IaaS, along with SaaS and PaaS, constitute the famous cloud computing stack. These are all the core cloud models that provide (or lease) some computing or networking resources on demand. Undoubtedly, IaaS itself is one of the crucial elements of this cloud computing trio.
The huge advantage of IaaS is that it gives IT departments and organizations they belong to the freedom to do their jobs and not worry too much about IT management that is taken care of by a third-party cloud provider.
Under this model, certain resources, including capacity, can be bought from cloud infrastructure services providers – which gives particular IT teams a fair amount of flexibility. On the other hand, they keep significant control because, still, they take charge of elements such as operating systems, and applications, as well as databases and their organization’s data.
There are many reasons why this type of cloud computing wins over more and more corporate clients. However, there are some downsides and drawbacks as well as challenges IaaS itself and its users have to face.
Table of contents:
1. IaaS – infrastructure as a Service in short
2. IaaS cloud – major advantages
3. IaaS model – some disadvantages
4. IaaS in cloud computing – basic challenges
5. Infrastructure as a Service – key takeaways
IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service in short
IaaS is a cloud computing model that implies that a third-party cloud service provider delivers and hosts the hardware or infrastructure components he owns – including servers, networking, storage, and operating systems – to the client. With storage and infrastructure management covered by IaaS providers, clients access operations or corporate applications remotely, via the cloud.
IBM simply defines IaaS as „on-demand access to cloud-hosted physical and virtual servers, storage and networking – the backend IT infrastructure for running applications and workloads in the cloud”.
IaaS use cases
Some of the major IaaS use cases include web-based and graphical apps, start-ups, e-commerce, as well as high-performance computers. All of them may get enhanced thanks to the cloud-based infrastructure – be it getting access, the deployment process, or performing massive calculations.
Some well-known IaaS providers
Out of the countless platforms, tools, and cloud providers out there, many can also be called IaaS providers. Some of the well-known IaaS vendors include DigitalOcean, GCP Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud, and Linode.
These cloud infrastructure providers offer access to various types of computing resources and cloud services, and can act as public, private, or hybrid cloud vendors. Services they sell embrace, for instance, logging and monitoring, load balancing, security, billing management, as well as backup, replication, and recovery.
IaaS cloud – major advantages
There are many reasons why cloud users praise the IaaS model, with making use of virtual services within the on-demand model topping the list. Avoiding the necessity to buy and maintain infrastructure is a starting point for many other benefits. These include:
- affordability – cost reduction, savings on infrastructure
- security enhancement compared to the in-house model, with all compliance certifications and attestations often granted
- time savings
- increased scalability
- improved responsiveness
- mishap and disaster recovery, with data being replicated and restored fast
- 24/7 support offered by many renowned IaaS providers
- high availability and comfort of use with (almost) no downtime
- employees’ performance increase
- no latency issues
- flexibility and adaptability to business needs due to the pay-as-you-go model (clients are usually billed by the hour, week, or month and per user)
Cost-effectiveness and ease of accessing IaaS, as well as the comfort of ongoing use and data backup seem to be especially attractive for many clients. Importantly, both test and development environments can make use of this cloud computing model.
On top of that, data centers are spread around the world. If, for some reason, you want to host your data in Switzerland, you can do it with AWS, Microsoft Azure, or GCP Google Cloud.
IaaS model – some disadvantages
Making use of the IaaS platform has many benefits but there are some disadvantages, too. They are mostly related to the dependency on the external or third-party vendors, responsible for delivering cloud computing infrastructure. This can be regarded as overdependence in some instances, and the latter may cause serious trouble at times.
These include, first and foremost, losing access to IaaS services – due to hardware issues on the provider side and servers going down, provider’s bankruptcy, but also because of the network bottlenecks or just common lack of broadband Internet connection.
Also, although the client’s data or applications are usually better protected than they would have been in-house, certain security issues may arise in this regard, too. Some sensitive data can be overly exposed to hackers, but things like infrastructure configuration are often not sufficiently transparent to the IaaS provider’s clients – to name but a few major IaaS weaknesses.
To summarize, IaaS cons include:
- dependency (or overdependence) on external vendors
- risk of losing access to IaaS services
- possibility of serious security issues
- IaaS providers’ lack of transparency
IaaS in cloud computing – basic challenges
The cloud shared responsibility model IaaS follows has its pros and cons but one of the main problems it entails is distinguishing between the provider’s and the client’s responsibilities. This line is sometimes difficult to draw, and what’s exactly in charge of both parties – hard to differentiate. Because agreements may be unclear, clients should do everything to leave no single issue open for interpretation, with all security layers clearly owned by a given side. This may be vital to creating a proper cloud security strategy.
The security of data storage, or data protection in general, is actually the basic area that may be challenging to both IaaS users and providers. There are many possible risks and mishaps, including misconfiguration, blocking data exfiltration, as well as some security issues with cloud email.
Another thing that may be somewhat challenging and time-consuming – especially for larger companies – is migrating data and aligning it to the IaaS model. For new companies, it’s not such a big deal, however, as they can start from scratch or they don’t have a lot of data that has to be moved, anyway. Interestingly, AWS allows clients to order the AWS Snowball – a suitcase that they can connect to their data center and clone their data there. If that’s not enough then they can even deliver the entire truck to copy over the client’s data.
But migration won’t happen in hours or even days, so clients should be prepared to run businesses in a hybrid environment for a certain time. And they’d better do the math before proceeding with migration.
In brief, some major IaaS challenges cover:
- defining the provider’s and the client’s responsibilities
- making contract clauses clear and unambiguous
- providing sufficient security measures for data storage and data protection
- making the migration to the IaaS model process run smoothly
Infrastructure as a Service – key takeaways
Making use of the underlying infrastructure someone else provides and takes care of can be a curse or a blessing. It's a blessing when everything is up and running, and a curse – if any disruption occurs. However, the impressive number of IaaS benefits makes Infrastructure as a Service in cloud computing chosen by more and more clients.
What’s also worth mentioning is the price of such a service which can be a significant amount in the organization’s budget. The best, world-renowned companies do provide cutting-edge solutions, but they often charge accordingly.
When choosing a particular billing model, it’s vital to only pay for computing resources that are actually needed, with a possibility to expand whenever further requirements occur, e.g. a given business scales quickly.
The scope of services or stack of components provided should be clearly stated in a mutual agreement. As no IaaS vendor provides everything possible and available in the market, it’s a matter of choosing the package that is the closest to what the client wishes to achieve.
Indeed, leasing some computing resources may be a little problematic for clients at times, making them consider choosing the on-premises model alternatively. Of course, the IaaS model has already been with us for a decade, constituting a vital part of the cloud computing services world. And, surely, it is here to stay.
And you, how do you find Infrastructure as a Service’s usefulness in 2022? Is this cloud services model worth taking advantage of despite its disadvantages or challenges its users face? What do you think the future will hold for cloud services in general?
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