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One month at ShapeBlue

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Andrija Panic shares some thoughts on joining the ShapeBlue team

Hi there, this is Andrija from… well, ShapeBlue! I’ve been working here for a month now and I thought that I’d share my views of working for the company.

Before I move to the actual topic, let me share just a little bit of background about myself.

Before joining ShapeBlue, I was working as a Cloud System Engineer for two different Swiss-based Public Cloud providers, both utilizing CloudStack to provide IaaS services for local (Swiss) and international customers – many of which (as you can probably guess) were serious financial institutions (Switzerland being considered a big privacy and security center). We even had customers connecting all the way from South America to their infrastructure for daily business, all managed by CloudStack – and it just worked flawlessly!

During my time with the Swiss guys, I had the pleasure (with my colleagues) to lead and build their CloudStack infrastructure from scratch. Here I gained some serious knowledge and experience on this topic. I also had the opportunity to work with some nice storage solutions, from NetApp SolidFire distributed All-Flash Storage (providing block-level storage to CloudStack VMs), to Cloudian Hyperstore S3 Object Storage solution providing (you can guess by its name…) S3 object storage with 100% Native S3 API compatibility. Both solutions had their challenges of integration into existing environment and I was lucky enough to pull the strings here and lead the thing myself. Really fun time! Did I mention CloudStack? Yes, we did quite a decent job here, we made a lot of tweaks and improvements, migrations and decent customer support.

But after 5 years with CloudStack in a service provider environment , it was time for me to move on and improve my cloud building skills even more, so my next logical step was to pull Giles Sirett, ShapeBlue CEO, for a quick coffee on the last CloudStack Conference (I even didn’t have to pay for the coffee – it was a free one!). The rest is pretty much history – I’m now paving my way into consultancy as a  Cloud Architect at ShapeBlue.

After spending a month here at ShapeBlue, I can honestly say that I’m nothing short of being impressed with both the people (colleagues) and the processes inside ShapeBlue. I was already used to Swiss guys being strict and very well organized, but my feeling is that ShapeBlue has moved this to a whole new level. When I joined the company, besides having a dedicated colleague as a mentor (hi there Dag – thanks for all your help!) helping me to find my way around the company, I also got proper training on many different tools and processes used in company, from some internal infrastructure stuff, to customer support tools, processes and SLAs, to many different things in general. In fact , this was a revelation when compared to the  old RTFM-it-yourself way (stands for Read The [Insert asterisks ***] Manual), in case you were wondering) that I’d experienced at previous companies. The people at ShapeBlue are supportive, the working atmosphere is just great, with tons of seriousness across the board but with a healthy dose of (mainly) British humor in the middle of hard work – to make you wake up and warm up during these cold winter days. From time to time we even get cats jumping from our Slack channel.

After being mostly in a technical leadership position in my previous jobs, I’m now, for the first time in my professional carrier, part of the team with a more experienced guys than me – and I’m really happy about that – it’s always nice to be able to get some help in case you need advice – but individual initiative and engagement is something that is strongly respected in ShapeBlue. One of the interesting things is, that the guys in the ShapeBlue Leadership Team do actually listen to engineers and take their advice / opinion – something you don’t necessarily find in every company. It’s a very collaborative and not authoritative environment – a thing that everybody respects here.

So far, I have been tasked with quite a few interesting things to work on: from  delivering the famous ShapeBlue Bootcamp to one of our new colleagues, playing around with some more interesting CloudStack setups (with different hypervisors) and been included in some customer projects and support stuff – all in all a good start!

In case you are still following me, here come a few personal things about me:

I’m based in Belgrade, Serbia (for all you techies, that is 44.0165° N, 21.0059° E ) – a country known for good cuisine, but mostly for ćevapi and šljivovica (national drink). Serbia is also home to Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 in men’s singles tennis (this is the guy who regularly beats Roger Federer, for the record!).

In my free time I’m hanging around with my 3 princesses and sometimes I manage to squeeze some time for gym, music or very light electronic projects.

Talk to you later, Andrija.

