In our first two posts in this series, we talked about what cloud computing is and the three different types: SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service.) The last article talked about PaaS and how it can be used to help companies take their ideas from the drawing board to market more quickly, with less expense and more security. Today, we're going to discuss IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service.)
What is Infrastructure as a Service?
As we’ve discussed, cloud computing is a broad term that refers to using a third party for computing functions that were traditionally handled in-house. Companies of all sizes can and are making use of this relatively new technology. IaaS is particularly well-suited for small to medium-sized companies.
Infrastructure as a Service, sometimes referred to as Hardware as a Service (HaaS) takes SaaS and PaaS one (or a few) steps further. IaaS, as the name implies, involves out-sourcing all of a company's computing needs to a managed cloud services provider. This can include SaaS functions, such as data storage and email management, but can also include desktop virtualization, customer relationship management and other back office functions. IaaS can also take care of your security, by establishing network security standards, assigning IP addresses and managing your firewall.
With IaaS, the service provider owns all of the computing hardware, operating systems and software, and you only pay on a per user basis. This partnership eliminates the equipment and upgrade expenses necessary when you own and manage your own infrastructure. Essentially, you rent the computing capabilities you need. Forbes Magazine calls IaaS the fastest growing cloud computing segment. They cite a recent study by Gartner Research that estimates sales of IaaS services are currently at $131 billion worldwide, to grow at a rate of more than 40% annually from now until 2016.
Like SaaS and PaaS, IaaS saves companies from having to invest in servers as well as the room to house them, the utilities to cool them and the personnel to maintain them. With IaaS, that savings is multiplied, since you are no longer required to purchase software licenses, security programs, firewalls and operating systems.
Benefits of Using a Managed Cloud Service Provider
Using IaaS offered through a managed cloud service provider lets any size company compete with the "big boys." It provides companies of all sizes greater flexibility, as they may not have to invest in additional hardware expense as their needs change (i.e. test a new marketing plan, open a branch office or launch a new product). You can "pay as you go."
As with PaaS, IaaS lets a company's IT personnel spend their time doing what they do best, being creative and focusing on business objectives, rather than getting bogged down with computer maintenance, security and software upgrades. It also enables you to invest on just the services and storage space you need, when you need them.
Another advantage to IaaS is its environmental friendliness and cost-effectiveness. By making the most efficient use of computing hardware (sharing resources in a data center, for example), there is less energy wasted on equipment and in cooling the space that houses it.
We hope our cloud computing series clarified some confusion and left you thinking about how this cloud computing technology service can benefit your company. The cloud is not a fad; it's the future of how business will implement technology. To discuss your business’s potential cloud computing opportunities, request a consultation with a Cloud Service Specialist.