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Telia Latvia was founded in 1992 as a telecommunications company with a focus on data communications and internet services. In 2009 they established one of the most modern data centres in the Baltics and in 2013 introduced new generation cloud and CDN services. They now deliver best-in-class cloud and telecommunication services to customers in the Baltics and beyond.

Headquartered in Riga, they are part of the Telia Company group, which is the largest Nordic and Baltic fixed-voice, broadband, and mobile operator by revenue and customer base. Telia Company operates Europe’s largest and fastest-growing wholesale IP backbone and is the 10th-largest global mobile group by consolidated customers.

Exploring cloud as a new set of B2B services

Telia Latvia was initially a pure telecommunications and infrastructure company focused on the Latvian enterprise market. Having received inquiries from customers interested in IaaS services and virtualization, they decided to explore cloud as a new set of B2B services.

In 2013, the company set out to build an IaaS/virtual datacentre as both a service for their customers and also as a basis for their own internal infrastructure requirements.

Implementing a cloud orchestration tool using Apache CloudStack

Telia Latvia made the decision to implement a cloud orchestration platform. This needed to adhere to their core philosophy – any new service launched must be available to customers via a fully-featured self-service portal and any back-end process should be automated to limit human interaction, thereby resulting in the delivery of speedy service and superior user experience.

The company initially chose a proprietary distribution of CloudStack as the orchestration tool. They approached ShapeBlue to help them migrate to fully open-source Apache CloudStack in order to give them the ability to access the newest features,  easily customize and interact with the CloudStack community.

Decreasing time-to-market for new services through more agile development

Telia Latvia now runs both public workloads for customers but their cloud is also used for their own internal workloads and services such as cloud-based surveillance, virtual desktops, backup and storage as a service.

Martins Paurs, CCO of  Telia Latvia explained: “The creation of new services has become much faster. Now we are very flexible and quick to innovate alone or together with our customers. This new capability allows us to be not just a supplier or vendor, but a partner, whom our customers can trust and find the right solution, whatever the problem is.”

Adding customer value

“CloudStack enabled us to add value to our customers by offering cloud and VDC services on top of our networks.” continues Paurs. “Now we are a telecommunications AND a cloud provider, thus we have all the tools, resources and competencies to deliver the full value chain of IT and telco services to any enterprise customer”.

“One of our biggest challenges during the process was to change the mindset and introduce cloud as a business model in our daily activities. Cloud means no commitment, pay as you use, almost unlimited flexibility – basically all that a standard telco company does not deliver” says Paurs.

Opensource benefits backed by professional support services

Whilst wanting the benefits that a true opensource platform brings, Telia Latvia also needed to ensure that they had reliable, SLA based support of the platform. On this, Paurs said “we were extremely impressed by the team at ShapeBlue. Not only do they have very deep technical knowledge of Cloudstack, which they have gained through being active contributors to the project, they also have a wide range of practical experience and best-practice to offer us through their relationships with many similar telco companies. We were so impressed by their assistance in our migration that they were the logical choice to provide support for our environment through their CloudStack Infrastructure Support service. We have, again, been highly impressed and look forward to partnering with Shapeblue long into the future”.

Changing organisation mindset

On the other benefits of Telia Latvia’s deployment of Cloudstack, Paurs commented: “CloudStack is one of the most important success factors for Telia Latvia. It not only helped to develop new services and gain access to new revenue streams in an ever declining telco segment, but most importantly it helped change the organisation’s own mindset. Introducing new values in our daily work and interactions with customers, we have become much more productive and agile. Telia Latvia is a new generation telco, this is in a large part thanks to CloudStack.”

In summary, Martins concluded “CloudStack is one of the most important success factors for Telia Latvia. It not only helped to develop new services and gain access to new revenue streams in an ever declining telco segment, but most importantly it helped change the organisation’s own mindset.”

 

To learn more about Apache CloudStack, please visit: http://cloudstack.apache.org

To learn more about Telia Latvia, please contact:

Ildze Magazeina Head of Marketing Telia Latvia Ildze.magazeina@telia.lv +37129433366

To learn more about ShapeBlue, please visit http://shapeblue.com

 

The University of São Paulo (USP) is Latin America’s largest university and Brazil’s most prestigious academic institution. It produces more doctorate degrees annually than any other university in the world and ranks fifth in the number of scientific articles published. It is one of the world’s leading research institutions, with 100,000 students, 6,000 professors and 17,000 employees spread over 11 campuses.

