IaaS is 1 of 3 widely recognized cloud service models—alongside Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)—that gives users all the benefits of on-premise computing resources without the overhead. In the IaaS model, users handle the applications, data, operating system, middleware, and runtimes.
The IaaS vendor provides the virtualization, storage, network, and servers. This way, the user doesn’t have to have an on-premise datacenter and doesn’t have to worry about physically updating or maintaining these components themselves.
In most cases, the IaaS user has complete control of the infrastructure through an application programming interface (API) or dashboard. As the most flexible as-a-Service cloud model, IaaS makes it easier to scale, upgrade, and add resources—like cloud storage—instead of having to anticipate future needs and pay costs up front.
The term as-a-Service generally means a cloud computing service that is managed for you so that you can focus on what’s more important, like your code and relationships with your customers. In addition to IaaS, there are two other major as-a-Service options: PaaS and SaaS.
With PaaS, hardware and an application-software platform are provided and managed by an outside service provider, but the user handles the actual application and data. Primarily for developers and programmers, PaaS gives the user a platform on which to develop, run, and manage their own applications without having to build and maintain the infrastructure usually associated with the process. Cloud platforms are a type of PaaS, which includes services provided by Alibaba Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and IBM Cloud.
SaaS is a service that delivers a web application, which the service provider manages, to its users typically through a web browser. Software updates, bug fixes, and other general software maintenance are taken care of for the user, and they connect to the app through a dashboard or API. SaaS also eliminates the need to have an application installed locally on each individual user’s computer, allowing greater methods of group or team access to the software as desired.
- Flexibility: Purchase only the components you need for your use case and scale them up or down based on business needs.
- Affordability: Low overhead and no maintenance costs make IaaS an affordable option. Pay only for what you use and how often you use it—similar to paying a utility bill.
- Control: The user has control of their infrastructure.
- Security: Does the provider have a trusted reputation and the resources to prevent and manage any security threats? Are there documented disaster recovery protocols that ensure business continuity?
- Multitenant systems: As IaaS providers tend to allocate infrastructure resources to multiple clients as needed, the provider is required to make sure that customers are unable to access each others’ data. Having multiple customers using a provider’s infrastructure can create an imbalance known as noisy neighbor—where a single user’s monopoly of a specific resource can slow down performance for others—so providers need to plan resource allocation carefully. This is why it's important to understand how the provider scales with their consumer loads.
- Service: What are the service provider’s service-level agreements (SLAs)—the minimum amount of time and effort the provider guarantees to solve resource provisioning issues?
- Reliability: Performance and speed largely depend on the provider. Any software or hardware problems on their end will impact user runtimes.
Red Hat’s cloud infrastructure products let you build and manage an IaaS cloud. These include Red Hat OpenStack® Platform, Red Hat Virtualization, Red Hat Satellite, Red Hat Ceph Storage, and our container orchestration platform Red Hat OpenShift.
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