Posts Tagged 'Computing'

August 31, 2011

Verecloud: Tech Partner Spotlight

This is a guest blog from Verecloud, a technology partner that makes it easier for small- and medium-sized businesses to shop for, select, purchase, manage and monitor the performance of their cloud services and related spending.

Cloudwrangler from Verecloud

Ubiquitous Internet access and technological advances in virtualization and IT management have caused an explosion in the availability and adoption of cloud services. Just a few years ago, it would take hours – if not days – to activate a new cloud service for a customer. SoftLayer can now perform this feat with servers in minutes, and other providers of email, CRM and accounting solutions have equally fast turn-up times.

The cloud gives small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) access to enterprise grade technology so that they can compete more effectively with little, if any, capital investment, so those SMBs are prime consumers of cloud services. By moving to cloud services, their businesses gains flexibility and affordable scalability to throttle their infrastructure and services up and down as their business grows, changes, moves locations or becomes more mobile.

Even with all of those benefits, adding a little cloud here and a little cloud there ends up making it difficult for these SMBs to manage all of the disparate services. Who is paying for what? Are they accounted for in expense reports? How can you allocate the costs to your sales, marketing, operations or support departments? Is IT aware of all of the cloud services? What happens if someone leaves the company and you need to deactivate their access and reassign all of their data to other employees?

Verecloud's answer to all of these questions is the Cloudwrangler app store for small businesses. Simply put, it is a single source for SMBs to discover, buy, use and manage their cloud services. This platform makes finance happy since they can properly track and manage costs. IT is happy because they are aware of all the services being used in the company and can manage them from a single control panel. HR is happy because they can monitor and regulate employee access when necessary. Everyone is happy.

Verecloud is proud to feature SoftLayer as a key partner and suppler in the Cloudwrangler marketplace (which also happens to be powered by SoftLayer's CloudLayer Computing). In addition to the infrastructure piece, we offer business class email, backup and recovery, and collaboration capabilities that can be incorporated quickly, seamlessly and affordably into any business:

Cloudwrangler Services

We're staying busy building out more features and functionality to the Cloudwrangler marketplace, and we're excited about the partnerships we'll make as we keep the community growing. If you're interested in learning more about Cloudwrangler, visit at Verecloud.com today.

-Russel Wurth, Verecloud

This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
May 25, 2011

"The Cloud" via Tools and Bridges

As Chief Scientist (or Chief Boffin, if you like), I spend a significant amount of time participating in industry, partner and customer events alike. This week is a great example, as I will be speaking at both All About the Cloud and the Citrix Synergy event in San Francisco. I will be covering similar ground on both occasions: the general idea is that the world does not revolve around "the cloud." In fact, "the cloud" tends to be good for certain things and not so good for others. The challenge is that many customers seem to think that cloud is a panacea, solving all of their problems. Often, customers come to us with a blurred idea of why they want cloud, sometimes defaulting to, "The CEO says we need some cloud."

My presentation at the All About the Cloud event is going to focus on the cloud question by trying to understand what each tool does well and so you can deploy accordingly to ensure needs are met. I'll provide a backdrop market growth and then dive into dedicated, virtual and hybrid (cloud + dedicated) solutions with an eye to understanding each solution in broad terms ... As an aside, I wanted to show up with a drill, a nail and a chunk of 2x4 to demonstrate this: I was going to pound the nail into the board with the drill, and then I was told this would be a bad idea. I may yet show up with some tools – all I need is a Home Depot close to the Palace Hotel!

The Citrix presentation is not quite so bold - well, it did not involve props in its initial incarnation. For the Synergy crowd, I'll speak to a few case studies that leverage hybrid solutions to best meet their needs. Specifically, I will discuss companies that have deployed cloud + dedicated, SoftLayer dedicated + someone else's cloud (the horror!) and an enterprise example with a mix of internal data center assets and SoftLayer assets.

