What Is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a Service(IaaS) is a way for a business to gain access to cloud based infrastructure. This can include access to servers, storage or networking via the cloud through a pay as you go basis rather than an upfront fee for all the equipment.

How does it work technically?

Through a manged services provider, you are able to gain access to the infrastructure mentioned above, without investing in the technology directly.  Rather than set up on-premise infrastructure yourself, a manged services provider does the hard work for you. Everything from picking the right servers, to managing hardware redundency, ongoing maintenance and upgrades.

Essentially you rent out servers or virtual servers depending on your requirements. If you rent a physical server, the server resources are dedicated to your business only. This means the performance of the server is impacted by the tasks executed by your business only. If you opt for a virtual server option, it is possible you will be sharing the physical server with a number of other businesses. However, the way in which the managed services provider allocates resources between business should mean it is unlikely you will experience any performance issues. For most businesses, a virtual server will provide sufficient resources to operate from.

Once your business has been setup, you can access your new infrastructure through web portals such as cPanel or MySQL. From here it’s essentially the same experience to having on-premise infrastructure. With tools from your provider you can monitor usage as traffic grows, manage storage as capacity reduces and address network requirements as needed. As your business grows, you simply move to a bigger plan with greater allowances. This is great for growing businesses who have insufficent cashflow to begin with, but need to grow into larger IT infrastructure.

Finally, using a manged services provider for your IT infrastructure ensures you have access to troubleshooting and assistance, so you don’t have to worry about any server side maintenance.

The cost of IaaS

When it comes to the cost of IaaS you have several key factors to remember:

  • The upfront cost is much lower than investing directly in your own hardware. You typically pay per month and you can get a service that matches your needs – after all, why get a server for 1000 users when you only need it for 100?
  • Most providers can offer short term allowances to meet demands for unusually high periods of demand – in a relatively short period of time. This means that you don’t have to invest in large amounts of infrastructure if you are only going to require the processing power for a short, ad-hoc period. This service may come at an extra cost, but it is usually cheaper than purchasing new equipment for a short period of usage.
  • A key concept to remember is dynamic scaling. Hosts who provide this monitor these high and low peaks of traffic and alter fees accordingly.
  • Keep in mind, it is still prudent to monitor your IaaS environments and the predicted costs, to ensure you do not go over budget. If this is a concern for you, you can speak to your provider about getting a fixed cost service.

Finally, remember that you pay for the quality of the service you get – a $10 monthly plan for unlimited access may sound great but expect slower responses to inquiries, higher down time and increased loading times for your users.

Is IaaS for me?

Even with some of the biggest advantages given to IaaS including scalability and low upfront costs, there are still some limitations.  Although all sized businesses can benefit from its use, those which need access to a large volume of storage on demand could see increased transfer times compared to on-premises storage.

If privacy or security is a key issue, storing everything in a data centre may not be the best option. Using your own private network to store sensitive data on-premise may be preferable. In these situations the possibility of the combination of both on-premise and IaaS services can often be the best choice, based off your current requirements

Think your business will benefit from using IaaS?

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