Advantages and disadvantages of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

Infrastructure as a Service is a concept that can reduce your business’s costs significantly, reduce the complexity of your network, and make managing your network much easier. So why haven’t you heard of it? I decided to write a guide explaining what Infrastructure as a Service is and exploring the advantages and disadvantages at the same time.

Advantages and disadvantages of Infrastructure as a Service:

  • Advantages:
    • Reduced infrastructure costs
    • Easier and more cost-effective scaling
    • Flexibility to work wherever
    • Increased security
    • Quickly commence new projects
  • Disadvantages:
    • Security not in your control
    • Dependence on a third-party provider
    • Dependent upon your broadband connection
    • Not all providers are created equal

I’ll explain all of these advantages and disadvantages later in this blog post. First and foremost, I’m going to explain what Infrastructure as a Service actually is.


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What is Infrastructure as a Service?

Cloud infrastructure services, also known as Infrastructure as a Service is an instant computing infrastructure. This instant computing infrastructure is provisioned and managed over the internet.

That’s the technical jargon answer to the question. In layman’s terms, Infrastructure as a Service, often referred to as IaaS, is a form of cloud computing that delivers fundamental computing infrastructure resources to consumers on-demand, over the internet on a subscription, pay-as-you-go service.

If you’ve heard of Software as a Service, this works in a very similar way. Software as a Service applications are hosted applications accessible from anywhere that you typically pay a monthly or yearly subscription for. One example as a SaaS product is Microsoft/Office 365. With Infrastructure as a Service, you’re paying for essential network components rather than software. For example, servers, firewalls, and storage.

Infrastructure as a Service can save businesses a lot of money, because there’s no need to purchase your own equipment (which can necessitate significant upfront costs and long-term maintenance expenses). Furthermore, you have a secure platform managed by a third-party, so you don’t have the expenses of having to secure and maintain your own network components.

To give a bit more clarification, here are some of the things that businesses do with IaaS:

  • Host websites: Traditional website hosting can be very expensive and troublesome if maintenance is not completed thoroughly and regularly. Hosting websites using IaaS is something a lot of hosting providers do, because it reduces costs and offers providers a ready-made solution requiring little to no maintenance.
  • Offer storage solutions: Using IaaS, businesses can offer storage products to their customers without the expense of having their own data centre. Hosted servers and storage enable businesses to store data in the cloud without having any hardware of their own. Businesses can use IaaS to avoid the complexity of storage management, which generally requires specialist personnel.
  • Launching and supporting web applications: Infrastructure as a Service provides all of the infrastructure required for launching and supporting web applications. For example, IaaS provides storage, security, and servers offering all the networking resources that you need.

Now we’ve covered the essentials of what Infrastructure as a Service actually is, we can move onto the advantages and disadvantages of IaaS.

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The advantages of Infrastructure as a Service

Utilising Infrastructure as a Service can be very advantageous to your business. Here are the 5 biggest benefits to note:

  • Reduced infrastructure costs
  • Easier and more cost-effective scaling
  • Flexibility to work wherever
  • Increased security
  • Quickly commence new projects

Starting with reduced infrastructure costs, I’m going to explain each of these advantages in more detail.

Reduced infrastructure costs

By using IaaS, you can significantly reduce the costs of creating and adding to your infrastructure. By using Infrastructure as a Service, you can avoid the costs of having to purchase your network equipment. Networking infrastructure elements such as servers and firewalls can be extremely expensive. With IaaS, you can pay for your infrastructure on a subscription basis rather than having to purchase hardware.

By using IaaS, it’s not just your upfront costs that you’re reducing. Consider the long-term maintenance that you’re not having to fork out for. Maintaining network infrastructure often requires specialised employees, which isn’t affordable for start-ups and larger businesses. By choosing to use IaaS, you don’t need to pay for the maintenance of your network because it’s handled by the third-party provider.

Easier and more cost-effective scaling

IaaS offers unparalleled scalability. As your requirements develop and grow, you can scale easier and more cost-effectively using IaaS versus purchasing, managing, and maintaining your own on-site hardware. First and foremost, hosted computing infrastructure can be provisioned and ready to use within hours. Setting up your own computing infrastructure internally could take days, weeks, or even months.

