Which IaaS Cloud Service today enables Seamless (Virtual) Colocation of Servers?

Today, the Cloud computing model and the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Clouds provide an very interesting and important value proposition for companies seeking to co-locate their servers virtually or to upgrade the existing colocated servers at a lower cost with better services.

For many years now, small to mid size businesses including ISVs have been running colocated servers with the ISPs and hosting vendors. The cloud computing/IaaS model gives them new opportunities and possibilities to enable the server co-location model in a virtual manner and gain a number of advantages including low cost,scalability at a lower cost,gaining business agility,slash time to deploy etc. In this blog , I would like to share the context of co-location with the cloud computing and specifically on some of the important things that you should look for when you want to virtually colocate your servers effectively,leveraging the benefits offered by the cloud at the lowest risk.

First,Lets look at the basics of  Co-location first

  • Colocation is a hosting option for small businesses, who need  the features typically found in a large IT department without incurring in upfront IT Infrastructure costs. It involves moving  your server machines in the Colocation hosting provider’s rack and share their Internet bandwidth as your own.
  • Key Advantages of co-location are
    • Lower cost of bandwidth 
    • Better outage protection
    • Flexibility to upgrade the server capacity without depending on the hosting vendor
    • When you own the server software. You don’t have to rely on the hosting provider to install the software or tools that you want to deploy and use. You simply do it yourself. For example an Informatica BI Server with Oracle RDBMS.
    • Colocation providers facilitate that your server is stored and maintained in a secured environment
    • Colocation providers offer a service to manage and maintain your server for you for an extra cost. This is useful if you don’t have an IT team at your company.
    •  If your business moves,you take out your servers and move it to another location
    • You can similarly move out your servers,if there are other business reasons.

The attractive Value proposition of Cloud Computing Services to (Virtually) Colocate your servers.

The Cloud computing model ,especially the Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) offers attractive possibilities and value proposition to virtually co-locate your servers or upgrade your existing c0-location servers . 

  • Ondemand ,Cloud based Infrastructure as a Service provides you a virtual datacenter with infinite capacity and scalability (theoretically) to provision your servers.
  • Basically on an IaaS Cloud , you can build your own  server and host it .
  • You get a business class bandwidth and security that a typical Co-location service provider would provide
  • You only pay for what you use from an IT Infrastructure (server,storage and network bandwidth)
  • You can upgrade your server capacity to a higher level based on your business needs
  • You can decide to do whatever software you need to install and uninstall on a Cloud Server as per your wish.
  • You can get the IT support for your cloud servers.
  • Some of the Well known Public IaaS Cloud service providers are 1. Amazon AWS, 2. Rackspace 3. CloudSigma 4.GoGrid 5. Terramark 6. SoftLayer 6. Tata Instacompute 7. AT&T 9. IBM Smart cloud 10.Flexiant
But  with all the above offered by Cloud computing services that should make a virtual co-location feasible,flexible and  more attractive ,you have not yet reached the point of leveraging Cloud for a meaningful co-location of your servers virtually!?

Now, here are some of the key challenges and scenarios of making virtual co-location impracticable on the Cloud predominantly except for one Cloud vendor today in the true sense ,which is CloudSigma

  • Scenario1 :- You have a physical server co-located at present (e.g. Ubuntu 10.04 )  , you want to virualise it and run it on the cloud with a higher configuration ? Is this possible ?
  • Scenario -2 :- You want to build my Cloud server from the scratch very flexibly per your own definition and control, You want to choose the No. of CPUs,Speed of the CPU,RAM size, Hard disk size and the no. of hard disks,then choose the OS version that I need etc. Is this possible?
  • Scenario :-3 :- You should be able to build a server capacity in a fine grained manner. Meaning, You dont want a Cloud vendor offering RAM for the basic server at 512 MB and then the next capacity at 1.7 GB and then to 4 GB. Rather, I want to move from 512 to 1 GB to 2.5 GB? Similarly CPU speed,RAM size etc. Note :- The fine grained capacity changes in building a cloud server gives you an unprecedented control in the cost of running your servers especially if you wish to run many servers. When you want to upgrade to a specific capacity, you have a great flexibility. You need fine grained capacity build up. Why would you need a 8 GB RAM server with 8 CPUs with 2.8 GHZ and 500 GB HDD ,when all you need for your software app. to perform well is 3.5 GB RAM with 5 CPUs with 1.5 GHZ and 100 GB HDD ?
  • Scenario 4:- You want to move out your virtually co-located server and the data from the cloud in the very same manner as how you would just disconnect and move your server from the colocation place to another location.

The above four scenarios at a higher level signifies some of the key requirements and dependencies for enabling a seamless virtual colocation model or virtually colocating and running your servers effectively.

It is to be noted that most or a majority of today’s Public Cloud Service providers donot provide this option with the Exception of CloudSigma. Here are some details

  • Amazon AWS provides a proprietary machine image format (AMI) of various OS  on which you should install your software.
  • You cannot Virtualise and ship your existing colocated server in an ISO format and boot it as a HDD in a few minutes on the cloud ,be it on Amazon AWS or Rackspace
  • You cannot build your cloud server with fine grained capacity and scale as per your needs in Amazon or Rackspace or GoGrid. You have to transition or upgrade to the next higher level capacity in a stepped manner as per what they have defined and not as per what you want to do.
  • Finally and most importantly, Let’s say you are now running a number of  virtual (co-located) cloud servers and for some business or vendor related reason ,you want to move the server and data out of the cloud and boot it elsewhere?? This is not going to be possible as most of the cloud service providers including Amazon and Rackspace doesnot provide a way to ship out your server that you have built. This is a lock-in and is the biggest risk and issue that you would face in the event of a virtual co-location. Rather this is one of the biggest cloud-colocation disabler! You need data portability!

CloudSigma and True IaaS Cloud Service

Finally, you need “Freedom through Technology” to effectively and virtually colocate your servers in a flexible ,transparent and cost effective manner without any lockins . You need a complete control on your environment. If you look at these aspects,the only IaaS Cloud service provider today,who enables it in a true sense is CloudSigma. I say it is CloudSigma because , I have practically used the leading Cloud services such as Amazon AWS,Rackspace,Go Grid,Tata instacompute,Flexiant and CloudSigma. Most of the services offers Quasi  features/solution required for a colocation and it is only CloudSigma which provides all the features required for enabling a seamless virtual colocation .

Small and Medium businesses in Europe particularly ,looking at colocating or upgrading their colocated servers should take a closer look at leveraging the IaaS services offered by CloudSigma in this regard.

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