The infrastructure as a service or “IaaS” market is projected to experience quite a lot of growth over the coming years. Some sources point to cloud architecture being used to overcome IT growth obstacles as a reason for IaaS to grow in favor across all industries sooner rather than later. By 2026, the industry is expected to hit USD 238.87 Billion in total valuation, and its growth is not likely to stop there.
Businesses and individuals are now seeking out faster solutions to their data storage and sharing problems. This need for networking speed and accessibility translates to the sustained growth of the cloud-based service industry that powers such improvements. IaaS is at the forefront of this tidal wave and for very good reason: It’s both affordable and widely available. But, what exactly is IaaS and how can you take advantage of it with your own company?
What is IaaS?
IaaS is an emerging sector of cloud computing services that centers on computation, networking, and even basic data storage being provided by third-party companies for a revolving fee. This approach to acquiring necessary IT resources may come at an immediate (and continuous) cost for businesses, but it affords them the luxury of on-demand scalability. Third-party providers of such services invest the required capital and human labor to ensure all servers and distributed network devices are in tip-top shape at all times. This makes for a secure and reliable system that any business willing to pay the required access fee can then leverage for their own purposes. By offsetting the costs of maintenance, IT expertise, and such to a chosen provider, you can benefit from super-fast, highly optimized infrastructure that would be impractical to implement and keep up with on premises.
To put it concisely, IaaS allows businesses to delegate infrastructure upkeep to a third-party provider for a fee, freeing up time and resources to focus on their core competencies instead.
This kind of arrangement lends itself to many use cases and business needs. After all, although most businesses require some kind of IT infrastructure to handle their data and that of their customers, they probably would not be able to justify hiring a team of system experts to keep their business logic online in addition to the developers who helped to flesh out said logic in the first place. IaaS is highly advantageous to companies when leveraged intelligently, but it is just one of multiple cloud technology services to make its way to market. Both software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models exist to offer related, yet distinct, cloud-based functionality to businesses of all kinds. To understand how IaaS differs from these, it helps to learn what kinds of IaaS offerings currently exist. Following are the top types in use by businesses around the world.
IaaS test environments
A growing variety of development and testing environments are now available to teams all over the world to coordinate their software builds in a synchronized fashion. For instance, Microsoft’s Azure provides “DevTest” labs in which developers can safely run and assess their latest builds. Custom pipelines can be added to deploy new builds to a given DevTest lab environment. Both dev team members and designated software testers can then access the updated codebase, fully activated and accessible in a sandboxed environment.
IaaS testing environments are generally scalable with minimal fuss and are fully virtualized. This allows them to be reconfigured at a moment’s notice should the need arise. And hardly any resources are required to spin up additional testing environments, making this particular use case a no-brainer for dev teams that require configurable space to iterate at their own pace and in their own way.
IaaS data storage
Another prime use case that ties into the one mentioned above is that of data storage. Naturally, a testing environment must offer some amount of remote storage or it would be of little to no use to the teams that tried to use it. However, data storage can—and does—have its own niche within the IaaS space, facilitating the storage and exchange of information for significantly lower upfront costs than would be necessary to accomplish the same in-house.
Lower costs combine with greater flexibility in how much infrastructure (storage space, in this case) is allocated to a given team or project. This access to enhanced flexibility does come at a cost though: Data stored on contracted infrastructure may not meet the minimal requirements for compliance with certain consumer privacy rules.
Companies that need to store customer data in accordance with strict rules set forth by legislation like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may need to choose IaaS providers very carefully to move forward without tripping any regulatory wires in the process. Fines for noncompliance with such rules and guidelines can be severe and sometimes even threatening to your organization’s survival. Public data storage solutions are incredibly useful, but they’re not necessarily a perfect solution for all kinds of data.
IaaS solutions often provide custom analytics utilities to help organizations make better use of their services as well as gain a greater understanding of their own data. Whether your organization needs to sleuth out redundancies in its data stores or reveal correlations between subsets of large data silos and general profitability, IaaS can offer a powerful means of doing so.
