In the ever-evolving landscape of cloud adoption, resource virtualization has emerged as a transformative force, revolutionizing the way businesses operate and offer services. At the heart of this revolution lies the concept of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which offers a spectrum of service models designed to meet the diverse needs of every company. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the inner workings of IaaS, explore its significance, and delve into the optimization choices at your disposal.
What is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)?
Infrastructure as a Service is a cloud computing model that provides a virtualized computing environment over the internet. In essence, IaaS offers a complete IT infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis. This infrastructure typically includes virtual machines, storage, networking, and other essential components that make up the backbone of modern applications and services. With IaaS, customers no longer need to invest in and manage physical hardware as the cloud provider takes care of the underlying infrastructure, freeing up valuable resources and time.
To understand the uniqueness of IaaS, it’s essential to differentiate it from other cloud service models, namely Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). While PaaS offers a platform and development environment for building, testing, and deploying applications, and SaaS delivers ready-made software applications over the internet, IaaS focuses on delivering the fundamental building blocks of computing infrastructure.
Key components of IaaS
IaaS offers a rich mix of both physical and virtualized resources in order to run workloads more efficiently and reliably. To better visualize this process, consider its four main components:
Physical data centers
Cloud providers operate extensive data center facilities, typically distributed globally for maximum availability. These data centers house physical server stacks that are intensely resource-demanding, requiring constant cooling and protection from natural disasters. By outsourcing this to providers and accessing these resources over the internet, organizations are saved from directly managing the physical infrastructure.
Providers segment their total compute power into hypervisors, enabling end-users to wind up virtual instances with specific allocations of compute power, memory, and storage. Many providers offer both Central Processing Units (CPUs) and Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to cater to various workload requirements. Cloud computing often includes essential supplementary services like auto-scaling and load balancing, ensuring the scalability and performance that makes cloud computing attractive.
At its core, cloud networking facilitates internet access for applications, workloads, services, and data centers. Traditional networking hardware such as routers and switches still play a vital role in this process: cloud providers make these available programmatically via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Load balancers distribute incoming network traffic across multiple virtual machines to ensure optimal resource utilization and high availability. Virtual networks allow users to create isolated network segments, enhancing security and control over their infrastructure. In more sophisticated configurations, they serve as a platform for testing and deploying new services or updates, all while safeguarding against cybersecurity threats.
Cloud storage describes three main types: block, file, and object storage. While block and file storage are conventional in traditional data centers, they sometimes face challenges in adapting to the scale, performance, and distributed nature of cloud environments. That is because block storage divides data into equally-sized chunks. Each block identifier is stored in a data lookup table that must be searched through in order to retrieve and reassemble the correct info. This process is fast at low file sizes, but when handling terabytes of customer data, object storage’s untiered data lakes are often faster.
Consequently, object storage has emerged as the prevalent form of cloud storage. It offers high distribution, leverages cost-effective hardware, allows easy data access via HTTP, and boasts essentially limitless scalability. Moreover, its performance scales linearly as the cluster expands, making it an ideal choice for cloud-based storage solutions.
Why is Infrastructure as a Service important?
IaaS emerged as a popular computing model in the early 2010s and has since become the standard abstraction model for many workloads. Now worth around 150 billion U.S. dollars, it offers the foundation upon which organizations can build and deploy their digital initiatives. From the development of innovative applications to the implementation of cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, IaaS has proven itself as the infrastructure backbone that empowers organizations to bring their ideas to life.
In the face of global economic uncertainty, 2023 may not appear to support pursuing ambitious goals; however, such periods of lowered growth can serve as an opportunity to redirect, equip, and reevaluate infrastructure priorities. Relentless innovation, after all, is IaaS’ signature.
Future trends in the IaaS landscape
With so many organizations looking to radically adapt to a changing economic landscape, there are four primary areas of rapid change in the IaaS field.
IaaS used to rely solely on data being processed in a centralized data reserve. However, organizations are starting to wake up to the cybersecurity and performance realities of this: edge computing offers a new way of approaching data management. By processing data where it’s produced, there’s a lower reliance on constant internet connection, helping reduce latency – not to mention the growing number of 83+ demanding data localization in legislation.
Offering greater flexibility, data sovereignty, and performance, edge computing continues to unlock new routes into real-time data processing.
Hybrid and multi-cloud
Many organizations are adopting hybrid and multi-cloud strategies – knowing the differences is key to establishing what’s best for you. A hybrid cloud infrastructure integrates two or more distinct cloud types, whereas a multi-cloud approach combines multiple instances of the same cloud type.
A hybrid cloud configuration combines the utilization of public cloud computing with either a private cloud or on-premises infrastructure. The on-premises infrastructure can encompass internal data centers or any other IT resources hosted within a corporate network. This is a regular occurrence when businesses choose to retain specific processes and data within a controlled environment, such as a private cloud or on-premise data center, while also leveraging the extensive resources offered by public cloud computing. As regulatory standards shift and change, hybrid cloud deployments look to increasingly balance cost-effectiveness with standards.
