How does IaaS work?
In a typical IaaS model, a business—which can be of any size—consumes services like compute, storage, and databases from a cloud provider. The cloud provider offers those services by hosting hardware and software in the cloud. The business no longer needs to purchase and manage its own equipment, or space to host the equipment, and the cost shifts to a pay-as-you-go model. When the business needs less, it pays for less. And as it grows, it can provision additional computing resources and other technologies in minutes.
In a traditional on-premises scenario, a business manages and maintains its own data center. The business must invest in servers, storage, software, and other technologies, and hire an IT staff or contractors to purchase, manage, and upgrade all the equipment and licenses. The data center has to be built to meet peak demand, even though sometimes workloads decline and those resources stand idle. Conversely, if the business grows quickly, the IT department might struggle to keep up.
How Does IaaS Differ from Other Types of Cloud Services?
At a minimum, cloud infrastructure includes core compute, storage, and network resources. More recently it has come to also include higher-level services (sometimes known as platform as a service [PaaS]) such as relational and NoSQL databases, real-time and batch data processing, developer pipelines and services, containers, and functions. Unlike software as a service (SaaS), IaaS is not for the typical end user. IaaS is for applications IT, IT operations, DevOps, system and database administrators, and full-stack developers.