ShapeBlue SA extends distribution agreement with NetApp

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ShapeBlue SA are pleased to announce the extension of their distribution partner agreement for NetApp in South Africa, building out a successful relationship that started in 2014.

‘ShapeBlue has built a strong partnership with NetApp in this region. Expanding our capabilities to represent the full NetApp portfolio presents a strategic opportunity for us and our partners.’ Says Dan Crowe, Managing Director, ShapeBlue SA.

‘NetApp’s vision, depth of solutions and cloud-centric approach continues to differentiate them. We are seeing a fantastic response, in particular to the Cloud Infrastructure portfolio with HCI and the Cloud Data Services portfolio.’

ShapeBlue, as expert builders of clouds bring a unique insight to both service provider and integrator partners as they develop services, and work with customers on transformation projects.

ShapeBlue believe a new generation of NetApp partners can accelerate strategic initiatives across sectors and harness the true value of data insights.

ShapeBlue will offer SA based partners access to the full NetApp range of solutions, professional services and sales and marketing collaborations.

ShapeBlue have recently expanded office premises in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, with worldwide software engineering now based here in SA. “We’re excited about our newly expanded partnership with NetApp and looking forward to the next step in our evolution.” Concludes Crowe.

About ShapeBlue

ShapeBlue are the leading worldwide independent CloudStack integrator, with offices in London, Bangalore, Rio De Janerio, Mountain View CA, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Services include consulting, integration, training and infrastructure support

Apache CloudStack 4.9.2 LTS (Long Term Support)

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ShapeBlue are delighted to confirm that the latest version of CloudStack is now on our support matrix as a fully supported and recommended version for our customers. We have worked extensively with the CloudStack community on quality control and testing, and this release contains more than 80 bug-fixes and improvements on the CloudStack 4.9 release. We have also introduced better QA automation, testing and code reviewing.

As well as these improvements, some major new functionality has been introduced, including support for XenServer 7, VMWare vSphere 6.0 and 6.5. Already in the 4.9 release is Out-Of-Band power management for hosts and several improvements to networking and storage. The 4.9.2 release notes include a full list of corrected issues, as well as upgrade instructions from previous versions of Apache CloudStack, and can be found here.

Long Term Support

LTS branches of CloudStack are maintained by the CloudStack community for 18 months:

  • 1-12 months: backport blocker and critical priority defect fixes in the scope (ie. not in a new feature) of the LTS branch functionality; fix all blocker and critical priority defects identified on the LTS branch
  • 13-18 months: backport blocker and CVE (security) fixes in the scope of the LTS branch functionality; fix all blocker and critical priority defects identified on the LTS branch

For our CloudStack Infrastructure Support customers, an LTS release on the ShapeBlue support matrix will be fully supported for an additional 6 months (so a total of 2 years) including our Product Patching service.

ShapeBlue CloudStack Infrastructure Support for the 4.9 LTS branch will be provided until 1 January 2019.

Downloads

All documentation, including release notes and installation guides, as well as the packages available for download can be found on our website here.

The official installation, administration and API documentation for each release are available on the CloudStack documentation page.

More information

For more information on this latest release, or if you would like to discuss our services, please contact us at info@shapeblue.com

ShapeBlue align with SolidFire

CloudStack Collaboration Conference, Budapest, 19  November 2014

ShapeBlue to bring next-generation storage benefits to public and private cloud environments

ShapeBlue, the leading independent global CloudStack integrator, today announced that it has forged a new strategic partnership with SolidFire, the storage industry’s #1 Solid-State Array, to deliver next-generation storage solutions to organisations running IaaS cloud environments. ShapeBlue historically has been storage vendor agnostic, citing a lack of clear differentiation in block storage solutions for implementing public and private cloud environments.

With the new partnership, ShapeBlue now intends to leverage SolidFire’s full enterprise feature set including Guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS), complete system automation and scale-out storage design to bring its customers radical increases in functionality and efficiency in delivering cloud-based services.