Serverless computing architectures, a subset of IaaS, are gaining traction. These architectures abstract server management entirely, with the cloud provider automatically spinning up and provisioning the required resources when the code executes. Serverless offers an inherent cost-effectiveness thanks to its automated zero-scaling – where compute resources are immediately dropped when the code no longer requires them. This allows a smaller team of DevOps to continue with code production without messing around with the intricacies of resource provisioning.
Focus on cost efficiency
While the first three trends are making waves largely thanks to the technical achievements they inspire, 2023’s greatest trend has overwhelmingly been a focus on cost-effectiveness. While public cloud deployment is now essentially universal, Operations teams are beginning to mature past the point of poorly-implemented, ad-hoc deployments. Revisiting hastily architectured cloud infrastructure is a major focus today, with teams rapidly eliminating redundant, overbuilt, or unused cloud infrastructure. According to Gartner, 65% of app workloads will be optimal by 2027 – a massive increase from 2022’s 45%.
Pay-as-you-go pricing model
One of the most significant advantages of IaaS is its cost-effectiveness. Businesses no longer need to invest heavily in purchasing and maintaining physical hardware. Instead, they pay only for the resources they consume, following a pay-as-you-go pricing model. This cost model ensures that organizations can align their IT expenditures with actual usage, reducing capital expenditure and minimizing financial risk.
On-demand resource provisioning and rapid scalability
IaaS offers unparalleled agility through on-demand resource provisioning. Users can deploy new virtual machines, storage, or networking components within minutes, eliminating the lead time associated with traditional hardware procurement. This rapid scalability is invaluable for businesses that need to respond quickly to changing market conditions or unexpected demands.
IaaS providers typically operate multiple data centers across geographically diverse locations. This redundancy ensures high availability and fault tolerance. In the event of hardware failures or outages in one data center, services can seamlessly fail over to another, minimizing downtime and ensuring continuous operation.
Outsourced infrastructure management and maintenance
By choosing IaaS, organizations can offload the responsibilities of infrastructure management and maintenance to experienced cloud providers. This includes tasks such as hardware updates, security patching, and data backups. This outsourcing allows businesses to focus their IT teams on strategic projects rather than routine maintenance, enhancing overall efficiency.
Best practices for optimized IaaS performance
The potential offered by IaaS is almost limitless; however, there are a few guardrails to follow if efficiency is your goal.
As an organization makes the jump to cloud-based infrastructure, it can be overwhelmingly tempting to simply lift and shift. This sees companies initiate their cloud journey by transitioning “low-impact” workloads, such as development and testing, backup, or business continuity tasks. The rationale behind this approach is to minimize risk exposure and gain practical experience, thereby building momentum.
Although this logic is sound, it frequently leads to unpredictable expenses and resource sprawl. These consequences are often closely intertwined.
Instead, the most effective migration strategy entails planning and substantial investment, yet it is the sole approach that maximizes the cloud’s potential. When applications undergo re-platforming or re-architecture, they are entirely reconstructed on cloud-native infrastructure. These applications hold the agility to scale as needed and offer portability across various cloud resources and providers. They also serve as a robust foundation for the following best practices.
Cloud resources are indeed flexible and highly accessible, but costs can quickly spiral out of control if there is no cost management strategy in place. One of the most important ways to control costs is visibility: tagging resources is the primary way to achieve this. Make sure to use standard tags and support DevOps efforts with automated tagging guardrails. Since cloud resources are highly scalable, this can turn manual tagging and monitoring into a time-consuming endeavor, so be sure to use policies to standardize the process and automation to enforce these rules.
Typically, large enterprises rely on three categories of applications:
1. Backup and disaster recovery
These strategies are essential to ensure uninterrupted business operations. A robust recovery plan should aim for a short Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) to bring data loss in case of disasters to a minimum.
2. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
ERP systems are central to managing various business processes, including financials, manufacturing, distribution, supply chain, and human resources. The continuous operation of ERPs is vital for sustained business functionality.
3. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
VDI solutions enable remote delivery of desktop environments to endpoint devices. This technology empowers users to access applications seamlessly on laptops, smartphones, and other client devices, ensuring accessibility and productivity.
Simplify and automate with NinjaOne
In the dynamic landscape of modern technology, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) stands as a linchpin in the world of cloud computing. It empowers organizations to focus on innovation and growth while relinquishing the complexities of infrastructure management to capable cloud providers.
Rapid innovation can happen in the blink of an eye – achieve more with your existing resources by leveraging a bespoke stack of IaaS and SaaS options. With NinjaOne, implement automation, optimized workflows, and a cohesive toolkit across the full breadth of today’s distributed workforce. Support technicians to achieve 90% faster patching, rapid software deployment timeframes, and one-click solutions to solve even complex tasks.