Infrastructure as a Service is also commonly known by its abbreviation IaaS. It is one of the three main forms of service that can be provided with cloud computing.
As the name indicates, IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service is the provision of infrastructure to the user over a network like the Internet.
Being remote from the user, the cloud infrastructure can be located within a large computer centre, where the provider can locate, run and manage the required resources.
IaaS architecture basics
As the name indicates, when using an IaaS model, the cloud resources provider provides access to computing infrastructure components that the user can access. The advantage of this is that the user does not have to provide them and they can easily be scaled according tot he needs.
The cloud IaaS resources may include servers, storage and networking hardware, as well as the virtualization or hypervisor layer. These will be located in a remote cloud computing or data centre.
In addition to the basic hardware resources the cloud provider will also provide a dashboard and management area where the user can access information about usage. Typically this might include billing, monitoring, log access, security, as well as more advanced processes including load balancing, clustering, backups, and data recovery etc..
The user will access all the services over a wide area network, typically the Internet, and this means that the user and the cloud infrastructure can be located anywhere that is convenient.
The user is able to access the cloud infrastructure API and undertake all the required tasks needed to run and maintain the service needed.
Even though the user will normally have a considerable degree of control over their account, the service provider will also need to manage the overall system, and also provide support if needed for the individual user or account holder.
IaaS advantages & disadvantages
The use of Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, IaaS provides many advantages for many different suers. However, before embarking upon the use of this approach, it is wise to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of using it.
Advantages of cloud IaaS
Some of the main advantages of cloud infrastructure as a service are below.
- Cost efficiencies: It can sometimes be more cost effective to rent infrastructure, especially if the need is not for the long term, or the requirement is not constant.
- Highly scalable: If a swift increase in capability is required, this may not always be easy to manage if hardware needs to be bought. By using cloud computing IaaS almost instantaneous increases can be implemented by stepping up a level with the service provider. Typically this can be managed purely through the API.
- Cost management: The use of cloud IaaS often helps with cost management. If a large increase in infrastructure is needed, the use of IaaS shifts the cost from capital expenditure, CapEx to operational expenditure, OpEx which is paid out over a term.
- Reduced need for highly skilled staff: If infrastructure is effectively hired from a cloud IaaS provider, it can reduce the need to employing a larger number of highly skilled IT staff. It should be remembered that IT staff will be required to manage the IaaS API, and the internal equipment and network, but there will be less infrastructure, and therefore fewer staff should be needed.
Disadvantages of cloud IaaS
Some of the main disadvantages of cloud infrastructure as a service are below.
- Security: Some businesses may be concerned about the security of the cloud service and the Internet link between. For businesses where security is an issue, having the infrastructure under control of another company, and shared with others, along with an Internet link, this may be an issue.
- Adjacent user may degrade performance: As cloud infrastructure is a shared resource, sometimes, if another user has a very high load, it can impact the performance experienced by other users.
- System transparency: Normally cloud IaaS providers offer a service, but the user normally has little understanding of exactly how this operates and is managed. This can be fine for the majority of users, but in some instances this lack of transparency can be an issue, especially if non-standard configurations are needed.
- Service reliability: The user is totally dependent upon the service provider to ensure that the infrastructure operates reliably. Where reliability is a key issue this should be defined in the service agreement as it may be difficult to change providers once a system is established - especially in the middle of a project.
The various advantages and disadvantages of using cloud IaaS should all be considered, along with any others that may become visible. These will enable a balanced and informed decision to be made about the use of cloud infrastructure.
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