USP successfully built a private cloud environment (Cloud USP) that would help them overcome the challenges of having 150 disparate IT environments and the ever-increasing demands for compute and storage in their dynamic research environment.

USP saw the opportunity to create a federated “cloud of clouds” across all of Brazil’s leading academic institutions. The ability of these institutions to share computing resources would drive collaboration and shared research across those organisations.

Needed a platform that could rapidly scale

The first iteration of Cloud USP consolidated the University’s 150 data centres down to 6 and brought all of its corporate, educational and research environments together into a single private cloud environment with user self-service and pooling of resources. This initial project was hugely successful and allowed the university to cut physical storage footprint by 90% (despite data growth in excess of 300%) and greatly increase their IT operational efficiency.

Cloud USP has been so successful that it has resulted in a need for the platform to rapidly scale over the next few years as Cyrano Rizzo, Office of IT at USP explained. “Cloud USP is already a massive environment, but demand from our departments’ mean that we needed to scale the compute infrastructure by 300% over the coming year. We, therefore, had to plan the future technology for the platform carefully and make sure that we chose something that was both proven, scalable and gave us the agility we needed to cope with future requirements.”

Moving to an open-source platform

USP had used a vendor distribution of Apache CloudStack, but that presented challenges both in terms of the required features and cost-at-scale for the upcoming project. Whereas, moving to an open-source platform would enable USP to quickly develop any new functionality they require. It would also provide the added advantage of allowing the University to be directly involved with the core development and maintenance of the technology. This would ultimately free them from commercially driven roadmaps and allow them to focus on what they really need for their rapidly evolving environment.

Apache CloudStack was the natural choice to meet these needs, as it was the basis for their existing vendor technology. This would mean that USP would not have undergone a steep learning curve in order to migrate as they were already actively participating in the Apache CloudStack community.

Cyrano explained, “Moving to open source is not primarily about the cost for us. It is about our ability to directly contribute the features we need to the platform. CloudStack, as an Apache project, is a very mature and well-governed open source community. We like very much that it is a project driven by its users and not by software vendors. A vendor-driven development approach simply does not give us the agility we need.”

With the new open-source infrastructure now in place, USP has been able to identify the benefits of the change, as Cyrano explained. “We are now manufacturer-independent which is a major plus as we have the autonomy we want to be able to freely customise and improve the software.”

New features to allow cloud federation

The most important new features developed by ShapeBlue enhanced the security model of CloudStack to allow USP to provide a seamless user experience for users across different institutions. This means that users can provision infrastructure resources in the cloud environments of any participating organisation. As these features have been contributed into the open source Apache CloudStack project, it also allows new institutions to easily join this federation.

“I believe that the federation will be a great thing,” said Cyrano. “Now it’s possible to interact between autonomous private cloud computing environments without the need to authenticate again. It also enables collaborative research between different academic institutes while maintaining the researcher identity in their own university. This means the researcher needs just one identity to authenticate in any cloud environment of the universities that participate in the RNP CAFe. In the future, we will be able to transfer virtual resources such as instances, templates, disks etc from one cloud to another and integrate networks.”

Other supporting features were developed such as integrating a PaaS offering (based on open source Tsuru), the networking functionality of CloudStack was also extended for the University and a mechanism to track the financial usage of their cloud infrastructure developed.

Working with ShapeBlue

In order to realise their vision, USP decided that they needed a partner who could provide professional expertise and experience. After a public tender process, ShapeBlue were chosen.
Cyrano said. “We selected ShapeBlue to work with us on this project because we were extremely impressed with their knowledge, professionalism and their widespread experience of implementing environments like ours. There is no other company who have.”

ShapeBlue consultants were able to carry out the migration to Apache CloudStack in 3 months but were also heavily involved in a number of other important tasks as Marco Sinhoreli, Managing Consultant of ShapeBlue Brazil, explained. “We helped develop an additional feature set for the USP cloud environment. As well as greatly increasing the scale of the environment.

USP and ShapeBlue have been working on many customisations and improvements. For example, routing VPC to enable the capability of routing the tiers end-to-end as well as quota services that permits limit tenants by currency, all of them open-source and authorised by Apache CloudStack.

Commenting on working with ShapeBlue, Cyrano concluded. “They are a great partner and, like me, are passionate about Apache CloudStack. I cannot stress enough the importance of the open-source community and the key role that ShapeBlue play in that. They have such in-depth knowledge of the product coupled with the experience of working with it in the real world. Without that we would not have been able to upgrade, what is one the largest private cloud environments in the world, so quickly.

