Cloud Service Models: What is IaaS?

introduction-to-cloud-computing-technologies-trainingCloud computing has become a widely adopted model for IT infrastructure environments. It is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as follows:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models”

Advantages of Cloud Computing

Cloud has the advantage of reduced infrastructure costs for consumers, enabling them to leverage IT infrastructure, applications and services on an as-needed basis. The metering, on-demand self-service, and broad network access capabilities enables a cloud consumer to leverage and utilize computing capabilities and only pay for the resources actually used. Elasticity enables consumers to grow or reduce the computing resources used, on demand. This transfers many costs for cloud consumers from relatively large capital expenses associated with owning infrastructure to smaller operational expenses for only utilizing the infrastructure when needed for achieving overall business objectives.

The three basic cloud service models include Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This post focuses on IaaS. Information on PaaS and SaaS will appear in future posts.

What IaaS Can Do For You

IaaS provides consumers with fee-based IT infrastructure as a service. Gartner defines IaaS below:

“Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a highly automated offering where compute resources, complemented by storage and networking capabilities, are offered to the customer on-demand. “

The infrastructure resource components typically provided include compute, storage and networking. Further, these resources may include processors or cores, memory, disks, storage, network components and associated infrastructure management, and security. The physical location of these components is transparent to the consumer, and they may be geographically dispersed worldwide. The IaaS services are available via the Internet. Example IaaS consumers include IT administrators, who leverage this service to support their operations, and other cloud service providers, who may use IaaS as a foundation for providing PaaS, SaaS or other services. Many administrator tasks are automated, and consumers can dynamically scale access to the infrastructure up or down, based upon their needs.

The IaaS service provider owns the infrastructure and provides access to these resource components on a pay-per-use basis. The provider is responsible for upgrading and maintaining the equipment. IaaS services are provided using two basic models: public and private. In the public cloud, IaaS provides infrastructure services using a shared multi-tenant model. Access to dedicated private infrastructure is provided by a private cloud.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

One of the most popular IaaS providers today is Amazon Web Services. Their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is “a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud”. EC2 provides consumers with access to configurable virtual servers that include memory, CPU, storage, etc. Several options are available for the service type, virtual server size, pricing and more. Details are presented on the Amazon EC2 web site. The Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) service provides block-level storage for EC2. This service is also offered in several options, as detailed here.

There are many IaaS vendors that provide a diverse range of services. Listed below are the top ten enterprise IaaS providers, based upon an IDC report, and as reported by InformationWeek.

Ranking of IaaS Cloud Service Providers

An IDC report has forecast public IaaS sales of $8.7B in 2014, moving to $24.6 in 2018. These IaaS sales are driven by a cloud storage growth of 31% (CAGR).

To learn more, have a look at Learning Tree’s 4-day course on Amazon Web Services or Microsoft’s Azure Infrastructure Services. Both courses can be taken from one of their global centers or online from anywhere. Or, download my white paper – Cloud Computing Promises: Fact or Fiction where we get behind the scenes & take a good look at 10 promises being promoted by the media & industry.

Stay tuned for my next post when we look at the Platform-as-a-Service cloud service model.

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