Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

What is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) makes centrally managed cloud, compute, storage, and networking resources available on demand for rapid provisioning in a virtualized environment. 

Instead of traditional on-premises infrastructure, IaaS is hosted on public and private clouds, centrally managed by a service provider and made available to customers as needed. Browser-based management consoles and APIs allow customers to access the virtual resources they need, when they need them. Customers only pay for the resources they actually use, and they can scale up or down rapidly to meet shifting demands.

IaaS providers manage and maintain large physical data centers located strategically all over the world. The compute, storage, and networking resources of these data centers are then virtualized and made available to customers as a service on a pay-per-use basis, enabling them to run applications and workloads in the cloud.

How does IaaS work?

Most businesses have long been comfortable with conventional network infrastructure, consisting of traditional servers and storage installed in a server closet or data center. These assets were configured and maintained by in-house IT staff.

With Infrastructure as a Service, customers utilize network resources made available online by a service provider. Customers are able to select and configure the infrastructure they need using a virtual dashboard interface or hypervisor and can increase or decrease their level of resource utilization to meet changing workloads, using only what they need and paying as they go.

Additional services offered by infrastructure providers can include activity logs, process monitoring, clustering, load balancing, itemized billing, and more.

What is IaaS architecture?

Containers offer developers many advantages because of their:

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Compute

General purpose processing and compute resources can include high-speed graphics processing (GPU) for machine learning and artificial intelligence or high performance computing (HPC) for raw processing power, depending on workload requirements.

Storage

An obvious and essential resource that scales to meet a wide range of customer requirements. Object storage is frequently used for images, documents and other general data, making it the most common type of storage for IaaS. Block and file storage are also available for specific projects as needed.

Network

Conventional networking infrastructure such as routers and switches are organized and assigned programmatically, connecting compute and storage into virtual machines. Complex applications can involve virtual private clouds across multiple geographical regions.

How does IaaS work?

Most businesses have long been comfortable with conventional network infrastructure, consisting of traditional servers and storage installed in a server closet or data center. These assets were configured and maintained by in-house IT staff.

With Infrastructure as a Service, customers utilize network resources made available online by a service provider. Customers are able to select and configure the infrastructure they need using a virtual dashboard interface or hypervisor and can increase or decrease their level of resource utilization to meet changing workloads, using only what they need and paying as they go.

Additional services offered by infrastructure providers can include activity logs, process monitoring, clustering, load balancing, itemized billing, and more.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of IaaS?

Advantages

Infrastructure as a Service offers multiple benefits for enterprises that want to optimize their IT expenditures.

  • Scalability: Compute, storage, and networking resources are apportioned on demand. Users only pay for the resources they currently need. When demand spikes, you can adapt rapidly to deploy new resources, and when workloads subside, you don't have to sustain infrastructure that you aren't currently using.
  • Flexibility: Maintaining IT infrastructure on-premises requires in-house expertise and ongoing support costs. Expanding or reconfiguring a data center to meet new demands is expensive and slow, requiring weeks or months of installation, while virtual resources can be delivered anywhere in the world within hours or even minutes.
  • Stability: Cloud-based resources are protected from service interruptions and outages that can affect on-premises hardware. Most providers ensure high availability and security according to the terms of the service level agreement. Business continuity and disaster recovery are also part of the service.

Disadvantages

Despite the considerable advantages of IaaS in terms of flexibility, stability, and efficiency, there are some circumstances where it may not be the best approach.

  • Cost: Despite the virtues of pay-as-you-go pricing, some businesses are reluctant to commit IT spending without physical assets to show for it. Itemized billing and costs associated with IaaS can be higher than anticipated, especially during temporary spikes in demand.
  • Control: Because service providers own the infrastructure, customers do not have the same visibility into day-to-day administration, configuration, and performance details as they might be accustomed to for assets under their direct control.
  • Sovereignty: Businesses that are required to maintain physical custody and accountability over their data and compute resources are limited in their ability to use cloud-based resources.

How is IaaS used?

Cloud-based compute, storage, and networking resources delivered via Infrastructure as a Service can fulfill virtually every use case that conventional on-premises infrastructure does, with additional benefits for some applications:

  • DevOps: Testing and development activities frequently involve temporary surges in compute requirements. IaaS makes it easy to configure testing environments for specific applications and scale up or down as needed.
  • HPC: High performance computing functions such as complex financial, scientific, and environmental simulations require massive processing power to handle millions of variables and calculations, which can be considerably more affordable when consumed as a service.
  • Big data analytics: Storing, analyzing, and utilizing large volumes of data means continuously expanding data storage and uninterrupted processing power. IaaS makes it easy to keep up with these demands.
  • Digital transformation: Migrating applications and workloads from traditional infrastructure to the cloud can reduce latency and increase availability over a wider area, even worldwide, for superior user experiences.
  • Web applications: More than ever, businesses live or die by the quality and reliability of their customer-facing websites and Internet services, and IaaS can deliver the necessary resources to maintain a successful online presence.
  • Backup and recovery: On-premises infrastructure has always been vulnerable to local interruptions and natural disasters, while redundant offsite backups are complex and difficult for businesses to maintain independently. IaaS provides security and continuity for business-critical data and applications.

IaaS with HPE GreenLake

HPE GreenLake allows you to modernize your IT infrastructure by delivering public cloud services and Infrastructure as a Service for workloads on premises, fully managed in a pay-per-use model.

With HPE GreenLake Central, you get the cloud experience on premises and at the edge, while simplifying your IT with consistent cloud ops and automation, driving insights and control across your entire IT estate with a unified view.