“I would highly recommend ShapeBlue to anyone working on Apache CloudStack. Their reputation within the community is second to none and they are doing some amazing things in the cloud computing sector.”

Enables rapid development of cost-effective, scalable Cloud-based educational solutions

Education IT specialist Oakford Internet Services (OIS) announced today that the latest version of their highly successful and acclaimed CloudSchool platform will be based on the latest edition of Apache® CloudStack®.

Within the UK education sector, budgets are always decreasing whilst the demand on the schools IT infrastructure and supporting applications are increasing,” said Peregrine Sharples, Managing Director of OIS. “The traditional onsite IT infrastructure model simply does not scale alongside these shrinking budgets.

To combat this challenge Oakford launched its CloudSchool solution in 2011 that allows educational establishments across the UK to host their IT infrastructure offsite in secure, ISO27001 certified, data centers. The schools benefit from economy of scale, eliminating the high capital costs and overheads of hosting their equipment onsite. This transformation to a cloud model grants them access to a predictable monthly/annual operating cost model coupled with enterprise IT features that would have been previously out of reach. This solution is then supported centrally by Oakford’s professional support team.

Working with ShapeBlue, the CloudStack company, to help finalise the design, all existing CloudSchool customers as well as new installations will be migrated to this new platform once final testing has been completed. Apache CloudStack was selected after an intensive R&D exercise against other cloud management platforms, both Open Source and commercial. Apache CloudStack stood out in part due to its rich feature set but also its simplicity in design and ease of deployment. Oakford required a product that would allow it to hit the ground running without the overhead of an overly complex solution.

We are delighted that OIS have chosen Apache CloudStack for their CloudSchool platform,” said Giles Sirett, CEO of ShapeBlue. “v4.11 is the latest release of CloudStack and brings a range of new features, many focussed at cloud service providers such as OIS . Their selection of Apache Cloudstack 4.11 is an endorsement of the fact that Cloudstack remains the most stable, easily deployable and scalable IaaS platform available.”

This exciting development will allow us to onboard customers much more quickly than before with the knowledge that the system scales as we need it to,” added Sharples. “This zero capital and support cost solution has proven popular with schools of all sizes and this development allows us to scale even further.

About ShapeBlue
ShapeBlue are the largest independent integrator of Apache CloudStack technologies globally and are specialists in the design and implementation of IaaS cloud infrastructures for both private and public cloud implementations. Services include IaaS cloud design, software engineering, CloudStack consulting, and training. The company has a global customer base with offices in London (UK), Mountain View (CA), Bangalore (India), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and Cape Town (South Africa). For more information, visit https://www.shapeblue.com/ .

About Oakford Internet Services
OIS is the infrastructure and network arm of the highly acclaimed Oakford Technology who provide IT support, consultancy and development to education and commercial customers across the UK. OIS maintains a highly available and scalable network and server infrastructure across three data centres in the UK managed by central teams based in Devizes, Wiltshire. For more information, visit https://oakfordis.com/ .

“Apache”, “CloudStack”, and “Apache CloudStack” are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Apache Software Foundation in the United States and/or other countries.

Oakford Internet Services:
Rhiannon Higgs
+44 (0) 3302 230 230
RHiggs@oakfordis.com

ShapeBlue:
Media Office
+44 (0) 20 3603 0540
info@shapeblue.com

Introduction

In this blog we discuss applications of machine learning (ML) in datacenters and how that might integrate with Apache CloudStack (ACS). We also try to identify various places in the lifecycle of datacentres where such tools can be helpful.

With any datacentre deployment, the primary goal is to achieve efficient resource provisioning whilst also maintaining performance and availability. Datacentres have become complex and multidimensional, both in terms of software and hardware, and we should also consider a hybrid hosting character. Maintaining an optimal deployment with minimal downtime is consequently becoming more challenging with manual operations.

Recent trends show some companies moving towards smarter ways to design, deploy and maintain their infrastructure with a more proactive than reactive approach – i.e. a prevention driven approach instead of break / fix. Some common examples include HPE Insights; Google’s in-house cooling system (see figure 1 below); Facebook using ML for scheduling jobs; Litbit’s development of the first AI-powered, datacentre operator; Dac, etc. Apache CloudStack would be a good candidate for such integration and experimentation, as it provides a clean easy way to deploy and maintain storage network and compute.

Figure 1: Neural network representation of Google’s power cooling system

Artificial Intelligence / Machine learning (AI / ML) can play a crucial role in this regard, and there are different players in the market working towards building a smarter, data driven approach when implementing datacentres. We will discuss AI / ML terminology and techniques as toolkit and then proposes some problems we can solve with ML.

