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What Is IaaS?

Ryan Goodrich, Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 20, 2022

IaaS, or infrastructure as a service, is a cloud computing model that provides access to computer hardware in a cloud-based environment. Learn how to use it in your business.

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a computing model that allows businesses to access computer hardware in the cloud.
  • IaaS is similar technology to SaaS and PaaS, but it’s a broader solution for businesses, granting access to a private cloud and virtualized network.
  • Using IaaS for your company can help you reduce costs and increase flexibility to grow your business and scale technologies more quickly.
  • This article is for business owners who are looking to use cloud computing to house their companies’ infrastructure.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) enables companies to effectively rent a computerized infrastructure from a remote location, supporting their technological needs without extensive investment. Such product offerings include virtual servers, network connections and load balancers.

As businesses become more technologically advanced, many are adopting an IaaS model for their infrastructure. While it can be a daunting task to outsource, having your company’s infrastructure in an IaaS can actually reduce costs and increase flexibility.

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a cloud computing model that provides access to computer hardware in a cloud-based environment. The main appeal of any cloud computing service is the virtualized hardware and software. The hardware resources in IaaS are pulled from multiple servers and networks located across multiple offsite data centers, and maintained independently of your company. You simply pay a monthly fee to use these resources as needed internally, and the cloud host is responsible for the ongoing care of the hardware and virtualized services.

IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS

IaaS provides services for creating an effective business infrastructure in the form of server and network resources, allowing for the availability of a private cloud and virtualized local network. PaaS (platform as a service) caters to software developers, providing a platform and environments in which they can build applications and similar services over the internet. SaaS, or software as a service, offers a combination of IaaS and PaaS, granting access to a software application over the internet. Each of these solutions caters to a different type of consumer, whether they need hardware or software resources for specific tasks.

TipTip: Cloud computing is constantly growing and changing, just like your business needs. Read about Google’s Cloud Certifications to understand what qualifications you could have for your career.

The benefits of IaaS

IaaS caters to the same consumer mentality as PaaS and SaaS, in that you can use these services as cost-effective and easily scalable methods of creating IT solutions. The complexities and expenses associated with an IT infrastructure are considerable, but they are easily overcome through a cloud provider. For example, if your business needs to grow quickly with operational fluctuations, you can tap into cloud resources as needed rather than purchasing, installing, and integrating new hardware internally. [Related: Small Business Guide to Cloud Computing]

The capabilities of IaaS are quite numerous, offering the following solutions.

  • Enterprise-level infrastructure: IaaS establishes an internal business network in the form of a private cloud and virtual local networks, utilizing a pooled server to store company data and run the needed applications each day. This basic structure allows for easy business expansion while still providing necessary data protection in a cloud setting.
  • Cloud hosting: Rather than storing hardware within your business facilities, you can host your websites and virtual servers through a pooled collection of physical servers elsewhere. This provides the huge benefits of security redundancies and on-demand scalability.
  • Virtual data centers: A virtualized network of interconnected servers enhances your business’s hosting capabilities, creating an ideal environment for a public or private cloud.

The infrastructure you create through IaaS can significantly cut down on expenses and your personnel requirements in various ways, thanks to the following additional benefits.

  • Scalability: When a business experiences significant growth, it typically needs to purchase new equipment, install and implement it, and train employees in its use. IaaS cuts out the first two steps, providing immediately available resources for easy growth.
  • No hardware investment: Much of the expense associated with a comprehensive IT solution is computer hardware. Rather than spending thousands on servers that might break at any moment, when you invest in a cloud hosting solution, you remove the risk of hardware failure and the need for ongoing maintenance.
  • Utility-style cost: With IaaS, rather than paying for hardware in its entirety and not utilizing it fully, you pay only for the resources you actually use, saving your business money over the long term.
  • Independent location: In the event of a power outage at your place of business, in-house servers can become quite problematic, as they’re suddenly unavailable to any consumers who use them. Housing your server resources in an independent location ensures your servers’ continued operation.
  • Hardware security: Services available through cloud hosts have secure data centers with multiple physical security measures.
  • No single point of failure: Thanks to the redundant nature of cloud hosts, if one server or network switch were to fail, the data center would be unaffected; it would naturally reroute activity through its numerous hardware resources. Even if an entire data center failed, the host would have secondary and tertiary centers to ensure continued online function.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: When you need to store and access massive amounts of company data, cloud data services like IaaS are a cost-effective alternative to setting up and running a data center. Learn the differences between cloud data hosting and a traditional data center.

IaaS providers

IaaS typically follows a pay-as-you-go model, allowing you to determine how much your business can afford each month or how many resources you actually need. Amazon Web Services, InterVision Hosted IaaS, and IBM are some prominent IaaS solutions, offering high efficiency at low monthly rates, but there are hundreds of other providers to choose from – all with their own benefits and offerings. Others you might consider are DigitalOcean, Google Compute Engine and Linode.

  • Amazon Web Services: Amazon’s digital infrastructure services are used by thousands of businesses across 190 countries. AWS was one of the first to offer a pay-as-you-go model for cloud computing, which allows for high flexibility as your business expands.
  • InterVision Hosted IaaS: Formerly known as Bluelock, InterVision Hosted IaaS offers a wide range of technology to complement the cloud computing service. This means you can easily create an entire compatible computer system right off the bat.
  • IBM: As another full-service cloud platform, IBM offers a completely scalable IaaS system for companies big and small.
  • DigitalOcean: This is a relatively new player in the IaaS world, but it has quickly risen to prominence among the hundreds of options. The company’s mindset is to make the digital infrastructure as simple as possible for developers to launch and scale.
  • Google Compute Engine: The biggest strength of Google’s IaaS is its speed. Processing data at these unmatched rates will make your network’s performance noticeably better.
  • Linode: Like IBM and AWS, Linode has been around for nearly as long as IaaS has existed. It is a highly rated and reliable option with a range of customizable packages to make sure your business has exactly what it needs.

David Cotriss contributed to the writing and research in this article.

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RossHelen / Getty Images