Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Pros and cons


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is one of the most prominent cloud computing service delivery models, which refers to using a third-party provider’s virtual physical infrastructure in place of one’s own (network, storage, and servers).

In IaaS, which was earlier called hardware as a service (HaaS), the resources are provisioned to the users to run any kind of software, including operating systems and applications, by giving them access to fundamental computer resources like processing, storage, and networks.

The IT resources are housed on external servers; anybody with an internet connection may access them. There is no control over the physical infrastructure. Still, the user has control over operating systems, storage, installed software, and specific networking components (for example, host and firewalls).

Since the service providers manage the physical infrastructure, the complexity of managing it is removed or hidden from the IT architects. IaaS eliminates the need for every organization to maintain IT infrastructure.

In traditional hosting services, IT infrastructure was rented out for specific periods with a pre-determined hardware configuration. The client paid for the time and configuration, regardless of actual use. With an IaaS cloud computing platform, clients can dynamically scale the configuration to meet changing needs and are billed only for the services used.

A regular IaaS provider can provide the following services.

Compute: Virtual computing power and main memory are provided to end users as part of Computing as a Service.
Storage: It provides back-end storage for storing files and VM images.
Network: Many networking components like bridges, routers, and switches are provided virtually.
Load balancers: These are used to manage the sudden spikes in infrastructure usage for balancing the load.

Advantages of IaaS

  1. Charging based on usage: The services of IaaS are provisioned on a pay-per-use basis to users. Customers are paid for only what they have used. This strategy reduces the needless expenditure of investment on hardware purchases.
  2. Reduced cost: IaaS providers allow their customers to rent computing resources on a subscription basis instead of investing in physical infrastructure to run their operations. IaaS eliminates the need to purchase physical resources, lowering the total investment cost.
  3. Elastic resources: IaaS provides resources depending on user requirements. The resources can be scaled up and scaled down by using load balancers. Load balancers automate the process of dynamic scaling by sending additional requests that are redirected to the new resources.
  4. Better resource utilization: The most important factor of IaaS providers is resource utilization. To get a return on investment by utilizing the infrastructure resources efficiently.
  5. Supports green IT: Dedicated servers are utilized for many business requirements in conventional IT architecture. The power consumption will increase due to the large number of servers deployed. IaaS eliminates the need for dedicated servers since a single infrastructure is shared among several clients, decreasing the number of servers and decreasing power consumption resulting in Green IT.

Disadvantages of IaaS

  1. Security issues: IaaS provides services through Virtualization technology through hypervisors. There are several chances to attack the compromised hypervisors. If hypervisors are compromised, any virtual machines may be simply attacked. Most IaaS providers cannot ensure complete security for virtual machines and the data stored on them.
  2. Interoperability issues: IaaS service providers don’t have standard operating procedures. Any VM transfer from one IaaS provider to another is a difficult one. Customers may encounter the issue of vendor lock-in issue.
  3. Performance issues: It provides resources from distributed servers connected through a network. Network latency is a key factor in determining the performance of the service. Due to latency concerns, the VM’s performance might suffer from time to time.

Things to consider before choosing IaaS

  • IaaS may not replace traditional hosting. Traditional hosting may remain the viable option when resource requirements are predictable, viz., for internal databases, applications, and email. Apart from contingency needs, IaaS is useful for application development and testing.
  • IaaS may not eliminate the need for an in-house IT department. It will be needed to monitor the IaaS setup. IT salary expenditure might not reduce significantly, although other IT expenses will.
  • Breakdowns at the IaaS vendor’s end can bring your business to a halt. Assess the IaaS cloud computing platform vendor’s finances and stability. Ensure that the SLAs provide backups for hardware, network, data, and application failures. Image portability and third-party support are a plus.
  • The IaaS vendor can get access to your sensitive data. Engage only with credible players. Study their security policies and precautions.