A Cloud in Potentia

A row of Dell PCs on white shelves

So I’ve had a bit of a hiatus in posting here for the last few months because something new has been taking up a ton of my time.

It started at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, which coincided with the initial revelations about US and UK government internet surveillance. I heard comments there from quite a few non-American attendees about being less willing to use clouds owned by US companies, such as AWS and Rackspace, and a desire to find an alternative supplier in a country with strong privacy protections.
When I got back to the office a few days later I mentioned this to my boss, Luis, and casually suggested that we could probably build such an IaaS cloud with OpenStack if we wanted to…

Well, three months of business cases, meetings, negotiations, and partnership agreements later, we’re doing it!

A Swiss Cloud…

The cloud we’re building will owned and operated by a Swiss company and will be physically located entirely in Switzerland to benefit from the strong Swiss privacy laws which, uniquely I’m told, grant equal privacy to companies as they do to individuals.

The idea here is to give our customers a very clear, simple understanding as to which legal jurisdiction our cloud service, and thus any data they store in it, is governed by – which can get pretty tricky in a hurry when you have, say, a US company running a cloud data centre in Europe.

Which is Green…

We’re building this new cloud together with Green Datacenter AG, who add a truly excellent set of data centre and network facilities to mix;

We’ll be spreading the cloud over 3 separate, geographically separated and independent DCs, and it’ll be designed to survive the total destruction of a whole DC without any loss of customer data. To achieve this, we plan to replicate every bit of data anyone uploads to all three DCs in real time.

This obviously requires a substantial network between the DCs, and here Green also come through for us. They own one of the largest fibre optic networks in Switzerland, with connections reaching out across Europe and as far as Beijing. Between the DCs, we’ll be able to sustain multiple 10s of gigabits per second with latencies of less than a millisecond.

But also Red…

For the software side of things we’re partnering with Red Hat, which means all this will be based on Red Hat OpenStack with Red Hat Storage (Gluster) providing, well, the storage backend! Red Hat have been excellent in supporting us as we build up a proof of concept system (which you can see in the photo at the top), and indeed I think we might even be the first public OpenStack cloud based entirely on Red Hat bits.

We’re also going to become Red Hat Certified Cloud Partners, meaning we’ll be offering RHEL instances with subscriptions costs included in the hourly rate.

More to Come

Naturally there’s a lot of stuff still to do. We’re planning to specifically address the needs of a few heavily regulated industries starting with Pharmaceuticals. Datalynx’s extensive Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) and Information Security (ISEC) teams are working toward making our cloud compliant with GxP/CSV and ISO 27001.

The current goal is to make this cloud publically available in Q1 2014, and I’ll try and post more on it as I can, and as always, thanks for reading :)

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4 responses to “A Cloud in Potentia

  1. Hello Chris,
    It would be great to join you in efforts to build that IaaS cloud you’ve mentioned!

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