The enterprise example is an interesting one and it is timely given what Citrix is up to. Part of the challenge with most enterprise customers is the fact that many have invested significant capital (both dollars and the human variety) in their own infrastructure. This often means that an additional level of complexity is introduced as the enterprise must consider how to bridge the gap between their own infrastructure and another, external (hopefully a SoftLayer) environment.

Citrix is about to launch Cloud Bridge which will help to manage through some of this – the offering enables customers to transparently connect their own data centers with an off premise cloud environment. SoftLayer can make this happen in two ways. Cloud Bridge will sit within Netscaler Platinum offering that we support and customers will have the ability to deploy themselves should they choose to.

I will follow up on this blog with some depth that covers both presentations, as I think this is a conversation worth continuing. In the meantime, I am off to find a Home Depot ...

-@nday91

February 9, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: Hybrid Hosting

In a new SoftLayer series, Duke Skarda sits in the hot seat to answer some hot topic hosting questions from Kevin Hazard.

This session's topic: Hybrid Computing.

Who would you like to see in the hot seat, and what hot topics do you want to hear about?

-Duke

December 17, 2010

Capacity Planning and the Cloud

Cloud computing is changing the landscape for technology projects and initiatives in many ways, but today I wanted to take a look at how cloud computing can help reduce risks when doing server capacity planning for a project.

Traditionally, server capacity planning has consisted of gathering application/database/processing specs, talking to the business about growth projections, and balancing initial cost vs. future capacity needs. One constant in many projects is that the initial processing needs are smaller than what is predicted for the future. However, there are many times that it doesn’t make sense to buy the full capacity needed to support the long term growth upfront.

Back In 1999, capacity planning was easy: Take your largest growth estimates, multiply by 3, then disregard the results and buy the biggest server you can find. Cost consciousness was not an issue (I remember having to track down several $500k servers because there was no justification or documentation needed to get a P.O. cut), but after 2000-2001, this all changed.

Capacity planning evolved into — and still largely is to this day — the act of balancing the initial project investment with the ability to incrementally scale to meet future growth plans.

There are two basic methodologies for scaling: vertical and horizontal. Vertical scaling is done by adding additional resources (CPU, RAM, hard drives, etc.) into an existing server to handle growth. Horizontal scaling is accomplished by adding more distinct servers to the processing mix. Capacity planning for an app that requires vertical scaling tends to be carry more financial risk and is the focus of this post.

An example of vertical capacity planning: For a project that has 1,000 users in year one with growth projections of reaching 1,000,000 users in three years, a common vertical capacity planning methodology would be to buy a server that has the capacity to handle 1,000,000 users when fully loaded, while initially only configuring the server a minimal base configuration. As the usage grows, you'd pay an incremental cost to add more capacity to the server to support the increased resource demands.

When you use this approach, one of the main decisions comes down to how big you want your server to be when it is fully loaded. While the cost per additional CPUs or RAM is about the same for any given server family, the upfront cost of buying a server with greater scalability is substantially more (i.e. Buying base configuration server scalable to 8 CPUs is more expensive than the base config of a server scalable to 4 CPUs).

To buy this additional potential capacity, you pay a premium. In our above example, if you determined a long term need for a 4-CPU server, you'd be paying a "scalability premium" for the time you don't have 4 CPUs installed. And even then, the success of your strategy will depend on the growth predictions you had and their actual CPU/RAM consumption. Not only would you pay somewhere between 700% and 1600% over the base configuration, you increase your risk exposure if your capacity or growth numbers are off. If your capacity numbers were high or the business did not meet growth projections, you have spent more money than you should have. If you missed low or the product surpassed expectations, you now might have to buy an even bigger server that would make your initial investment obsolete.

