A business that is developing a new app, for example, might find it more advantageous to host and test the application using an IaaS provider. The business can then choose to remove the app from the IaaS environment once it has been sufficiently tested and refined and place it in a more traditional, in-house deployment. On the other hand, the business may choose to keep the app in a more traditional, in-house deployment long-term, in hopes of mitigating long term costs.
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