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Event News

Phil Zimmermann to Open Open-Xchange Summit 2013 With a Keynote on Digital Privacy

Open-Xchange today announced that Phil Zimmermann, the creator of  Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) email encryption software will kick-off OX Summit 2013 on September 26 in Hamburg with his keynote “The NSA Revelations: Implications to Democratic Institutions and Personal Liberties”.

Phil Zimmermann launched a new venture last year – Silent Circle – which enables encrypted phone, email, text and VoIP from a single platform. On August 9, 2013, Silent Circle announced that the Silent Mail service would be shut down, because the company felt it was not possible to sufficiently secure email data.

Once the target of a Federal investigation himself, due to his controversial encryption technology, Phil will be describing the effects of PRISM and related programs on digital privacy in the current era in his keynote at OX Summit.

Open source protocols and tools such as TCP/IP, PHP, Linux, Apache and MySQL already built the unmatched successful infrastructure of the Internet. It’s up to the cloud industry now to adopt this approach at the application level.  Trusted cloud services can do this using open source code to ensure transparency.
– Rafael Laguna, CEO, Open-Xchange.

Rafael Laguna, CEO, Open-Xchange
Rafael Laguna, CEO, Open-Xchange.

Open-Xchange believes that service providers can turn the PRISM threat into an opportunity by offering cloud services that are built on transparent open source software.

“Recent disclosures have accelerated the demand for secure cloud services that respect privacy,” said Rafael Laguna, CEO, Open-Xchange.

“This is a huge opportunity for local web hosters, telcos and system integrators that can provide their local customers with cloud services that meet the exact level of security and privacy they are looking for,” he added.

OS Summit 2013 will have keynotes, networking and workshops delivering  insights into how Open-Xchange and partners are supplying to global service providers and cloud-based infrastructure companies.

With a mix of software, hardware and IT service provider examples, the key topics of data security, open ecosystems and freedom of choice will top the agenda.

Delegates from more than 20 sponsors will be delivering over 25 keynotes sharing business and technical use cases during the Biz- and Tech-Xchange sessions.

Guest experts include: Hakim Annaciri, KPN; Russell Broomell, GlowTouch Technologies; Dreas van Donselaar, SpamExperts; Arne Kemner, Dimension Data; Mikko Linnamäki, Dovecot, James Raquepau, Parallels, and Dave Ratner, Openwave Messaging.

Open-Xchange will also present its recent partnership with Dutch telco and ICT service provider KPN and integration of OX App Suite into cPanel and WHMCS  at the summit.

“Both on stage and off, the conference will push back against the monopolization of the cloud by a few players, to ensure the Internet continues to innovate,” says the official press release.

Here is more information on OX Summit 2013.

Earlier this year, Open-Xchange secured $20M in Series C funding to help advance its cloud-based collaboration and office productivity suite. Open-Xchange has raised EUR 27m ($35m) to date, including the recent investment.

Categories
Datacenter Event News

3rd Datacentres Central & Eastern Europe to Take Place on September 26 at Poland

3rd Datacentres Central & Eastern Europe, a data center and cloud conference and exhibition event focused on the central and eastern Europe region will take place on 26 September at Warsaw, Poland.

The event has a stellar speaker academy, content of tremendous value to all attendees and outstanding networking opportunities with peers across the region.
– Steve Wallage, Managing director, BroadGroup Consulting.

Steve Wallage, Managing director, BroadGroup Consulting
Steve Wallage, MD, BroadGroup Consulting.

Having a 250+ attendance, the event will feature new research from BroadGroup with current trends in demand in datacentre markets across the region and growth forecasts, customer case studies, cloud panels, a critical focus on datacenter energy management and DCIM, finance and investment for datacenter and cloud business in CEE, colocation business models, sustainability and efficiency in datacentres, fibre and network connectivity.

The conference will include a new ‘Study of CEE as a centre for Datacentres’, researched by BroadGroup.

