Cloud Factory: a model for readying data centres for the cloud

Klaus Manhart, Computerwoche

Monday 10 April 2017

Danish provider Cloud Factory has offered cloud solutions for small and medium-sized companies since 2014. A former subsidiary of SE, one of the largest energy and telecommunications suppliers in Denmark, the company markets and sells solutions through its partner and reseller network. To meet the requirements of a growing number of customers, Cloud Factory has implemented a hyperconverged infrastructure in its data centre – using hardware systems supplied by Lenovo – to dramatically improve performance and capacities.

IT users are increasingly migrating their data and applications to the cloud. This is mainly to access additional external computing and storage resources at peak times, and to pay for applications or infrastructures only when they use them. Consequently, many organisations are extending their traditional IT systems and creating a hybrid structure to incorporate cloud-based services.

How cloud providers handle this infrastructure change is critical to determining their success. They must manage increasing amounts of customer data using rigid and inflexible IT systems that are difficult to integrate and hard to work with, while also handling increasingly sophisticated customer needs.

This prevents IT from providing fast and flexible services – a central pillar of the cloud computing business model. “In the IT cloud business, we have to respond to new trends and technologies extremely quickly,” explains Jacob V. Schmidt, CEO of Cloud Factory.

Cloud providers, therefore, require a scalable, flexible and powerful infrastructure that is also easy to manage. This is where implementing a hyperconverged infrastructure could practically meet these requirements.

They combine server, network and storage into one single system while management is software-supported. Cloud Factory itself relies on such hyperconverged infrastructures and has placed its trust in the powerful hardware from Lenovo.

The major advantage of this is that the systems and components are centrally managed and controlled. This means the virtual environment is much easier to govern, with IT processes working faster and at a lower cost.

Moreover, compared to conventional virtualisation technologies, hyperconvergence makes possible a higher degree of abstraction for hardware and software. In this way, cloud resources can always be dynamically adapted to the needs of company applications and supplied accordingly.

Hyperconvergence between Lenovo and Intel

As one of the first cloud providers in Europe, Cloud Factory joined forces with Lenovo, Intel and Microsoft to develop and install a hyperconverged infrastructure in its data centre, therefore taking the decisive step toward the next generation of data centres.

This move paid off immediately for Cloud Factory. Just after opening its new data centre in Esbjerg, Denmark, Cloud Factory recorded a high demand for its services and many customers transferred their data to the company’s cloud.

For its hardware, Cloud Factory relied on the Lenovo systems with Intel Xeon® Processors. The solution from Cloud Factory consists of Lenovo System x3650 M5 servers and Lenovo RackSwitch G8332 40 Gb Ethernet switches. “Both systems are known for their high availability with the highest-capacity requirements and around-the-clock operation,” says Guy England, director of the Lenovo Data Centre Group, Great Britain and Ireland. The software used is Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition and Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct.

On the road to the “next generation data centre”

Using these systems, Cloud Factory was able to pave the way for a simpler, more powerful and more efficient infrastructure. “By dissolving hardware silos, we are now able to fully and exclusively concentrate on performance,” says Flemming Riis, Cloud Factory’s CTO.

By using a new eight-node storage solution from Lenovo, the company was able to increase speed from 25,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) to 600,000 IOPS, making it 24 times faster. This is a major advantage in the eyes of Schmidt: “We can now guarantee for all of our customers a very stable maximum speed which enables them to migrate huge databases to the cloud.”

For Cloud Factory, it is very important that customers are able to migrate applications and data quickly into the cloud, and its new hyperconverged solution makes this possible. By implementing a hyperconverged infrastructure, Cloud Factory has taken a decisive step toward the next-generation data centre. The company sees great business potential in being able to offer its customers extreme performance and large capacities.

“We can now ‘cloudify’ everything,” adds Schmidt. “Because we have made a major leap forward in performance, we can now move huge applications to the cloud.”

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