Giles Sirett, CEO of ShapeBlue commented today: “We are delighted to be taking our relationship with SolidFire to the next level as they have a genuinely unique proposition for organisations running, or planning to run, an IaaS infrastructure. That proposition comes from four elements of their technology:

“First, only SolidFire can give us guaranteed storage performance in a multi-tenant environment with the ability to dedicate IOPS to individual tenants or applications, removing the “noisy neighbour” problem often experienced in cloud. Next, SolidFire’s unique design offers the ability to deliver a much higher IOPS density than with traditional storage vendors. This helps overcome the need to over-specify storage in virtualised environments. Third, SolidFire also has deep integration with Apache CloudStack, allowing storage to be automated and provisioned on the fly. Finally, the scale-out architecture of SolidFire perfectly suits the capacity and growth models we usually specify for our customers.”

ShapeBlue have already worked on a number of customer projects with SolidFire and have seen the benefits that its technology can bring to customers. Going forward, SolidFire will be ShapeBlue’s primary block-storage recommendation for IaaS builds.

“We already have a standardised reference architecture that accommodates SolidFire’s technology,” said Giles, “and we will be looking to make that public in due course. We will become the go-to partner for companies who wish to benefit from the efficiency and automation that SolidFire brings to their cloud environments.”

As part of the partnership, ShapeBlue have become a SolidFire Gold Cloud Builder partner and built-out significant technical capability for advising and providing SolidFire expertise to its customers. ShapeBlue is the first SolidFire partner outside of the U.S. to achieve this prestigious status.

Dave Cahill, VP of Corporate Development & Strategy for SolidFire commented: “ShapeBlue’s expertise in designing and building cloud infrastructures will drastically simplify deployment and accelerate time to value, enabling customers to take advantage of SolidFire’s ability to scale granularly , automate storage management and consolidate mixed application workloads – all while delivering guaranteed performance.”

 About ShapeBlue

ShapeBlue are the globally leading independent integrator of Apache CloudStack. The company provides a range of services to enable its customers to operate automated, reliable and secure IaaS cloud environments and has customers including Cisco, Evry, TomTom, Colt, Interoute and SunGard Availability Services.

Learn more: www.ShapeBlue com | www.twitter.com/shapeblue |

About SolidFire

SolidFire is the market leader in all-flash storage systems designed for next generation data centers. Leveraging SolidFire’s all-flash architecture, with volume-level Quality-of-Service (QoS) controls, customers now can guarantee storage performance to thousands of applications within a shared infrastructure. Coupling this functionality with in-line data reduction techniques and system-wide automation results in substantial capital and operating cost savings relative to traditional storage systems.

Learn more: www.solidfire.com

 

* The Gold Tier membership is intended for organisations which are able to help customers design, plan and deploy both traditional computing infrastructures and virtual infrastructures in a high performance, multi-tenant cloud scale environment.

Strong technical knowledge, planning and design best practices, and a clear understanding of the technical capabilities of SolidFire’s solutions are essential. To achieve Gold level, partners must complete a Partner Agreement, the required SolidFire Sales Training and Technical Training, and show a base level SolidFire selling success and achieve SolidFire competencies to attain the Gold Tier.

 

 

Public CloudStack Packages

ShapeBlue , today, announced that we will be publicly hosting our public CloudStack repository and SystemVM templates. But why have we decided to do this ?

Access to our CloudStack product patches

Part of ShapeBlue’s CloudStack Software Engineering services, we provide a product patching service to our customers where we  take an official CloudStack release that our customer is running in production and apply bugfixes or enhancements. We try do this work publicly and contribute to the upstream CloudStack project, unless requested by the customer to keep it private. After the whole process of building and testing internally, we package a testing APT/YUM repository that is used to verify the build by our team on a test infrastructure that is close to the customer’s environment, before we deliver the patch to the customer.

