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A Guide to IaaS: Definition, Meaning & More

23 Mar 2023
Last updated on: April 10, 2023
Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, is an exclusive form of cloud computing that offers virtualized computing resources across the...
iaas in cloud computing

Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, is an exclusive form of cloud computing that offers virtualized computing resources across the internet. Please note that IaaS is primarily one of the three main categories of cloud computing services. The others include software as a service or SaaS and platform as a service or PaaS.

Now that you are familiar with the IaaS meaning, you can read more about IaaS, PaaS, & SaaS here.

In IaaS, the cloud provider seamlessly manages IT infrastructures, including servers, storage, and networking resources. Further, they are delivered to subscriber organizations through virtual machines that are accessible through an active internet connection.

IaaS in cloud computing provides loads of benefits for organizations. The most prominent of all is that it has the potential to reduce workloads by making them faster and more flexible. Thus, it becomes extremely cost-efficient.

This comprehensive guide will give informative insights into Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Please keep reading until the end to learn more and make an informed decision.

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

IaaS Characteristics and Features

By now, you must have a clear conception regarding the IaaS definition. This section will quickly look into the IaaS Characteristics and Features.
iaas in cloud computing
Some of the most commendable IaaS characteristics are:

  • Virtual machines with pre-installed operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Solaris.
  • Virtual machines with pre-installed software.
  • Enables storing copies of particular data at different locations.
  • On-demand availability of resources.
  • All the computing resources can be efficiently scaled up or down.
  • Dynamic scaling.
  • Automated administrative tasks.
  • GUI and API-based access.
  • Active internet connectivity, etc.

The features of IaaS in Cloud Computing are:

IaaS offers storage, hardware, servers, data centre space, or network components. At times, they might also include software. So, as far as the equipment is concerned, the repair and maintenance responsibility lies with the IaaS service provider. This relieves the end user from the extensive hassles of looking after timely equipment servicing.

So, the user should notify the service provider during any technical glitches. Usually, such faults are resolved by remote operations. But if the issues are stringent, then the provider offers replacement as agreed in the Service Level Agreement.

Please note that an IaaS provider offers policy-based services and is truly responsible for several things. They take care of housing, operating, and maintaining the infrastructure equipment provided for a client. However, clients usually pay on the basis of per-use or utility computing basis.

  1. On-Demand Self-Service

    On-demand self-service is regarded as one of the best advantages of IaaS. It enables customers to use cloud computing as and when required without any human contact between the consumers and service providers.

    Considering the features of on-demand self-service, consumers can seamlessly arrange numerous cloud resources as and when required. The primary benefit of the on-demand self-service of IaaS is that it generates efficiencies for both consumers and providers.

  2. Scalability

    One of the remarkable benefits of IaaS is that it can rapidly scale up and down. And it does so in response to the requirements of an enterprise.

    The IaaS providers usually host the latest and the most powerful servers, storage, and networking technology. And all of these are in accordance with accommodating the requirements of their customers.
    iaas in cloud computing
    This on-demand scalability offers greater agility and added flexibility in response to changing requirements and opportunities. It’s immensely useful when it comes to constructing and dismantling test and development environments. The elevated speed and agility truly benefit this scenario.

  3. Resource Pooling

    When cloud providers offer scalable and provisional services to multiple clients and customers, it is known as resource pooling. Both space and resources are pooled to serve multiple clients at once. And according to the resource consumption of the client, the user can be set to provide more or less at a particular time.

  4. Rapid Elasticity

    In IaaS in cloud computing, rapid elasticity refers to the basic capability of the cloud to scale quickly to meet demand. As consumers can seamlessly expand or reduce their resources, consumers remarkably benefit from rapid elasticity.

Examples of IaaS Applications

Earlier, while discussing what is IaaS, we’ve already mentioned that this form of cloud computing offers virtualized computing resources across the internet.

Some of the most commendable examples of IaaS Applications are:

  1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  2. Rackspace
  3. Microsoft Azure
  4. Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  5. Joyent
  6. Google Compute Engine (GCE), etc.

Benefits of Using IaaS

You’d be surprised to know that IaaS in cloud computing promotes access versus ownership. This unique solution offers the end-user remarkable flexibility while hosting custom-built applications. And while offering a general data centre for storage, it provides standard software.

  1. High Availability

    Whenever certain components fail within the cloud infrastructure, high availability in the cloud enables a system to continue functioning.

    High availability in IaaS refers to a set of technologies that minimises IT disruptions by providing business continuity of IT services. And it is conducted through fault-tolerant, redundant, and failover-protected components within the same data centre.

  2. Security

    The providers of IaaS in cloud computing heavily invest in security technology and expertise. Data security must be of paramount importance while evaluating cloud services and providers.

  3. Cost Savings

    IaaS is truly beneficial for startups for paying the upfront costs associated with maintaining and purchasing their on-site data centre. According to the service level agreement between the business and the provider, users pay according to their usage.

    Some other benefits of using IaaS are:

    • It reduces capital expenditures
    • You pay for what you use
    • Offers increased security
    • Scales dynamically
    • Boosts speed
    • Reallocates IT resources, etc.

