Towards simplicity and self-reliance: the future of cloud computing

General

Ask us about the future of cloud computing and you will certainly hear something about orchestration. That must be the answer to the question of how to keep a comprehensive overview of the increasingly complex hybrid cloud landscape. And self-reliance, another concept for which we see a bigger role in the near future. Of course, as a cloud specialist you want to be a service provider, and for complex issues we are happy to sit down with customers. New technology in cloud platforms, however, makes it possible to offer them much more freedom. The service provider then becomes more of a coach.

With all this, collaboration is the key word anyway. Because by combining the knowledge and experience of different parties, the best solutions are created.

Pioneer in heart and soul

When a number of passionate technicians with years of hosting and internet experience set up CloudVPS in 2006 - at that time XLS Hosting - they were of course unable to foresee how the cloud market would develop in the following years. CloudVPS is a pioneer in heart and soul and was the first in the Netherlands to develop a public cloud based on OpenStack.

The course that the company started at that moment is still the right one. OpenStack has grown up and we have developed much more knowledge over the years. Now it is time to focus on the next generation OpenStack and on the next generation of public cloud services. But what makes our strategy so special? And what role do customers play in our distinctiveness?

By developing together, you achieve a better result

Buy & build, that was the basis for IT-Ernity's strategy, the group that CloudVPS is part of. IT-Ernity bought players with a variety of expertises. As a result, the organization grew rapidly and served the entire width of the market: from large corporates to small SMEs. The fact that the organization had so many different expertise due to this buy & build strategy soon proved its strength. And CloudVPS grew with it. Because the market that at that time was mainly about shared hosting, became saturated: only the prize fighters and larger, in shared hosting specialized players were left. What made us special in this landscape was that we had a lot of options for (potential) customers. The only question was: how do we do that? And so began the search for the next-generation cloud platform.

The people behind CloudVPS were - and still are - big followers of open source, based on the belief that by developing something together you can achieve a better product. That is why we decided to focus on a self-developed cloud platformSimplicity and self-reliance: the future of cloud computing, based on OpenStack. The OpenStack technology was not that advanced at that time: essential matters were missing and the community was relatively young. We also saw a gap in the market here. By adding a lot of knowledge and development to the OpenStack platform from then on, we made it suitable to use as a public cloud.

Choose between individual ingredients and a ready-to-eat dish

There is now an mature cloud platform, the next generation product that we had in mind. The platform offers many different options, allowing customers to fully tailor the cloud to the needs of the business - where necessary based on our advice. Think of it as a number of separate ingredients to prepare a dish yourself.

But not everyone has the ability to cook independently. That is why we also offer NextVPS, which enables customers to easily use the same cloud platform without any in-depth technical knowledge. Instead of using the ingredients yourself, NextVPS offers a ready-made dish, in a number of common flavors.

The underlying idea in the development of these two cloud platform versions? Application life cycles are getting shorter and shorter: what the business thinks up today must be live tomorrow. With the OpenStack-based cloud platform, customers can build and automate application lifecycle streets themselves. With NextVPS, customers realize the same, but in a technically low-threshold way.

Multicloud without losing control

CloudVPS is now focused on the future. Because in the market new issues arise. Organizations select the right cloud for their applications and workloads based on wishes, requirements and application, which often results in different cloud providers for parts of their total IT landscape. How do you deal with such a multicloud strategy and how do you maintain control over, for example, the security of the IT landscape?

And other developments also provide questions. For example, companies want to focus less and less on the underlying cloud infrastructure, but rather on services, both to their customers and to their internal organization. In addition, new technologies such as containerization, IoT and artificial intelligence lead to questions about management. How do you keep your middleware up-to-date? How do you guarantee continuity? And what about data: where is this stored and who can access it? These are also very relevant questions in view of the GDPR.

In our view, the answer to such new issues lies in orchestration. By automation, but also by creating a single pane of glass: one complete overview of the entire IT landscape.

Control a complete multicloud from one environment

We anticipate the increasing need for orchestration with NextVPS and the new portal. This portal provides all the functionalities required for full self-service control over the VPS-on-OpenStack services.

We continue to develop the portal continuously with the aim of making customers self-reliant. Ultimately, customers must also gain control over services from other cloud providers via the portal. And then it is not only about the technology, but also about the administrative side, such as insight into account, authentication, consumption and invoicing data. This creates the possibility to operate a complete multicloud easily from one environment.

Not in the client's seat, but at the table together

But as said, it is not possible for everyone to have knowledge and expertise of all techniques and technical developments in house. While - if you have to pave the path to innovation within your organization - it is so nice to have a sparring partner. We can lean on the experience with questions from many other clients and act as a full partner. With more than eighty engineers, there is always someone who has dealt with a similar issue to that which a customer encounters. In addition, we organize whiteboard sessions with customers, in which there is plenty of room for specific and targeted advice. For example, developers want to know how easy it is to launch a new version of an application at the touch of a button - and this continuously, sometimes several times a day. System administrators, on the other hand, are curious, for example, about how they manage a multitude of servers - and perhaps also various cloud parties - and can meet the security and compliance requirements of the organization. All to help customers use OpenStack more efficiently, and to develop and grow - whether with baby steps or seven-mile boots.

That does not mean, however, that we 'sit in the customer's seat' to say: that's how it should be. We want to sit at the table together to find out where the customer's needs really lie. Often the focus in discussions with cloud providers is on the technical requirements, while it is much more interesting to find out where the business ultimately can be helped. Where is the organization now and where is it going? Then it is important not only to consider the requirements of today, but also those of tomorrow. And only by going through this thorough preliminary research together, you come to a successful solution. 

For the same reason, we involve customers in the development of new services and products through beta testing. Innovation is not always easy. A fresh look, coming from both executive employees and more strategic managers, can work wonders. After all, they can very specifically indicate what they are looking for and how they want to make use of a solution. While such an approach produces a longer process, it ultimately results in a better product, in line with what customers need.