So, yes, we are now giving non-paying customers access to our CloudStack product patches, along with our commercially supported customers. What we won’t do, however, is give any notifications, technical support or assistance on those patches unless an organisation has a CloudStack Infrastructure Support agreement in place

Our commitment to the CloudStack project

The Apache CloudStack project ships CloudStack releases every 4-6 months. Since being accepted in the Apache Incubator, the project has shipped 11 releases including the latest 4.4.1 release. After an official Apache CloudStack version gets released, it’s currently only a few individuals in the community who package and host CloudStack releases as APT or YUM repositories publicly. Thats becuase The Apache Software Foundation only distributes code.  But such package hosting sites may not host previous versions of CloudStack and the SystemVM templates, and often times the information on using those CloudStack repositories is not clear, for example which git tag or SHA was used to build those repositories, or if any additional patch(es) or modification(s) was applied on the CloudStack build, or if it’s the “oss” build or the “noredist” build.

Since we already have the product patching infrastructure to build, test and package CloudStack, today we’re rolling out our public APT/YUM repository and SystemVM template hosting for everyone. We’re hosting APT/YUM repository and SystemVM templates for all the CloudStack releases since the 4.2.0 release. All the packages are noredist builds, or what we like to call as the full-version of CloudStack that supports VMWare hypervisor, NetApp storage, Juniper SRX, F5 etc. For more information on using the repository checkout the ShapeBlue packages page: https://www.shapeblue.com/packages.

The packages repository is GPG signed and shipped under Apache License 2.0 by ShapeBlue, and the underlying infrastructure is kindly provided by BT Cloud Compute.

ShapeBlue South Africa – Launch events

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On the 3rd and 4th of July, we officially launched our South Africa practice with two launch events in Johannesburg and in Cape Town. The event in Johannesburg  was kindly hosted by Westcon and the event in Cape Town was at the African Pride Hotel.

The objective of these events was to introduce ShapeBlue, explain the technology space we work in and why we think it’s highly relevant to the market in South Africa.

Dan crowe - SB launch

ShapeBlue are a organisation with global consulting, engineering and support teams who deliver services into many different countries for many major service provider and enterprise customers. The key for us when looking to enter a new territory, is to identify countries where the economic and technology develop cycles are in a position to benefit from our eneablement of public & private cloud services.

Our South Africa practice joins our existing practices in London, California, India and Brazil and is here to develop local technical capability and awareness.

Dan Crowe, Managing Partner of ShapeBlue South Africa started the day off with an insightful talk explaining his views on the key drivers towards cloud adoption in South Africa. In order to explain why ShapeBlue are in South Africa, Dan explained how research shows that Africa is predicted to have an incredible cloud adoption annual growth rate of 57% through to 2017.

Dan went on to share stories of organisations that have leveraged cloud technologies in order to disrupt existing markets and how, with its recent history of innovation, the technology sector in South Africa is currently in a perfect situation to leverage cloud.

Next up to speak was our CEO, Giles Sirett, with a talk titled “The business Use-Cases for building IaaS”. Giles gave a brief history of ShapeBlue and how he founded it with a vision to bring a new, specialist form of cloud integrator into the global market. He showed how, despite only being 2.5 years old, ShapeBlue have designed and built cloud environments for many of the world’s largest service providers and also many significant enterprises.

He went on to explain how the company have focused on Apache CloudStack as their core orchestration technology and how the company has deep involvement in this open source project. He gave some examples of companies that have used Cloudstack to transform their infrastructure delivery. One key point that Giles raised was that Cloudstack (and its commercial distributions) are in much wider use than many people realise. The technology doesn’t have marketing associated with other orchestration projects, but it is certainly the most widely adopted, production grade platform available today

Giles then explained the 4 key use-cases for building IaaS that he sees in the market today:

  1. Service providers building public cloud
  2. Organisations looking to increase agility through automation & devops
  3. The concept of “AWS insourcing” – moving workloads back into a private cloud environment when known demand can be predicted
  4. Enterprises looking to develop next generation infrastructures

 

Next, Simon McCullough from Citrix presented current trends and success that Citrix are having with CloudPlatform. CloudPlatform is Citrix’s commercial distribution of Apache CloudStack and is the technology that ShapeBlue often work with in enterprise customers.

