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What is Infrastructure as a Service?

 , March 20, 2018
Infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, is a class of computing infrastructure designed for cloud scale such that many physical computing devices can be used as a single resource that can be quickly scaled up and down. This is typically priced on a utility model whereby customers pay for what they use with finely grained billing. Infrastructure as a service providers manage data centers, network services, virtualization and computing hardware for customers. They may also provide a series of applications and systems for deploying, managing and operating cloud infrastructure.

Iaas vs Cloud Infrastructure

IaaS is cloud infrastructure that is sold to customers or provided as a service to internal clients. Cloud infrastructure implies an ability to scale up and down quickly to use many physical resources to provide a single service. Common elements of cloud infrastructure include computing instances, load balancers, firewalls, attached storage, storage services, cloud databases, batch processing platforms, messaging platforms, identity & access management, key management, monitoring and infrastructure management tools.

IaaS vs Cloud

IaaS is the foundation of cloud computing. All cloud-based software, services and platforms are based on cloud infrastructure such as IaaS.

IaaS vs PaaS

Platform as a service, or PaaS, are rich environments for developing and deploying services, systems, applications and analysis to the cloud. They typically provide abstractions so that developers don't need to worry about low level infrastructure realities such as configuring computing instances and load balancers. PaaS is typically built on top of IaaS.

IaaS vs SaaS

Software as a service, or SaaS, are software systems and applications that are fully hosted, managed, operated and supported by the vendor. The term implies the use of cloud infrastructure such as IaaS. SaaS provides fully functional software such as a customer relationship management tool, IaaS provides basic infrastructure for building your own cloud-based software.

IaaS vs Hosting

Hosting is the rental of virtual machines and dedicated servers. It is often based on a contract that may require commitments such as a 35 day notice period and payment upfront for the first month of service. This is a very different pricing model from IaaS that allows customers to pay only for what they have used. The traditional hosting pricing model does not lend itself to quickly scaling up and down and is more suitable for customers with predictable needs that can be planned on a yearly basis. Hosting plans may offer stable pricing such as unlimited bandwidth that many customers value. IaaS provides services such as cloud databases and auto scaling that are required to build cloud-based software and services. Traditional hosting does not provide such cloud infrastructure services.

IaaS vs On-premise

On-premise is the practice of managing your own hardware. IaaS is a cloud infrastructure service that is offered to customers. Many vendors in the IaaS space are large, mature organizations with extensive resources and capabilities that are difficult for a customer to match with its internal IT resources. Large, sophisticated organizations such as banks may operate their own data centers and view this as a competitive advantage in areas such as information security. Small firms may operate server rooms that aren't typically as reliable as a data center. IT departments traditionally view controlling hardware resources in a private location as beneficial to security. IaaS vendors have made significant progress in defeating this perception by offering services such as virtual private cloud, encryption key management and identity & access management.
Overview: Infrastructure as a Service
DefinitionA class of computing infrastructure designed for cloud scale such that many physical computing devices can be used as a single resource that can be quickly scaled up and down.
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