Related terms

AI is an old but emerging field to making machines smart, and it covers a wide range of techniques. ML is a subset of AI that requires developing models to either:

  1. Classify (i.e. given a set of parameters, we want to assign a class to an entity represented by these parameters)
  2. Value Prediction (i.e. given a set of parameters, we want to guess the value of a function dependent on these parameters)

To solve these problems there are several models that can be employed, and some of these are represented by Figure 2.

Figure 2: Cheat sheet to understand what can be done with data.

Given the vast breadth of ML, for the applications we propose later the following tools can be a good starting point:

  1. Support Vector Machine (SVM) – a linear classifier for binary classification. E.g. classifying whether a host is in an error state. Figure 3a shows how a 3d SVM looks like and what kind of spatial distribution favours SVM application.
  2. Decision Trees – a data driven weighted tree for making decisions. E.g. which host to use for VM migrations in case of failure.
  3. Logistic Regression – uses data to generate weights for a logistic regression model to predict a value. A sample example could be predicting the host failure probability given a specific set of parameters.
  4. Neural Networks – is one of the most actively used models for classification technique. Primarily for image/signal processing, it can be used for applications like classifying energy efficiency usage. The drawback with these models is that it needs massive amounts of data for training. The more data is available for training, the higher is the accuracy. Figure 3b shows a variant of neural network (multi-layer perceptron) which shows the large number of weights for a 28×28 grayscale image as parameter. Each edge between nodes is a weight to be trained on and the setup shown has around 13,000 weights.

Figure 3 (a) left shows a simple 3d SVM; (b) right shows a multi-layer perceptron for identification of hand written digits recognition for 28×28 grayscale image as input and 2 hidden layers with 16 nodes

It is worth calling out that there are several open source frameworks that provide use of these models to experiment with (e.g. numpy, scipy, scikit-learn, pytorch, tensorflow, etc). Maximum effort in a typical ML application involves due diligence to identify parameters, collect data, train, and then utilize the trained models during run time. This blog does not go into further details on this and readers should explore further if interested. However, the aim here is to establish that we can use data (pre-collected or collection on the fly) to develop models for classification and value prediction.

Applications in datacentres

Having laid out some basic concepts, we can now discuss some general applications of Machine Learning in data centres and CloudStack.

Energy efficiency this is the most common and successful application of machine learning in datacentre operations. For example, Google has published that with deep learning and using 120 parameters ranging from IT load, weather conditions, number of chillers and cooling towers running, equipment setpoints, etc., they were able to reduce energy consumption by 30% and also reduce the greenhouse gases produced.

Operational optimizations are fairly hard to maintain as it largely depends on the run-time loads, but if implemented successfully it can generate high returns. CPU, disk and network resource utilization, and load balancing inefficiencies in server usage can mean large losses in revenue. Load balancing tools with built-in ML models are being developed and are able to learn from past data to run load distributions more efficiently. With less congestion and overload, we can also avoid several errors triggered and causing downtime.

This application has huge potential for integration into CloudStack, and with built in models admins can provide the choice of models to use for load distribution. The integrated architecture of CloudStack also helps, with easy plugin-like integration of decision modules.

Fault prediction and remediation This supplements operational optimizations. The former refers to resource allocation and restructuring while this application refers to a wide array of fault prediction at both software and hardware level. Products like HPE Insights use data such as temperature fluctuations, movement speeds, read / write times or fluctuations to predict possible faults in the near future for host or disk failure. This can help in proactive remediation without any downtime. CloudStack also serves as a good candidate to develop such tools. In the middle of its monitor tasks we can add additional checks and collect data to train models for such checks.

Within the above broad categories there are some problems that can be addressed in ACS:

  • Load balancing techniques – better compute, storage and network utilization. It can also deliver lower downtime. By predicting future heavy workloads and traffic, pre-emptive migrations can also be scheduled.
  • VM host / Volumes – placement & migration in case of failures can result in lower downtime.
  • Host failure prediction and maintenance module can trigger migrations in case of failures and notify admins for precautionary measures.
  • Smarter routers can be developed by injecting AI driven tools into virtual routers.
  • Log analysis – logs generated by ACS can be parsed and used for providing recommendations for possible root causes in case of failures.

