The direction in which the current IT world goes is apparent – move everything possible to the cloud. And granted, this approach entails many benefits! As a result, more and more solutions are available in the as-a-service model, including IT infrastructure. And today, we want to show what infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is all about. Let’s cut right to the chase!
In short, this model is based on outsourcing your IT infrastructure (consisting of storage, server and networking resources) to the cloud instead of keeping it on-premises (in a physical data centre). In other words, in this model, the entire IT infrastructure that, until recently, had to be maintained in your headquarters now can be delivered on-demand from an external provider, as you need it. This also includes tools for developing software, scaling it and making it secure. How does IaaS work in practice?
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IaaS: Solution and Architecture
The first thing you have to know is that in the IaaS model, the entire infrastructure (comprising physical and virtualised resources) is managed by the service provider, meaning you don’t have to worry about keeping it in your office/building, maintaining, updating and improving as your needs grow. You can simply rent the IT infrastructure your company requires at a specific moment. The more you need, the more you rent, it’s really that simple!
We can distinguish four crucial elements of the IaaS architecture:
- Data centres: Service providers offering IaaS run large physical data centres located in various locations, frequently in many countries. These data centres are usually made of routers, firewalls, storage systems (data warehouses, data lakes), servers and delivery features.
- Compute resources: Servers located in data centres provide users with virtual machines (VMs) offering the processing, memory, local storage, and network connectivity features, making computing power readily available. You can think of VMs as a computer within a computer – VMs behave like servers and provide functionality similar to the host operating system. Within these computing resources, you have access to both CPUs (central processing units) and GPUs (graphics processing units). They allow you to increase the performance of data and the number of simultaneous calculations within an application.
- Network resources: In short, they connect servers and other data centre services to the end-user location. Networking resources are typically available through APIs (application programming interfaces).
- Storage resources: Here, you usually have three types of storage to choose from: block, file and object storage. The latter is currently prevalent in the cloud environment, primarily because it’s almost limitless in scale and highly distributed.
How Does IaaS Really Work?
Generally speaking, you access all the resources and services available in the IaaS model via the Internet or other type of WAN network. IaaS users can build their VMs along with so-called middleware (intermediary elements like databases and buckets) and use them to deal with their workloads and projects.
IaaS vs. PaaS
In many ways, the IaaS model is quite similar to PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service). The main difference lies in who manages what. In PaaS, you manage your data and applications, and that’s pretty much it. The rest, including middleware, runtime, and operating systems, are in the provider’s hands. The IaaS model is a bit more flexible, as you are responsible for all the elements mentioned above.
They are third-party organisations that offer IaaS services for end-users. The most common IaaS providers are:
- Amazon AWS
- Google Compute Engine
- Microsoft Azure
- IBM Cloud Private and several others
The Form of Settlement
The most common form of settlement is when you pay only for used services (per-user basis), typically by the hour, week or month. If you sign a long-term contract (for at least one year), you can count on a discount.
Pros and Cons of IaaS
Let’s talk about the pros first. In fact, this solution entails many significant advantages that allow companies using it to decrease costs and improve efficiency:
- Lack of maintenance and operating costs: It’s all on the shoulders of the service provider. Of course, these costs are included in the settlement, but essentially, you don’t have to worry about maintaining, updating and improving your IT infrastructure.
- Scalability: Just like any as-a-service solution, IaaS is easily scalable. When your company needs more computing resources, they are here for you! This means that, in many instances, this solution is also more efficient than keeping everything on-premises.
- Streamlined testing: IaaS works perfectly when you want to test new applications or services without acquiring additional infrastructure for testing purposes.
- Continuity of service: Physical data centres provided by IaaS companies are located all over the world, making the risk of a disaster or outage negligible.
- Flexibility: IaaS can be based on a public, private or hybrid cloud. You have access to necessary resources through API, meaning you can easily manage your resources and change the shape of the service as you go. IaaS makes a case for itself, especially when you deal with workloads that are temporary or change unexpectedly.
Now, what about downsides?
- Fragmented settlement: At first, you can be surprised with IaaS billing – it’s very fragmented (to show you precisely the usage of services). It is vital to understand this form of settlement as quickly as possible to avoid any unnecessary or, worse yet, unauthorised use.
- Necessary skills: In this settlement model, it is quite easy to generate a high bill when the software being developed is not efficient and optimal enough. Therefore, the skills of both DevOps, architects, and the developers themselves are of great importance.
- Everything is in the hands of the provider: End-users frequently don’t even have access to the configuration and parameters of the on-site infrastructure they use. And it’s the same history with the system’s resilience and security – it all depends on the provider’s efforts. You simply have to trust your provider that they know what they are doing.
- Multitenancy: Lastly, you have to understand that IaaS is essentially a multi-tenant architecture. Therefore, the actions of other users can adversely impact your projects and workloads (it’s the so-called noisy neighbour effect). Partly, virtual private clouds (VPCs) can help you overcome this challenge. VPCs enable users to create their own private network within a public cloud.
Suppose you’ve decided to give IaaS a shot. What should be your first step? Actually, it all starts with the IaaS platform – you have to choose and start using one. But which solution should you pick (after all, there are tens of them)? Our experience shows that Microsoft Azure is a flexible and versatile option.
What Do You Need to Know About Microsoft Azure?
In essence, Microsoft Azure is a comprehensive public cloud computing platform. It can be used to work in the IaaS, PaaS and even SaaS models. Companies worldwide use Microsoft Azure to support their on-premises IT infrastructure or even replace it altogether.
What are the main benefits of MS Azure?
- Azure is safe to use: Microsoft has data centres in over 40 different locations worldwide on six continents. Therefore, you can pick the closest location to your company and your customers, making the connection stable and reliable.
- Azure services can be easily accessed: Via the Internet or the Express Route (which is a dedicated private network fibre connection).
- Reliability: The service comes with 24/7 tech support and 99.95% availability SLA.
- Remote work: With Azure, you can build remote work infrastructure to deploy virtual desktops and apps quickly and securely connect to any resource.
- Hybrid environments: You can easily manage servers, Kubernetes clusters and apps both on-premises and in the cloud from a single control plane.
Moreover, with MS Azure, you can host and develop web/mobile apps, implement IoT to your company, and make the most of data analytics and machine learning. If you want to know more about using Microsoft Azure, we invite you to watch this video:
IaaS comes with many perks and features that make your work much easier and allow you to save a lot of time and money. With this model, you don’t have to worry about the security of your applications and data, you don’t have to keep the vast IT infrastructure in your headquarters, and you have almost instant access to all the resources you need, precisely when and where you need them.
However, we do realise that you may find it difficult to start utilizing the IaaS model out of the blue. This is where HeroDOT steps into the game. Our team will gladly help you get IaaS up and running in your company. We will also support you along the way and help you manage your resources in the cloud. Drop us a line for details!