Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) in Enterprises: Definition, Differences, and Potential
In the cloud computing family, we have Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), the cloud model that closely resembles an on-premises infrastructure. Infrastructure-as-a-Service delegates the management, deployment, and security of the hardware aspect (without which nothing would be possible) of an enterprise to cloud service providers. So, what is IaaS? What are the differences compared to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models, and most importantly, what are the advantages and use cases in the daily operations of a business?
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IaaS, PaaS, SaaS: How to harness the power of cloud computing?
Enterprises: When cloud computing disrupts the way we consume IT.
A recent Gartner study estimates that by 2025, 51% of global IT spending by organizations will be dedicated to the cloud. In just two decades, cloud computing has disrupted the way businesses operate, from startups to multinational corporations, as well as how IT is consumed. But in the era of as-a-service and significant technological advancements, isn’t it the logical progression?
The principle of cloud computing is simple. It enables the delivery of remote IT services, such as:
- Software solutions stacks
- Application development tools
- And many more
What explains this enthusiasm of businesses for the cloud? It’s because these services are now hosted in one or more data centers (in public, private, or hybrid mode) outside the organization’s premises. This means there is no longer a need to purchase hardware. Today, organizations prefer turning to on-demand services from cloud providers for the flexibility and convenience they offer: a pay-as-you-go payment system, ready-to-use hardware for application development, reliable service providers to rely on, and more.
Cloud computing encompasses various approaches, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Since we specialize in GPU infrastructure deployment and management, this article will focus on IaaS.
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Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Definition and Principles
Everything is in the title (or almost). The principle of IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) consists of offering rental services for IT infrastructures from a cloud provider. And by infrastructure, we mean fleets of servers, integrated systems, or virtual machines.
The objectives of businesses are diverse. It could be to obtain greater computing power, storage, or backup capabilities, to connect networks, or to leverage a data center, for example, to work on artificial intelligence algorithms.
The rental of servers and virtualization services can also be highly useful for businesses involved in graphic content creation, video encoding, computer-aided design (CAD) software usage, or web development.
The advantages of an Infrastructure-as-a-service
Renting infrastructures, especially virtual ones, saves businesses from all the inconveniences associated with purchasing physical equipment: the high costs, of course, but also the maintenance, which ultimately becomes very time-consuming for IT teams. Additionally, there is the question of hardware upgrades as a company evolves and technology needs change (which can happen rapidly). Releasing funds during those moments is not as simple as one might think. And a significant advantage is that the provider will be responsible for the security of the infrastructures.
With IaaS, it only takes a few clicks for businesses to provision or deprovision resources according to economic growth, peak activity periods, and quieter times. IaaS also encourages a consumption-based payment model, the famous pay-as-you-go: you only pay for what you consume and only for the time you have used those cloud services.
IaaS vs PaaS (Platform-as-a-service)
In an IaaS model, the third-party provider will deliver server, network, storage services, and also handle machine virtualization. With PaaS, the provider hosts the infrastructure in its own data centers, but also offers an on-demand platform and a stack of software solutions to enable the business to develop its own applications. Once again, businesses do not have to maintain the infrastructure and software related to application development and operation.
IaaS vs SaaS (Software-as-a-service)
In this third model of cloud computing, we completely move away from hardware considerations. With SaaS, the provider upon which the business relies will deliver one or more complete, ready-to-use applications accessible via a web browser. Everything surrounding these applications, including updates, patches, and operations, is managed by the provider. Finally, none of these SaaS applications are installed on the company’s infrastructure.
Uses and Potential of IaaS in Enterprises
Lift and shift migration or how to consolidate application assets in the workflow.
One of the major strengths of IaaS is its ability to facilitate the migration of applications and their data to the cloud without any modifications. This technique is known as lift and shift or rehosting, or even running as-is. The idea is to migrate an exact copy of an application, originally hosted on-premises, to a cloud environment while keeping the application’s architecture and code intact. For businesses, this method offers several uses and advantages.
- It is a relatively fast process that does not require mobilizing an entire IT team. During the migration, the local application remains in place, and users can continue working on it without interruption and with the same level of quality.
- Companies can now take advantage of a more powerful environment and hardware to run their applications or workloads without needing to invest in the physical infrastructure. It is now possible to provision various resources (network, storage, etc.) on-demand for optimal usage of this application portfolio.
High-Performance Computing (HPC): Unleashing Tenfold Power for Science and Graphic Design Creation
Aggregation (or clustering) of servers and virtual machines in the cloud creates a kind of giant calculator that far exceeds the computing power of an on-premise PC or server. While a workstation with a 3 GHz processor can process 3 billion calculations per second, HPC can perform a few quadrillions. Yes, it’s quite impressive…
HPC consists of three main components: computing, networking, and storage. Programs and algorithms work simultaneously within the cluster, as if thousands of PCs were performing these tasks at the same time. The cluster is connected to the network, and the data storage component captures the results.
This real-time data processing capability leads to significant advancements in scientific research, data science, finance, and graphic design. And in very tangible ways, this is demonstrated through the discovery of vaccines, treatments for cancer and diabetes, immense progress in renewable energy, and films and games with spectacular visual effects, just to name a few.
Moreover, in the field of Data Science, it opens up opportunities to push machine learning and deep learning algorithms even further to combat banking fraud, develop autonomous vehicles, and more.
Enlightened data mapping and storage
Because it always comes back to data, Infrastructure-as-a-Service offers businesses the opportunity to structure, map, and, most importantly, better understand their data. There are several categories of enterprise data. In broad terms, there are strategic data that are used on a daily basis, sensitive data, and archives.
Having servers on-site as well as in the cloud allows for a more enlightened classification based on the needs and specificities of a company. For example, if you deal with healthcare data, it may be better to entrust their hosting to HDS-certified cloud providers. On the other hand, for your most strategic data that you use daily, it may be worthwhile to keep them on-site.
These different considerations lead to a certain level of reflection, which ultimately leads to a better understanding of one’s environment.