Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) #

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is the delivery of computer infrastructure (typically a platform virtualization environment) as a service. IaaS leverages significant technology, services, and data center investments to deliver IT as a service to customers. Unlike traditional outsourcing, which requires extensive due diligence, negotiations ad infinitum, and complex, lengthy contract vehicles, IaaS is centered around a model of service delivery that provisions a predefined, standardized infrastructure specifically optimized for the customer’s applications.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) includes the capability to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources; the consumer is able to 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, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls). Services offered by this paradigm include: server hosting, web servers, storage, computing hardware, operating systems, virtual instances, load balancing, Internet access, and bandwidth provisioning. IaaS clouds often offer additional resources such as; images in a virtual machine image library, raw (block) and file-based storage, firewalls, IP addresses, virtual local area networks (VLANs) and software bundles. Examples of IaaS providers include Amazon CloudFormation, Amazon EC2, Windows Azure Virtual Machines, DynDNS, Google Compute  Engine, HP  Cloud,  Rackspace  Cloud, ReadySpace Cloud Services, and Terremark.

The IaaS cloud computing paradigm has a number of characteristics such as: the resources are distributed and support dynamic scaling, it is based on a utility pricing model and variable cost, and the hardware is shared among multiple users. This cloud computing model is particularly useful when the demand is volatile and a new business needs computing resources and it does not want to invest in a computing infrastructure or when an organization is expanding rapidly.

IaaS provides the hardware and the software for servers, storage, networks, including operating systems and storage management software. The Infrastructure as a Service poses the most challenges.

IaaS providers manage the transition and hosting of selected applications on their infrastructure. Provider-owned implementations typically include the following layered components:

  • Computer hardware (typically set up as a grid for massive horizontal scalability)
  • Computer network (including routers, firewalls, load balancing, etc.)
  • Internet connectivity (often on OC 192 backbones)
  • Platform virtualization environment for running client-specified virtual machines
  • Service-level agreements
  • Utility computing billing

Rather than purchasing data center space, servers, software, network equipment, etc., IaaS customers essentially rent those resources as a fully outsourced service. Usually, the service is billed on a monthly basis, just like a utility company bills customers. The customer is charged only for resources consumed. The chief benefits of using this type of outsourced service include:

  •  Ready access to a preconfigured environment that is generally ITIL-based (The Information Technology Infrastructure Library [ITIL] is a customized framework of best practices designed to promote quality computing services in the IT sector.)
  •  Use of the latest technology for infrastructure equipment
  • Secured, “sand-boxed” (protected and insulated) computing platforms that are usually security monitored for breaches
  • Reduced risk by having off-site resources maintained by third parties
  • Ability to manage service-demand peaks and valleys
  • Lower costs that allow expensing service costs instead of making capital investments
  •  Reduced time, cost, and complexity in adding new features or capabilities

Advantages of CaaS
Popular IaaS solutions