Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is another form of Cloud-based service. Essentially, it refers to the use of remote infrastructure based on subscription, This model allows users to ‘rent’ infrastructure, removing the need for investing in and maintaining their own.
More specifically, the resources referred to are virtualized computing resources along with supporting services to go along with them. For example, system monitoring, security (not to be mistaken with security for small businesses), load balancing, backups, and more.
Microsoft Azure is a name that comes up often no matter whether you’re thinking about SaaS, IaaS, or Paas. The company is justifiably proud of Azure since it is one of the dominant forces in all three categories.
In IaaS, customers make use of Azure to deploy various configurations of managed infrastructure. Because of the very versatile nature of these services, Azure IaaS is suitable for a wide range of business needs.
Rather than focus on the technological advantage of IaaS, Microsoft has positioned Azure along the lines of business benefits. For example, touting compliance, analytics, unified delivery, and a great deal of flexibility – especially in cost.
Where there is Cloud, Amazon isn’t far away and the company is a top competitor for Microsoft’s Azure. The brand is highly identifiable with the public Cloud and IaaS in particular. Its offerings do cover the entire Cloud spectrum.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is easy to use and has been known to include a massive array of tools. Best of all, it is virtually limitless yet gives customers the advantage of flexibility and affordability, very important elements as businesses scale upwards.
It does have a few drawbacks though and an especially big one is with regard to EC2 limits. This may hamper business operations, depending on how you’re using the service. Resources may be limited by region, possibly leading to unintended bottlenecks.
Google has always been known as an innovative company and its Cloud Infrastructure business is built in the same mould. Using a variation of technologies, Google aims to build security through depth in layers.
The company owns one of the largest network backbones around, seamlessly connecting their massive spread of data centers around the world. Essentially, it has its own Cloud on a global scale – something it is justifiably proud of.
Unfortunately the company has somehow not managed to garner the support that AWS and Microsoft have seen and it lags behind these two behemoths in enterprise Cloud service market share.
IBM Cloud is another classic example of how top Cloud providers cover the entire spectrum. Its complete product includes a comprehensive IaaS segment as well. This covers compute elements, network resources, storage, and more.
Most unique about IBM Cloud is their Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS) offering. This allows their IaaS users to get unprecedented access to the hardware that lies beneath their Cloud service. Another notable product under their IaaS range is Cloud Object Storage.
Unfortunately, IBM Cloud has been less impressive in its own business performance. The company trails behind in Cloud market share, well below top dogs Amazon and Microsoft.
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is the IaaS arm of its Cloud business. Through this, it provides powerful compute (and other infrastructure) related services. The scale of OCI enables it to meet the demands of large-scale organizations with ease.
Their IaaS structure enables Oracle to deliver on-demand scalability for enterprise workloads. This is done through the combination of their other autonomous services. Wrapping round it all is a security layer that tightly integrates where needed.
Unfortunately, Oracle has never really played well with other vendors and this shows through in some of their Cloud services as well, even down to the tool level.
Many of those in the web hosting industry may be familiar with providers like Digital Ocean. Although Digital Ocean (DO) focuses on the areas of web hosting and web application deployment, it is nonetheless a good example of a niche IaaS provider.
DO offers users piecemeal allocation of various infrastructure resources that they can combine to customize a Cloud to their unique requirements. From Droplets to Kubernetes, and storage spaces, anything you need can be found here – in whatever amounts you like.
Hosting-specific focused platforms like DO enable developers to quickly build and deploy powerful sites and applications. These can be run indefinitely or sold quickly for profit. The value of these can run pretty high – for example, Bloginfluent listed on Flippa for a cool $3.5 million.
ServerCentral provides computing infrastructure, but not only at an IaaS level. In fact, they go past the Cloud and also include on-premise infrastructure if that’s what you need. For IaaS, ServerCentral offers a hybrid platform and also acts as an AWS consultant.
