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If you read our previous installments in the What is Series – Learn About Cloud and SaaS, and What is Series – Learn About PaaS. Your next step in learning about Digital Transformation is to understand Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Read on to learn about cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in this new article in the What is Series.

The basics of Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS

Infrastructure is the generic name that we assign all network hardware. Network hardware is a collection of devices that allow you to send, receive, and process information. The term “infrastructure” covers concepts such as server “metal”, switches, routers, load balancers, network storage, firewalls, and other devices.

IaaS is a software version of these hardware devices. Think about it in these terms: if you were emulating a network in a computer by using software, you would have different apps to simulate each of these devices. Turning hardware devices into virtual versions of them is no different than emulating a server in a virtual machine (VM). You can use these virtualized devices in a cloud environment. Cloud services allow you to time-slice or load-slice these functions and then be able to charge per time or load your customers’ use.

You’ve essentially distilled hardware into software, and you are not charging for the shared use of it as a service!

Some Examples

In the previous article in this series (What is Series – Learn About PaaS), we covered VMs and said that VM is “a form of PaaS because once you access a VM, you can use it to set up or create other software (or platforms) on top of them.” VMs are also a form of IaaS because they are a software representation of a hardware device. If we were to strip the VM from the OS that already comes in its instance (Windows or Linux), then we would be left with the virtual representation of its bare metal or its virtualized hardware components. So, in a sense, a VM is both IaaS and PaaS, depending on the context we may be discussing.

Other examples of IaaS are those devices that we use for connecting and transferring data packets in a network. These devices are switches, routers, load balancers, and firewalls. All these help move data across a network, some by choosing where the data goes, others acting as gatekeepers to protect the integrity of the system. In any case, the network treats packets the same way that they would on your datacenter.

The Path of the Data

Data comes into the network because the firewall allowed it through. Information gets sent out in similar loads to the different devices that will work with it so that it spreads the burden of processing throughout all devices ready to do the processing. Devices route, push, pull, and further process the data until they can send the data out. At this point, the data just goes in the reverse direction, and devices send it out as a reply.

You could certainly use this last paragraph to describe both data in a physical network and data in a virtual network using IaaS. The data doesn’t care “where” or “who” processes it, just as long as it meets demand and accuracy requirements.

IaaS leads to more efficient teams

Companies can access any combination of IaaS from many cloud vendors. IaaS saves companies the burden of hardware maintenance, cabling a data center. They save time from installing a device that requires many physical changes to the existing setup. Those changes are now just configurations on a screen. The Network Admin can do those things without actually walking into a data center. Because these changes are only configurations on a set of apps, the Network Admin is more efficient. Admins do less of the work that takes time and can focus on the more significant work. The Network Admin can manage more devices when using IaaS because of this inherent efficiency gain.