While applications can be beneficial there needs to be an awareness of at least 2 challenges that come along with ML:

  1. What / where data comes from. Collection of the right data and its maintenance is a challenge and forms the bedrock of most ML problems. CloudStack’s end to end orchestration provides a unique opportunity to generate such data. Some use cases can also leverage existing logs and usage data while some may need extension of current logging.
  2. An argument can be made that storing data for training and running additional decision / prediction tasks take up resources. However, in most cases return on the investment can prove to be magnitudes higher.

Conclusion
This blog discusses various possible use cases of Machine Learning in CloudStack and how it can help in datacentre performance.

The applications of machine learning and AI in datacenters is expected to grow due to increasing complexities. CloudStack’s integrated architecture and reach to various resources makes it an ideal candidate to adapt and leverage these tools. Data generation plugins and decision-making modules can be implemented, utilising CloudStack’s reach across the infrastructure and support for different hypervisors and storages.

Blog by: Anurag Awasthi, Software Engineer, ShapeBlue.

Globo.com is the Internet arm of GRUPO Globo, the largest media conglomerate in Latin America, with offices in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

It operates the largest vertical web portals in Brazil, focussing on News (G1), Sports (globoesporte.com), Videos (Globo Videos) and Celebrities (Ego).

The company also acts as a service provider for all of the other media businesses in the group , giving strategic and technology support to them for the online elements of their operations. It has excellence on high-volume web distribution and is responsible for the highest simultaneous video streaming audiences in the country.

Business situation

Globo.com wanted to move its application development and systems management practices from a traditional model, based on stand-alone applications deployed on physical servers, into a true cloud-based framework.

As part of this process they needed to replace their existing in-house virtualisation solution (that had been used for the previous three years to manage their development and QA environments) with a modern, full-featured and scalable solution to handle cloud infrastructure in production.

The solution

Globo.com ran an internal selection process to evaluate the solutions on the market and help decide on the best platform for their needs. They started with an assessment of the available products and produced a short list of five candidates for further evaluation, including both proprietary and open source alternatives. These candidates were then invited to install a proof-of-concept solution in Globo.com’s premises, working with their technical team.

Each solution was then used as a test bed to setup and deploy two internal applications, in order to get a real-world feeling of the features, performance, stability and ease-of-use for each product. The tests also focused on how to integrate each IaaS solution with Tsuru, Globo.com’s own PaaS project. This gave them a better picture of how to reach the proposed goal of building a true cloud platform and not only a simple virtualisation layer on top of their servers.

During these tests, CloudStack demonstrated that it matched more closely the approach Globo.com wanted. The reasons for this included: significantly more case studies published demonstrating that CloudStack is production-ready, offering many network models, agnostic, open standard, has a great and mature community ensuring they will have news features developed by community. As a result Globo.com selected CloudStack, as their new cloud infrastructure solution.

Benefits

Fernando Carolo, Cloud Manager at Globo.com outlined the benefits. “First of all, we found that CloudStack is able to deliver all the functionality we require to manage our cloud infrastructure in a simple, yet comprehensive way.

“After moving to CloudStack, we redirected our internal development efforts away from the maintenance of our in-house IaaS project and towards the integration of other parts of our infrastructure with CloudStack itself. By taking advantage of the built-in extensibility mechanisms provided by CloudStack and the vibrant developer community built around it, we have already made significant progress integrating our new cloud deployment into our current operations, such as the ability to control our internal DNS servers (powered by BIND) through a plug-in under CloudStack. This plug-in has been submitted to the project and accepted for inclusion in the next CloudStack release.”

Fernando continued, “Two key points that influenced our decision to start using CloudStack were the ability to extend and adapt the product for our needs and the fact that it is an open source solution. The ability to extend and adapt it is proving to be extremely valuable to our goal of evolving our infrastructure into a full private cloud solution while taking advantage of several existing services that we already have in place, leveraging much of our previous investments in automation and configuration management.

“On the other hand, working on top of an open source solution gives us the confidence to keep evolving our operations without the risk of becoming trapped inside a single-vendor, proprietary solution. CloudStack is at the heart of our move towards a full cloud-based operation and we will not only increase our reliance on it, but also continue to invest in improving and adapting it to our needs.”

Globo.com is advised by ShapeBlue, the globally leading CloudStack integrator and services company.

 

Teamsun (SHA: 600410), China’s leading integrated IT Service Provider, and ShapeBlue, The Cloudstack Company, today announced a new strategic partnership to develop private & hybrid enterprise cloud offerings for the Chinese market, based on Apache CloudStack technology.