Simon explained how Citrix also collaborate in the opensource project and how their commercial distribution is in widespread use worldwide. He talked through some interesting case studies ranging from a major international petroleum company to the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The last speaker of the day was Andrew Potgieter from WesCon Security solutions. Andrew looked at some of the challenges in cloud security and focussed on Kaspersky’s anti-virus and anti-malware protection suite.

Dan wrapped the day up by thanking our co-organisers for the day: Citrix and Westcon and by giving a few places where people could go for further information. He suggested that people join the CloudStack South Africa User group and is looking forward to organising some future meetings of this community

 

 

 

ShapeBlue expands service into Southern Africa

ShapeBlue expands service into Southern Africa

London, 29th May 2014

ShapeBlue, the leading independent global CloudStack integrator, today announces the launch of a dedicated cloud practice based in South Africa, aimed at meeting growing demand in the region.

This is part of an ongoing global expansion program for the company that has already seen them extend their European and US operations into SE Asia and Latin America.

The practice will focus initially on the South African market, where cloud adoption is anticipated to accelerate sharply during the rest of 2014 and beyond.

Giles Sirett, CEO of ShapeBlue commented: “We are seeing a sharp increase in demand for our services relating to Apache CloudStack and Citrix CloudPlatform, driven by service providers building in-country public clouds and ongoing enterprise adoption of private & hybrid cloud compute models. South Africa is an exciting opportunity for us to bring our services to emerging opportunities across sub Saharan Africa.”

Dan Crowe, Managing Consultant for the new practice added: “South Africa is catching up with more mature cloud markets rapidly, and we believe what we’ve learnt about building clouds over the past three years, and using our CSForge rapid deployment framework, we can help accelerate time to value for South African businesses evolving cloud adoption strategies” Sirett continued: “Today, CloudStack technologies are under represented in southern Africa, but with Apache CloudStack and Citrix CloudPlatform proving the most stable and proven cloud management system we expect usage across the continent to increase exponentially.”

The new practice in South Africa will be based in Cape Town and will give ShapeBlue both consulting and sales functions in the region. Crowe concludes: “We are also delighted to announce details of a launch event to be held jointly in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th July where we, along with Citrix and Trend Micro will discuss adoption trends and cloud computing models in a South African context. We look forward to meeting with many interested parties there.

Event details:  Click Here

About ShapeBlue

ShapeBlue are the leading global independent CloudStack integrator, with offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Bangalore, Mountain View, CA and Cape Town.

We operate global Consulting, Implementation, Support and Software Engineering teams with a focus on Apache CloudStack and Citrix CloudPlatform ecosystem technologies at the heart of our operations.

ShapeBlue Launch CSForge: A Rapid Deployment Framework For Apache CloudStack IaaS Clouds

CloudStack Collab Conference, Denver,CO – April 9, 2014.

ShapeBlue, the leading independent global CloudStack integrator, today announced general availability of its new CSForge product, giving organisations rapid, low risk, deployment of IaaS cloud infrastructures. The framework can be used as a basis for public cloud or enterprise private cloud and is deployed onto the customers own hardware infrastructure.

CSForge is made up of components including Apache CloudStack and the Xen hypervisor with automated deployment components and test & capacity planning tools. . CSForge has a standard, flat, price for environments up to 24 hypervisor hosts and also includes a technical education programme, implementation support and up to 12 months pilot support.

Giles Sirett, ShapeBlue CEO, explained: “ShapeBlue has been building IaaS clouds now for over two years and recently and, with smaller deployments, we’ve seen an 80% commonality in the requirements. Although the use-cases may be different, there is usually a standard set of building blocks that most people want from their IaaS platform.

We have therefore decided to package these components into a pre-configured, pre-planned product that will allow our customers to benefit from an open, flexible IaaS environment without the need for an extensive design & integration process. This is giving our customers rapid time to value. Baked into CSForge is all of the best-practice that we have learned & developed over the last 2 years, building IaaS environments for 100’s of customers”

CSForge uses pure open-source technologies at its core: Apache CloudStack and Xen hypervisor. ShapeBlue have developed a set of proprietary deployment, test and capacity planning tools to enable the rapid, low risk deployment.

