How we’re blurring the line between dedicated servers & managed hosting with LEAP
LEAP can be many things to many people. For some folks who are not involved (spared) in daily IT tasks, it can be described as simply a hosting provider’s client portal. From an accountant’s perspective, it might just be a quick way to access invoices and make payments. It starts getting interesting when you consider the points-of-view for three highly engaged groups: the business owners, the system administrators and the developers. For these three groups, it has evolved a great deal and translates into real-world benefits.
This Stuff is Expensive
Lets backtrack a little. Everyone knows that infrastructure is expensive. The only thing more expensive than buying infrastructure in the first place is managing, fixing and replacing it on an on-going basis. Year-in-year-out, the total cost of ownership for data center assets has gone up. This cost rise is much like the utility energy that keeps pumping excited electrons through circuit boards inside that infrastructure. Therein lies the appeal of Infrastructure-as-a-Service, no need to convince you of that, I’m sure, so I’ll skip that part.
What does this have to do with LEAP?
For starters, LEAP enhances that on-demand infrastructure awesomeness by adding a whole new layer of bang. Not only is the infrastructure available “at your fingertips,” but so are the supporting services you need to effectively manage it.
Yes, these are sometimes little things. Things like rebooting servers, reinstalling operating systems, & setting up backup routines. But these little things add up into one huge thing collectively; they all cost money and they all take time to execute. Remember when your data center was in your office closet? It was easier to walk over and restart a server then. Take that scenario, for a moment, and imagine your sever was down and you had to hard-cycle it. But you were at home. In the prehistoric era (1999) you’d have to get in your car, drive over and hold the button for 10 seconds. In the renaissance (2007) you might call your managed hosting provider and ask them to do it for you. In the future (2011) you would just log into the LEAP Platform, using the Client Portal (web edition), mobile portal (on any smartphone) or issue an automated API call and LEAP would restart your server for you & make sure it comes back up. If you were at home or out to dinner, this would save your night (trust me!) And that’s a pretty compelling thing.
“But Dan”, you ask, “Anyone can automate server reboots, right?? What’s so special about that?” I’ll get back to that in a minute, trust me…
The Genie in the Bottle
Why do something yourself when your hosting provider can do it for you? Rub the bottle (call support) and some tech in a data center far, far away will take care of that. Don’t panic, no one is taking that away, but note that with the prevalence of automation and on-demand capability, Self Service is becoming cool again. And why wouldn’t it? The providers who are flourishing are the ones that have invested in automation (We believe we are in this group)… and their customers will certainly benefit from this as well, both in the short and long term. Everyone wins. In fact, we firmly believe that the only smart business move for IaaS providers (like us) is to continue to embrace Self Service and extend internal automation to clients.
The Most Important Point I Make
By saying Self Service, we don’t mean you literally have to do everything manually by yourself. We mean that you can press a button and an automated computer system will do it for you. No, not robotic arms, but close: little software robots. If you think about this on a massive scale, say installing 1,000 physical servers at the same time, it’s a pretty powerful thing and that is exactly what our LEAP3 Platform does so well. It took us five years to perfect that part of the platform. That’s a lot of lessons learned. Leverage that expertise and use it!
Did I mention ‘Automation’?
Back to my previous point: the automation of one feature, like rebooting downed servers, is cool. But to blur the line between infrastructure and managed hosting, you obviously have to do more than that. LEAP3 takes it to a whole new level. Here are a few of the things LEAP3 can do (pretty much instantly) that used to take teams of people a lot of time to do. Any one of these items can be done from a computer, mobile phone, iPad or whatever:
- Rapidly deploy hundreds of Dedicated servers, Private Cloud servers or Public Cloud instances simultaneously. Yes, at the exact same time.
- Install backup software, configure the backup agent on the server & host and start the first backup cycle.
- Yes, restart servers & power cycle APC ports and manage switch ports
- Apply new network VLAN configurations to numerous devices simultaneously
- Manage rDNS entrees for any one particular hostname and update them in real time
There are over 400 total automation features packed into LEAP3, so I was obviously only able to list a few here. The point I am trying to make is all of these tasks took time and would typically only be performed for a client by a managed hosting provider. It would cost money from the client to pay someone to manage these tasks. It would cost money for the provider to pay an employee to perform these tasks, when that employee could do something else.
In Conclusion, Fine Sir.
My point is actually quite simple. We believe that by enabling our customers to self-execute routine IT tasks, everyone wins and everyone realizes the benefits.
Yes, we know that this might cost us some revenue here SingleHop. It is no secret that we sell managed hosting and that we generate some of our revenue from these types of services — but we feel that in the long run, by providing a more robust platform and set of tools, we will save our customers both time and money, which will result in a true realization of the beauty of IaaS. And that makes this a win-win-win proposition.
Until next time,
By Dan & Friends (just kidding, no friends were harmed in the production of this blog post.)