Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model of cloud computing, alongside Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). It allows businesses to rent cloud infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go service.
IaaS gives businesses access to the cloud, allowing them to outsource the equipment they need to support their operations, keeping track of it using an Internet connection. This means that networks and storage for organisations can be off-premise, allowing businesses comfort in the knowledge that the complexity of managing hardware and storage falls to the cloud provider.
The service provider will host and maintain the hardware, servers and storage, and this is offered to customers on an on-demand, pay per-use basis. This allows enterprise customers to create more cost efficient and scalable IT solutions.
Infrastructure as a Service is sometimes called Hardware as a Service (HaaS).
Businesses are given access to the virtualised components, allowing them to self-provision the infrastructure. They can then build their own IT platforms and use a web-based visual user interface that serves as an IT operations management service.
Businesses are able to access cloud resource as and when they need them rather than buy, install and run hardware themselves.
Major companies such as IBM and Oracle provide IaaS to clients in a number of ways.
IBM offers self-service IaaS and a fully managed IaaS solution, that allows users to deploy and scale virtual servers and dedicated bare metal servers, whilst developing applications. Their self-service IaaS is called SoftLayer Infrastructure and their managed IaaS is known as the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+. The SoftLayer Infrastructure allows businesses to have complete control over their servers, whereas IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ is an IaaS cloud designed for critical enterprise workloads that is managed by IBM rather than the business itself.
Oracle's IaaS solution aims to provide flexibility for customers by allowing them to pay for peak CPU capacity only when necessary, and combining the security and control of on-premise solutions and the features of cloud computing.
One of the main features of IaaS is scalability. Growing companies are able to scale their infrastructure according to their expansion, allowing them to be more flexible. This means that equipment and resources are available when the business needs it. It is also a cost-effective option for businesses as the company only pays for the services that it uses.
There is also an aspect of security, as cloud services hosted externally with the cloud provider can benefit from physically secure data centres.
One of the great things about IaaS is that it is ideal for start-ups and small businesses, as they can test their company's solutions without investing in expensive hardware.