Research by consulting firm BroadGroup, suggests that the Central and Eastern European region is increasingly well positioned to exploit the next wave of datacenter development as regional Enterprises outsourcing requirements increase, fibre deployment is sustained, and investors fund infrastructure growth across the key metropolitan cities.

A special focus will be on the CEE regional market for enterprises and their evolving outsourcing needs, the deployment of private cloud, new technologies and market growth impact across the sector.

There will also be tours of local data center facilities on 25 September, i.e. one day prior to the conference.

Sylwester Biernacki, CEO, Plix; Cristian Grigore, Managing Director, NxData; Andris Gailitis, CEO, DEAC; and Jan Tomko, Managing Director, Datahouse; as representing four CEE countries, will join the regional leadership panel at the annual forum.

Ms Anna Anna Katarzyna Nietyksza, President and founder of EuroCloud Poland Association, CEO of the group EFICOM SA, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, and Member of the Digital Agenda Group and Group working on cloud computing opinion will present a keynote on Cloud in CEE markets.

More information on the event can be found here. To register, click here.

Categories
Hosting New Products News Technology

eleven2 Upgrades Dedicated Server Range With RAID Protection, Backups and more

Web hosting provider eleven2 today announced that it has upgraded its entire dedicated server range.

The news comes a few days after eleven2 announced its plans to launch a secondary VPS location in Europe.

In an email conversation with Daily Host News today, Jon Eichler, VP Systems & Development, eleven2, said “We have upgraded all the CPUs on our dedicated server range to current generation. We have also made changes to ensure even our entry-level customers have RAID protection.”

“At eleven2, we take data integrity very seriously, and have gone the extra mile to ensure all of our dedicated server offerings are covered by both RAID and backups,” he added.

eleven2 has also updated pricing on the dedicated server plans. The dedicated servers are available in four offerings:

  • DS-100: Intel i3-3220 with 4 GB memory, 3 TB bandwidth and 500GB Raid1 HDs + 1TB backup. Priced at $199/mo.
  • DS-200: Intel e3-1270v2 with 8 GB memory, 6 TB bandwidth and 2x 1TB Raid1 HDs + 1TB backup. Priced at $299/mo.
  • DS-300: Hexa-Core Xeon e5-2620 with 16 GB memory, 10 TB bandwidth and 4x 1TB Raid10 HDs + 2TB backup. Priced at $499/mo.
  • DS-400: Dual Hexa-Core Xeon e5-2620 with 32 GB memory, 10 TB bandwidth and 4x 2TB Raid10 HDs + 4TB backup. Priced at $699/mo.

As customers’ sites grow, they can increase RAM, HDD space, Bandwidth, Port speed etc. eleven2 offers DD2/DD3 upgrades on all servers; SATA2, SAS and SSD drives; premium 3ware-based Raid 1/5/10 cards starting at $39/mo and up to 1000 mbps upgradable port speed.

All dedicated servers come with free cPanel & WHM, free data migration service and there is no setup fees involved. All dedicated servers are fully managed by eleven2’s in house support team, and are provisioned in their Los Angeles datacenter.

Here is more information on eleven2’s dedicated servers.

Earlier this year eleven2 unveiled its VPS services named “Virtual Premium Servers”.

Categories
Cloud Cloud Cloud News Conf/Webinar Event Innovation News Start-Ups Technology

Final Speakers Line-up and Schedule for OpenNebula Conference 2013 Announced

The OpenNebula Project today announced the complete line-up of speakers and the final schedule for the first OpenNebula Conference taking place from 24 to 26 of September in Berlin.

The 3 day conference will have 6 keynotes, 2 tracks with 16 regular talks, 1 hands-on tutorial and 3 community sessions.

Keynote speakers include Ignacio M. Llorente, OpenNebula; Daniel Concepción, Produban – Bank Santander; Steven Timm, Fermilab; André von Deetzen, Deutsche E-Post; Jordi Farrés, European Space Agency; Karanbir Singh, CentOS Project; and Ruben S. Montero, C12G Labs.

