What Is IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service)? (2024)

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IaaS, short for Infrastructure as a Service, is a cloud computing model that offers on-demand access to compute, storage and networking resources. Instead of buying hardware, customers can rent IT infrastructure from a cloud provider, on a pay-as-you-go basis.

These infrastructures are utilized via the internet and used to host web applications, store data and execute business processes. This allows businesses to scale up or down quickly based on demand without the huge capital costs of building and maintaining their own data centers.

How IaaS Works

IaaS works by employing third-party cloud service providers (e.g., AWS, Azure) to host infrastructure components and then offer virtualized resources to customers who can provision and configure these resources according to their respective needs.

These components may include virtual machines, storage systems, networking equipment, databases and containers. This way, the IaaS provider manages and maintains the underlying infrastructure while the customer maintains control over the operating systems, middleware and applications running on top of that infrastructure.

So say you need a development environment. You can spin up virtual machines, storage and networking with the click of a button. Want to launch an app? Deploy it directly onto your virtual servers. When there is a spike in traffic, you can scale up by allocating more resources, and when the traffic decreases, you can scale back down to optimize cost-efficiency. With IaaS, you only pay for the resources you actually use.

Things To Consider When Choosing an IaaS

When choosing an IaaS provider, there are a few key things you may want to consider:

Reliability and Uptime

Look for an IaaS provider with a proven track record of minimal downtime and quick issue resolution. It should have data centers in multiple geographic regions for redundancy. Larger providers typically offer SLAs (service level agreements) guaranteeing a certain level of uptime.

Regulatory Compliance

Ensure that the chosen IaaS provider complies with industry-specific regulations relevant to your business. Compliance plays a crucial role in protecting sensitive data and maintaining your company’s reputation.


IaaS providers typically charge for compute, storage and networking on an hourly, weekly or monthly basis. The pricing model generally depends on how much infrastructure is needed and for how long:

  • Compute: This includes CPU, memory and operating systems. Charges are based on the type of virtual machine (VM) you choose and how long it runs. More powerful VMs with faster CPUs and more memory cost more.
  • Storage: This includes block storage, file storage and object storage. Charges depend on the amount of storage space you use and how long you use it.
  • Networking: This includes load balancers, firewalls and bandwidth. Charges are based on the number of resources used and data transferred.

Some IaaS providers also offer free tiers so you can try out their services at no cost. This is an excellent way for you to evaluate different platforms before committing to one. Since you can pay for what you use, you can start small and scale up as needed.


Prioritize providers that offer strong security measures including customer data encryption, DDoS protection, regular audits and certifications such as ISO 27001 compliance.

Backups and Disaster Recovery

You should consider the backup policies and recovery processes of vendors to ensure they align with your business needs. A reliable IaaS provider will offer robust backup and disaster recovery solutions just in case of unforeseen events.

Customer Support

Bad customer support will always lead to a terrible experience. You should be able to assess the provider’s support options, response times and expertise to ensure it can effectively address any issues that may arise.

Benefits of IaaS

Cost Savings

With IaaS, you only pay for the infrastructure resources you actually use. This on-demand model means you can scale up or down quickly based on your needs. You don’t have to invest in expensive hardware upfront and maintenance costs are minimal.


IaaS provides a high degree of flexibility and scalability. This agility allows you to adapt to changes rapidly without being locked into long-term hardware investments. You have the flexibility to choose from a range of infrastructure options to suit your needs.

Faster Deployment

It’s usually easier and faster to deploy new applications and services with IaaS than with traditional on-premises infrastructure.

High Availability

IaaS makes it easy to architect highly available infrastructure solutions. You can deploy resources across multiple data centers and availability zones. This helps ensure maximum uptime and business continuity even in the event of outages.


Reputable IaaS providers offer robust security controls and management tools to help safeguard infrastructure resources. This includes options such as identity and access management, encryption, security monitoring, vulnerability scanning and compliance auditing tools. For many organizations, the security offered by IaaS may exceed what they can achieve on their own.

Challenges of IaaS

While IaaS offers many benefits, there are also some potential downsides to be aware of:

Security Responsibilities

With IaaS, you are responsible for securing your own applications, and data. The cloud provider will secure the underlying infrastructure, but you must configure firewalls, enable encryption and take other steps to protect your resources. For some companies, the shared responsibility model of IaaS may require developing new security skills and processes.

