IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service, is the industry term for basically running your network via a service model, such as what we have all come to know as the cloud. So rather than purchase server hardware, pay someone to maintain this hardware along with the software that runs on it, keep up with warranties, and replace all of that in five years, you run some or all of the applications that you needed that hardware and software for in the cloud and pay a much smaller monthly or yearly fee as opposed to a large upfront cost.
There can be various hybrid levels of Iaas, such as keeping certain items entirely on-premise. For example a domain controller and file server, but running your accounting software system in the cloud. That way if a hurricane comes you will easily be able to access your ERP system despite having no access to your sticks and bricks office. Another option is to keep everything running in the on-premise system, but then replicate it in its entirety to the Azure cloud. If an emergency causes you to lose access to your office and servers, then they can be "spun up" in minutes in Azure so your business can keep running. Azure replication services gives you three scheduled options, 30 seconds, 5 minutes, and 15 minutes. With Azure IaaS recovery services, you will lose no more than 15 minutes of data, or much less, for a small price compared to what it would cost you to do this with your own private cloud.
By far the most common usage of IaaS that we see from our customers is when they are staring down the barrel at a very expensive upgrade to their aging on-premise infrastructure, and especially one that provides them no mobility in terms of natural disasters such as hurricanes. Azure IaaS provides them with the opportunity to spend a fraction of the money they would have for an on-premise solution, allows for a much quicker implantation, and greater flexibility with growth and of course can be accessed anywhere you have Internet connection. How valuable is it to you to be able to run your business from a hotel the day after you evacuated for a storm?
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Michael G. Zenzer
Information Technology Manager, MCSE/MCITP | Security+