Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the foundation of cloud computing. Rather than purchasing or leasing space in an expensive datacenter, labor, real estate, and all of the utilities to maintain and deploy computer servers, cloud networks and storage, Cloud buyers rent space in a virtual data center from an IaaS provider. They have access to the virtual data center via the Internet. This type of cloud computing provides the “raw materials” for IT, and users usually only pay for the resources they consume, including (but not limited to) CPU cores, RAM, hard disk or storage space, and data transfer – examples IaaS providers include ProfitBricks, and other Cloud Computing IaaS providers. All true Cloud providers allow users to “rent” virtual servers and storage while creating networks to tie them all together. When renting from a cloud IaaS provider, users are renting the hardware and the provisioning software that autoamtes it.
In most cases, individuals typically manage their own virtual Cloud data centers, networks and (the cloud provider manages the hardware, networks and virtualization layer) applications, including maintenance of the software and OS environment. The IaaS provider takes responsibility for the hardware and performs all the maintenance to ensure the servers run correctly. Because an infinite number of custom applications can be developed and deployed and run on IaaS, it becomes impossible for a cloud service provider team to manage and troubleshoot all of the software and hardware.
- Public IaaS Cloud: In the public cloud, provider(s) rent out hardware resources in a multi-tenant method to the general public using virtualization technology. This allows multiple users to share server resources. The public cloud is a prime example of the cloud computing model: easy to set up, highly scalable and elastic, where users will only pay for the resources that they use.
- Private IaaS Cloud: The private cloud employs virtualization technology and delivers cloud-computing services to a single organization. The services are provisioned privately and sit behind the firewalls managed by the individual business. Servers and resources are specifically dedicated to the individual business, and cannot be used by others. The private cloud is best suited for businesses that have large CAPEX budgets and rely on their own data center professionals and security experts, who are needed to provide more control over the computing environment(s).
- Hybrid IaaS Cloud: A hybrid cloud is generally considered the conjoining of physical and virtual infrastructure in a public or private cloud. For example, a company may opt to manage some physical servers in a private cloud, while outsourcing other servers to a public cloud. The hybrid cloud allows companies to take advantage of scalability with cloud technologies, all while managing sensitive company data or applications not suitable or licensable in the cloud.
For businesses—especially SMBs—Infrastructure as a Service offers a reasonable alternative to purchasing and maintaining traditional hardware. It simply makes financial sense.
Before IaaS options were readily available, startups and SMBs would purchase their own servers, racks, and other equipment or work with their Managed Service Provider company to do the same. Additionally, Data Centers, either professional or company owned are needed to house the hardware. In order to keep everything running and prevent servers from overheating, the combination of installed cooling systems and around the clock electricity would generate large utility bills. Today’s Cloud IaaS distributes those expenses among all of its end users to maintain low costs for anyone signed up.