In Cloud Computing, even though the concept is not much new, there is much confusion when it comes to Infrastructure as a Service. The other two types of services offered by cloud providers are clearer. This article attempts questions related to IaaS.
What is Infrastructure as a Service
Cloud computing services (not the cloud itself) are categorized into three broad categories:
- Software as a Service: You are given access to some software that works as and when necessary. Think of a backup service. You have their software and you use it to back up your files. It activates when you add a file to the folders to be backed up and otherwise is just lying there monitoring the folders. The service is scalable and the backed up files can be accessed using different devices that run the provided software.
- Platform as a Service: You are given a platform to perform particular tasks. Imagine an email service. You have a platform from where you can access and send emails. It too is scalable – meaning the storage varies according to number and types of emails. And you can access it from anywhere.
- Infrastructure as a Service: IaaS provides required infrastructure to enterprises so that they can build their own platforms to serve themselves and their customers. Imagine a virtual server. You can do anything with it; there are no restrictions as to how the server should be used; plus points are that this too is scalable – you only use as much server/calls as required. It too can be accessed from anywhere as against the in-house servers.
The infrastructure is generally virtualized so that it can be shifted from one server to another in case the hardware is down for some reason. Maximum uptime is essential so as to provide companies and thereby, their customers with maximum response possible.
Read: Microsoft Office as a Service.
Build SaaS and PaaS using IaaS
Infrastructure as a Service can be better understood if you look at the possibilities of creating other types of cloud offerings using it. That is, you can go for IaaS and use it to create a software that is later distributed to people. The same thing gives you space as and when required so that your SaaS (software service) customers can store their data online.
Likewise, you can build a platform and offer it as service to your clients. You can do this by hiring facilities that IaaS provides. It saves cost and allows you to invest as your business or client base grows. For example, you create online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and provide your users with the platform to create documents, collaborate, send/receive emails etc. Initially, you take up only a token amount for your first few users. Since IaaS is scalable, you can increase the infrastructure as the platform grows.
Read: Windows As A Service.
What all is bundled into IaaS?
More computing power at low investment!? You can use IaaS services to expand, shrink or even to start your business. The service provider will give you the necessary infrastructure so that you don’t have to invest much in it right away. You do it as and when required.
While the basic definition of IaaS is limited to virtual Servers for datacenters etc. computing, many IaaS providers give you databases, networking and firewalls etc. services built into virtualization so that you can use them directly – without having to buy stuff or code anything from scratch. But these are added benefits and as such, cannot be considered part of Infrastructure as a Service.
The maintenance of servers and keeping them up is the work of IaaS providers. Users are responsible for updating OS and other software they may be using over the infrastructure. This case is different from both Platform as a Service and Software as a service where the cloud service provider has to keep his software updated.
Examples of Infrastructure as a Service
As of writing this article, November 20, 2016, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most used IaaS service. It provides high flexibility with good pre and after sales consultation at highly affordable prices. Microsoft is right behind with its Microsoft Azure service. There are some other companies in the race but they are not even as much as close.
Google has Compute – not much popular and a bit costly compared to similar offerings but gets work done. Suppose you need to process tons of data that would hang your machines. You can go for Compute and get it done.
You can likewise use Azure to not only build apps but also to host and distribute them. It is just one of the many examples you can do using scalable infrastructure on demand. You can use IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) to extend your datacenters or to make available custom services to the entire world. The possibilities are unlimited as high-end hardware purchases are not an issue anymore.