The value of cloud computing is that it changes this scenario. Customers don't pay the scalability premium they would run into if they were buying their own servers and hosting them in-house. If you want to start small, you pay for a small cloud server with fewer resources. As you grow, you pay for the additional capacity you need. Another benefit of cloud computing on vertical capacity planning is that there is no prolonged turnaround time for ordering and installing of new capacity. Your server is virtualized, so if you decide you needed 8 more CPUs and 8GB RAM in your cloud instance you can schedule those upgrades with a few clicks.

While these are just a couple of the ways cloud computing can benefit vertical capacity planning and reduce risk, horizontal capacity planning with cloud computing is even easier. Think: Click a button to make a new copy of a cloud computing instance in a hurry ... but maybe that will be in another post.

-Bradley

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February 25, 2010

When things get hectic, Cloud computing to the rescue!

Nothing’s worse than trying to use someone’s website when you absolutely need information right now, and it’s unavailable. Last semester when attempting to figure out where the heck my classes were located, the school’s website was crippled by the influx of new freshmen that were trying to do the same. Imagine over 20,000 people trying to access this site at the same time, and because of this, the site is rendered practically useless.

We’ve had customers of ours face all sorts of hardships with their sites. Whether they’re featured on a popular TV show, or they’ve seen an unprecedented rise in traffic due to such sites as www.digg.com and www.Slashdot.org (commonly referred to as the Digg effect, or being ‘slashdotted’ <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot_effect> ) it’s often difficult to get a new dedicated server online quickly enough to mitigate this effect. Imagine that instead of tens of thousands of college students, its tens of thousands of dollars! Quite the predicament, right?

Not a problem though! Cloud computing to the rescue! CloudLayer computing instances are able to be rapidly deployed to provide additional resources should they be required. Even better, if you only anticipate a short burst, you can grab a few up, use them while they’re needed, and then toss them, all while only being billed by the hour! With cloud computing administrators can quickly react to changing situations. We offer several solutions in our bag of tricks, including Dedicated, Bare Metal Cloud, and CloudLayer computing. With proper planning and deployment, your site can be profitable regardless of the situation. This includes a popular product, blog, or the first day of college.

September 21, 2009

Hardwhere? - Part Deux: Softwhere (as in soft, fluffy clouds)

I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the cloud software we use (okay, maybe a little :),) but I know the gist of it as far as hardware is concerned- redundancy. Entire servers were the last piece of the puzzle needed to complete entire hardware redundancy. In my original article, Hardwhere?, (http://theinnerlayer.softlayer.com/2008/hardwhere/) I talked about using load balancers to spread the load to multiple servers (a service we already had at the time) and eluded to cloud computing.

Now cloud services are a reality.

This is a dream come true for me as the hardware manager. Hardware will always have failures and living in the cloud eliminates customer impact. Words cannot describe what it means to the customer. Never again will a downed server impact service.

Simply put, when you use a SoftLayer CloudLayer Computing Instance, your software is running on one or more servers. If one of these should fail, the load of your software is shifted to another server in the “cloud” seamlessly. We call this HA or High Availability.

If there is a sad part to all of this, it would be that I have spent considerable effort optimizing the hardware department to minimize customer downtime in the even on hardware failures. But I have a rather odd way of looking at my job. I believe the end game of any job I do is complete automation and/or elimination of the task altogether. (Can you say the opposite of job security?) I have a going joke where I say: “Until I have automated and/or proceduralized everything down to perfection with one big red button, there is still work to be done!”

Cloud computing eliminates the customer impact of hardware failures. Bam! Even though this has nothing to do with my hardware department planning, policies and procedures, I have no ego in the matter. If it solves the problem, I don’t care who did the work and was the genius behind it all, as long as it moves us forward with the best products and optimal customer satisfaction!

We have taken the worry out of hosting- no more deciding what RAID is best. No more worrying about how to keep your data available in the event of a hardware failure. CloudLayer does it for you and has all the same service options as a dedicated server and more! One more step to a big red button for the customer!

Now back to working on the DC patrol sharks (they keep eating the techs!) New project- tech redundancy!

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