The talks are organized in three tracks about user experiences and case studies, integration with other cloud tools, and interoperability and HPC clouds and include speakers from organizations like CloudWeavers, Terradue, NETWAYS, INRIA, BBC, inovex, AGS Group, Hedera, NetOpenServices, CESNET or CESCA.

The Hands-on Tutorial will show users how to build, configure and operate their own OpenNebula cloud.

The Lightning Talks, Hacking and Open Space Sessions will provide an opportunity to present and discuss burning ideas, and meet face to face to discuss development.

Here is more information on the OpenNebula Conference.

Earlier this year, OpenNebula released OpenNebula 4.0.

Categories
Appointments Hosting News

Tim O’Keefe Joins INetU as Chief Financial Officer

Managed hosting and cloud provider INetU last week announced that it has hired Tim O’Keefe as Chief Financial Officer. In his new role, Tim will be responsible for company’s overall accounting and finance activities.

A month ago,  INetU named Scott Walters as the Director of Security.

Prior to joining INetU,  O’Keefe served as CFO for data center company DBSi International Inc.; where he was instrumental in growing the business over 100% in 3 years and obtaining $35 million in financing to support this substantial growth.

O’Keefe has over 20 years of extensive corporate finance and operational experience in the manufacturing, professional services, technology and real estate industries.

Being named INetU CFO puts me in a unique, but familiar position. My experience and expertise combined with a seasoned management team will provide the foundation to take INetU to the next level.
– Tim O’Keefe, CFO, INetU.

He started his career at KPMG, followed by various financial executive positions with publicly held companies as well as start-up organizations.

“Being named INetU CFO puts me in a unique, but familiar position,” said O’Keefe.

“My previous experience provided the opportunity to be a part of an organization that experienced significant growth which ultimately led to the realization of substantial shareholder value. My experience and expertise combined with a seasoned management team will provide the foundation to take INetU to the next level,” he added.

“Tim’s ability to work beyond debits and credits made him immediately attractive to INetU,” said Dev Chanchani, CEO and founder, INetU.

“He has a proven track record of working closely with infrastructure and operations to make the best financial investments for growing a business. His financial acumen is world-class, but we’re especially excited to work with Tim on creating an economic path that will further solidify our company as one of the managed hosting industry’s best,” he added.

Earlier this year, INetU added INetU Application Traffic Firewall to its Managed Security Suite and announced major enhancements to its Client Center.

Categories
Datacenter Infographics News

The Life of Kenneth Brill: A Tribute to the Father of the Data Center Industry [Infographic]

Kenneth G. Brill, Founder, Uptime Institute, passed away earlier this month.

Mr. Brill pioneered several innovations in the data center industry over the past 25 years, including dual power, the industry’s Tier system for evaluating and classifying data center facility performance, and IT/facility energy efficiency and productivity measurement.

His research into the economic meltdown of Moore’s Law, data center productivity and energy efficiency, and IT’s declining economics have had a a major impact on the data center performance and sustainability.

The infographic below by Who Is Hosting This takes a unique look at the life Mr. Brill and examines the legacy he left behind.

Categories
Infographics Technology Web Hosting Web Security Website Development Wordpress

An Infographic: How Safe is Your Website from Hackers?

What do an outdated image re-sizer, US Bank, and computer hacking have in common? In 2012, this well-known bank fell victim to computer hackers due to an old WordPress plug-in.

Hacking is a problem affecting millions of webmasters per year. 648,000,000 websites fall prey to hackers, due to some common neglect and vulnerabilities, that include:

  • Using cheap hosting companies.
  • Hosting outdated plug-ins.
  • Maintaining poor or weak passwords.
  • Leveraging out-of-date platforms, extensions, and third-party services.

A number of weaknesses allow hackers access to your website’s operations and content, potentially halting or ruining present business affairs.

Joomla and WordPress are among hacker-favorited sites, with almost half of the web’s top 100 blogs using WordPress for content management. Heinous actions, such as using script injections and site redirects, are used by hackers who are privy to particular ‘security holes’ related to Joomla and WordPress.

In March of last year, over 30,000 Joomla and WordPress sites were injected with malicious software. In the years 2010-2012, potential for incoming malware and similar threats increased 140%.

