Infrastructure as a Service: A Beginner’s Guide
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Infrastructure as a Service: A Beginner’s Guide

By Mainak Biswas June 15, 2015 - 2,036 views

The way computers and data storage work are very different from what how it used to be. The way storage works, has changed drastically since the emergence of cloud. The cloud has literally changed the way we do business, connect with people and deploy IT solutions. It has also reduced cost burden and increased productivity among companies. This has helped companies to focus on their core competencies, while using services on a shared platform.

Most importantly, the cloud evolution has helped companies to establish themselves firmly in the IT sector, which earlier was too expensive. Finally, cloud computing has helped companies to access software and infrastructure which otherwise could not have been possible. There are various services a company can purchase through cloud computing models. One of those is Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS.

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a kind of cloud computing where a 3rd party provider hosts internet based virtualized computing resources. It has started to replace the server you might have once used happily. The trend has changed so much that now you can see companies, who host these servers and allow you to pay for the use of the hardware that they house. IaaS is seen as a cost-efficient and scalable solution as it doesn’t require the same hardware that was previously required.

For instance, servers are very expensive to purchase and maintain. Smaller and medium companies simply cannot afford to have an entire server setup built for themselves. It is also quite unnecessary for larger companies to have their own servers when much of their infrastructural needs can be outsourced. Whilst IaaS cuts costs and ensures good service, you need to pay attention to the platforms and software you are using as well.

Let us look at some advantages of installing IaaS:

1. No maintenance costs

Yes, you heard it right. It is not low maintenance cost but no maintenance cost altogether. Since, cloud computing is done over the Internet, companies don’t have to invest in the hardware required. All of it is handled by the IaaS vendor the company chooses. It also means that companies don’t have to worry about maintenance and replacing old equipment. When there is no maintenance cost, the companies can invest in other things. It also saves on the time to check maintenance and when it comes to business, then time equals to money.

This is a very interesting aspect of cloud computing as most companies find it difficult to maintain infrastructure. It costs a lot and is very time consuming. Companies simply cannot take the responsibility of hiring maintenance staff full-time as that is going to cost a lot. The obvious choice is then to outsource to a cloud vendor.

2. Pay-as -you-go model

As we discussed earlier, investing in infrastructure can be a very expensive affair. No company can afford to invest so much money in infrastructure when it can be used on a safe and secure shared platform. If need be, cloud computing also allows dedicated servers, which need not be bought. It will be maintained and allotted by the vendor and the client only has to pay for renting the services.

This is one of the biggest advantages of IaaS and the pay-as-you-go model essentially means that the use of IaaS is metered in such a way that companies only pay for the services they use & how much they use it. There is no fixed monthly price tag, which is a welcome. Enterprises will know exactly where and how much are they spending & whether it is worth it. If you have used less of IaaS, your costs will match that. If you have used it excessively, your bill reflects that. The payment charges are transparent and therefore, you don’t have to doubt the credibility of the service.

3. Multiple user access

IaaS provides multiple user access, which acts as one of its key points. In an era that has to make do with virtual teams, this aspect of IaaS comes in handy. Multiple User Access ensures that the confusion and the chaotic situation where a single user trying to handle multiple responsibilities is avoided. It also helps in improving the efficiency and the speed of work & definitely contributes in reduction of cost.

It offers a great solution to start-ups that can’t afford to pay separately for each user. At the end of the day, it boosts flexibility and versatility within an organization. This is important to maintain the cohesiveness that exists within a company.

4. Strong reliability and performance

IaaS is a very reliable option and its performance is, without a doubt, excellent. As IaaS reduces cost and time in maintenance & provides multiple user access, the performance of the company increases too. The IT team won’t have to worry about maintaining the hardware or keeping a track of it. It can concentrate on improving and adding new contributions to the company.

This also brings us to the question of IT teams innovating and adding value to their home organizations. Instead of spending precious man-hours on infrastructure, they can focus their time on more complex and valuable tasks.

5. Scalability

When it comes to business, nothing is the same as the previous day. The work structure can change from week to week, which demands for a dynamic infrastructure that can handle a large variety of requirements that are placed upon it. With IaaS, resources can be made instantly available for the ever so fluctuating activities. It also effectively eliminates any kind of downtime needed to add to or adjust infrastructure requirements.

For example, if there are some new demands that suddenly arise, IaaS services can upscale quickly and easily to meet the growth. If there is a drop in demand, services can scale downward and save resources from being wasted unnecessarily. This shows how IaaS can mold itself to fit the company’s needs.

6. Easier access

IaaS also provides easier access for employees and entrepreneurs who use business applications. As IaaS is provided over the cloud, it has access to the essential systems, features, and data can be shared with anyone. This provides employees the experience of an office while they are on the go. Most importantly, employees do not feel disconnected from their work space, which earlier used to be within cabins. IaaS helps bringing back easier access to files, folders, software and programs, which were earlier easily accessible as well.

What are the disadvantages?

IaaS also has certain disadvantages such as the continuous concern of the vendor, whether one has to change the vendor and the cost involved or whether to stick to the same vendor. Since all the data is stored on cloud, security can be the biggest concern. There have been a few instances when unscrupulous vendors have sold off data belonging to their clients.

These are far and few in between & such cases happen within a traditional office space as well. There is no platform that will allow businesses to take place without any risk and IaaS is no exception. In spite of the few security risks that IaaS presents itself with, it is an option that is increasingly being adopted by the most conservative companies as well.

Looking ahead

There might be some disadvantages but the benefits derived from Infrastructure as a Service can truly make a business more flexible and enhance its efficiency. It can reduce costs drastically and boost productivity abundantly. It gives a scope for innovation and fixes focus on business.

Companies that have adopted IaaS have seen new capabilities in meeting demands of a rapidly evolving business world. In a world that is rapidly changing, it is important to adapt and be flexible. Those who refuse to adapt or those who delay will face the consequences of a changing world that has moved ahead. Today, not many companies wish to invest in infrastructure themselves.

There is also no need to invest in IT infrastructure. It is a perfectly viable option to engage cloud computing vendors to address infrastructural deficits. In fact, looking ahead, this will become more of a norm than a choice. The process has already begun and cloud computing, along with Infrastructure as a Service has become the accepted business practice among most savvy companies.

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