What is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) | Companies, Examples


Infrastructure as a Service

Cloud computing is becoming much popular due to many of its advantages like high performance, distributed computing, high security, pay per use modules etc.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which is one of the major types of cloud computing Services alongside software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), is the delivery of hardware (server, storage and network), and associated software (operating systems virtualization technology, file system), as a service. It is an evolution of traditional hosting that does not require any long term commitment and allows users to provision resources on demand.


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is the capability provided to the consumer to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer can deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure, but has control over operating systems, storage and deployed applications; and possibly limited control to select networking components (e.g., host firewalls).

Infrastructure as a Service Architecture

How does IaaS work?

In an IaaS service model, a cloud provider hosts the infrastructure components that are traditionally present in an on-premises data center. This includes servers, storage and networking hardware, as well as the virtualization or hypervisor layer.

Infrastructure as a Service Architecture

IaaS providers also supply a range of services to accompany those infrastructure components. These can include the following:

  • detailed billing
  • monitoring
  • log access
  • security
  • load balancing
  • clustering
  • storage resiliency, such as backup, replication and recovery.

These services are increasingly policy-driven, enabling IaaS users to implement greater levels of automation for important infrastructure tasks. For example, a user can implement policies to drive load balancing to maintain application availability and performance.

IaaS customers access resources and services through a wide area network (WAN), such as the internet, and can use the cloud provider’s services to install the remaining elements of an application stack. For example, the user can log in to the IaaS platform to create virtual machines (VMs), install operating systems in each VM, deploy middleware, such as databases, create storage buckets for workloads and backups, and install the enterprise workload into that VM. Customers can then use the provider’s services to track costs, monitor performance, balance network traffic, troubleshoot application issues and manage disaster recovery.

Any cloud computing model requires the participation of a provider. The provider is often a third-party organization that specializes in selling IaaS. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are examples of independent IaaS providers. A business might also opt to deploy a private cloud, becoming its own provider of infrastructure services.

What is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) | Companies, Examples

Characteristics of Infrastructure as a Service

The characteristics of IaaS include;

  • Automated administrative tasks
  • Dynamic scaling
  • Platform virtualization technology
  • GUI and API-based access
  • Internet connectivity

Advantages of IaaS in Cloud Computing

Companies choose IaaS because it is most times more effective, faster, easier and cheaper.

Below are the advantages and benefits of infrastructure as a service:

Saves Money

Savings are possible from IaaS today, but competition among IaaS providers means prices will continue to drop while performance levels go up, making IaaS the economical choice for the most critical enterprise workloads in the future.

Pay for what you Use

Fees are based on compute instances, storage requirements or other usage-based metric (days, minutes, hours), minimizing overpayment for unused resources.

Reduce Capital Expenditures

Typically, Infrastructure as a Service is a monthly operational expense (opex) paid during the period of usage, rather than a large capital expense (capex) paid upfront.

Dynamically Scalable

IaaS is elastic and can dynamically scale to meet the needs of the workload. Rapidly add capacity in peak times; scale down during off-peak times.

Increase Security

In an interconnected world, on-premises IT systems are not as safe as they may appear. Cloud computing infrastructure as a service providers invest heavily in cloud security technology and expertise and are especially focused at reducing security attacks to the barest minimum.

Future Proof

Outsourcing computing resources means access to state-of-the art data center, hardware and operating systems since the responsibility to maintain and upgrade falls to the IaaS provider.

Self Service Provisioning

Access your computing infrastructure via a simple Internet connection anytime, anywhere.

Reallocate IT Resources

The responsibility for routine server maintenance tasks shift to the IaaS provider, freeing-up IT staff time for higher value projects.

Reduce Downtime

IaaS enables instant recovery from natural or manmade outages and ensures business continuity instead of expensive downtime.

Boost Speed and Agility

Rather than waiting hours, days or weeks for in-house computing resources to become available, developers can immediately begin projects once IaaS machines are provisioned.

Enable Innovation

Add new capabilities, leverage APIs, free up IT staff time from routine IT maintenance to focus on innovation.

Level the Playing Field

IaaS expands the depth and breadth of technology available to small and medium businesses (SMBs), allowing them to compete with much larger frms.

Infrastructure as a Service Challenges and Risks

In as much as there are many benefts to using IaaS in your company, there are also challenges and risks. Some of these challenges can be overcame with advanced preparation, where as others are persistent risks and your organization have to put them in consideration when making a choice of a cloud computing software.

These challenges are:

Unexpected Costs

Over time, monthly IaaS fees add up and may exceed a one-time on-premises IT investment. Plus, integration or peak usage may drive total costs higher than expected.

Process / Policy Changes

IaaS may require changes to processes and policies, workfows and even the employee mindset.

Runaway Inventory

An emerging issue with IaaS is lack of central oversight, so instances are deployed but not taken down, leading to unnecessary costs.

Lack of Real-Time Support

IaaS softwares are built and scale around the concept of self-service, but when you need live help, sometimes it’s hard to come by.

Complex Integration

Cloud services will definitely need to interact with other systems or applications. Integration can be a signifcant challenge.

Security Risks

In as much as elements of security may improve in a cloud environment, other new vulnerabilities may emerge around the loss of direct control to the cloud provider.

Limited Customization

Public cloud services by defnition are shared among many users. While this offers effciency, it limits control and the ability to customize the solution.

Vendor Lock-In

How easy is it to move from one IaaS provider to another or back to an on-premises system? New tools make this easier, but it may still be challenging depending on the provider.

Internet Dependency

IaaS is only as good as the speed and reliability of the Internet connection, making network selection a critical decision.

No Uptime Guarantees

While IaaS provider reliability is high overall, even the largest of cloud infrastructure service providers has experienced downtime.

Confusing SLAs

Service level agreements (SLAs) aka, the fne print, make it diffcult to understand performance levels and penalties for non-performance.

Infrastructure as a Service Examples and Products

Business Networks

In a business network, a pooled server and networking resources which use a business will store information and run applications. Increasing businesses will scale their infrastructure in accordance with growth.

Cloud Hosting

In cloud hosting the internet sites host on virtual servers that support upon pool resources from underlying physical servers.

Virtual Data Center

There is a virtualized network of connected servers which will improve cloud hosting capabilities, enterprise IT infrastructure or integrate operations.

There are also many other smaller, or more niche products in the IaaS marketplace which includes;

  • Rackspace Managed Cloud
  • IBM Cloud Private
  • IBM Cloud Virtual Servers
  • CenturyLink Cloud
  • DigitalOcean Droplets
  • Alibaba Elastic Compute Service
  • Alibaba Cloud Elastic High Performance Computing (E-HPC)
  • Alibaba Elastic GPU Service (EGS).

Companies will need to carefully consider the services, reliability and costs before choosing a provider.

Also organisations should be ready to select an alternate provider and to redeploy to the alternate infrastructure if necessary.


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a good model for workloads that are temporary, experimental or that which amend unexpectedly. For instance, if a business is developing a new software product, it would be more cost effective to host and test the application using an IaaS provider. Once the new code tested and refined, the business will take away it from the IaaS surroundings for a more traditional, in-house deployment. Conversely, the business may commit that piece of code to a long Infrastructure as a service deployment, wherever the price of a long commitment is also less.

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