The first Multi-location, OpenStack powered IaaS in Europe

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So 5 years ago we launched City Cloud and became the first Scandinavian IaaS provider. Today, we are among the first to launch OpenStack as the base for our public infrastructure service. We are equally excited to be first in Europe to launch OpenStack in (initially) three connected European locations. All controlled from one single interface. Let’s show you what we have been working on during this year…

Skärmavbild 2014-11-24 kl. 15.48.46

 

OpenStack – the future of Cloud Computing

Now, let´s just take a minute to get you up to speed of what this OpenStack thing really is.

So, generally speaking we all started off by having to choose between one of two operating systems for our computers, Windows or Mac (now bare with us with the history aspect, we’re just trying to make a point). No matter what your needs were at the time, you had to make a choice and live with it until you were ready to invest in a new computer. You can not make drastical changes to your operating system to make it do what you want and you’re pretty much in the hands of the owners. None of your windows programs could be moved or even run on a mac and likewise in the opposite direction.

When Linux came with the open, free and collaborative aspect things changed drastically into what we are now used to. Everything from servers to phones are now powered by some sort of Linux kernel.

This is exactly what’s happening with OpenStack as we speak. Until OpenStack was released back in 2010 you had an array of proprietary Cloud Computing solutions that were fantastic on their own. But just as with the Windows-Mac comparison, you cant move stuff, do stuff or develop your own stuff to customize your solution. It all depends on the vendor and they in turn might be controlled by their own vendor and so on.

Enter OpenStack – an Open Source software for creating private and public clouds. It’s free, its open source and boy do we love what it can do. What do you most desire in any Cloud Computing solution? Our guess is that you would like to be able to do and control every aspect of your infrastructure yourself, right? Lets show you why OpenStack will change City Cloud in particular and Cloud Computing in general for ever.

 

City Cloud OpenStack Beta

Today we are releasing City Cloud Open Stack Beta (closed beta program) to a select group of our customers. We hope to let more people in to the open Beta program by the beginning of the new year. We’re launching it in three of our data centers at once which means that our users can start building advanced clustered solutions right from the get go. You can move servers and volumes between datacenters, create and connect private networks that spans over different datacenters, keeping your traffic private and safe. Our data centers are connected via multiple 10 Gbps wave lengths allowing for exciting private networking solutions.

With OpenStack you will have to get used to a new mindset when it comes to running your very own virtual data center, compared to how we used to present it. Here are two big things that stand out from our current IaaS platform.

 

Projects

You start off by dividing your workflow in to projects. Projects can be used to divide your entire infrastructure into completely separate installations and controlling what users should gain access to what parts of your system. In the near future we will add features such as budget which will further make these project groups ideal for test environments, separate projects and departments. With these features in place, one could for instance let a certain group of people access a certain project which has it’s own limitations and maximum budget. This way, CIOs and CTOs at larger organizations can easily stay in control of all resources used by each project.

 

Pools

The next big thing that will affect your workflow is pools within the projects. Pools of IP-adresses, pools of images, snapshots and pools of volumes. Since you can do so many different things with OpenStack, we chose this path to keep things organized.

You have your own pool of IP-adresses, your pool of images and volumes that can be moved around and get connected to the server or service of your choice.

 

One last thing before we show you the awesomeness

Keep this in mind. Everything we do and everything we release right now is meant to work seamlessly over all our data centers as we launch them. We currently have 2 City Cloud nodes in Sweden, one in london and soon one in Frankfurt and Paris. As we expand, so will City Cloud OpenStack. We will continue to develop more and more advanced features to allow you to build your applications across multiple datacenters for maximum availability and redundancy. You will become the master of your own virtual private network spanning all of Europe. Like wise you are in full control of multiple European data center – moving servers and data across Europe according to the rules that you create. All in a very secure manner!

 

The actual features

Lets show you some screenshots and break down the features that we are releasing today. We will re-visit each feature over the next months so stay tuned and feel free to ask questions in the comments below. Don’t miss out on the list of features that we are still testing and hope to launch later in 2015.

 

Servers

The usual stuff: Create, scale and manage your virtual machines.

