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Everything you need to know about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

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Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), is a form of cloud computing that allows users to outsource compute, network and storage requests to an external server instead of completing them on their own devices. Not only is this method more reliable, it also increases the functionality of a computer and enables companies to manage demand without having to invest in and maintain expensive hardware built to cater for the highest estimated amount of traffic which may only occur a couple of times a year upfront. For example, a tech company may receive significantly more traffic over the Black Friday weekend and in the run up to Christmas than the rest of the year. By using IaaS, which functions on a pay-as-you-go plan, they can manage the demand by paying for their monthly usage without investing in expensive hardware which will only be used to full capacity a couple of times a year. Other advantages of IaaS include:

Advantages

Enhanced security- With the correct service IaaS can be significantly more secure than anything attainable in-house. This is achieved by managing security at all levels from the physical data centres to the infrastructure.

Back-up and recovery- IaaS provides access to unlimited infrastructure designed for both disaster recovery and information backup allowing you to duplicate content across multiple servers in case one of them fails.

Affordable- Set up using a pay-as-you-go model where you only pay for the amount you use ensuring there is no extra cost.

High Performance- With geographically distributed data centres it is possible to increase scale in locations where there is the highest demand. Using data centres nearest your main customer base will help manage demand and reduce latency.

Speed- Taking advantage of extra computing power increases its overall speed allowing all processes to happen quickly.

Use Cases

Another major advantage of IaaS is the multiple use cases. The increased computing power IaaS provides enables very complex calculations and problems to be solved, often necessary in a range of different industries and some of which would not be possible on just a regular computer. These include:

Data Analytics- Most companies rely on vast amounts of data to make an informed decision about their business. With IaaS, you are able to manipulate and store an incredibly large volume of data without sacrificing computer speed.

Complex Calculations- Earthquake simulations, financial modelling, protein folding and scientific equations are just a few instances where IaaS has proved a cost-effective way of using a large amount of computing power compared to using your own resources.

Test and development- It is easy to scale test and development environments up and down so new applications and websites can be brought onto the market faster.

Website Hosting- With cloud infrastructure, you can host websites and scale the demand accordingly.

Types of IaaS

There are a range of different IaaS infrastructure resources which are generally split into three categories: compute, storage and networking.

Compute
Compute refers to processing power. Essentially it is what does the work, this includes central processing units (CPUs), internal memory (RAM) and graphical processing units (GPUs)

Storage
IaaS uses three main types of storage. These are as follows:

Block Storage– Data is stored in blocks/ chunks which are all the same size. This is highly efficient when dealing with large amounts of data.
Object Storage- Used for unstructured data, it stores data as objects or separate units where each unit contains the data, metadata and an identification key used for easy access.
File Storage- As the name suggests, it stores data in files and is usually used for long-term storage.

Networking
Networking refers to the use of hardware such as switches, routers and load balancers which is typically made available through APIs. It is the function that joins all the different processes together.

IaaS in relation to other cloud models

It is also worth noting that IaaS is just one of three cloud service models available, the other two being Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). The easiest way to understand the differences between these models is to determine which applications are managed by the vendor and which ones are managed by the end user. Whilst all three models outsource various computing requests, what is outsourced differs. As previously established, IaaS outsources compute, storage and networking requests or in other words, the building blocks to running an application. The other two models however, take this further. On top of the actions completed by IaaS, PaaS provides the tools to run an application with ease including runtime and middleware. SaaS goes even further and outsources all applications to an external server providing a complete end-user application.

The best cloud model for your business will vary depending on its needs but essentially, the more you outsource, the less background work to set up applications is required but the more you will pay for these extra services. For many companies, IaaS is seen as a good balance of these things.

How much does IaaS cost?

As previously mentioned, IaaS runs on a pay-as-you-go basis where users are exclusively charged for their consumption but there are multiple different payment plans available. These include:

By the second/hour– The most common model where users are charged to the second for what they use.

Subscription- Clients willing to commit to longer-term contracts are usually offered a discount if they commit to a payment plan over an extended period of time.

Monthly billing– Most commonly used in instances where physical infrastructure is used, suggesting a consistent monthly demand with little fluctuation such as the BMaaS market.

Here at WestTech, we understand the importance of selecting the correct cloud computing service for your business and our experts will work closely with you to find the best plan for you. What’s more, with a 24-hour support hotline and an after-hours service, so in the unlikely event something goes wrong, you will be able to speak to an expert the minute it does so it can be resolved as quickly as possible.

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