Sirett continued: “our customers want the flexibility and avoidance of lock-in that only open-source platforms can bring. They recognise the benefits of open-source, but want the peace of mind usually associated with vendor technology. CSForge bridges that gap. We already have seen great demand for our CloudStack Infrastructure Support which gives enterprise-grade support to these environments , CSForge is the next evolution.

It is important for our customers to understand that we have gone to great lengths to ensure that all of the core operating components of our solution remain open source and we have no plans to change that. We provide a wrapper to reduce cost and risk, but the final operational environment remains 100% open source with no propriety parts.”

 

For further information on CSForge or ShapeBlue see shapeblue.com

For press enquiries, please contact Steve Roles steve.roles@shapeblue.com

 

ShapeBlue to offer CloudStack support

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Apache CloudStack matures with first commercial support offering

CloudStack Collab Conference, Amsterdam – Nov. 20, 2013. ShapeBlue, the leading independent global CloudStack integrator, today announced that it will be the first to offer commercial support of Apache CloudStack.

ShapeBlue will offer professional, 24x7x365, enterprise grade support for IaaS infrastructures built on Apache CloudStack. The service will offer SLAs and is provided by an organisation that is a centre of excellence in the design and deployment of CloudStack infrastructures.

 

Giles Sirett, ShapeBlue CEO, explained: “for 12 months we’ve had increasing demand for formalised CloudStack support services. We support many customers but to date have not offered an SLA-based model. As Apache CloudStack adoption increases we see demand for a service that offers expert support – our customers want the benefits of open source, but also professional, responsive support as with a traditional vendor product.”

“We can provide this because of the deep knowledge and expertise we have from building some of the world’s largest CloudStack infrastructures, and also our capabilities with associated network, storage and compute technologies. We’ve developed a global support capability in order to offer the high service levels our customers demand. We have piloted the service with a number of customers and received overwhelmingly positive feedback.”

Regarding ShapeBlue’s involvement with the Apache CloudStack project, Sirett commented:

“We will be greatly increasing our contribution to the Apache project, with the creation of a dedicated CloudStack Software Engineering Team. Key to us is contributing all of our work back into the project. At this stage, we have no plans to offer a commercial distribution as we feel that this undermines the true value of open source software like CloudStack. Other open source projects suffer from fragmentation by participant vendors and we do not wish this to happen with Apache CloudStack”.

The core support service will offer heterogeneous support for cloud infrastructures, guaranteed response times of 1 hour for high priority incidents, 24x7x365 coverage and a product patching service. Furthermore, a unique “Instant Guru” service will allow customers to discuss architecture questions and design changes using web-chat, outside of the formalised support structure.

Sirett concluded: “That demand has been created for this service demonstrates the momentum that Apache CloudStack is gaining. We work hard to make sure that we offer the highest levels of support, delivered by the best people. We are excited to be first in the market with this service.”

Dan Crowe, VP Cloud Networking at ShapeBlue announces the new service at the CloudStack Collaboration Conference

 

CloudStack Training

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ShapeBlue will be running one of their successful Apache CloudStack 2 day Bootcamp training courses immediately before the CloudStack Collaboration conference this year.

The 2 day, fast based, bootcamp course will be run on 22/23 June in Santa Clara, California and gives attendees a deep dive in designing , managing & implementing CloudStack based clouds.

For further details, pricing & booking, click here

 CloudStack Collab 2013

cloudstack collab

The CloudStack Collab conference will be running June 24/25 also in Santa Clara.

The Apache CloudStack developer community is growing rapidly, and CloudStack is being used to build both private and public clouds at scale. Presentations on best practices for deploying Apache CloudStack will again be a popular feature, and other presentations will feature tools that help manage IaaS clouds. All in all, this is the place to learn about the development and deployment of CloudStack systems

ShapeBlue are proud sponsors of CloudStack Collab and look forward to seeing many friends, partners & colleagues at the conference