Looking ahead: LeaseWeb and Cloud

At LeaseWeb, the Product Development and Operations departments are working together on building a new cloud platform. We’re now at a stage where we can share our vision on the cloud, what it means for LeaseWeb and how we implement it into our products.

There is (still) a lot of confusion about the various cloud layers. ‘Cloud’ can have different meanings depending on the context. For example, we use the term IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), to refer to the type of cloud services we offer. For more information on the various cloud types, the Wikipedia definition is pretty clear and concise. Our strong focus on IaaS is logical stems from the fact that LeaseWeb is an infrastructure provider. We collaborate with customers in various segments to add value to their own business, or enable them to use our infrastructure as building blocks for new products and services.

Cloud services are becoming more and more commonplace – and are a great alternative for dedicated / hardware infrastructure. The new Gartner quadrant on IaaS that was published earlier this week stresses this clearly: Infrastructure as a Service is not the hip new kid on the block anymore, but is being used in all business areas where flexible infrastructure is needed.

To be honest, this is not a surprise to us. We’ve been building IaaS platforms for a few years now, and have noticed a growing demand for these kinds of services. However, we do feel it’s important to use the right infrastructure to satisfy your needs. IaaS can be a perfect fit for some applications, but for others it might not be the best choice. You can read our blog series on hosting online games for examples to see why might be better off using dedicated hardware.

Creating a strong IaaS Cloud offering is a natural evolutionary step for LeaseWeb. Our current dedicated server portfolio actually has quite a number of  ‘cloud-like’ characteristics: we use a fully automated delivery system, we empower our customers via our Customer Portal, and allow for on-demand delivery and customization of infrastructure capacity (either through the panel or an API). Our next step is to use this platform and our experience to deliver more IaaS products / features.

We will start off the process by upgrading the current ‘express cloud’ product to a new platform, based on open source technology and high-performance, fully redundant compute and storage systems. In the first quarter of 2012 we plan to introduce the first iteration of this product; this will be a basic cloud product, similar to the current express offering (but with the addition of a virtual network setup). On top of this, we will start introducing new functionality, moving steadily towards a full-featured IaaS product, where you can customize the feature set based on what you need. For example, you might want to add load balancers and firewalls, or you could switch to hourly billing to be more cost-effective. Our list of planned features is quite extensive, and we will be adding functionality in regular updates.

In short, we have some exciting times ahead of us. We are looking forward to rolling out this new platform, and getting feedback on what you need. We strongly believe that a great product can only be built by working with our customers, so be sure to let us know if there is anything you need – use the comment section below if you have any feedback or questions!

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