Every business, regardless of size or industry, is in search of more efficient ways to manage its IT environment. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a popular solution among companies looking for savings on the high capital costs associated with building, and maintaining infrastructure. IaaS is beneficial for small and medium businesses as well as for large enterprises.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service is a type of cloud service that involves providing virtual IT resources to customers on a service model. The users have a virtual machine at their disposal with the desired computational resources at a given cost. The physical basis of IaaS is hardware servers and storage systems installed in the cloud provider’s data centers. These servers have special software – a hypervisor – that is responsible for the allocation of hardware resources to virtual machines (VMs). If everything is set up correctly, the individual VMs are completely independent and do not interfere with the others.
From the perspective of a customer who is remotely using cloud IaaS resources, a virtual machine behaves just like a usual hardware server with the appropriate configuration.
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the global market for public cloud services, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, grew 26% in 2019 over 2018 to $233.4 billion.
IDC predicts the trend will continue over the next five years. Consumers will strive to take advantage of cloud services, including artificial intelligence, computing power, and analytics. Spending on cloud services will grow by 32% in 2020. The growth rate will continue and total spending will reach $1,235 billion in 2025 - +430% by 2020.
The last Gartner research shows that the IaaS segment will grow to $50 billion, 24% more than in 2019. Analysts attribute the rapid growth to the needs of modern applications and workloads – those require infrastructure that traditional data centers cannot provide.
The cost of IaaS
The main characteristics of the VMs operated by the customer are the number and clock frequency of the virtual processor cores, the amount of RAM, and the size of the disk space. The customer can flexibly adjust not only the number of VMs but also the configuration of each of them.
The cost of the service depends on the required computing power and duration of service usage. Optional disk resources and support services may be charged additionally. You do not need to purchase hardware servers, storage, or software licenses but you will be charged regularly for the time and disk space consumed. Thus, one of the benefits of using virtual servers in the cloud is a shift from CAPEX to OPEX.
Most often providers charge for 1 month of infrastructure usage, but long-term (annual) and short-term (daily and hourly) billing models are also available.
IT resources can be scaled up and down at any time according to the customer's current needs. The required computing power and disk space are adjusted automatically.
Virtual machines can be used alone or as part of virtual networks. In this respect, they are no different from traditional servers in terms of usage model. Thus, with an IaaS platform, the customer can remotely deploy a complete cluster or even a virtual data center.
IaaS business scenarios
IaaS is appropriate when a company needs different additional IT infrastructure components (servers, data storage, software, etc.), but it is inefficient or simply impossible to make these components physically available. The main circumstances when migrating to cloud infrastructure would make sense are as follows:
The rapidly changing demands for IT resources. The amount of resources requirements do vary. In situations where the need for additional services is only temporary, it is a good idea to increase capacity using the public cloud infrastructure. This service is also suitable for temporary projects that use additional resources.
Needs for systems scalability. If a company is growing rapidly, introducing new technologies and services, expanding its business activities - it needs to continually scale its infrastructure. In this case, IaaS can simplify and accelerate this task. Software firms considerably benefit from IaaS solutions, as the testing and development environments can be set up and scaled in a few minutes.
Hosting complex websites. IaaS is not always suitable for simple websites but can be an ideal basis for more complex web projects, especially for those with highly fluctuating traffic like e-commerce platforms.
Budget savings. Wherever there is a need for budget savings, including the purchase and maintenance of equipment, cloud infrastructure will cost considerably less than a physical one.
In general, IaaS is a good alternative to maintaining and running in-house IT infrastructure. At the same time, keep in mind that you still need to administer your cloud infrastructure, which also requires certain knowledge and skills.
When it comes to cost-effectiveness, an IaaS service can save your company's budget while providing a flexible infrastructure that can adjust to your business needs. If you properly allocate your infrastructure into the physical and cloud, you can have a highly efficient system without a large investment.