January 19th marked the date of the first London VMware User Group (VMUG) meeting of 2017. The day was not only a good opportunity to gain insight around the latest industry trends, but it was also a great chance to catch-up with some familiar faces in the VMware world.
This was the first time iland has spoken at a VMUG event in the UK, so the team was really excited to demonstrate our capabilities first-hand.
With a fifty-minute speaking slot straight after lunch, it was a difficult decision whether to go for a Powerpoint presentation with lots of pictures and diagrams, or go straight into a live demonstration of the iland console. Having consulted with the VMUG committee, we decided to go with the latter. Below, is a recap of the topics and features that were covered during the presentation of the iland cloud console.
Overview of the iland console
Over the past few years, iland has put a great deal of development effort into providing a rich cloud console that integrates VMware’s vCloud Director with Zerto Disaster Recovery and Veeam Backup, together with performance information from vCenter and vSphere. Security is enhanced through the use of Trend Micro Deep Security and Tenable Nessus, as well as data encryption at the storage level with Nimble. The iland cloud console is available as an HTML5 web browser application, as well as fully functional Apple and Android apps from the respective app stores.
The dashboard was shown for the first part of the demonstration. iland's unique dashboard allows customers to see what cloud resources are being deployed in each of the three billing models that the iland cloud supports:
- Pay As You Go: Simply consume resources and pay for them as you use them, on an hourly basis, for all the ‘food groups’ – CPU, RAM, storage and internet bandwidth
- Reservation: Choose to reserve capacity at a less expensive rate. As with PAYG, reserve CPU, RAM, storage and internet bandwidth
- A mix of the two: Reserve some capacity, and burst above this when you need more
These models differ from other CSPs who often sell ‘t-shirt’ sizes of virtual machines – small, medium, or large (for example, a small might be 2 CPUs, 4 GB RAM and 50GB disk).
Billing information has been incorporated into several levels within the iland console, to show costs and utilization at the virtual data centre level, as well as at the vApp and individual VM.
Customers are able to deploy virtual machines running different operating systems from a catalogue of images, these include various versions of Microsoft Windows, as well as several well-known distributions of Linux. Virtual machines running elsewhere, on-premises or in other clouds, can be imported using the Open Virtualisation Format (OVF).
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
As discussed earlier, iland has utilised the APIs provided by Zerto to integrate Disaster Recovery into the console. This supports both on-premises to cloud, and cloud to cloud DR.
Through the console, customers are able to monitor their target Recovery Point Objectives against SLAs they have set, and then carry out test or real failovers (subject to permissions).
Unlike other solutions, iland only charges for the storage consumed while VMs are replicating. It is only when a failover event is carried out that customers are charged for CPU and memory usage. This results in a much more cost-effective disaster recovery solution.
After carrying out these failovers, the console will display a report of the event, what VMs were protected, how long the failover took, and all the steps carried out in the process. This can be used as useful documentation for compliance reporting.
Security and Compliance
An important element of a cloud solution, which is often missed by competitors, is to provide the same level of security and compliance that customers would have when running on-premises.
As well as providing security management from Trend Micro Deep Security to protect virtual machines running in the iland cloud, iland provides a dedicated compliance team to help customers with all of their requirements. All virtual machines that are exposed to the internet are automatically monitored by Tenable Nessus for vulnerabilities, intrusion detection and web reputation. Reports are automatically produced, allowing customers to mitigate against possible threats.
With all of iland’s data centres certified to ISO27001, we also publish our SOC2, penetration test results and UK Data Regulation reports to registered customers.
After our presentation, the iland staff were chatting with a number of potential customers and partners. Over the past few years quite a few organisations, whether telecoms companies, systems integrators, managed service providers or IT resellers, have attempted to build their own private or public cloud solutions. In most cases, this was not their core business, and for various reasons they have not been successful and have decided to partner with pure-play cloud providers, such as iland, to provide those services. In this way, these organisations can focus on delivering the best value to their customers.
From a pure customer perspective, public cloud has opened up a number of opportunities to deploy services that were unaffordable before, especially for the medium and low-end enterprise segments.
Many VMUG attendees were keen to discuss new approaches to Disaster Recovery made possible with cloud computing. Disaster Recovery used to require deploying a second stack of resources in another data centre or colocation environment, that would be running and waiting for a disaster to occur, without really adding any value to the business. Every time new resources were required on-premises, additional equipment had to be deployed to the DR site to make sure it had sufficient capacity. Everything was effectively doubled up.
With DR as a Service, customers only need to pay for the storage being consumed in the cloud, and that is often much cheaper than deploying their own storage arrays, powering and cooling them, and managing them. So, DRaaS has made quality DR available to the mid-market. Legislation has played an imporant role in making DRaaS available as well, by making it mandatory for regulated industries, such as finance and pharmaceuticals.
Another development that iland has seen in the recent past, and that also came up at the event, is the move to vendor diversity. Following the demise of some fairly large providers in the marketplace, companies are being advised not to put all of their eggs in one basket, so to speak, and instead use different providers to spread their risk. So, if you partner with a managed service provider that uses one provider for your production workloads, you should use another provider for your DR, and maybe another for backups. Similarly, if you have large, internet-facing application, perhaps it should be deployed in multiple cloud providers to provide both scale and resilience. This can be applied to both the hyperscale cloud providers and the smaller players in the marketplace.