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IaaS is also known as Hardware as a Service (HaaS). It is one of the layers of the cloud computing platform. It allows customers to outsource their IT infrastructures such as servers, networking, processing, storage, virtual machines, and other resources. Customers access these resources on the Internet using a pay-as-per use model. 

At its core, infrastructure as a service is a way for organizations to get the hardware, storage, networking and other services they need to run their operations without worrying about buying, managing or maintaining the equipment. With this model, enterprises “rent” the equipment, paying only for the capacity and space they use. An offsite service provider owns, manages and maintains the equipment, providing enough capacity to scale up or down to meet the needs of its customer organizations. Organizations access the resources (virtual machines that run their applications) via a web browser. There are many setups for IaaS, from full-blown compute as a service to partial infrastructure as a service, such as storage, servers, web hosting and disaster recovery.

The amount of infrastructure an organization chooses to move to the cloud depends on many factors, including its line of business, the availability IT staff and IT expertise, and cash flow constraints. There are also different ways of implementing IaaS: in a private cloud, public cloud or hybrid private/public cloud. Again, the path an organization chooses depends on several factors and usually comes down to balancing cost with security needs. Lowering costs is a major driver for adopting the IaaS model. Buying an equivalent amount of computing power (not to mention the expertise to manage those resources and guarantee uptime) would be prohibitively expensive for many enterprises. Other benefits include flexibility, scalability, greater security, almost 100 percent uptime and the opportunity for enterprises to shift the IT focus to their core mission or business instead of focusing their resources on IT infrastructure.

How IAAS works

IaaS works in a way that it identifies a virtual or physical infrastructure available at a cloud provider. It links the customer to the cloud provider and offers several services such as virtualization, network. The organization identifies its need and requests the appropriate service. The user then pays for the resource and IaaS also offers billing management services.

Why would you then choose IaaS?

One benefit that IaaS offers to its clients is cost-effectiveness in IT infrastructure. An organization has access to IT infrastructure without installing or developing its own data center. Furthermore, there is no maintenance cost for the infrastructure which is the sole role of the cloud provider.

The features of different IaaS 

Dynamic infrastructure scaling: The service provider is responsible for ensuring the customer’s infrastructure needs will always be met, even if they include peaks and valleys. With this infrastructure model, organizations can always be assured that they will have the IT resources they need.

Guaranteed uptime: IaaS providers guarantee 99.95 percent or greater availability with 100 percent uptime. This is spelled out in the service-level agreement (SLA).

Automation of administrative tasks: These tasks include deploying and managing virtual desktops and servers for both employees and guests, managing virtual server pools, and monitoring ongoing activity such as disk utilization, network activity, active jobs, and member and guest activity.

Policy-based services: This feature imposes enterprise defined policies on the infrastructure services that specific users or user groups can access. Based on these policies, provisioning and decommissioning resources becomes an automated process.

Elastic load balancing: Based on requirements at any given time, resources are balanced and distributed automatically, appropriately and efficiently across multiple virtual computers.

Customized machine images: With the IaaS model, building and deploying machine images on which applications can run is fast, automated and customized to an organization’s specific needs. IaaS providers offer a host of virtual machine images to their customers, but organizations themselves can also develop their own or import images from the existing operational environment. That way, they know the images will meet their configuration, security and compliance standards. It also vastly increases the speed at which new instances of the image can be deployed.

Preconfigured templates: Qualified users can create predefined templates for various types of virtual machines. This allows other users to choose from a preapproved list of templates, standardizing and removing risk from the process of quickly spinning up virtual machines.

Access to the newest technology: Because organizations don’t own the equipment, they aren’t stuck with technology that will eventually become outdated and need an upgrade. Instead, they always have access to the latest equipment, with the most up-to-date features and highest levels of efficiency.

Stringent security controls: Depending on the solution and the vendor, an IaaS offering will be compliant with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or AES (Advanced Encryption

IaaS Architecture

IaaS architecture is the structural design of a computing network that enables the delivery of computing resources as a service via the cloud. Physical resources such as processing capacity and data storage are examples of common components that may be incorporated into a cloud computing environment, under the IaaS (infrastructure as a service) model of IT resource delivery.

As with traditional computing network design, IaaS architecture aims to achieve optimal levels of efficiency, in the delivery of computing services to end users. This requires an architectural design that provides a highly available pool of cloud based IT resources and which also adequately delivers its resources in an elastic or scalable manner, especially during times of peak demand.

Since cloud computing services are delivered to consumers in a manner similar to a utility (e.g. water or electric services), organizations that provide IaaS via the cloud need to develop and implement an IaaS architecture that successfully optimizes the use of its physical computing resources, in order to maximize cost savings and/or revenue for the organization.

IAAS ARCHITECTURE CONSIDERATIONS

As with SaaS (software as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) solutions, the architectural design of an IaaS solution is impacted by the specific business requirements and goals of each organization that delivers its IT resources via the cloud. For example, a private enterprise typically requires a different IaaS architecture than what is required by an IaaS vendor whose service offerings are primarily driven by revenue concerns.

Nevertheless, within the IaaS landscape lies an opportunity that many enterprise private cloud IaaS managers are frequently unaware of, which is the ability for a private enterprise to monetize its IaaS offerings on a spot market, thereby providing a secondary revenue stream that can offset the normal operational costs of delivering IT services within an enterprise. Innovative companies are already capitalizing on this facet of IaaS.

Monetization of IaaS enterprise private cloud resources may be facilitated through cloud computing clearinghouses who serve as intermediaries or brokers for trading cloud computing resources between buyers (consumers) and sellers (cloud services providers).

