Infrastructure as a Service

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What Does Infrastructure as a Service Mean?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the practice of delivering a full compute stack — including servers, storage, networking and operating software — as an abstract, virtualized construct.


Like Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud delivery models, IaaS allows users to pay for only the resources they use while offloading complex and expensive management tasks to their provider.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) may also be known as hardware as a service (HaaS) or composable infrastructure.

Techopedia Explains Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS grew out of the broader conversion from traditional hardware-oriented data centers to virtualized and cloud-based infrastructure. By removing the fixed relationship between hardware and operating software and middleware, organizations found that they could scale data environments quickly and easily to meet workload demands. In this way, the enterprise is able to streamline its actual hardware infrastructure while still providing the needed resources to serve the business model.

Just as infrastructure comes in many forms and serves many different functions, so does IaaS. A general-purpose environment supporting production workloads and back-office operations will be optimized for live application support, rapid access and active databases.

However, some implementations are built for replication and disaster recovery. In these cases, support for leading site recovery solutions is paramount. Still other services cater to test and development workloads, stressing a low-cost, pay-per-use structure.

Major players in the IaaS industry include Alibaba, Google, IBM, Microsoft and AWS.

Five Benefits of IaaS

While IaaS generally provides a better pricing model than internal infrastructure, costs can become unmanageable as scale increases. For this reason, many organizations utilize third-party IaaS for temporary, specialized workloads while developing their own cloud infrastructure as their data requirements mount.

Start-ups often use public cloud IaaS as a cost-effective and easy way to launch a business. The benefits include:

  1. Greater Reliability
    The on-demand service model makes it easy to migrate workloads from one IaaS instance to another, ensuring that resources are always there when you need them.
  2. Greater Security
    IaaS providers maintain state-of-the-art security postures as core elements of their business models.
  3. Scalability
    One of the greatest advantages of IaaS is the ability to scale computing resources on the fly, according to current need.
  4. DevOps Support
    Test, dev and operations teams gain immediate access to infrastructure to greatly speed up development and support operations.
  5. Business Focus
    By removing IT as a cost center in the enterprise, organizations can devote more time and energy to their core business models.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.