While a number of high-profile brands have experienced unsuspected hacks, negligence and lack of awareness are top causes for falling victim of a hacker attack.

Be aware, taking note of available solutions and safeguards:

  • Verify existing websites using Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Use a well-known and secure hosting service.
  • Backup up all website content and associated plans and notes.
  • Use strong, complicated passwords, changing them often.
  • Take inventory of PHP extensions, keeping them up-to-date.
  • Reveal inbound PHP requests, revealing potential hackers’ IP addresses.

This infographic from WhoIsHostingThis.com, gives great insights about website security, possible threats and how you can protect your websites from the same:

Categories
Domain Ecommerce Hosting Hosting Innovation New Products News Start-Ups Technology

“POP Helps Users to Set up & Manage Their Online Presence Easily”- Juan Diego Calle,.CO Internet

Yesterday saw launch of POP.CO, a new platform that helps businesses get online instantly. The company behind POP.CO, .CO Internet S.A.S, is well known for coming up with fresh ideas to help entrepreneurs and start ups establish successful online presence.

POP.CO, the company’s latest endeavor, is a bundle of online services that comes with a .CO domain name, a custom POP Page and an email address powered by Google Apps.

Entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses who’re not tech-savvy enough don’t need to hire a web developer to build a professional web presence or spend extra time finding a Web address, hosting provider, email account, etc. as a central POP account handles all that. It also enables users to add and install proprietary or third-party apps to their domains directly through the platform.

Currently in Beta, POP is free for 15 days. Once the free trial ends, users can subscribe for $5 per user per month for the whole POP package.

We had a quick Q & A with Juan Diego Calle, CEO, .CO Internet, on additional features of POP.CO and the future roadmap. If you’ve any more questions or feedback about POP, you can get in touch with the team directly at deepthoughts@pop.co.

We are continuing to enhance POP.co in a variety of ways, including the addition of many more integrated apps, as well as new tools and services to help our users to build and grow their online presence with ease.
– Juan Diego Calle, CEO, .CO Internet.

Juan Diego Calle, CEO, .CO Internet.
Juan Diego Calle, CEO, .CO Internet.

Q: How much flexibility does POP provide in terms of choosing the hosting provider and third party apps?

A: While the basic POP bundle includes the domain name, a Google Apps account, and the POP page, the user has the ability to use any hosting provider they choose.

POP includes a simple DNS editor that allows the user, with a click of a button, to set the appropriate DNS records to point their domain to a number of popular hosting applications. If the user’s hosting provider isn’t included in the simple editor, POP has an advanced DNS editor where the user can create and manage any DNS record.

Additionally, for those advanced users who wish to use another party’s DNS we provide the user with the means to change their name servers completely. The goal of POP is to provide users with the tools to easily set up and manage their online presence while at the same time offering them the flexibility to use any hosting provider they choose.

Q: Although the official blog post makes a passing mention to it, how exactly can POP platform be customized for new gTLDs?

A: The POP platform has been designed to work with any TLD. Some customization of the business rules may be necessary for some TLDs, but this is to be expected and something we are prepared to handle. We believe POP is excellent fit for many of the new TLDs which will be competing for distribution channels. POP provides them with a simple, fully managed solution for controlling their own distribution.

Q: Once the beta period ends, and the service is available for $5/mo, what additional value will POP provide other than being a centralized app-marketplace?

A: In coming months we will continue to enhance POP in a number of different ways. We’ll be adding additional integrated apps that will provide users with more choices, as well as some new tools and services. The focus will remain on apps that improve the user’s online presence, such as website builders, communication platforms, and marketing tools.

Q: Will a .CO domain (which is relatively expensive) be also available in the $5/mo POP package once the beta period ends? Also, can users choose to retain their .CO and discontinue with POP?

A: Yes. The .CO domain will be available in the $5/month POP package once the beta period ends.

