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What is IaaS?
Looking at cloud computing from a hosting perspective, we can conclude that cloud hosting is usually available in three basic service models, or layers: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).
IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) is a cloud computing service model that provides access to virtualized computing resources (infrastructure) over the internet. In the IaaS service model, a provider hosts the computing hardware such as servers, virtual machines, storage, network connections, bandwidth, IP addresses and load balancers, providing the client easy access to the virtualized resources.
IaaS providers usually offer additional services such as a virtual machine disk image library, firewalls, virtual local area networks (VLANs) and software packages. IaaS environments include dynamic scaling features, desktop virtualization, policy-based services and automation of administrative tasks. Users install the operating system and their applications on the virtual infrastructure and keep their software updated and maintained without worrying about the computing hardware.
What Are the Key Benefits of IaaS?
Removing the planning, purchase and management of IT infrastructure from the client's to-do list is the main advantage of the IaaS service model. Since the underlying physical hardware is set up and maintained by the IaaS provider, users do not invest in hardware. Building your own datacenter is complex and expensive, and on top of that you would need a skilled tech team to manage it.
IaaS virtual resources are also dynamically scalable, so they can meet different needs. This makes IaaS well-suited for workloads that are seasonal, experimental or change unexpectedly. There is practically no delay in expanding capacity or adding resources. IaaS services are billed on a utility computing basis: The cost of the service reflects the amount of the allocated and used resources. Using IaaS you can create cost effective and easily scalable IT solutions without the expense of purchasing and managing the hardware infrastructure yourself. With IaaS, expanding businesses can scale their infrastructure according to their growth, which is a good selling point for high-growth businesses and ambitious startups.
Services provided by the IaaS provider benefit from physical security of the provider's data centers. IaaS services can usually be accessed from any location with an internet connection, so you are not bound to a server location.
Traditional enterprise IT infrastructure requires a lot of investment in redundancy and failover equipment to increase service availability time. IaaS relies on vast data centers and huge hardware resources of the cloud provider's infrastructure to provide service availability.
IaaS Data Security
Data security can improve as a result of data centralization, but concerns persist about loss of control over sensitive data. IaaS security is often better than on traditional systems, because IaaS providers can afford to solve security issues in their data centers better than traditional users do in their in-house solutions. In IaaS, the complexity of security is greatly increased when data is distributed over a great number of devices in the cloud. Also, user access to security logs can be difficult or impossible in IaaS environments.
IaaS Pros and Cons
- No investments in expensive IT infrastructure
- Scales dynamically with load and the user's needs
- Pay-as-you go billing model, in most cases you only pay for the services and resources you actually use
- IaaS providers take care of system maintenance, backup and resiliency planning
- Not bound to a specific location, you can use IaaS from any location with an internet connection. Flexible server location can also reduce access times
- If an IaaS provider experiences downtime, your work may be affected
- No high degree of control over IT infrastructure facilities
- Security concerns related to storing sensitive data in the cloud
- High price compared to traditional hosting
Points to Remember
IaaS services can save you the cost and trouble of building your own IT infrastructure, making them an interesting option for startups. If the scale of your business fluctuates, you can allocate and use IaaS resources as and when you need them, rather than purchase and integrate hardware yourself.
Businesses developing new software products can also utilize the IaaS services where they can host and test their new software, and afterwards move to a traditional in-house deployment.
IaaS is also popular in data centers, where infrastructure is purchased as a fully outsourced service and usually billed on usage and how much of the resource is used, compared to the traditional method of buying software and servers.
IaaS users are responsible for managing applications, data, runtime, middleware, and OSes. Providers still manage virtualization, servers, hard drives, storage, and networking.
IaaS services may not be the best option if local regulations make outsourcing or offshoring of certain types of data difficult, or if the client requires a lot of performance tuning, in which case a powerful dedicated platform is usually the only viable option.