Secondly, consider the costs of adding new hardware to your internal setup. Purchasing computing infrastructure can be extremely expensive, whereas using IaaS involves no upfront costs since you pay on a subscription basis. This makes scaling significantly more cost-effective for your business.

If you’re just testing out new ideas, using Infrastructure as a Service is the most economical method of doing so. Instead of having to purchase and manage new computing infrastructure, you can use hosted equivalents on a subscription basis. It’s a cost-effective method of testing new ventures without the commitment of purchasing any additional infrastructure elements.

Flexibility to work wherever

With Infrastructure as a Service, you have the ability to work wherever you are. Hosted computing infrastructure can be accessed from anywhere, depending on the security that you have in place. You have the flexibility to access and manage your infrastructure no matter where you are.

The importance of being able to access and manage your infrastructure no matter where you are cannot be overstated. If you have a remote workforce, or you’re considering whether having remote workers is a good idea, the capabilities to fully manage and make use of your infrastructure from anywhere is very handy.

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Increased security

If you use Infrastructure as a Service and you have a security service agreement with your provider, they can offer comprehensive security for you. Instead of being solely responsible for the security of your computing infrastructure, your cloud service provider can handle it for you. Cloud service providers can probably offer more effective security than you can manage in-house, so this is a notable benefit of using SaaS.

Most providers offer excellent security solutions that you just couldn’t afford or manage in-house depending on the size of your business. That’s why it makes so much more sense for your provider to handle the security of your hosted computing infrastructure for you.

Quickly commence new projects

Using Infrastructure as a Service, you can be up and running with new computing infrastructure within hours. Purchasing and configuring in-house computing infrastructure can take days or weeks depending on the logistics of it all. Considering how quickly hosted computing infrastructure can be up and running, you can rapidly test out new ideas and get projects underway.

You can quickly create development environments using IaaS, which wouldn’t be viable if you had to purchase and set up in-house computing infrastructure. You’re also not committed long term to test and development environments that you create because you’re paying for the hosted infrastructure on a subscription basis.

The disadvantages of Infrastructure as a Service

There are also notable disadvantages of Infrastructure as a Service that you must consider.

  • Security not in your control
  • Dependence on a third-party provider
  • Dependent upon your broadband connection
  • Not all providers are created equal

Let’s have a brief look at each of these disadvantages individually.

Security not in your control

With Infrastructure as a Service, your computing infrastructure is really only as secure as your provider makes it. This obviously makes choosing an appropriate provider exceptionally important.

Depending on what you’re using your hosted infrastructure for, you might want to get a proper service agreement in place that outlines how your provider is going to keep the infrastructure that you are using secure. If not, your solutions are in the hands of your provider. If they aren’t properly fulfilling their role, the security risks don’t require any explanation.

Dependence upon a third-party provider

This is undoubtedly stating the obvious, but you are dependent upon a third-party provider when you’re using hosted computing infrastructure. Most of the time, this is an unproblematic arrangement. But if you don’t have a suitable provider and things start to go wrong, the drawbacks of using a third-party provider will soon be evident!

With the right IaaS provider, your business will never experience the consequences of reliance upon a third-party. Choose the wrong provider, however, and your business will suffer.

Dependent upon your internet connection

This is a widely known issue with all hosted technologies, from VoIP to SaaS and PaaS. You can’t use your hosted computing infrastructure if your internet connection fails or is performing ineffectually for whatever reason.

You must ensure that your internet connection is suitable if you are going to use hosted computing infrastructure.

Not all providers are created equal

This goes without saying, probably, considering the other disadvantages I’ve already mentioned. But not all providers are created equal, which can be considered a significant disadvantage.

With the appropriate provider and an adequate service agreement, using IaaS could be an excellent decision. On the other hand, choosing the wrong provider could cost your business a fortune and cause you a lot of issues.

I hope this blog post has helped you to learn the basics of what IaaS is and the advantages and disadvantages of using Infrastructure as a Service. Please feel free to leave me a comment below; I would love to hear your thoughts.

Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell has been the Operations manager at telecoms and MSP Optionbox for more than 4 years. He has played a crucial role in the company, from marketing to helpdesk, and ensures that the IT requirements of over 300 clients are continuously met. With his innate passion for technology and troubleshooting and a particular interest in Apple products, Jack now delivers the most comprehensive tech guides to make your life easier. You can connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

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