POP.co offers a bundled package that includes the .CO domain name, a Google Apps account, and the basic POP web page. After the free trial, a user can choose to subscribe for only $5/mo. There are no additional costs for the domain name, as the cost is bundled into the monthly fee. This is an excellent value as the retail price of a simple Google Apps account is $5 per month/per user, without any of the extra benefits that come with a POP.co account, including the custom .CO domain name, the POP web page, and integrated access to additional third party apps.

While POP does not support users who wish to simply have the domain name without the other bundled services, users do have the option to transfer their domain name to the registrar of their choice – or to cancel their account at anytime. There are no annual commitments.

Q: What criterion will POP be judging third party apps submitted by developers on for integration in the platform? Also, what additional value can developers expect to derive from submitting their apps at POP than other Self-Serve Marketplaces?

A: We have not yet established a firm set of criteria to be used when reviewing third party apps. In general, we’re looking for awesome apps that directly address the needs of our target market, and can be fully integrated via an API. While the details are still evolving, you can learn more here.

Q: What extra enhancements and features can users expect to be integrated in the POP platform with time?

A: As noted above, we are continuing to enhance POP.co in a variety of ways, including the addition of many more integrated apps, as well as new tools and services to help our users to build and grow their online presence with ease. We will also be focusing on supporting the unique needs of our new TLD clients, as they roll out instances of the POP platform in their own namespaces.

Categories
Conf/Webinar Event Innovation News Start-Ups

.ME to Hold Startup Competition Together With Spark.me; Winner Will Exhibit in TechCrunch’s Startup alley

The .ME Registry today announced that it is holding the Spark.me Startup Competition together with Spark.me, a regional conference to be held at the Hotel Splendid in Budva, Montenegro from September 26-27, 2013.

The winner will get to exhibit in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Alley, which will be held in April/May 2014 in New York City.

We have a long history of involvement with TechCrunch and it is a great pleasure for us to help startup from our region get exposure in New York.
– Natasa Djukanovic, Director of Marketing, The .ME Registry.

The Spark.me Startup competition will be judged based on innovation, diversity, the power of the idea, the startup’s growth potential and the implementation strategy.

The preselection process will be held until September 12, when 10 best StartUp teams will be invited to present at the SparkMe conference.

On September 26, 2013, all selected teams will give five-minute presentations of their projects to a panel of judges. Finalists will present for an additional 5 minutes on September 27, 2013 and the winner will be announced on the final day of the conference.

The winner will receive 2 round-trip tickets to NYC, Hotel accommodation for three days (2 people), a Start-Up Alley booth at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 and two tickets for the three-day TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

All startups founded after April 2012 with less than $2.5 million in funding are eligible to apply, regardless of where they are registered.

Applications need to be submitted by September 10, 2013 at 23:59:59 UTC . Only existing functional projects will be taken into consideration (in alpha or beta phase).

All startup founders participating in the competition will also have access to advisers, mentors, workshops and a network of investors.

spark.me Startup Competition

“We are very interested in the startup community and are so excited about all of the development and innovation in the region. We have a long history of involvement with TechCrunch and it is a great pleasure for us to help startup from our region get exposure in New York,” said Natasa Djukanovic, Director of Marketing, The .ME Registry.

Earlier this year, .ME released five exclusive and premium domain names, named Around.ME, Hire.ME, Fund.ME, Find.ME and For.ME, available for acquisition by applicants with clever ideas for online business.

Categories
Cloud Hosted Cloud Apps Hosting Innovation Interviews New Products News Start-Ups Technology

“HybridCluster Allows Hosters to Differentiate, Sell New Services & Drive up Margins”- Luke Marsden, HybridCluster

There is something great about products and services that are developed by industry veterans to relieve their own pain points, to figure a way around the very problems they face day in and day out, and in the process build something that is a valuable contribution to the industry as a whole. This is where necessity, ingenuity, shortage and perspicacity hold hands in order to give birth to something that has substantial impact on the work cycle of the entire industry ecosystem.

In May this year, when HybridCluster completed $1 millions fundraising and launched HybridCluster 2.0, I was supposed to prepare an Interview Questionnaire for Luke Marsden, CEO, HybridCluster. I knew little about the product at that time, but somewhere during my research work for the same, I decided that HybridCluster is not just a very interesting product, but it is a success story.

