The Vation Ventures Glossary

Infrastructure as a Service - Definition, Explanation, and Use Cases

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a form of cloud computing that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet. IaaS is one of the three main categories of cloud computing services, alongside Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

IaaS quickly scales up and down with demand, letting you pay only for what you use. It helps you avoid 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 only need to rent a particular one for as long as you need it.

Definition of Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model that delivers computer infrastructure on an outsourced basis to support enterprise operations. Typically, IaaS provides hardware, storage, servers and data center space or network components; it may also include software.

An IaaS provider provides policy-based services and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining the equipment, servers and other infrastructure components. IaaS clients can still access their servers and storage directly, but it is all outsourced through a “virtual data center” in the cloud.

Components of IaaS

IaaS includes a range of services which are grouped into three categories: compute, storage, and networking. Compute services include virtual machines, containers, and functions. Storage services include object storage, file storage, and block storage. Networking services include networks, subnets, and load balancers.

Each of these components plays a crucial role in the functioning of an IaaS system. Compute services handle the processing power, storage services manage the data, and networking services ensure connectivity between different parts of the system.

Characteristics of IaaS

IaaS platforms offer highly scalable resources that can be adjusted on-demand. This makes IaaS well-suited for workloads that are temporary, experimental, or change unexpectedly. Other characteristics of IaaS include the automation of administrative tasks, dynamic scaling, platform virtualization, and network connectivity.

Furthermore, IaaS platforms also provide a complete cloud-based environment for developing, testing, and deploying software applications. This can significantly speed up the software development process and make it more efficient.

Explanation of Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS is a way of delivering Cloud Computing infrastructure – servers, storage, network and operating systems – as an on-demand service. Rather than purchasing servers, software, datacenter space or network equipment, clients instead buy those resources as a fully outsourced service on demand.

With IaaS, you rent IT infrastructure - servers and virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, operating systems - from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis. To understand the business model of IaaS, it’s useful to compare it to renting a furnished apartment, where you pay a monthly fee to live in the apartment, and your rent includes all the amenities like a gym, pool, and maintenance services.

Benefits of IaaS

IaaS has several benefits over traditional IT infrastructure. It eliminates the upfront cost of setting up and managing an on-site data center, making it an economical option for start-ups and businesses testing new ideas. It improves business continuity and disaster recovery by making data backup, recovery and business continuity easier and less expensive, as data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the provider’s network.

Moreover, IaaS enables you to quickly scale up resources to accommodate spikes in demand for your application, then immediately scale resources back down when activity decreases to save money. It also provides location independence, as the infrastructure can be accessed from anywhere.

Challenges of IaaS

While IaaS offers numerous benefits, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Security is a major concern, as sensitive data is stored off-premises in a cloud data center. This necessitates robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, the cost can be higher than anticipated, as businesses often need to pay for additional services and bandwidth.

Another challenge is the dependency on the service provider. If the provider experiences downtime or other technical issues, it can directly impact the client's operations. Furthermore, migrating existing systems and data to an IaaS platform can be complex and time-consuming.

Use Cases of Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS is used by a variety of organizations for a range of tasks. It is particularly beneficial for small businesses that don't have the budget to purchase hardware and software. It is also used by large organizations to cut costs and improve flexibility.

Some common use cases for IaaS include website hosting, virtual data centers, storage, backup, and recovery, high-performance computing, and big data analysis.

Website Hosting

One of the most common uses of IaaS is website hosting. With IaaS, businesses can outsource the infrastructure required to host a website instead of investing in their own servers and storage. This not only reduces costs but also provides flexibility to handle traffic spikes and growth.

Moreover, IaaS providers typically offer a range of services to support website hosting, including automated backup, load balancing, and scaling services. This allows businesses to focus on their core operations instead of managing IT infrastructure.

Virtual Data Centers

Virtual data centers (VDCs) are another common use case for IaaS. A VDC is a virtual representation of a physical data center, complete with servers, storage, and networking resources. Businesses can use VDCs to create a secure, isolated environment for their applications and data.

VDCs provide the same capabilities as physical data centers but without the need for physical infrastructure. This makes them an ideal solution for businesses looking to reduce their IT costs and improve efficiency.

Storage, Backup, and Recovery

IaaS is often used for storage, backup, and recovery purposes. Businesses can store their data in the cloud, which provides a scalable and cost-effective solution for data storage. In addition, IaaS providers typically offer automated backup and recovery services, which can help businesses protect their data and recover it in the event of a disaster.

By using IaaS for storage, backup, and recovery, businesses can ensure that their data is safe and accessible at all times. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses that handle sensitive or regulated data, as it provides a secure and compliant solution for data storage and backup.

High-Performance Computing

High-performance computing (HPC) involves the use of supercomputers and parallel processing techniques to solve complex computational problems. IaaS is often used to provide the infrastructure for HPC, as it allows businesses to access high-performance computing resources on demand.

With IaaS, businesses can scale their computing resources up and down as needed, allowing them to handle large computational tasks without investing in their own supercomputers. This makes IaaS an ideal solution for businesses that need to perform complex computations but don't have the resources to invest in their own HPC infrastructure.

Big Data Analysis

Big data analysis involves processing large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations, and other insights. IaaS is often used to provide the infrastructure for big data analysis, as it allows businesses to access the computing resources they need to process large data sets.

With IaaS, businesses can quickly scale up their computing resources to handle large data sets and complex computations. This makes IaaS an ideal solution for businesses that need to perform big data analysis but don't have the resources to invest in their own big data infrastructure.


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a crucial component of modern IT infrastructure. It offers numerous benefits, including cost savings, scalability, and flexibility, making it an ideal solution for businesses of all sizes. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges, including security concerns and dependency on the service provider.

Despite these challenges, the use of IaaS is expected to continue growing in the coming years, as more businesses recognize the benefits it offers. Whether it's for website hosting, virtual data centers, storage, backup, and recovery, high-performance computing, or big data analysis, IaaS provides a flexible and cost-effective solution for a wide range of IT needs.