Challenges Faced in IaaS

Now that you’re familiar with what is IaaS, you’ll know there are plenty of benefits to using IaaS within an organisation. However, there are some potential challenges as well. They include:

  • Significant risks associated with security.
  • Unexpected additional costs
  • Lack of support
  • Limited customisation
  • Vendor consolidation
  • Alterations in process and workflows
  • Confusing SLAs, etc.

IaaS Provider Provides the Following Services

The top infrastructure as a service providers offer the following services that allow users to build, deploy, and manage cloud services. Some of them include the following:

  • Storage Management
  • Virtual machines (VMs)
  • Cloud migration
  • Networking
  • Maintenance
  • Analytics
  • Database management, etc.
IaaS Vendor Iaas Solution
Netmagic Solutions Netmagic IaaS Cloud
Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Elastic, Route 53, MapReduce, Virtual Private Cloud, etc.
Reliance Communications Reliance Internet Data Center
Rackspace Cloud files, cloud servers, cloud sites, etc.
Sify Technologies Sify IaaS
Tata Communications InstaCompute

Advantages of IaaS Cloud Computing Layer

Now that you are familiar with ‘what is IaaS’, we will quickly look into the benefits of IaaS in cloud computing:

  • IaaS provides exceptional speed.
  • It is widely available.
  • Pay for what you use.
  • Capable of scaling resources automatically.
  • It can reduce latency and improve performance.

Disadvantages of IaaS Cloud Computing Layer

Here, we have made a comprehensive listing of all the drawbacks associated with IaaS:

  • Security isn’t up to the mark.
  • There are plenty of interoperability issues.
  • Improper maintenance and upgrade of IaaS software.

Top IaaS Providers Who are Providing IaaS Cloud Computing Platform

The top infrastructure as a service provider who are providing effective IaaS cloud computing platforms are listed in the table below:

IaaS Providers Location
Red Hat Raleigh, North Carolina
DigitalOcean New York, New York
IBM Armonk, New York
Verizon New York, New York
Google Mountain View, California
Microsoft Redmond, Washington
VMWare Palo Alto, California
Rackspace Technology Mountain View, California
Navisite Andover, Massachusetts
Citrix Fort Lauderdale, Florida

How is IaaS Different from Traditional Software Models?

Infrastructure as a service(IaaS) providers host physical data centres and store and manage servers, firewalls, virtualization machines, and security. Unlike SaaS, the IaaS end users should control and run their own hosted applications, database management tools, and development management tools. Businesses can also use IaaS for data storage and backup, web hosting., and high-performance computing needs.

You can also check out SAAS in Cloud Computing here.

How to Choose the Right IaaS Provider?

When you choose an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider, you need to consider the following:

  • Check whether the user has control of their infrastructure.
  • Check whether the IaaS provider provides top-notch security.
  • Consider whether the service provider is reliable or not.
  • Go through the service level agreements of the service provider very carefully.
  • Check whether it’s affordable and look out for additional costs.

Some of the popular IaaS providers are:

  1. Red Hat
  2. DigitalOcean
  3. IBM
  4. Verizon
  5. Google
  6. Microsoft
  7. VMWare
  8. Rackspace Technology
  9. Navisite
  10. Citrix, etc.


How does IaaS differ from other cloud computing models?

Even though Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a unique cloud service model offering on-demand infrastructure resources, it is different from other cloud computing models. This cloud service provider manages and maintains hardware and computing resources within its data centres.

The customers of IaaS make the best use of the hardware through an active internet connection. They also pay for their usage by subscribing to IaaS in cloud computing or on the basis of the pay-as-you-go.

What are some use cases for Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)?

Some of the most common use cases for IaaS in cloud computing are:

  • Hosting customer-facing websites
  • Testing and development environments
  • Web applications
  • Data storage, backup and recovery
  • Data warehousing and big data analytics
  • High-performance computing (HPC), etc.

How does IaaS help with scalability?

Understanding scalability will be much easier if you know ‘what is IaaS’. Scalability is regarded as one of the prime considerations or hallmarks of the cloud. It is also considered the primary driver of its exploding popularity with businesses. The existing cloud computing infrastructure can essentially help in scaling data storage capacity, processing power, and networking. The scalability of IaaS creates leeway to react to the changing access numbers.

How does IaaS help with disaster recovery?

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) can efficiently mitigate fires, natural disasters, theft, and any other crises by storing disaster relief plans or backup files online. Therefore, they can be remotely accessed to keep up an organisation running smoothly even while everything is down.

IaaS is flexible since it enables you to scale your computer infrastructure easily. Besides, it allows you to choose a solution for data discovery from a third party.

What are some potential drawbacks of using IaaS?

Some of the potential drawbacks of IaaS are:

  • Upgrade and Maintenance
    Even though IaaS service providers maintain the software, they don’t upgrade the software for certain organisations. 
  • Security
    Security is regarded as one of the biggest issues of concern in IaaS. The majority of the IaaS providers need to be more capable of providing 100% security.
  • Interoperability Issues
    It is challenging to migrate a VM from one IaaS company to another. So, it’s obvious that the customers will experience difficulties directly related to vendor lock-in.
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