Archive for the 'Utility Hosting' Category

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FORBES: Computing In The Cloud (Layered Tech)

Tiny Firms Offer Big Computing Services
(FORBES Magazine,
Andy Greenberg, 03.26.08)

Dave Durkee believes in the “Big Switch.” Like tech pundit Nick Carr, who coined that term in his recent book of the same name, Durkee, the CEO of utility computing company Enki, argues that information technology will eventually move out of corporations’ server rooms and into massive, shared facilities, where servers and storage can be hosted more efficiently and piped out to customers. Instead of investing in expensive IT infrastructure, companies will take advantage of computing as a utility, paying their IT bills the same way they pay for water and electricity. 

[A] start-up, Plano, Texas-based Layered Technologies, rents out customized servers by the month to about 4,500 clients. The company hosts a grid of servers that it divides up and rents to clients in packages designed especially to satisfy their hardware needs. Clients can choose to add hardware or subtract machines, like an extra server or storage device, in seconds. Layered Technologies completed its first round of publicly announced funding in mid-March. 

“Utility computing is one of those disruptive technologies that larger players won’t be interested in until it gets big,” says Carr. “That means smaller players can serve the first adopters. The challenge will be when the IBMs, the HPs, and the Suns start to come in to dominate the market.” But don’t count out the little guys, insists Layered’s chief marketing officer, John Pozadzides. Layered’s customers want more than cheap, generic computing power, he contends. As a smaller firm, Layered can customize and scale the resources it rents to every customer, Pozadzides says, whether it’s a start-up search engine or a software-as-service sales and inventory company. 

A different sort of player hoping to squeeze into the utility computing space is 3tera, in Aliso Viejo, Calif. 3tera offers a program that helps utility computing companies divvy up their hardware resources among their customers. Both Enki and Layered use 3tera’s program, known as AppLogic, to create the virtual data centers that they host for their clients; the software lets their customers expand or contract the resources they need in seconds, literally by dragging and dropping components on a computer screen.  “Today, if you want to add a new server, many sets of hands are involved,” says Bert Armijo, 3tera’s vice president of product management. “If you have the ability to instantly provision what you need, that’s when it really becomes a utility.” 3tera, which predicts it will become profitable in the first half of 2008, is a start-up worth watching, says Forrester Research analyst James Staten. The company’s “arms dealer” strategy, he says, will allow it to profit no matter who eventually comes to dominate utility computing. 

As for the other small fry, Staten says, it is too early to pick out potential winners as the industry evolves. But he’s confident that by the time larger customers start to look at utility computing as an attractive option, [smaller companies] may have grown into a real competitor.  “This is classic disruptive innovation, where the mainstream dismisses the product and small companies have time to create a real differentiated value,” says Staten. “When this technology becomes really robust five to seven years from now, the doubters may not be able to compete anymore.”  Read more >>

What is "The Grid"?

Geoff Pennington, Layered TechThe Grid is a collection of commodity servers that provide a fully functional virtual computing environment.  In this environment, you can use resources which are collected in a pool by AppLogic, to deploy various applications, each containing an unlimited number of appliances.   

How can it help me? 

The Grid offers full control over your entire environment from anywhere in the world on any PC, and can be done from a SINGLE PC.  There’s no need for multiple admins to control your infrastructure.   The Grid also offers on-demand scalability for both you and/or your end user.  You can, on the fly, scale an appliance or application to utilize more resources for your client or you can add another node to your Grid for more overall resources.   

Another feature is the super high redundancy.  With the automatic failover you have no fear of your application experiencing prolonged downtime due to hardware failure.  Any time a server fails the simultaneous appliance that is running elsewhere on the grid is started up to take its place.    

Lastly, let’s not forget about the snapshot feature.  With this, you can simply build a single application, snapshot it, and deploy it for each and every client if you want to, so you only build a setup once and it’s instantly ready for deploy 100 times over.   

Is it right for me? (Yes or No answers) 

  • Are you familiar with Virtualization and creating virtual environments? 
  • Are your 100% Linux based? 
  • Are you 100% comfortable in a dedicated Linux box? 
  • Is your largest file you want to host on the grid smaller than 1TB? 
  • Have you done any of the demos from 3Tera, or attended Grid U?   
  • Do you have a solution budget of $1500+/mo? 