Vendor Lock-In

Once you build your infrastructure on a particular IaaS platform, it can be difficult to move to another provider. This is known as vendor lock-in, and it’s something to consider before selecting an IaaS. To avoid lock-in, choose a provider that uses open standards and make sure your architecture is as platform-agnostic as possible.

Cost Unpredictability

Costs can be unpredictable if you’re not closely monitoring resource usage and spending. It’s easy to deploy new virtual machines and storage volumes, but costs can quickly scale up if you’re not proactively optimizing resources. Put controls and budgets in place to avoid unexpectedly high bills.

Management Challenges

Managing infrastructure, even virtual infrastructure, requires time, resources and technical skills. With IaaS, you are responsible for management and any issues that arise. For some companies, the management overhead of an IaaS environment may be higher than anticipated. Consider whether you have the IT staff and expertise to manage an IaaS implementation before moving forward.

IaaS Provider Examples

Many companies offer IaaS solutions, each with its own unique features and capabilities. In this section, we will explore some examples of popular IaaS providers:

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS is by far the largest IaaS provider. They offer over 200 fully featured services from data centers around the world. AWS powers huge parts of the internet and provides the infrastructure for many major companies including Netflix, Ubisoft, Unilever and more. AWS provides compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications from 99 availability zones within 31 geographic regions around the world.

Microsoft Azure

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing service for building, testing, deploying and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. Azure provides both PaaS and IaaS services and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks. With over 85% of Fortune 500 companies using Azure, the computing platform offers VMs, storage, backup, networking, databases, analytics, IoT, blockchain, machine learning, containers, security and more. The cost of using Azure depends on the specific services used, as well as factors such as usage levels and geographical region.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

GCP is an IaaS provider that offers a range of cloud computing services, including virtual machines, storage and networking. GCP runs on the same infrastructure used by Google for its own products including Google Search, Gmail, Google Drive and YouTube, and offers services such as App Engine, Compute Engine, Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Functions and Cloud Run for running applications and workloads.


DigitalOcean provides a simple and easy-to-use infrastructure platform that includes virtual machines, object storage and managed databases. Developers can deploy virtual machine instances called “droplets” for application and website hosting. DigitalOcean offers additional services such as Kubernetes, App Platform, storage, content delivery network, managed databases, networking tools, developer tools and management tools, and supports a pay-as-you-go pricing model with no upfront costs.

There are also other options including Oracle Cloud, Alibaba Cloud and IBM Cloud. The major players each have their pros and cons, so you’ll want to evaluate them based on your specific needs and requirements. But with giants such as AWS, Azure and GCP competing, IaaS services are becoming extremely robust, affordable and accessible.

Comparing IaaS, PaaS and SaaS

IaaS is one of the three types of cloud service models that also include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

IaaS provides businesses with compute, storage and networking resources. This model allows companies to avoid investing in physical hardware and maintenance, while still having control over their own operating systems, applications and data. IaaS is highly scalable, allowing users to increase or decrease resources on demand, making it ideal for growing businesses or projects with fluctuating workloads.

PaaS, on the other hand, offers a complete platform for developing, deploying and managing applications. In addition to the infrastructure components provided by IaaS, PaaS includes middleware, development tools and runtime environments. PaaS allows developers to focus on writing code and creating applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure, as the PaaS provider handles the management and maintenance of servers, networks and databases. This model is well-suited for businesses looking to streamline the development process and reduce the time-to-market for their applications.

SaaS goes a step further by providing users with access to software applications hosted and managed by a third-party provider. SaaS providers handle all aspects of the software, including development, maintenance and updates, allowing users to access applications via a web browser without the need to install or manage any software. This model is perfect for businesses that want to streamline their operations and eliminate the need for in-house IT support for software management.

In summary, IaaS focuses on providing virtual infrastructure resources, PaaS provides a pre-configured platform for application development, while SaaS offers ready-to-use software applications.

Bottom Line

IaaS breaks down difficulties associated with cloud-based solutions by making them scalable, flexible and cost-effective. By selecting the right IaaS provider, companies can focus on their core competencies, minimize downtime and adapt to changing demands.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is IaaS accessed?

IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) is accessed on demand, over the internet and on a pay-as-you-go basis.

What is meant by infrastructure as a service?

IaaS is a cloud computing model that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet.

What are the three main components of IaaS?

The three main components of IaaS are compute, storage and networking resources. These components are provided on demand and on a pay-as-you-go basis over the internet.

What Is IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service)? (2024)
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