The time they’ve spent in the market has enabled them to tightly integrate their range of products, making them one of the premium providers of infrastructure needs around. They also help customers migrate from traditional infrastructure onto IaaS.
Linode is yet another example of how an IaaS provider has chosen to focus on the web hosting industry. In concept it is almost identical to what Digital Ocean does, but Linode has decided to bring forward the user-friendliness aspect.
It was one of the first in the business to introduce a flat pricing model for their IaaS. The result was much greater transparency in Cloud fees, enabling businesses to plan with greater precision despite the potential elasticity of the product.
Linode comes packaged with an intuitive Cloud Manager, excellent API, and the documentation to support it all.
Alibaba Cloud, affectionately known as Aliyun, is China’s answer to Cloud-dominating US companies. Established in Hangzhou, China, by the now globally known Jack Ma, the company has grown at unprecedented speeds. That’s stunning considering that it is a subsidiary of Alibaba Group.
It offers a wide range of Cloud services that includes IaaS but also services as well. Today, it’s reach has increased and Aliyun data centers serve 63 zones around the world. Because of the IaaS structure, services are of course based on the pay-as-you-go concept.
Aliyun has been lauded by Gartner as being ideal for medium to large sized businesses due to the combination of its agility and simplistic process.
Rackspace today is a Cloud services company that has multiple options in the IaaS space. Their model customizes business solutions to fit business needs and they have the necessary supporting services to ease transition towards Cloud adoption.
Their IaaS options include virtualized services (both HyperVisor and VMware), public Cloud deployments from AWS, Azure, Google, and OpenStack, private Cloud, and even bare-metal servers and hybrid Clouds.
One of the things that makes things easier for businesses joining them is their provision of a simplified control panel through which solutions can be managed. That, plus their supporting services, makes them an attractive option compared to the hardcore technical challenge when approching IaaS directly.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is another of the big boys which provide virtually Everything as a Service. In fact, they take it to the next level and offer varying solutions even within each of those categories – such as in IaaS.
Their strength however, lies in helping customers build tightly integrated systems. This means that as long as it’s the right solution for your business, you can use HPE to power everything from on-premise systems to the Cloud.
Dubbed it’s ‘Composable Cloud strategy’, the company provides multiple elements which act as building blocks for whatever you need.
Green Cloud Technologies offers a holistic Cloud approach that guides customers from end to end of the journey. Not just an IaaS provider, they also have comprehensive support, training and marketing solutions
All their solutions are fully customizable and have the usual benefit of IaaS scalability. This way, their solutions can be very highly targeted depending on your needs. It applies to everything they do including backup and storage solutions.
Vultr has stated as its mission the desire to simplify the Cloud. They try as much as possible to standardise common tasks through an easy to use dashboard while retaining the scalability that is the nature of IaaS.
For example, deployment of many web apps can be done with a single click and you can have almost anything running quickly. These aren’t just simple apps like WordPress, but also extend to more complex things like entire virtualized servers.
CenturyLink’s IaaS is based on VMware and has the ability to keep up with applications that are as intensive and complicated as you need. It’s FedRAMP certified which allows it to serve many federal government agencies in specific computing areas.
They use a hybrid IT building block system for what they offer since that gives both them and their customers the maximum flexibility that the Cloud allows. For those who need help with any of their solutions, they also have Advanced Managed Services.
The only entry on this list from Japan, Hitachi Enterprise Cloud supports both VMware as well as Cloud-native environments. Their solution looks towards a progression pathway that is faster and more flexible.
What’s left to the user is the choice of whether to pursue a private or hybrid cloud for their automation processes and application delivery. This preconfigured approach enables customers to save both time and money.
Because of the highly elastic nature of IaaS, it isn’t only suitable for large businesses. However, smaller businesses that are considering it as an option need to know that associated services such as management and consultancy, often come at a steep price.
Unless you’ve got the time and tech savvy to handle IaaS, it’s still something best left to the big boys. On the other hand, smaller, more focused solutions like Linode and Vultr may be a better possibility.
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.