Tag Archives: Private Cloud

Cloud computing application: forklift weight & usage data (& comic)

cloud web hosting data joke

The speed and agility of cloud-based web hosting has change the playing field in many industries, expanding the possibilities of technological application. One obvious example is medical research. Phys.org reports that the cloud is being used in genetic profiling research to allow for a much faster and less costly analysis of DNA sequences. Wu Feng, a computer scientist at Virginia Tech, notes that data analysis generally has become more sophisticated because of the speed and scope of the cloud.

Businesses are slowly beginning to grasp the vast potential of the cloud and how it might be applied for a competitive advantage in their industry. In a completely different corner from medical research, freight software and technology company Integrated Visual Data Technology, Inc., recently approached us about a cloud-based solution for their business. Let’s explore the nature of the business and how our hosting solution was effective.

Weight analysis & employee monitoring

Integrated Visual Data creates software and devices that log weight and other usage data for various freight-handling trucks: pallet trucks, lift trucks, and various kinds of tilt and level indicators. The machines allow information about usage of the trucks to be monitore by operators, as well as stored and accessed by management.

Weight data is helpful for general operational analysis and record-keeping, but the systems created by IVDT are useful in a completely different way as well. The company has an additional feature that can be added to any of its equipment as desired: an alert system for “rough vehicle handling.”  This system notifies management of the following parameters related to each lift truck:

  • excessive speed
  • overloads
  • extended periods of idling
  • windows during which the truck is underused
  • integration with scheduled break time.

In fact, Integrated Visual Data’s customers can add whatever parameters they want to capture and analyze. The company customizes the software so that individual business needs are met.

SkidWeigh is the general umbrella name for IVDT’s product offerings. The system is based on an organized system of modules, which are basically packaged chunks of code that are easily moved in or out of a system (similar to a desktop application on a PC). Building the system based on modules makes tailoring the technology simple, and it also makes operating the system friendlier to the end-user.

The SkidWeigh system is also apparently unique. According to Integrated Visual Data, its devices are the only ones available that show the user of freight equipment a slew of information related to material handling on a moment-by-moment basis. That same breadth and detail of information, plus additional analysis and notifications, is accessible to management. This feature allows those in supervisory positions to monitor forklift utilization at a distance, alerted of any problems in real time.

Crafting a cloud hosting solution

Integrated Visual Data contacted us in December to help make the delivery of its data more efficient and cost-effective. They wanted to use a cloud server to upload data from the forklift onboard weighing systems. Using the cloud would allow the end-user to access the data much more quickly. It also would allow real-time analysis to get more complex because slow load times (i.e., high latency) are much less of an issue with the cloud. Management would have access to all weight and usage information – including rough handling details – in real time.

IVDT asked for our input so that we could customize a solution based on parameters they described. Integrated Visual Data has over 200 different algorithms for its technology, and it customizes its software regularly for customers. Our business has a similar approach to clients. We have a wide range of hosting plans with preestablished parameters, but we can also tailor infrastructures. In other words, it was a synergistic partnership because the two organizations held similarly adaptive philosophies.

Public cloud vs. private cloud

Cloud technology is itself highly adaptable. However, often when businesses use cloud hosting – with what’s often standardly thought of as “the cloud” – they are taking advantage of the public cloud. In that scenario, many different businesses share the same servers, with the cloud technology keeping all of the server requests organized and distinct. Just as traditional virtual private servers (VPSs) are sections of one physical machine, the virtual machines of the cloud are made up of multiple sections of a variety of physical machines.

Integrated Visual Data, due to the sensitive nature of its data, needed its own private cloud. The company required its own firewall and virtual private networks (VPNs), and they wanted managed hosting services so that our team of security and efficiency experts could monitor their system and keep it running smoothly. The best option was a private virtual machine (VM), connecting multiple physical servers with cloud technology so that data computation and analysis could be as fast and complex as possible.

IVDT is just one of the many companies that we assist with custom cloud solutions every day. At Atlantic.Net, we have been in business for 20 years and continue to grow because our technological focus is matched only by our customer focus.