If you answered “No” to any of the questions above, The Grid is probably not a viable solution for you at this time.  Some of the questions do revolve around your knowledge of how to use the product, which can be compensated with help from other consulting companies, but I write this to see if you can handle the grid in a 100% self managed environment, which is what we provide.  

*Note: VOIP is not a solution that can run comfortably on The Grid* 

Terminology You Need to Know 

  • Virtual Private Datacenter (VPDC) is an array of standard servers and storage devices that have been turned into a scalable computing resource you can use to meet the demands of your application. 
  • Appliance = Web server, or Database server, or Monitoring device, or Load balancer, or Firewall.   
  • Application = A cluster of 2 web servers, 1 database, 1 monitoring device, and a firewall all running interconnected with each other.    

I know the grid is right for me, but which one do I pick???  

Below I am going to list each of Layered Technologies’ packages, then offer some categories you might fit into.  The thing to keep in mind:  If you fit 4 examples of the Gold package and 1 example of Platinum package, you NEED the Platinum package.  There is really no way around it.  The examples are based off of the hardware of each grid.  You can’t make Gold pretend to be Platinum.  It just doesn’t work that way.   

Bronze (Starting at $996 monthly fee) >>

  • You are a start-up company who has a few clients who need hosting space. (500 or less)
  • You are starting a SAAS company and you have LITTLE or no need for live production as of yet.
  • You want to develop your Web 2.0 website and test it with friends, but have no intention of running it live on the net for the world.
  • You need to run a small internal network for your small business which is going to store company databases, maybe run the company website, etc. 

Silver (Starting at $1696 monthly fee) >>

  • You have a SAAS company that needs little to moderate coverage out to the world.  Live production in ½ scale.
  • Your hosting company needs to host 1000 or less clients on small setups and no high resource demands.
  • You are ready to start live production of your Web 2.0 site, and at this time you can’t afford anything higher, but have every intention of upgrading.
  • Your business has grown outside the resources provided in a bronze grid, and simply adding more nodes is no longer price effective. 

Gold (Starting at $2496 monthly fee) >>

  • You want to go full steam on a Web 2.0 site, and your files do not exceed the limitations of a single Gold node (4GB RAM, and 750GB HD space)
  • You want to host a vast number of clients of all sizes on a single interface (2000-5000)
  • You want to provide your SAAS products to a large portion of the internet world;  Provided you fit within the resource bound of the Gold, you can simply live off an expanded Gold Grid for a SAAS offering.   

Platinum (Starting at $3996 monthly fee) >>

  • You have a massive infrastructure that needs to be controlled from a single point of administration.
  • You have a file larger than 750GB that must be hosted on your Grid.
  • You need more than 4GB RAM to deliver to a single appliance (i.e. web server or database) 

Note:  If you’re just wanting to “test the waters”, you might want to consider our Developer Core ($499) or Developer Lite ($349) packages as a place to get acquainted with The Grid.

If you’re still not sure, just let me know, and we can discuss best solution that fits your specific needs. 

Upgrading a VPDC Finally, the last topic to cover is… Once you’re in a VPDC, how do you grow?  Well here are the two options: 

Adding Nodes:  If you’re comfortable in your current VPDC and your appliances don’t need any more resources than a node has to offer, then you can simply add another node to your current VPDC.  You would do this simply by emailing sales@layeredtech.com and requesting the addition.  Your node price will be ¼ the monthly cost of your base 4 node purchase.  Just send the email and accept the fee, and we will take care of the rest.  

Upgrading to another VPDC:  If your appliances need more resources than a node can offer -or its’ more price effective to move to the next grid level, as opposed to just adding more nodes then the process is a bit more complex, but not too bad:  First you would place the order for the new package.  (I would recommend at least 1 week prior to your renew date to ensure minimal overlap, but time to get it up and migrated over.) Once the new grid is up, you would just use AppLogic to migrate the data and applications over to the new Grid, then you can submit the cancellation request at least 2 days prior to your renew date.   

I hope this answers all your questions, but if not, feel free to post here or contact any of us directly. 

