IaaS, short for Infrastracture as a Service, is a service model of cloud technologies. In this case, the user can manage the environment himself, apart from the physical infrastructure. In addition, IaaS offers the advantage that it is comparatively inexpensive by sharing resources with other users. In addition, this service model is designed to have multiple servers deployed in a network in a data center that together form a cloud. So, in other words, the hardware is virtualized, allowing companies to keep their cloud-based financial spend low.

Packages from IaaS

The resources associated with this system are usually made available in a kind of smaller packages. These in turn contain individual components, such as:

  • Virtual CPUs: Virtual CPUs differ from real CPUs in that no dedicated CPUs are provided to a customer, but the calculations are performed on currently “free” cores.
  • Storage: Typically, there is a choice between HDD (optimized for low cost and few accesses) and SSD (optimized for fast and many accesses).
  • Network: You can create your own networks and define inbound and outbound firewall rules.
  • Betriebssystem Operating System (OS): Most of the time you have a choice between Linux and Windows Server. Linux (including CentOS, Ubuntu and Debian) is the most common.

Pros and cons

At the same time, as with any other system, there are also significant advantages and disadvantages in this service model. At IaaS, these are broken down as:


  • Greatest flexibility compared to other service models
  • Easily portable by offered VMs
  • Deploying VM and Operating System
  • Possibility of adapting the environment at any time
  • Flexible and individual requirements can be implemented at any time

On the other hand, however, there are also some negative aspects:


  • High effort, e.g. when scaling
  • Increase performance (e.g. as the user base increases) must be adjusted, as well as additional tasks in the area of setting up e.g. load balancers, monitoring and distributed storage


In addition, IaaS consists of a number of different components. Which is why I analyse the most important ones in more detail below.

VM (virtual machines/servers)

The abbreviation VM stands for the term virtual machine and describes the basic element on which the cloud is based. It reflects the software representation of a normal computer with operating system, access to virtual CPUs, memory, data, etc. This solves the vm’s problem of needing another computer if you need an additional operating system. Using software (hypervisor) that is responsible for coordination, any number of virtual machines can run on a computer.


Storage describes the solutions for storing the permanent backup of digital data in IT. It is free to decide whether the storage is made up of hard drives or other technologies such as USB sticks.

In general, three different types of storage are differentiated:

  • Direct Attached Storage (DAS): Single hard drive connected to the server
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS): Network-connected disk space (composite of disks)
  • Storage Area Network (SAN): Network for connecting disk subsystems (connecting multiple storage devices to one file server)

Network access

The use of a virtual machine (VM) usually requires an IT expert who can not only connect to it, but also protect the VM against unauthorized access. Such access can also be done in many different ways, with SSH and VPN being the most common solutions.

  • SSH (Secure Shell): Network protocol with encrypted access by IT expert, e.g. in the form of a password and mutual authentication via certificates with secure key procedures.
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network): Use can only be done by certain participants and communication via a dedicated, specially secured VPN protocol with data encryption.

Network security and monitoring

In addition, the VM must also be protected from unwanted access over the Internet by means of a secure firewall, so that data packets can enter and out safely.

In addition, there should also be a monitoring solution that should regularly check the performance of the VM and also sound the alarm in case of need, such as failures.

Operating system

Along with the virtual machine (VM), a suitable operating system is selected. The systems that are frequently selected include:

Community Enterprise Operating System (CentOS)

  • Development by RedHat
  • Open Source Solution
  • Conclusion: free distribution based on RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

Ubuntu (e.german: “Humanity)

  • Based on Debian
  • most used system on private Linux PCs
  • Open Source Solution
  • Conclusion: easy to install and easy to use, many tutorials


  • Based on Linux
  • Open Source Solution
  • Conclusion: fewer surfaces with simple clicks, more for experienced users


  • Probably the best-known operating system
  • Conclusion: Especially suitable in conjunction with Microsoft solutions, many different versions available


The bottom line is that IaaS is often the first entry into cloud technologies. Relatively easy to use, you basically only need to rent a virtual server here. This must then be equipped with network components as well as a firewall and also an operating system and storage solutions. Ultimately, you only need to customize the server to customize it.

Tip: Read my new book: The way to the cloud at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk .


Lindner, D., Niebler, P., & Wenzel, M. (2020). The Way to the Cloud – A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Decision Makers. Heidelberg: Springer Gabler.


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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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