Why? I’ll let the interview do the talking. But I’ll leave you with this interesting excerpt on the company blog, where Luke talks about the genesis of HybridCluster:

Running our own hosting company since 2001 exposed all the problems. We were continuously battling hardware, software and network issues. After a few too many late-night trips to the data centre, I thought to myself: there has to be a better way. Studying theoretical computer science at Oxford University helped me crystallize my vision for an ambitious new project — one which uses ZFS, local storage, graph theory, and a perfect combination of open source components to create a platform uniquely aligned to solving the problems faced by hosters and cloud service providers.

The HybridCluster software allows applications to get auto-scaled. It can detect a spike in traffic, and rather than throttling the spike, it can burst that application to a full dedicated server by moving other busy things on that server onto quieter servers.

– Luke Marsden, CEO, HybridCluster.

Luke Marsden, CEO, HybridCluster.
Luke Marsden, CEO, HybridCluster.

Q : Let’s begin with a brief introduction of yours and a broad overview of HybridCluster.

A: Hi. 🙂 Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed! It’s really great to be on DailyHostNews.

My background is a combination of Computer Science (I was lucky enough to study at Oxford University, where I graduated with a first class degree in 2008) and a bunch of real world experience running a hosting company.

HybridCluster is really a radical new approach to solving some of the tricky problems every hosting company has while trying to manage their infrastructure: it’s an ambitious project to replace storage, hypervisor and control panel with something fundamentally better and more resilient.

In fact I have a bigger vision than that: I see HybridCluster as a new and better approach to cloud infrastructure – but one which is backwardly compatible with shared hosting. Finally, and most importantly – HybridCluster allows hosters to differentiate in the market, sell new services, drive up margins – whilst also reducing the stress and cost of operating a web hosting business. We help sysadmins sleep at night!

Q: Did the idea for a solution like HybridCluster stem from issues you faced first-hand during your decade-long experience in the web hosting industry?

A: Yes, absolutely. Without the real-world pain of having to rush off to the data center in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t have focused my efforts on solving the three real world problems we had:

The first problem is that hardware, software and networks fail resulting in website downtime. This is a pain that every hoster will know well. There’s nothing like the horrible surge of adrenaline you get when you hear the Pingdom or Nagios alert in the middle of the night – or just as you get to the pub on a Friday night – you just know it’s going to ruin the next several hours or your weekend. I found that I had become – like Pavlov’s dog – hard-wired to fear the sound of my phone going off. This was the primary motivation to invent a hosting platform which is automatically more resilient.

Other problems we had in the hosting company included websites getting spikes in traffic – so we knew we needed to invest a hosting platform which could auto-scale an application up to dedicated capacity – and users making mistakes and getting hacked – so we knew we needed to invent something which exposes granular snapshots to the end user so they can log in and roll back time themselves if they get hacked – or if they accidentally delete a file.

Q : Can you please throw some light on the modus-operandi of HybridCluster? How exactly does it help web hosts with automatic detection and recovery in the event of outages?

A: Sure. I decided early on that a few key design decisions were essential:

Firstly, any system which was going to stop me having to get up in the middle of the night would have to have no single point of failure. This is easy to say but actually quite hard to implement! You need some distributed system smarts in order to be able to make a platform where the servers can make decisions as a co-operative group.

Secondly, I decided that storage belongs near the application, not off on a SAN somewhere. Not only is the SAN itself a single point of failure, but it also adds a lot of cost to the system and can often slow things down.

Thirdly, I decided that full hardware virtualization is too heavy-weight for web application hosting. I could already see the industry going down the route of giving each customer their own VM, but this is hugely wasteful! It means you’re running many copies of the operating system on each server, and that limits you to how many customers you can put on each box. OS level virtualization is a much better idea, which I’ll talk about more later.