Teamsun is headquartered in Beijing with more than 5,000 staff and more than 20 holding subsidiaries among more than 40 wholly-owned subsidiaries in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and part of Southeast Asia.

ShapeBlue, headquartered in London (UK), are the world’s largest integrator of CloudStack based IaaS environments. They have offices in London, Mountain View (CA), Brazil, India and South Africa.

Haijiao Lv, Director of Innovation Center, said: “We are delighted to be working with ShapeBlue to deliver these products and services for our market. Choosing an open-source IaaS platform is key to our long-term strategy. There are some obvious choices in this space, but key to us is that the open-source project is not controlled by a group of major vendors with their own individual commercial objectives. We want to work from a well-established open-source code base and not be tied to a vendor’s particular fork.

By choosing Apache CloudStack, we have the assurance that the project will be around for the long-term. CloudStack also gives a stable, massively scalable and production proven platform that can quickly and easily deployed by our enterprise customers, and we are able to collaborate with the many other organisations already running Cloudstack in production”.

On choosing to partner with ShapeBlue Haijiao Lv commented: “After deciding on the Cloudstack platform, ShapeBlue were a natural technology partner for us to choose as they have more knowledge and experience implementing and supporting Cloudstack in production environments than any other company”.

The partnership will see the companies collaborating on professional services, support, training & certification and development of tooling for enterprise & hybrid cloud customers. They will also be supporting the growing Chinese Cloudstack developer community.

Giles Sirett, CEO of ShapeBlue commented: “I am very excited about this partnership with Teamsun. Partnering with a company with such an established presence and reputation in China is a great way for us to enter that market. It is also fantastic to see the momentum that Apache CloudStack is developing in China”.

About Teamsun

As China’s leading integrated IT service provider, Beijing Teamsun Technology Co. Ltd. is the first domestic localized IT service provider with its service network across Greater China and part of Southeast Asia. It owns two listed companies; Teamsun (600410-SH) and ASL (00771-HK).

Teamsun is headquartered in Beijing with more 5,000 staff and more 20 holding subsidiaries among more 40 wholly-owned subsidiaries in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and part of Southeast Asia. Since it was a listed company in 2004, the CAGR has been up to 23%, and now its turnover is more than RMB 5.0 billion yuan.

About ShapeBlue

ShapeBlue are the largest independent integrator of Cloudstack technologies globally and are specialists in the design and implementation of IaaS cloud infrastructures for both private and public cloud implementations. Services include IaaS Cloud Design, Software Engineering, CloudStack Consulting and training.

The company has a global customer base with offices in London (UK), Mountain View (CA), Bangalore (India), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Cape Town (South Africa).

Further information

www.teamsun.com.cn/en/

www.shapeblue.com

www.cloudstack.org

Part of the CSN Group, DATACENTER Services believes that IT parties do not want to invest in IT Infrastructure. It is too expensive in terms of cash and knowledge. Therefore they offer ‘low level’ IT services:

  1. CompanyCloud IaaS
  2. CompanyCloud On-line backup tooling and storage
  3. Company-Box, the secure alternative for DropBox

All of them are white labelled and true pay-per-use. Customers are IT Service providers, Independent Software Vendors and IT departments of larger Companies.

Business situation

DATACENTER Services set about choosing an orchestration platform to underpin their public IaaS offering, as Cees Doets (Director) explained “We needed an IaaS platform that was enterprise grade, fast to deploy and would enable us to offer the sort of service levels that our customers expect. We evaluated a number of options, both open source and proprietary, and CloudStack stood out as meeting all of our requirements.”

Cees Doets, Director

Cees Doets, Director

DATACENTER Services had originally deployed an early propriety version of Cloudstack back in 2010. “Since our initial deployment, we had been following the amazing development of CloudStack by the Apache software community and decided that we wanted to benefit from the open standards offered by the community,” said Cees. “We revaluated the IaaS market in and identified that Apache CloudStack really was the most mature, stable and easiest to deploy solution available. So, we set about updating our environment to use this open-source technology.

“CloudStack is a complete solution that includes all the features we needed for an IaaS cloud. It allows us to manage the cloud with an easy-to-use Web interface, command line tools, and a full-featured API.”

The solution

“We chose Apache CloudStack as our orchestration platform as it allowed us to deliver expertise-grade IaaS to our customers and also allow us to gain the benefits and flexibility of an open source technology,” said Cees.

DATACENTER Services worked with ShapeBlue, the leading CloudStack integrator. “They reviewed our project plan and made some suggestions as to how we could improve the installation process,” said Cees. “As a result the build was very smooth. Again ShapeBlue proved to be a true sparring partner for us.”

