virtual data centre

Why Virtual Data Centre may be less expensive than on-premise servers

I am an Infrastructure-as-a -Service (IaaS) evangelist and having had the pleasure to work with Virtual Data Centre (VDC) during my time at Claranet, I can comprehensively say it is the future of hosting.

I often work with customers to build an ROI model, taking into account all the business benefits gained and all the costs saved.

Often they still turn to me and say:

‘For the same internal resource considered over a 3 year contract your VDC comes out twice as expensive as my on premise servers. I am not convinced all the other benefits are worth that much’

Speeding up your website with Managed Application Hosting

Most websites contain both static content and dynamic content, a combination that can really slow down user experience.

Of course, you want to avoid this slow-down at all costs and improve your user experience which can be achieved by scaling the web layer.

You might think to throw more server instances at the issue, though ultimately this is both ineffective cost-wise, and eventually not scalable.

Fear not, however, there is a solution, and it’s called caching.

The 451 Research take on Claranet

Claranet are the focus of a recent report from technology analyst 451 Research, evaluating the managed service provider’s eventful 2012 and assessing its prospects in 2013. Inevitably it highlights Claranet’s £60m worth of acquisitions in 2012: in July, Portuguese service provider Cgest, UK based MSP Star Technology Services - the largest acquisition - in November and finally French web and open source hosting services company Typhon in December.

The report explains that Claranet now boasts a combined total of 4,700 customers, 19 datacentres (in six European markets), and annual revenues of over £120m, which ensures Claranet ‘has leapfrogged many of its nearest rivals, earning a place in the top ranks of the European hosting business.’ The report's author, Rory Duncan, writes that aside from increases in revenue, customer base and datacentres, these acquisitions also give Claranet additional technological capabilities.

How virtualisation can help developers part 2 (testing and deployment)

This blog follows on from How virtualisation can help developers part 1 (development) and explains how virtualisation can continue to benefit developers during the testing and deployment phase of a development life cycle.

• Testing (Functional) – Within the development life cycle, there is always a form of functional testing, evaluating whether an application functions as it should. This may be narrow in scope, i.e. testing the payment gateway works as expected, and may require an environment specific to the modules/code being tested. In a virtual environment an application environment can be spun up, tested and then destroyed. This approach is beneficial to businesses because it reduces costs (you only pay for what you use) while also increasing the speed and agility within the development cycle.

• Testing (Load) – Prior to making the application live you may want to know how it scales and how it will react under load. A virtual environment like Claranet’s Virtual Data Centre can be scaled easily and quickly, with its drag and drop interface and through the use of templates. Again, a load testing environment can be spun up with minimal effort and then destroyed after use.

• Testing (User Acceptance Testing) – Prior to any major code release the end customer will want to confirm for themselves that the application is fit for purpose. For the reasons given above, virtualisation and a platform such as Virtual Data Centre will easily meet the requirements of User Acceptance Testing.

• Preparation for production hosting – During the testing phase you will probably create templates to increase the speed of deployment. These templates can be recycled for production as they are ready built images. Using the sizing data obtained from the load testing, you can now quickly deploy a solution that will meet the client’s expected peak requirements. If the client’s application has anticipated peaks in demand - for example a television program that airs in January until June every year where the peaks are massive, but outside of that time the site processes a low number of hits per second - you can scale resource allocation accordingly using the drag and drop interface in the Virtual Data Centre.

Claranet's Virtual Data Centre picks up another award in time for its first birthday

Claranet’s Virtual Data Centre is one year old this month and there's extra reason to celebrate as it recently won its third award in the UK: the SVC IaaS Solution of the Year Award.

Launched in the UK in November 2011, Virtual Data Centre was the first true Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering to be introduced in Europe. The platform brings together Claranet's 16 years of experience in cloud, hosting and networks and consolidates this expertise in one powerful IaaS solution. Virtual Data Centre allows our customers to provision compute, network and storage resources at the click of a button. The ability to scale resources up or down, and to manage IT infrastructure in a vendor agnostic virtualized environment, combined with the traditional advantages of managed cloud and network services, affords our customers numerous business benefits.

In the preceding months these qualities have ensured that Virtual Data Centre has been recognised by award panels in the UK and Europe. In the UK, Virtual Data Centre has won three awards; the TechWorld Awards Cloud Product of the Year,the Datacentre Awards European Award for Cloud Infrastructure and, most recently, the SVC IaaS Solution of the Year Award. As the service has been rolled out from Claranet’s operations in Germany, France and the Netherlands it has received critical acclaim and won other awards such as the Best Cloud/IaaS offer of the Year at the French Cloud Computing Awards.

Though awards are a great indication we are heading in the right direction, providing our customers with the best possible service is what really motivates us. One client who can happily testify to a positive experience with Virtual Data Centre is BETE Ltd, the spray nozzle manufacturer. They have embraced the features of Virtual Data Centre and are beginning to reap the business benefits as Marketing Manager Ivan Zytinski explains:

Moving our applications into [Virtual Data Centre’s] virtualised environment has given us the flexibility that we need to meet changing demand quickly without the need to purchase expensive physical servers that would spend most of their time lying redundant. This solves any capacity issues before they occur, and makes it easy to plan for business growth. If we want to deploy a new app, for example, we don’t have to worry about whether our current servers can handle it, as we can simply upgrade the allocated RAM.

Claranet acquires Star

Late last week, Claranet announced the £55 million acquisition of hosting provider Star, in a move to create the largest mid-market provider of integrated hosting and network services in the UK and continental Europe.

Operating under the Claranet brand, the expanded company will produce revenues of over £120 million, circa 700 staff, over 4,500 customers, with operations in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. Claranet's customers will include Airbus, Amnesty International, Care UK, Channel 5, Veolia, Signet, CSH, IRIS, DeVere Hotels and Richmond Events.

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