Take care everyone. ~ Geoff Pennington, LT Sales

"It was suppose to be a simple, quick move"…

I thought I would leave alone for at least a while the Hostway data center migration saga.  Some time has passed and yes eventually people will forget about this incident as they have with many others (maybe not of the same magnitude) – but did everyone really think it could be successfully pulled off? 

When I heard about this incident all I could say was “WOW”. 

We have been in the infrastructure, and utility computing business for a few years and early on thought that we were extremely smart folks and could migrate 225 servers overnight, within an 8 hour window with little to no extended interuption to any of our early clients.    Boy, were we wrong!!  We had provided the clients their new IP’s, setup the new infrastrucutre, configured the racks, routers, switches and all the space, and the plan was to unplug and then plug back in at the new facility all of a 15 minute drive away.  Let’s just say that didn’t work out so well….  That 8 hours grew into an extended 48 hour workday!!

 The “WOW” response when I heard about the HostWay incident was when I read:

“The planned July 27 data center migration at ValueWeb, a Hostway company, involved moving more than 3,700 servers 270 miles, from Affinity’s Miami hosting facility to a Hostway data center in Tampa, Fla., according to Rich Miller, reporter for Data Center Knowledge, in Lawrenceville, N.J.

What were they thinking? 

These guys are not dumb guys.  I believe after merging with Affinity Internet a few months back they now have operations facilities in over 10 countries with thousands of clients and managaing thousands of servers.

But come on.  While hardware is running, and deemed to be reliable it is often left best untouched.  The old saying applies here, “if it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it”.  When you power down and try to then bring back up boxes there is always going to be a % that will fail. 

I am sure they planned for this but with 3,700 servers being moved at once, I don’t see logically how they expected to deal with the consequences all at once or within the time frame they allotted or thought to be tolerable from a client’s perspective.

Anyways, I feel for Hostway and for the clients that it effected.  The 8-12 hours of planned downtime, seemingly turned into a nightmare for many clients, whose business reputation relies on their provider’s uptime and reliabitlity. 

After our experience a few years back, as I stated above, we swore that we would look, build and develop something that would never make us have to move a physical box from DC to DC ever again. **(unless a client specifically has requested a move) 

A main point we focussed on was being able to move data and applications from one server or facility to another without the requirement to migrate the underlying gear.  With the launch of our VPDC (Virtual Private Data Center) powered by Applogic we have enabled clients to do this.  In the age of SaaS companies, thousands of new applications being put online each day and uptime being an essential part of conducting daily business the expectation of anything less is sub par.

A great example of this is Albert Wu who was faced with a similar facitlity to facility migration.

“The migration turned out to be an extremely simple process, that basically involved issuing a migrate command on the old grid, instructing it to migrate the app to the new grid. The command took some time to finish executing, as it had to move quite a bit of data. But once completed, all we had to do was reconfigure the app on the new grid with new ip addresses for the app, the gateway, netmask and dns ip address, which only took a few minutes. Amazingly, we were then able to fire up our grid app on the new grid! No hardware issues to deal with what-so-ever!”

We continue to focus of how we can provide offerings to our clients that allow them to focus on their business, and not worry about the underlying infrastructure, where it is located, is it up or down, is there a bad drive etc.  Our clients need to be able to provision additional resources on the fly when their applications calls for it, be able to shift and server data and applications to and from mutliple geographic points while not having to worrying about migrating anything physically.  We are making the hardware agnostic, and providing a scalable platform where migrations and growth are only a few short keystrokes away.

I expect to see many more players pushing hard in the marketplace – bringing many new virtualization and utility offerings into the market this year. Ifour competitors do not I believe they will be falling short of clients expectations and requirements.

The dedicated server landscape is changing and everyone involved needs to innovate, adopt and grow.

All good things to come….

VIDEO: LT PACT 2007 & WHIR

During Layered Technologies’ partner conference LTPACT 2007, WHIR had the opportunity to sit down with Bert Armijo, VP of Sales & Marketing from 3Tera and ask him some questions about one of the hottest topics during the event: Utility (GRID) Computing.

