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What is IaaS? The modern datacenter platform

Bob Violino | Sept. 11, 2017
The servers, operating systems, core software, and networking you’ve long deployed in your datacenter is moving outside your walls to the public cloud.

Why businesses are adopting IaaS

Among the main business benefits of IaaS—just as in other cloud offerings—is that it enables a level of agility not possible with traditional IT infrastructures that rely on on-premises datacenters.

IaaS platforms provide access to highly scalable IT resources that can be adjusted as demand for capacity changes. This makes the model ideal for companies that experience temporarily high workloads, such as what many retailers face during the holiday shopping season. It’s also well suited to small and mid-size businesses that expect to see growth in demand on steady basis.

Companies today are looking to be more flexible to better compete with web-based businesses that can make changes on the fly. Increased business agility and scalability are among the key business drivers to IaaS.

So is cost savings. By shifting IT infrastructure to the cloud, you can save on capital and operating expenditures. By paying for computing capacity only as it’s needed, you can reduce the costs of underutilized resources. You can also decrease IT hardware maintenance costs because of the decreased reliance on in-house datacenter hardware. Cloud-monitoring tools and a cloud-savvy cost model can help avoid spiraling IaaS bills.

However, you do have to be careful to monitor your usage and make sure your applications and other systems use cloud resources efficiently. Because, in the metered world of IaaS, you’re paying for wasteful usage at the same price as effective usage.

One other benefit of IaaS is flexibility in terms of location. Organizations can access IaaS offerings from virtually any place where there is access to the internet.

There’s also the advantage of availability. Because cloud providers rely on multiple facilities, there is no single point of failure. They also distribute their facilities to reduce latency based on where the customer location is.


Typical applications for IaaS

You can use IaaS for a variety of workloads. But according to a June 2017 Gartner report, there are typically four broad categories of need for these services:

  • Digital business: With nearly every business affected by digital disruption, digital business needs account for a majority of workloads in IaaS. The digital business use cases include digital marketing, e-commerce, customer resource management, software-as-a-service, data services, and internet of things (IoT) applications.
  • Agile projects: Many organizations have launched IT projects that they’re executing in an agile fashion. Rapid application development, prototyping, experiments, and other projects that require agility, flexibility, and the ability to meet urgent infrastructure needs are often executed on IaaS.
  • Datacenter substitution: At many organizations, IaaS is gradually replacing or supplementing traditional, on-premises datacenter infrastructure. In these cases, IaaS is typically used similarly to an organization’s internal virtualization environment, and companies generally begin with development environments or less-critical production applications, then gradually expand their use of IaaS to host critical applications as they gain more experience and trust.
  • Batch computing: This is the least common need for IaaS, Gartner says. In these cases, IaaS serves as a substitute for traditional high-performance or grid computing. Possible applications include rendering, video encoding, genetic sequencing, modeling and simulation, numerical analysis, and data analytics.


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