Infrastructure as a service


Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an instant computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the Internet. IaaS lets you quickly scale resources to meet demand and only pay for what you use. IaaS avoids the expense and complexity of buying and managing your own physical servers and other datacenter infrastructure. Each resource is offered as a separate service component, and you rent the resource as long as you need it.

As a result, IaaS is flexible. You can provision common infrastructure such as virtual machines (VMs), storage, virtual subnets, firewalls, and VPNs to build a solution. You don't need to manage physical servers and appliances. However, you're responsible for configuring and managing the components; for example, configuring firewalls, updating VM OS's, updating DBMS's, and runtimes.

Common scenarios

Let's imagine your healthcare company needs to run a special version of desktop software. The software is only supported on a specific version of an operating system, and only one user license is required. You can create a VM with the required software. The user can use a remote desktop connection to connect to the VM to use the software.

Let's imagine another scenario. Your development teams need several unique development environments. Through the development cycle, they need to test various versions of the product. The developers can provision environments when needed. When an environment is no longer needed, your developers can easily delete it.

Some other common scenarios include:

Website hosting: If you want more control of hosting a website, running websites using IaaS might be a better option than traditional web hosting.

Web apps: IaaS provides all the infrastructure to support web apps, including storage, web and application servers, and networking resources. Organizations can quickly deploy web apps on IaaS and easily scale infrastructure up and down when demand for the apps is unpredictable.

Storage, backup, and recovery: Storage management can be complex, requiring a large capital investment and skilled staff to manage data and meet legal and compliance requirements. IaaS can help simplify planning, management, unpredictable demand, and steadily growing storage needs.

High-performance computing: If you have a workload that requires high-performance computing, you can run the workload in the cloud, thus avoiding the up-front cost of the hardware and only paying for the usage when needed.

Big data analysis: If you have large datasets that contain potentially valuable patterns, trends, and associations, IaaS can provide the processing power to mine data sets to locate patterns.


Eliminates capital expense and reduces ongoing cost: IaaS sidesteps the upfront expense of setting up and managing an on-site datacenter, making it an economical option for start-ups and businesses testing new ideas. As soon as you’ve decided to launch a new product or initiative, the necessary computing infrastructure can be ready in minutes or hours, rather than the days or weeks—and sometimes months—it could take to set up internally.

Improves business continuity and disaster recovery: Achieving high availability, business continuity, and disaster recovery is expensive, because it requires a significant amount of technology and staff. With the right service-level agreement (SLA) in place, IaaS can reduce this cost and access applications and data as usual during a disaster or outage.

Respond quicker to shifting business conditions: IaaS lets you quickly scale up resources to accommodate spikes in demand for your application—during the holidays, for example—then scale resources back down again when activity decreases to save money. Because you don’t need to first set up the infrastructure before you can develop and deliver apps, you can get them to users faster with IaaS.

Increase stability, reliability, and supportability: With IaaS, there’s no need to maintain and upgrade hardware or troubleshoot equipment problems. With the appropriate agreement in place, the service provider assures that your infrastructure is reliable and meets SLAs.