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What is infrastructure as a service (IaaS)?

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a system of cloud computing that delivers virtualized computing resources over the internet. IaaS is one of the three main categories of cloud computing services, together with software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS).

IaaS quickly scales up or down with demand and helps avoid the need to procure physical servers and other data center infrastructure; each resource is offered as a distinct service component. A cloud computing service provider manages the infrastructure, while the user installs, configures, and manages software, including applications, middleware, and operating systems.

Benefits of infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

The primary benefits of cloud computing are cost savings, elasticity, and accessibility. Service platforms like servers, software, and management are paid for by the provider and can be adjusted in flexible increments to fit individual needs. Subscribers or users pay for the features they need, and adjusting those services is dynamic. Cloud applications can be opened from anywhere in the world and deployed in hours, days, or weeks.

The following paragraphs describe the benefits that are specific to IaaS.


The two deployment models for cloud services for service level models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) are public cloud and private cloud.

The archetypal public cloud model uses a large number of pooled cloud servers in data centers to provide a service over internet that customers can sign up for and access. The underlying infrastructure, including servers, is shared across all of the service’s end users, and points of access are openly available to all, anywhere, over any device. However, this flexibility does open the question of security.


Through combining the computing power of cloud servers, cloud providers offer massively scalable services with no partial capacities. Increased demand from a client is instantaneously met with responsive computing power, thanks to hypervisors that maximize computing resources.

There is no issue with limited functions of one server and forcing clients to acquire additional servers when demand rises. Where the system has already been provisioned, the client can access the service without cost or delay in the initial server setup.


Relying on a large number of cloud servers, services are less likely to be interrupted by performance issues or downtime due to spikes in demand. The model also protects against single points of failure. If a single server goes offline, it doesn’t disrupt the service that is contributing resources because numerous other servers are providing redundancy. For example, a physical server could be located across different data centers (or even countries), so if an extreme failure forced a data center offline, there would be no disruption.

Another example: Pooled server resources allow maintenance, such as patching operating systems. These processes can be carried out on servers and networks without disruption by using the cloud service. Maintenance also benefits from the optimized performance, security, and stability of the cloud servers, which means that the client doesn’t have to acquire that expertise and can focus instead on the end product.

Cost Efficiency

Responsive scalability of cloud servers means that services offer significant cost savings for the end user. Customers pay only for what they use and are not required to pay up front for capacity they may not need, avoiding the setup costs of bringing individual servers online. Conversely, any setup costs from bringing cloud servers online are overhead for the cloud provider. This is the predominant case; many cloud services minimize their customers’ effort and expense by offering standard services.

Cloud models also allow providers to avoid long-term lock-ins. Removing the long-term overhead of bringing individual servers online increases the customer’s return on investment. Removing that tension pairs customers and providers on the same side of progress.

IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS


Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud computing offers customers access to computing resources such aslike servers, storage, and networking. Organizations use their own platforms and applications within a service provider’s infrastructure.

IaaS main features:

  • Customers pay for IaaS on-demand without purchasing hardware.
  • Infrastructure is scalable.
  • There is no singular point of failure, because data lives in the cloud.
  • Empowers the virtualization of administrative tasks.
  • No costs associated with buying and maintaining hardware.


Platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud environment in which customers can develop, manage, and deliver applications. Customers can also use a variety of prebuilt tools to develop, customize, and test applications.

PaaS main features:

  • Allows organizations to focus on development and not concern worry about over basic infrastructure.
  • Delivers a platform with tools to test, develop, and host applications.
  • Facilitates cooperative work for remote and in-house teams.
  • Providers can manage operating systems, security, server software, and backups.


Software as a service (SaaS) grants access to a vendor’s cloud-based software. Customers do not install applications on any local devices. Instead, the applications live on remote clouds and are network-accessed through the web or API. From this application, users can store and analyze data, and collaborate on projects collaborate.

SaaS main features:

  • Data is secure in the cloud.
  • Customers don’t have to manage, install, or upgrade software.
  • User resources can be scaled depending on service needs.
  • Equipment failure does not cause data loss.
  • Applications are accessible from most internet-connected devices.
  • SaaS vendors offer customers paid access to software and applications.

Challenges of infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

IaaS enables greater control of IT infrastructure within an organization. Characteristically, IaaS models have cost structures that are problematic to forecast and manage. On the other hand, PaaS has a cost structure that can be more carefully managed. Although PaaS is making inroads and is expected to grow relative to IaaS in the future, some organizations will choose control over cost.

IaaS billing can be also be problematic, despite its pay-as-you-go model. Cloud billing is tremendously granular and broken down to echo the exact usage of services. Cost breakdowns for every resource and service involved in an application deployment can add up quickly.

Because IaaS cloud service providers own the infrastructure, the precise details of configuration and performance in the infrastructure are mostly unclear to the customer. This lack of transparency can make systems management and monitoring more complex.

Finally, the availability and performance of the workloads are highly dependent on the cloud service provider. If the IaaS provider experiences network blockages or any form of downtime, internal or external, the customer is affected. And because IaaS is a multitenant architecture, a gluttonous neighbor can negatively impact workloads as well.

In the end, it all comes down to which service best fits the organization’s specific project or future plans. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is just one of a growing number of cloud service provider models to diversify provider offerings and cut waste from data management.

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