Benefits

Cees summarised, “One of the key elements for our choice is the multitenant environment. We can draw a very clear line of responsibilities between our customers, their customers and us.

“By design this is much more secure than alternatives. Also it is highly scalable and most important, it works, right out of the box. Since moving to CloudStack, we have experienced 100% uptime.”

With CloudStack now underpinning their IaaS offering, DATACENTER Services have all the benefits of  an open source platform but with great support from ShapeBlue. “When there is a problem, we pick up the phone to them and get an answer immediately,” said Cees. “They are extremely professional and knowledgeable about CloudStack and as a result we are involving them in new projects such as replacing our existing cloud rack and 3D-CAD in the cloud.

“The change to open source was a new experience for us, but with ShapeBlue supporting us we know we can get advice to carry out additional tasks like programming, if required,” concluded Cees.

 

 

ShapeBlue, The Cloudstack  Company,  announced that they have been selected to help The University of São Paulo to rapidly scale and enhance their massive “Cloud USP” private cloud by migrating it to Apache Cloudstack open source technology. The project will also involve developing an additional feature set for the USP cloud environment. This follows a public tender process that ShapeBlue successfully won.

The University of São Paulo (USP) is Latin America’s largest university, produces more doctorate degrees annually than any other university in the world and ranks fifth in the number of scientific articles published. USP  is one of the world’s leading research institutions, with 100,000 students, 6,000 professors and 17,000 employees.

Background

In 2012, USP set out to build a private cloud environment that would help them overcome the challenges of having 150 disparate IT environments and the ever-increasing demands for compute and storage in their dynamic research environment. The first iteration of Cloud-USP consolidated the University’s 150 datacentres down to 6 and brought all of its corporate, educational and research environments together into a single private cloud environment with user self-service and pooling of resources. This initial project was hugely successful and allowed the university to cut physical storage footprint by 90% (despite data growth in excess of 300%) and greatly increase their IT operational efficiency.

The demand for scale

Cloud USP has been so successful that it has resulted in a need for the platform to rapidly scale over the next few years.

Cyrano Rizzo, Office of IT at USP explained: “Cloud USP is already a massive environment, but demands from our departments means that we need to scale the compute infrastructure by 300% over the coming year. We, therefore, had to plan the future technology for the platform carefully and make sure that we chose something that was both proven/scalable and gave us the agility we needed.

We had previously used a vendor distribution of Apache Cloudstack, but that presented challenges both in terms of required features and cost-at-scale.  Moving to an open-source platform allows us to quickly develop any new functionality we require and for the University to be directly involved with the core development and maintenance of the technology.   This frees us from commercially driven roadmaps and allows us to focus on what we really need for our environment.

Apache Cloudstack was a natural choice, as it was the basis for our existing vendor technology. This has meant that we have not had a steep learning curve in order to migrate.  We are already actively participating in the Apache CloudStack community”

More agile feature development

As well as greatly increasing the scale of the environment, ShapeBlue will be helping USP deliver new, exciting functionality to their users.  A PaaS offering is to be integrated (based on opensource Tsuru) and new security enhancements will allow USP to federate their security from their academic community. The networking functionality of Cloudstack is to be extended for the University and a mechanism to track the financial usage of their cloud infrastructure will develop.

Cyrano explained “moving to open source is not primarily about the cost for us. It is about our ability to directly contribute the features we need to the platform. Cloudstack, as an Apache project, is a very mature and well-governed open-source community. We like very much that it is a project driven by its users and not by software vendors. A vendor-driven development approach simply does not give us the agility we need”

Help with expertise

In order to realise their vision, USP  decided that they needed a partner who could provide professional expertise and experience. After a public tender process, ShapeBlue were chosen.

Cyrano noted: “we have selected ShapeBlue to work with us on this project. We have been extremely impressed with their knowledge, professionalism and their widespread experience of implementing environments like ours. There is no other company who have ”

Marco Sinhoreli, Managing Consultant of ShapeBlue Brasil commented “USP cloud is one of the largest private cloud environments in the world, so we are very excited to have won this tender and  to be working with USP on this project.”

Further information

www.usp.br

www.shapeblue.com

www.cloudstack.org

www.tsuru.io

 

Working with leading-edge technology presents its own unique set of issues. Even technology specialists can encounter problems when faced with designing and building business critical systems on new technology platforms.