With 3Tera representing one of the strongest proponents of grid technology in the hosting industry, it was interesting to hear Bert discuss the virtues of utility computing, the company’s new virtual private data center joint offering with Layered Technologies and the next future project for 3Tera.  View video here: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid271557071/bctid1119242626

benarmanjimo_ltpactvideo_jpg2.jpg 

WHIR Interview with Michael Platner / CEO of Layered Tech: http://www.thewhir.com/blogs/WHIR-TV/index.cfm/2007/6/27/LT-Pact-2007–Interview-with-Michael-Platner

While at Layered Technologies’ second annual partner event LT Pact 2007, I sat down with Michael Platner, the CEO of Layered Technologies, and got his thoughts on the event, what he hoped attendees took away from the conference, his views on grid and utility computing and his belief on why it will become the way of the future.

Designing SaaS or Web 2.0 apps? Get to market faster and scale further with Layered Technologies’ the GridLayer Enablement Program

The GridLayer Enablement Program

Layered Technologies is the SaaS / Web 2.0 enabler: recognized as an industry leader; with a large investment in utility infrastructure and a substantial and active customer base of providers. We are in the business day-to-day, actively supporting SaaS/Web2.0 companies. We provide technology that gives our clients a pay for use financial asset that is significant and transformational for their companies and investors. Our aim is to help them deliver SaaS and Web2.0 offerings to the market years ahead of the competition. 

For companies interested in porting their applications to TGL we are now offering a unique TGL Technology Enablement Program. The GridLayer Enablement Program is where the magic happens – where people, ideas and technology come together. The Enablement program gives access and advice. Your CEOs, CFO, CTO, IT Directors and Managers team up with our Engineers, Architects, and Specialists to discuss the porting of new or existing SaaS or Web2.0 application to TGL utility computing. The outcomes:

Deployment: The GridLayer is easily deployed in a highly scalable online service in under 60 days, at a fraction of the cost of a managed hosting provider. 

Reduce Risk: Completely eliminate the complexity and risk of building a multi-tenant application.

Application control: Gain complete control of your application to deliver SaaS offerings to market ahead of the competition.

The GridLayer Enablement Program will be different for each company that participates. Contact us if you are interested in porting a SaaS or Web2.0 product (or one under development) to the TGL. We can help you move your project ahead with an Enablement Road Map incorporating utility computing resources, expert technical and business planning advice.

For more information email enterprisesales@layeredtech.com or call at 469-252-3490.

Top Issues Being Addressed at LT PACT

Cutting edge topics include:
- Understanding Grid Computing and the Utility Hosting Model.
- SaaS and Your Revenue Future.
- Is Your Business Web 2.0 Ready? Web 3.0 Ready?
- Permission Based Messaging as Part of Your Marketing Communications.
- Blogging and the Marketing Potential.
- Managed Services vs. Hardware-as-a-Service: what is the difference?

Many of our Industry sponsors (Microsoft, HP, AMD, Savvis, SWsoft, 3Tera, Cpanel and others) as well as our WHIR are currently preparing insightful information for you to learn, implement and turn into profit!

Fight your way out of the coliseum of hosting competitors with real industry power: Gain industry insight to use at your command! 

Register Now (links to www.ltpact.com).
 

Comments by Todd Abrams, President of Layered Techs on "The Grid Layer" (TGL)

“The GridLayer” (TGL):
- is a collection of backbones which are used to hold anywhere up to 48 servers which are then used to build private Grids of  4 nodes to up to 32 nodes.
- allows for rapid deployment of utility based services and platforms with scalable CPU, memory and storage.
- allows administrators to design, edit, configure, and control multi-tier applications using the intuitive web based drag and drop editor.
- clients who provide web hosting services can use the same CPanel or DirectAdmin, just like on dedicated servers. 

Grid-based solutions empower administrators with basically the ease of flipping a light switch in order to plan, build, migrate and deploy entire internet based infrastructures.

Applications running on the TGL can scale from 1 to 32 servers without rewriting the entire application code. In the case of a down hardware node, APPLogic will automatically reprovision the appliance and IP resources to the next available node to allow for quick recovery with no human intervention.

Think of TGL being like an Electric Power Utility Company where each user pays for the different types of power they consume.  There are different classed of grids some more powerful than the others.  With TGL, customers pay for the on-demand CPU, network, server and storage capacity utilized. Plus, TGL provides clients ultimately with more flexible hosting options. 

For customers wanting more than a traditional dedicated server, they will be able to purchase the specific amount in virtual nodes on the grid.