Basically, I designed the platform to suit my own needs: as a young hoster, I was scared of outages, I couldn’t afford a SAN, and I knew I couldn’t get the density I needed to make money with virtualization. 🙂

Q: How does OS virtualisation used by you differ from Hypervisor based Virtualisation used by other Virtualised solutions?

A: OS level virtualization (or “containers”) are simply a better way of hosting web applications. They are higher density: because each container shares system memory with all other containers, the memory on the system is more effectively “pooled”. They are better performing: there’s no overhead of simulating the whole damn universe just to run an app. And they’re more scalable, each app can use the whole resource of a server, especially when combined with the unique capability that HybridCluster brings to the table: the ability to live-migrate containers around between servers in the cluster and between data centers.

Live migration is useful because it allows things to get seamlessly moved around. This has several benefits: administrators can easily cycle servers out of production in order to perform maintenance on them simply by moving the applications off onto other servers, but also, perhaps more excitingly, it allows applications to get auto-scaled – the HybridCluster software can detect a spike in traffic, and rather than throttling the spike (like CloudLinux), it can burst that application to a full dedicated server by moving other busy things on that server onto quieter servers. This is also a unique feature.

Q: How does HybridCluster enable an end user to self-recover lost files and data from even less than a minute ago? This feature, if I’m not wrong, isn’t available with any other solution out there.

A: It’s quite simple really. Every time that website, database or email data changes, down to 30 second resolution or less, we take a new ZFS snapshot and also replicate the history to other nodes in the cluster. ZFS is a core enabling technology for HybridCluster, and we’ve built a smart partition-tolerant distributed filesystem on top of it! Each website, database or mailbox gets its own independently replicated and snapshotted filesystem.

Anyway, these replicas act both as a user-facing backup and a hot spare. It’s a simple idea, but this is actually a revolution in backup technology – rather than having a backup separate from your RAID or other replication system (where the problem with a replication system like RAID is that it will happily replicate a failure, and the problem with backups is that they take ages to restore) our “hybrid” approach to replicated snapshots kills two birds with one stone, bringing backup restore times down to seconds, and also letting users fetch files/emails/database records out of snapshots which are taken at with very fine grained accuracy.

Indeed, HybridCluster is the first hosting platform to expose this feature to the end user and we have seen a number of clients adopt our technology for this benefit alone!

Q: Is the low-cost storage system able to deliver the efficiency of high-end SANs? Also, what additional value does ZFS data replication bring into the picture?

A: I’m glad you mentioned ZFS again 🙂 One of the really nice things about being backed onto ZFS is that hosters using HybridCluster can choose how powerful they want to make their hosting boxes. Remember, with HybridCluster, the idea is that every server has a local storage and uses that to keep the data close and fast. But because ZFS is the same awesome technology which powers big expensive SANs from Oracle, you can also chuck loads of disks in your hosting boxes and suddenly every one of your servers is as powerful as a SAN in terms of IOPS. In fact, one of our recent hires, a fantastic chap by the name of Andrew Holway, did some hardcore benchmarking of ZFS versus LVM and found that ZFS completely floored the Linux Volume Management system when you throw lots of spindles at it.

I won’t go into too much detail about how ZFS achieves awesome performance, but if you’re interested, try Googling “ARC”, “L2ARC” and “ZIL”. 🙂

The other killer feature in ZFS is that it checksums all the data that passes through it – this means the end to bit-rot. Combined with our live backup system across nodes, that makes for a radically more resilient data storage system than you’ll get with Ext4 on a bunch of web servers, or even a SAN solution.

There’s lots more – call us on +44 (0)20 3384 6649 and ask for Andrew who would love to tell you more about how ZFS + HybridCluster makes for awesome storage.

Q: How does HybridCluster achieve fault-tolerant DNS?

A: Something I haven’t mentioned yet is that HybridCluster supports running a cluster across multiple data centers, so you can even have a whole data center fail and your sites can stay online!

So quite simply the cluster allocates nameservers across its data centers, so if you have DC A and B, with nodes A1, A2, B1, B2, the ns1 and ns2 records will be A1 and B1 respectively. That gives you resilience at the data center level (because DNS resolvers support failover between nameservers). Then, if a node fails, or even if a data center fails, the cluster has self-reorganising DNS as a built-in feature.