In the final analysis, an organization needs to carefully consider its current and future IT strategy, to ensure that the design of its IaaS architecture can be scaled to meet present organizational needs, while retaining the capacity to capitalize on an ever-evolving model of IT service delivery in the cloud.

Benefits for Enterprises

With IaaS, IT shops don’t have to buy, maintain or upgrade software, hardware or operating systems. They don’t have to worry about network configurations. That can save big money, both up front and over time. IaaS, like all cloud offerings, is a pay as you go model. So organizations don’t have to manage large cash outlays. Instead, they pay only for the resources they use, which is more cost-effective than the traditional method of paying set fees for services and equipment, even when they aren’t being used. What’s more, there are usually no service contracts to deal with.

For example, new product development may require a test and development environment that can be spun up quickly and then reduced when the test and development phase ends. Or an enterprise may have to scale very quickly to meet demand, either because a product takes off unexpectedly or to deal with expected seasonal spikes. Either way, the IaaS model allows enterprises to meet those capacity spikes without having to add infrastructure within the data center, and to reduce capacity when the spike ends.

The IaaS model also takes a lot of pressure off of IT staff, who generally are responsible not only for hardware and infrastructure, but also for handling requests from line of business owners, application developers and engineers. In a traditional IT environment, IT staff often don’t have the resources to respond to all such requests in a timely manner, forcing divisions to purchase services externally. With the IaaS model, requests can be filtered quickly through the IT department, maintaining internal policies and procedures, and then sent to an IaaS vendor approved by the organization, recommends Enterprise Strategy Group Senior Analyst Mark Bowker. IaaS also is compatible with today’s anytime, anywhere work model. Because everything in IaaS is web-based, administrators can manage the systems from anywhere, whether they are adding capacity, removing users or accessing reports. Users can get the computing resources they need from wherever they happen to be, significantly improving the agility of the organization as a whole.

Finally, IaaS can solve the issue of inevitable system upgrades. Technology changes rapidly, and those changes usually bring higher capacities, greater reliability and useful new features. Purchasing upgrades can be expensive, and organizations that rely on an internal IT infrastructure must eventually upgrade their equipment (even virtualized servers), either to increase capacity or features or because a system has failed or is no longer supported by a vendor. Public, Private or Hybrid? Whether an organization chooses to move its infrastructure to a private or public cloud depends on many variables, namely cost, security and  compliance requirements. If all things were equal, every organization would probably opt for a private cloud the most secure of the bunch. However, it is also the most expensive. With a private cloud, organizations pay for a computing infrastructure dedicated solely to their core focus.

Private clouds can be hosted on the organization’s premises or by an IaaS provider. But in either case, they don’t share resources with other tenants. This is a viable option for enterprises that must cooperate with specific compliance, auditing or governance regulations. On the other end of the spectrum is the public cloud, where infrastructure is hosted in the IaaS provider’s data center and often shared with other customers. But there are caveats: If the organization deals in sensitive information, such as healthcare data or sensitive personal or financial data, a public cloud may not be the right avenue. For these organizations, a hybrid cloud model often makes sense. With this model, sensitive functions are hosted in a private cloud, while day-to-day functions are hosted in a shared, public environment. The decision of whether a user request goes to the public or private portion of the cloud is based on how policy is set. If a developer working on a product for a highly regulated environment requests a resource, it would go to the private part of the cloud, versus a public-facing request, which would go to the less expensive, public cloud. This strategy offers the best of both worlds, without overpaying for private infrastructure when it’s not needed.

Time-saving– Infrastructure as a Service is tasked with the role of setting physical and virtual hardware. It is also responsible for maintaining the infrastructure thus time-saving to the organization.

Pay as you go– users are free to use the product which they have paid for any time. They also pay only for what they need to use in their organization.

Data security– IaaS is one of the most secure cloud computing methods. Users are therefore assured of data security.

High Scalability– IaaS ensures that its products are always accessible by the users when needed. They can also be remodeled as per need.

Highly flexible and redundant– even in the event hardware fails, the organization’s service paid for is not affected. Normalcy is achieved soonest.

Constant availability– IaaS cloud computing platform is ever available to its users. Its products are available to users at any given time throughout the year.

Popular IaaS Providers : IaaS providers include Amazon Web Service (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

Examples of IaaS:

  • Amazon Web Services: a public cloud that offers subscribers access to virtual servers for product deployment, Cloud storage, tools for development, testing, and analytics. The application provides a ready-to-use environment to develop and test the product and offers the full cloud infrastructure for its deployment and maintenance.
  • Microsoft Azure: the combination of IaaS and platform as a service, the software offers 100+ services for software development, administration, and deployment, provides tools for working with innovative technologies (big data, machine learning, Internet of Things), etc.
  • IBM Infrastructure: IBM uses its in-house services to store the data of infrastructure users, enabling remote data access via Cloud computing. IBM servers support AI, blockchain, and the Internet of Things. The infrastructure also provides Cloud storage and virtual development environments, enabled on the subscription basis.
  • Google Cloud Infrastructure: the large network of international servers that provides users access to remote Cloud data centers. Companies can store their information in Asia, Europe, Latin America, which minimizes the risk of a security breach.

Conclusion

IaaS is the real data solution for large and small organizations. It provides cloud data connectivity and storage which means organizations can access their information from anywhere. IaaS is a highly flexible and scalable cloud model making it the best developer for web applications.

Submitted by shiksha.dahiya on June 14, 2021

Shiksha is working as a Data Scientist at iVagus. She has expertise in Data Science and Machine Learning.

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