Infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, is the second-most basic cloud computing model available to customers, in that it provides just the virtualization platform and OS, and that’s it.
What’s known as bare metal hosting is the simplest of all. You don’t even get a hypervisor or OS, you have to provide every last bit of software. The next step up from IaaS is Platform as a Service (PaaS), where you are provided not only the OS but development environments, databases, Web servers and other services to build an execution environment.
IaaS provides you with virtual resources, such as server space, network connections, and IP addresses, primarily for hosting, building, testing, and deploying Websites and applications. It’s common to use an IaaS environment as a test environment so as to not disrupt a company’s own internal environment. Once the application is completed, it can then be moved on premises.
IaaS operates on a pay-as-you-go model, where use is metered and you pay for compute time, network bandwidth and storage. The trade off is that you don’t have to deploy internal hardware, you can spin up a virtual machine in minutes. The challenge is if you are not careful in monitoring your use, any savings can be effectively wiped out.
Virtually every top cloud vendor launched with an IaaS offering, and many moved on to offer the more comprehensive PaaS offering. Even though the market is dominated by the ubiquitous namesakes there are many secondary providers to choose from, each with their own unique element or offering they hope differentiates them from the big four.
Our list of the major IaaS companies does not include every single IaaS providers out there – we’re focusing on the top companies. Nor is this list of IaaS providers in any particular order beyond the big four at the top that lead the market.
- Amazon Web Services
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Compute Engine
- IBM Cloud
- Oracle Cloud
- Verizon Enterprise
- CenturyLink Cloud
- Vmware vCloud Air
Amazon Web Services
It all starts with the big name, Amazon, and its Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service. This is what Amazon launched with and it’s still the company’s top service. It can be set up by region, putting your virtual machine in the data center closest to you to reduce latency. It has three types of storage: S3, EBS and Block Storage. Networking, like compute, is scalable so more can be added as needed. EC2 has monitoring and load balancing for burst demand.
Azure IaaS offers a comprehensive set of cloud services running on Linux, Windows Server, SAP, or Oracle. It also offers developers the tools to build, deploy, and manage applications through Microsoft’s global network of datacenters, somewhat blurring the lines with its PaaS offerings.
Google Compute Engine
Google’s IaaS offerings allow for scaling from one small VM to a globally-deployed app with proper load balancing. It runs on SSD as well as standard HDD for increased performance. It offers a variety of Linux variants as well as Windows.
IBM Cloud, formerly BlueMix, is seen as somewhat lacking compared to AWS and Azure. IBM has been promising what it calls Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) to address the shortcomings but that rollout has been slow. IBM has been mostly focused on bare metal offerings, where the customer provides all of the software. It does have some good services for app migration. For example, Bluemix Local and Bluemix public cloud have the same underlying infrastructure, so developers can build apps in-house that are easy to migrate to the public cloud.
Rackspace is a managed cloud provider, and it places emphasis on connecting customers to public cloud providers, whether that’s itself or the big players. It offers a range of managed hosting options and dedicated servers, dedicated VMware, databases, storage, and networking. The Rackspace Public Cloud Computing offers all the tools you need to build scalable websites, and applications and Rackspace specializes in connectivity to multiple cloud environments.
Oracle’s cloud service is built entirely on its own products. It uses its servers to operate its data centers and offers Oracle software, starting with the database. Oracle focuses on high performance workloads with up to 52 cores per virtual machine as well as NVMe storage, GPU computing and high speed connections between its data centers.
Verizon’s IaaS is for medium to large businesses as well as enterprises with emphasis on maintaining data integrity and availability in a secure environment. Verizon Enterprise offers cloud-based, machine to machine communication, collocation with enterprise customers, managed hosting, security, and more with strong service level agreements (SLA’s) for network, power and environmental availability.
CenturyLink offers a blended IaaS/PaaS for .NET environments as well as colocation, hosting, networking and other traditional IT services due to its emphasis on telecommunications. It promises 24/7 support, high uptime and top level security.
CloudSigma is a European cloud hosting service that offers cloud-based server hosting for building a cloud-based or hybrid infrastructure. The service migrates existing systems to the cloud with little effort, and its APIs make certain that all features available in the cloud are also available on a machine-to-machine interface.
VMware vCloud Air (managed by OVH)
VMware vCloud Air is a secure, public cloud platform. It offers three IaaS subscription types: virtual private cloud, dedicated cloud, and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). Subscribers’ existing workloads and third-party applications are supported, as is new application development. In 2017, VMware acquired OVH, a global, hyper-scale cloud provider. It now manages the vCloud Air service.
|Provider||Biggest positive||Biggest negative||Lowest starting price|
|Amazon Web Services||Most comprehensive collection of services||Its popularity could leave you feeling like a number||$0.0058/hour|
|Microsoft Azure||Best support for legacy Windows but also for Linux migrations||Need more platform expertise than other providers||$0.005/hour|
|Google Compute Engine||Emphasis on performance, availability and cost||IaaS is lacking compared to others, no on-premises support.||$0.0475/hour|
|IBM Cloud||Massive library of IBM services; comprehensive on-premises support||Limited regions, pricing, and SLAs.||Free|
|Rackspace||Leaders in managed cloud services, flexible pricing||Pricing models can be confusing and costs can add up fast.||$0.032/hour|
|Oracle Cloud||Your best bet to move your on-prem Oracle environment to the cloud||Oracle doesn’t have the same scale as bigger players||$0.0638/hour|
|Verizon Enterprise||Good for mid-sized businesses, emphasis on connectivity, managed hosting and security||Limited storage, service is only for Verizon customers||$48/month|
|CenturyLink Cloud||Good connectivity to the cloud, ideal for SMBs||Has trouble scaling to large enterprises or high traffic.||$18.24/month|
|CloudSigma||European based, designed for cloud server hosting||User interface isn’t considered very friendly.||$14/month|
|VMware vCloud Air||Good cloud and VM management and disaster recovery support||Some limited features, interface needs work.||$0.034 /GB/hr|