Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) describes a service, which is made possible on cloud platforms. Besides Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), IaaS is therefore one of the three main categories of cloud computing. Cloud providers make virtual IT resources available via the internet. Companies can independently request these IaaS services and pay according to use (Pay-as-you-Go).
Here are the three cloud types, which enable operation of Infrastructure-as-a-Service:
- Via a virtualisation technology, the Public IaaS Cloud provides hardware resources to a wider audience. The public cloud represents the conventional example of a cloud computing model: simple in set-up and operation, scalable and the users only pay what they use (Pay-as-you-Go).
- The Private IaaS Cloud delivers targeted and individually required cloud computing services to the respective company and is protected through the company’s firewall. Additional parties have no access to these servers and resources. The private cloud offers the highest level of security for sensitive data and is to be recommended for all those companies who would like conscious control of their IT.
- The Hybrid IaaS Cloud is a combination of both aforementioned options. It offers companies on the one hand the benefit of an agile scalability and on the other hand secure administration of sensitive data.
An Overview of IaaS-Cloud Environments
In the past, companies were forced to maintain their own server for their computing power and output. Theoretically, nowadays this is unnecessary if companies decide to switch to the concept of Infrastructure-as-a-Service. The specific workload (formerly server capacity) is simply outsourced externally and can be requested from a cloud provider via data centres, which are operated by the respective provider.
Many workloads and environments benefit from Infrastructure-as-a-Service:
A production environment is the environment, on which active operations take place. Through the provision of a production workload in the cloud, users gain quicker access to a secure, company-wide environment, which helps them to lower costs, shorten cycle times, fulfil compliance requirements and improve quality.
Replication environments are designed to increase business continuity. Usually such environments are an exact copy of the production environment and protect from localised downtime of the cloud provider.
Disaster recovery environments offer a back-up infrastructure in case of a catastrophe or system failure. A disaster recovery environment, which is either hosted in a public or private cloud, is a scaled-down version of the entire production infrastructure, which is available on a standby basis and located in a separate, secure data centre. Availability of an offsite infrastructure helps companies to reduce downtimes and to avoid high costs for a parallel operation of two identical infrastructures.
Advantages of Infrastructure-as-a-Service
Nowadays companies need to be agile and flexible to be able to respond to market requirements and remain competitive. Conventional on-premise infrastructures can only meet these requirements to a limited extent and are associated with high administrative costs. Infrastructure-as-a-Service offers an efficient solution. It enables users access to scalable IT resources, which can be flexibly tailored to the specific requirements of a company. There is no need to invest in an expensive company in-house IT infrastructure for individual projects or seasonal order peaks. In general, Infrastructure-as-a-Service customers pay per use, normally per minute. Some IaaS providers also calculate costs according to the extent of the virtual room used by the customer. On the basis of a Pay-as-you-Go concept, thanks to IaaS companies can balance usage variations for a limited period of time. Therefore, companies opt for Infrastructure-as-a-Service as it is simpler, quicker and cheaper to process a workload without having to buy, administer and support the underlying IT infrastructure. Using IaaS, a company can simply rent or lease this infrastructure from another company.
The fact that IaaS concepts can be used independently of any site location is another advantage. Companies and individual members of staff simply need the internet to access applications and content. Therefore, the biggest advantages of Infrastructure-as-a-Service are the reduction of capital and operational expenditure for companies, flexible scalability and location flexibility.
Implementation examples in companies
In an IaaS model the cloud provider hosts infrastructure components which were traditionally located in a local data centre, such as server, storage and network hardware, as well as the virtualisation layer. The IaaS provider also offers a range of services, which accompany the infrastructure components. These can include detailed invoicing, monitoring, access protocols and security guidelines, or storage services such as back-up, replication and recovery. These services are increasingly policy driven, so that IaaS users can implement a higher degree of automation for important infrastructure tasks. For example, a user can implement policies for load distribution to maintain application availability and performance.
The user can, for instance, register on the website of the IaaS platform operator to create virtual machines (VMs), install operating systems in every VM, make middleware such as data bases available, create storage areas for workloads and back-ups and install enterprise workloads in this VM. Customers can then use the services of this provider to track costs, monitor performance and network traffic, solve application problems and manage back-up as well as recovery procedures.
Every cloud computing model requires the participation of a provider. The provider is often a third-party provider organisation, specialised in the sale of Infrastructure-as-a-Service. A company can also opt for the use of a private cloud and hence become its own provider of infrastructure services.
Development and Outlook
Infrastructure-as-a-Service is a fast-growing area of cloud computing. Hosting of workloads – regardless of which type – in the cloud has numerous advantages for companies of any size and sector. The redundant set-up of critical system components ensures the high availability of platforms such as, for example, oneclick™. The transmitted data reaches the recipient unchanged and complete through the streaming technology in use. Multi-layered, intelligent systems protect the platform from internal and external attacks. Highly secure lock keeper solutions are increasingly used for authentication and provisioning processes.
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