Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) has been around long enough for experts to form conflicting opinions. On one hand, research firm Gartner expects the highest growth in the public cloud services market to come from IaaS. Yet Cisco expects IaaS workloads to shrink from 26% in 2015 to 17 percent in 2020. With these opposite predictions, what do experts in the field say? The overwhelming reaction is that IaaS is here to stay, and with the continued adoption of cloud for various reasons, it can only be expected to grow.
IaaS growth will be driven by medium and large enterprises that have traditionally eschewed IaaS in favor of traditional infrastructure, according to Jacob Ackerman, chief technology officer at Skylink Data Centers. "It was always easy to sell IaaS to small business and startups, because they typically did not have the capital, expertise or desire to purchase and manage their own computer infrastructure. Enterprises, who had already invested heavily in equipment and manpower, were reluctant to abandon that investment," he said. However, hybrid solutions helped open the door for medium and large enterprises to adopt IaaS.
More companies are going to need IaaS as they balance their legacy infrastructure and applications with more modern versions, according to Trey Willis, vice president of global cloud and application services at Sungard AS. "IaaS is a much simpler first step out of legacy and into modernization (than SaaS and PaaS). As CIOs and IT directors create a cloud-first strategy, they will find IaaS as a natural stepping stone that requires less change to the legacy business," he said, noting that less change means less risk to the business.
Additionally, IaaS makes sense when IT budgets are still on the chopping block, Willis noted. Application rewrites and migration strategies may be too costly, but a combination of IaaS and only necessary application rewrites can help save money while providing necessary resources to upgrade and modernize the IT environment, he said.
IaaS growth may even be on track to outpace SaaS growth, according to Kaushik Narayan, CTO of Skyhigh Networks. "More and more companies have set deadlines to eliminate the vast majority of their datacenters and move operations to the cloud," he said.
Data security and privacy remain concerns, but once those are addressed, the standardization of enterprise computing on IaaS platforms is expected to provide even more opportunities for cloud providers than SaaS, Narayan added.
But new technology may displace IaaS in the near future, according to Kong Yang, head geek at SolarWinds. "Serverless architecture, aka functions as a service, will eliminate and replace IaaS for some use cases, especially where a function or series of functions can provide the needed application agility, scalability and flexibility without the application life-cycle management responsibility," he said. IaaS may continue to see growth in the short term, but it will level off and eventually decline, Yang added.
It seems like the only thing that will slow down IaaS growth is new technology. For now, as mid-size and large enterprises adopt cloud technology, IaaS may prove to be a viable replacement for aging infrastructure.
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Christine Parizo is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology who cut her teeth in B2B technology journalism in the days when a tablet was something you'd attach to a clipboard. She now puts her head in the cloud to analyze and write about technology for a variety of business and technology publications, as well as B2B tech companies themselves. When she's not geeking out on content marketing or cloud computing, Christine can be found drinking copious amounts of coffee or at her local CrossFit gym.