With data stored more intuitively and constantly accessible to team members for queries of all kinds, the potential for deeper and broader analysis is highlighted, making IaaS a potential driver for actual innovation within an organization in addition to mere optimization.
IaaS analytics solutions facilitate collaboration, no matter how your team is distributed or what your analytics objectives may be. Often, computational power forms the basis of the pricing strategy used for these kinds of services, with individual compute units made available on demand. As with other IaaS varieties, maintenance and security processes are handled by the third-party provider, allowing businesses to focus solely on results.
IaaS networking offerings provide advanced levels of network functionality for a fraction of the cost it would take to implement the same from scratch. These solutions drill down into the networking aspects of IaaS to deliver core hardware and software in a neat and scalable package. IaaS networking utilities have been dubbed network as a service or “NaaS,” but remain a subset of the wider IaaS market.
NaaS allows companies to leverage powerful networking infrastructure on demand and for a monthly fee instead of being forced to foot a large upfront bill for hardware. Cost savings extend beyond the initial cost of networking devices to maintenance and security as well, making IaaS networking solutions particularly attractive for companies of all sizes that do not want to hire in-house IT staff to handle such responsibilities.
IaaS vs. PaaS
When comparing PaaS vs. IaaS, people often mix up the two, as they’re quite similar. In fact, they are so similar that they share weaknesses and limitations, including data security concerns, the potential for cost overruns, and vendor lock-in woes. However, they diverge when it comes to overall functionality and end-user utility. PaaS (platform-as-a-service) solutions take IaaS features one step further by incorporating functionality and tools to save developers time and energy.
PaaS offers useful built-in features such as search and security modules as well as directory management capabilities, etc. These features can be integrated directly into apps built on the platform itself, saving loads of development time upfront and allowing your team to focus on the types of features your apps need to succeed at market. PaaS solutions are also inherently scalable and accessible by default, affording teams the same core benefits of most other IaaS offerings. IaaS, as a term, may refer to PaaS solutions inclusively, but these solutions are unique within the wider IaaS space and are often focused around a niche objective, such as simplifying e-commerce or industry-specific management suites.
PaaS can be further divided into three main categories based on what it’s functionally anchored to. These are:
- Product-based PaaS: These are used to facilitate development around a specific software-as-a-service (SaaS) application.
- Operating environment PaaS: Here, IaaS providers add PaaS utilities to further improve their service’s appeal.
- Open-cloud PaaS: These types of solutions are not tied to any one product or operating environment, aiming instead to simplify app development pipelines across varying architectures, etc.
IaaS vs. SaaS
Iaas and SaaS are related to each other in that the two form key components of the cloud. However, unlike PaaS which extends IaaS functionality to offer organizations more for their money, software-as-a-service solutions center on specific services and tools that are offered without access to the underlying infrastructure that they operate on. Essentially, SaaS solutions are turnkey services designed to serve a single niche purpose.
SaaS applications can range from HR software to collaboration suites and are generally cloud-based for enhanced flexibility. Accessible online from just about anywhere, SaaS solutions are often a perfect match for companies with loads of remote workers or highly distributed teams. SaaS tools are normally made available for a revolving monthly fee and are easy to scale for different needs.
Choosing IaaS for your next project
If your next project could use an extensible and accessible foundation upon which new features, apps, and services can be built, then IaaS is likely what you’re looking for. Choosing the right provider comes down to assessing the following factors:
- Service track record
- Average uptime
- General functionality
- Customer support quality
In addition to the above, your chosen IaaS solution’s integration options can make or break its overall usability as well.
At VeryCreatives, we have the industry expertise needed to navigate the intricacies of IaaS solutions and providers. Our team can help you flesh out a concrete plan of attack to determine which options best suit your project’s goals and your budget constraints.
Book a call with us today to learn how else we can help make your next project a reality.