DSS, headquartered in Greater Reading, Pennsylvania delivers IT solutions that drive business for over 400 regional clients. From their Tier III data centre through a 24/7 service desk to a full portfolio of IT products, the company continually strives to produce high-quality, beyond standard solutions to exceed the expectations of their customers.

Proof of concept environment

DSS was working on a new proof of concept environment for an IaaS platform based on Apache CloudStack. Justin Brophy, Systems engineer at DSS explained: “Although we have a great deal of experience in-house, this was a new technology for us to get to grips with so, naturally, we encountered a number of challenges. We were faced with the choice of either spending hours on end trying to make sense ourselves of what was available or to bring in an expert source of information on CloudStack.”

After spending some time on forums and researching the options available, Justin contacted ShapeBlue for advice. After initial discussions it was decided that the best solution to their problem would be for a ShapeBlue consultant to work with the DSS project team reviewing what DSS’ goals would be for the CloudStack environment and helping them to develop in-depth design and build documentation for the new platform.

CloudStack best practices

Justin continued, “ShapeBlue sent in one of their Cloud Consultants. He discussed with us what we were trying to achieve and how we had so far gone about it. From this he was able to understand our requirements and help us work through the problems we had encountered. This covered detailed topics like overcoming problems trying to assign a static IP to VPC as well as more general areas. By the end of the week he had helped us develop a build document that specified in detail what our final production environment would look like.”

Commenting on the time spent working with ShapeBlue, Justin said, “their Consultant was great, he was very knowledgeable and easy to work with. His consultative approach enabled us to understand why we had been having problems and it was easy to work with him to overcome them.

“He also used his in-depth practical experience of implementing CloudStack to build into the final design best practices for ensuring that our production platform would be able to support the new solution to the benefit of our customers.

“We now have in place everything we need to build our proof of concept IaaS platform using CloudStack and the skills transfer that ShapeBlue also effected has helped to greatly improve our internal expertise on this important new technology platform. ”

 

The cloud is from a long time accepted as a mature technology utilised by companies of all sizes across the world to enable them to carry out their business smarter and faster. As a result, those organisations that can offer their customers a fast, value-for-money and easy-to-use cloud offering are placing themselves at a significant advantage over their competitors.

Ascenty, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, offers on-demand solutions for IT resources that are scalable and highly secure. This gives their customers more control over technology costs and resources without having to invest in new infrastructure, equipment, software licences and training.

Needed partner with CloudStack expertise

To ensure its continued leadership in the Brazilian market Ascenty had built a cloud platform based on Apache CloudStack but this had some problems, as Ascenty CEO, Chris Torto explained.

chris_torto_nologo“It was a very basic platform and we quickly came to the conclusion that it was not going to meet the needs of our customers. We realised we needed help to build the solution that we wanted and so started looking around for an organisation with the necessary expertise that we could partner with.”

After assessing a number of options including a local Brazilian company as well as an international organisation, Ascenty chose ShapeBlue. “Their experience with CloudStack was impressive and they were a good fit for our organisation,” said Chris, “as a result, they were the natural choice to make.”

Flexible and cost-effective cloud platform

ShapeBlue’s consultants flew out to Brazil to begin the work with Ascenty. “They initially looked at our existing platform and also what we were trying to achieve,” explained Chris. “This then enabled them to design a completely new platform that would meet our customers’ needs.

“The new design was based on CloudPlatform and CloudPortal Business Manager technologies from Citrix. By combining and customising these technologies, ShapeBlue were able to give us a true self-service IaaS cloud platform that is scalable, simple to use and integrates into our operational processes and systems. Ultimately, the system will allow our customers to access a range of our services, under a true IT as a Service (ITaaS) model.

“Once we had signed off on this design they worked with us to implement a robust infrastructure that will enable our customers to fully utilise the new cloud platform with no need for human involvement from our end. This embraces everything from initial specification and setup right through to billing and decommissioning.”

CloudStack experts

“We made the right decision in choosing ShapeBlue to help us with this project,” concluded Chris. “They were a pleasure to work with and completed all the work on time and within budget. Overall it was a great experience and I would fully recommend ShapeBlue to any organisation that is looking to implement CloudStack.

“I am very excited about our new Ascenty Cloud solution; it will provide customers with all the flexibility they need to leverage the cloud to their benefit. From testing and development sites through to full online trading, they will be able to quickly and cost-effectively specify and implement a cloud solution that they can design to meet their precise needs.

“I believe this will set us apart from the competition in Brazil and enable us to achieve our mission to be recognised as a leading provider of data center and telecom infrastructure and services.”