We publish records with a low TTL, and we publish multiple A records for each site: our AwesomeProxy layer turns HybridCluster into a true distributed system – you can send any request for anything (website, database, mailbox, or even FTP or SSH session – to any node and it’ll get revproxied correctly to the right backend node (which might dynamically change, eg during a failover or an auto-scaling event). So basically under all failure modes (server, network, data center) we maximize the chances that the user will quickly – if not immediately – get a valid A record which points to a server which is capable of satisfying that request.

In other words HybridCluster makes the servers look after themselves so that you can get a good night’s sleep.

Q: How do you see the future of data center industry?

A: That’s an interesting question 🙂 I’ll answer it for web applications (and databases + email), specifically.

Personally I see cloud infrastructure as a broken promise. Ask the man (or woman) on the street what they think cloud means, and they’ll probably tell you about increased reliability, better quality of service, etc. But really all that cloud does today is provide less powerful unreliable infrastructure with which software engineers are expected to build reliable software on top of. That’s a big ask!

My vision is for a fundamentally more reliable way of provisioning web applications – one where the underlying platform takes responsibility for implementing resilience well, once, at the platform level. Developers are then free to deploy applications knowing that they’ll scale well under load, and get failed over to another server if the physical server fails, or even if the whole data center goes pop.

I think that’s the promise of PaaS, and my vision is for a world where deploying web applications gets these benefits by default, without millions of sysadmins in hosting companies all over the world having to get paged in the middle of the night to go fix stuff manually. Computers can be smarter than that, it’s just up to us to teach them how. 🙂

Q: Tell our readers a bit about the team HybridCluster?

A: Since we got funded in December 2012 we’ve been lucky enough to be able to grow the team to 9 people, and I’m really proud of the team we’ve pulled together.

We’re a typical software company, and so unfortunately our Dave to female ratio is 2:0. That is, we have two Daves and no females (but we’re working on that!). Anyway, some highlights in the team are Jean-Paul Calderone, who’s the smartest person I’ve ever met, and the founder of the Twisted project. Twisted is an awesome networking framework and without Twisted – and JP’s brain – we wouldn’t be where we are today. Also on the technical side, we’ve got Rob Haswell, our CTO, who’s a legend, and doing a great job of managing the development of the project as we make it even more awesome. We’ve also just hired one of JP’s side-kicks on Twisted, Itamar Turner-Trauring, who once built a distributed airline reservation system and sold it to Google.

We’ve also got Andriy Gapon, FreeBSD kernel hacker extraordinaire, without whom we wouldn’t have a stable ZFS/VFS layer to play with. Dave Gebler is our Control Panel guru and we’re getting him working on our new REST API soon, so he’ll become a Twisted guru soon 😉 And our latest hire on support, Marcus Stewart Hughes, is a younger version of me – a hosting geek – he bought his first WHMCS license when he was 15, so I knew we had to hire him.

On the bizdev side, we’ve got Dave Benton, a legend in his own right, who’s come out of an enterprise sales background with IBM, Accenture and Star Internet, he’s extremely disciplined and great at bringing process into our young company. Andrew Holway is our technical pre-sales guy, previously building thousand-node clusters for the University of Frankfurt, and he loves chatting about ZFS and distributed systems. He’s also great at accents and can do some pretty awesome card tricks.

Q: To wrap up, with proper funding in place for development of the products, what’s in the bag for Q3 and Q4 of 2013?

A: We’re working on a few cool features for the 2.5 release later this year: we’re going to have first class Ruby on Rails and Python/Django support, mod_security to keep application exploits out of the containers, Memcache and Varnish support. We’re also working on properly supporting IP-based failover so we don’t have to rely on DNS, and there are some massive improvements to our Control Panel on their way.

It’s an exciting time to be in hosting 😉 and an even more exciting time to be a HybridCluster customer!

Thanks for the interview and the great questions.

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