We re-used the dashboard to give you a good overview of usage and also added some new filtering options. What’s new are the options to manually set the default login and password before creating the machine and also to push SSH keys directly in to the machine when creating a server.  You can also choose packages to install directly in the GUI with just a few clicks. Do you perhaps want to install apache or create a mysql-server? How about creating a LAMP stack with just a single click. The choice is up to you. Perhaps you want to make sure you have the latest updates downloaded automatically and installed in your server right from the start. We have that option as well, just click the “upgrade packages” option and you’ll have it. What makes this even more powerful is that you can create your own scripts as well. You might have various software you want to automatically push into your new servers. Make a simple script and automate all the way.

Boot source is another quite interesting feature which is a clone-feature at first glimpse, but also allows for booting a new server from any snapshot in the pool. Oh, and you can choose to create multiple virtual machines at once. You can also boot from volume and set size of your system disk should you want to. You will also notice how fast your machines are available until first boot. Use VNC a few seconds after you hit create and you will see the boot sequence start.

Looking at the list view and the details for the individual servers, it also looks pretty much the same as before but if you click the little wheel we open up a new set of  possibilities such being able to connect and disconnect IP-adresses at will and taking a snapshot at any time.

 

Networks

Looking back at the structured way of dealing with the features in City Cloud OpenStack, here is the first of several times we will encounter a pool. You have your networks and can create new ones as you wish and you have your virtual routers that you will be able to control as well. Then comes the pool of floating IP-adresses which can be connected and disconnected to any virtual server within your City Cloud zone.

 

Security

This is where you will find your security groups and pools of SSH keypairs. You can set the rules for each security group and also assign each virtual machine to a certain security group from the “create server” menu. These groups give you comeplete control over what and how accesses your machine. This allows you to create simple but powerful tools to keep your server safe.

 

Images

Here is your pool of images. The ones that we have uploaded and also the ones that you will be able to upload on your own. We will add some more nifty features over time as well.

The snapshots are your pool of snapshots taken manually and by schedule within this project. The same goes here, just hit that little wheel an launch a new server based on any snapshot and you’ll get a fresh clone within seconds.

 

Volumes

Volumes are basically external storage drives that you can attach, detach, extend and do whatever you want with – to any server within the project. As with the servers, you can take snapshots on the volumes at will as well. Being able to move a volume between machines and data centers is of course a very welcome feature!

 

Load balancer

The load balancer feature is a really cool feature in City Cloud OpenStack. Just create and set the rules for one or more load balancers and add a server to the pool – you’re good to go. You also have a health monitor to make sure your load balancers are up and running as they should. Load balance your mahinces in one data centers or over multiple data centers in City Cloud. You can actually even add any server by typing in the IP-address and it can thus load balance machines you might have in other public clouds or in your own data centers.

 

 

More features

Well, this should get anyone started with some serious IaaS use right away but wait, there is more. We are currently testing some fantastic new features that will really make an imprint during 2015.

VPN

Yes, a built in VPN feature in City Cloud is something that might come in handy for most. This feature will allow you to not only have secure connections to one DC but to all. Creating private networks all across Europe will be as easy as 1-2-3.

 

Database service

Yes, we are also working hard to get the database service in shape for beta release. This service provides scalable and reliable cloud provisioning functionality for both relational and non-relational database engines. You will be able to  use advanced database features without having to handle complex administrative such as deployment, configuration, patching, backups, restores, and monitoring.

 

Orchestration

  1. Create 5 ubnutu servers with 4 cores, 10GB RAM
  2. Upgrade to latest version
  3. Install Apache on all
  4. Place server ID 1 & Server ID 4 behind router ID 2

You get the idea, right? Orchestration will enable you to script virtually anything in City Cloud. All from creating virtual machines and installing applications on them to organizing them behind routers, firewalls, loadbalancers and anything you can think of. Suddenly a very complex infrastructure can be replicated with just a few clicks…

 

Allright, that was our story for now. City Cloud OpenStack is currently in closed beta for a select group of our customers. We are working hard to get it in shape for a public beta release and we really hope to be able to bring it to you by the beginning of January. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more!