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What is IaaS?

(IaaS) is one of the three fundamental service models of cloud computing alongside Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). As with all cloud computing services it provides access to computing resource in a virtualized environment, “the Cloud”, across a public connection, usually the internet. In the case of IaaS the computing resource provided is specifically that of virtualized hardware, in other words, computing infrastructure. The definition includes such offerings as virtual server space, network connections, bandwidth, IP addresses and load balancers. Physically, the pool of hardware resource is pulled from a multitude of servers and networks usually distributed across numerous data centers, all of which the cloud provider is responsible for maintaining. The client, on the other hand, is given access to the virtualized components in order to build their own IT platforms.

In common with the other two forms of cloud hosting, IaaS can be utilized by enterprise customers to create cost effective and easily scalable IT solutions where the complexities and expenses of managing the underlying hardware are outsourced to the cloud provider. If the scale of a business customer’s operations fluctuate, or they are looking to expand, they can tap into the cloud resource as and when they need it rather than purchase, install and integrate hardware themselves

The following are salient examples of how IaaS can be utilized by enterprise:

  • Enterprise infrastructure; by internal business networks, such as private clouds and virtual local area networks, which utilize pooled server and networking resources and in which a business can store their data and run the applications they need to operate day-to-day. Expanding businesses can scale their infrastructure in accordance with their growth whilst private clouds (accessible only by the business itself) can protect the storage and transfer of the sensitive data that some businesses are required to handle.
  • Cloud hosting; the hosting of websites on virtual servers which are founded upon pooled resources from underlying physical servers. A website hosted in the cloud, for example, can benefit from the redundancy provided by a vast network of physical servers and on demand scalability to deal with unexpected demands placed on the website.
  • Virtual Data Centers (VDC); a virtualized network of interconnected virtual servers which can be used to offer enhanced cloud hosting capabilities, enterprise IT infrastructure or to integrate all of these operations within either a private or public cloud implementation.

A typical Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering can deliver the following features and benefits:

  • Scalability; resource is available as and when the client needs it and, therefore, there are no delays in expanding capacity or the wastage of unused capacity.

  • No investment in hardware; the underlying physical hardware that supports an IaaS service is set up and maintained by the cloud provider, saving the time and cost of doing so on the client side.

  • Eliminates capital expense and reduces ongoing cost; IaaS avoids the upfront expense of setting up and managing an on-site datacenter and the associated infrastructure, making it an economical option for environments with limited IT resources or CAPEX.

  • Improves business continuity and disaster recovery; Achieving high availability, business continuity, and disaster recovery is challenging and expensive, since it requires a significant amount of technology and staff. IaaS can reduce this cost and effort needed to put an business continuity solution in place for organizations of all sizes.

  • Respond quicker to shifting business conditions; IaaS resources can be quickly scale up to accommodate spikes in demand (e.g. new product introductions) —then scale resources back down again when activity decreases to save money.

  • Location independence; the service can usually be accessed from any location as long as there is an internet connection and the security protocol of the cloud allows it.

  • Physical security of data center locations; services available through a public cloud, or private clouds hosted externally with the cloud provider, benefit from the physical security afforded to the servers which are hosted within a data center.


IaaS helps to avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing physical servers and other datacenter infrastructure. Each IaaS resource is offered as a separate service component, so companies have the flexibility to rent what they need for as long as needed. The cloud computing service provider manages the infrastructure, freeing up the customer to focus on their organization’s core business rather than on IT infrastructure.

Adoption of IaaS will continue to grow in the enterprise market over time as companies continue to globalize operations and seek to “do more with less”.



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  • This article is from the Interoute web site (http://www.interoute.com/cloud-article/what-cloud-computing). Interoute is an international telecommunications service provider and the owner operator of Europe's largest cloud services platform (www.interroute.com).


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