By Kent Roberts; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

Healthcare IT – A Decision Maker’s Guide to Cloud Computing and Managed Server Hosting

Doctors Examining X-ray Image

This document explains the difference between dedicated, virtual, public cloud, and private cloud hosting environments; along with essential information that healthcare professionals may require.

We introduce the concept of virtualization, its many benefits, and the reasons why it effectively contends with dedicated hosting services. Virtualization has created new possibilities and opportunities for the healthcare segment of technology. Healthcare IT professionals specializing in virtualization technologies have recently found more attractive and lucrative opportunities, especially with the new Healthcare Reform and healthcare IT initiatives introduced during the Obama administration.

Virtualization is the technology behind cloud computing, and it makes a vast pool of network resources a genuine possibility.

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Private Cloud vs. Virtualized Environment

In a previous post, we explored the value of a “private cloud” solution for clients who want the advantages of getting their IT Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), but who also need to comply with particular data privacy regulations. Private cloud is often compared to (or confused with) “virtualized environments” or “virtualization”. Some of the confusion comes from the fact that different service providers use the terms in slightly different, often overlapping, ways. However, at Atlantic.Net we believe there’s an important difference between the two, and we’re very proud of the private clouds we’ve deployed as well as the sophisticated virtualized environments we’ve developed for clients in a range of industries.

Our approach to virtualization is indeed very close to a “private cloud” concept – in both types of system the client has dedicated data center hardware that is controlled, monitored and managed through a hypervisor layer. Both these solutions allow optimal compliance with applicable regulatory issues, and also permit clients to keep their existing IT hardware, if desired.

The key difference is that while private cloud is a characteristic Atlantic.Net product (i.e. it typically uses an Atlantic.Net hypervisor); virtualization is a custom solution derived from a detailed consultation with the client, in which we design an infrastructure and select a hypervisor entirely based on the client’s needs. Thus virtualization is the most personalized and most exclusive cloud-based solution available, and it’s sometimes the best fit for very demanding client applications. Virtualized environments give us complete freedom to take existing IT hardware move it to a secure data center, establish the requisite access and permissions for remote client use, and manage the entire solution.

A virtualized environment extends the capabilities of cloud computing solutions to cover nearly anything you can require for your business – servers, management, security, storage, remote work, and more. Since the category is so flexible – and capabilities are constantly evolving – the most relevant definition is what it means to your business in particular. To find out, call and speak with an experienced professional from Atlantic.Net.

Is Private Cloud a Good Fit for You?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the many advantages that cloud hosting infrastructure can provide for dynamic modern businesses. When you move your computing infrastructure to the cloud, you gain flexibility, reduce costs, increase reliability and eliminate maintenance.  The most common cloud-based solution is what’s called “public cloud”, where the “cloud server” is a virtualized environment (“virtual machine”) running on high-quality data center hardware. Other virtual machines may be installed on the same physical hardware, though they operate and are accessed independently. This type of solution is very attractive to many startups and independent developers who need flexibility and want the maximum possible resource for a given cost.

However, for certain kinds of businesses, a public cloud solution is a poor fit, or else is prohibited by various regulations. This problem is exacerbated by the way that some cloud service providers handle public cloud data – due to their system architecture, they can’t actually tell customers exactly which physical server is handling their virtual environment. Atlantic.Net doesn’t have this problem; we can always tell you exactly where your data is. But this level of assurance is sometimes not enough.

For instance, companies subject to SEC or HIPAA regulations may need to verify that their data resides on dedicated and exclusive hardware, and some may simply need to handle their data that way in order to satisfy management or customer expectations. For situations like these, a private cloud solution can be ideal. A private cloud is essentially a dedicated cloud-type installation running on private hardware in our data center. A virtualization layer using an Atlantic.Net hypervisor (or hypervisor of your choice) gives all the flexibility and control you expect from a cloud solution, while ensuring that your data never shares hardware. Because of the specific appeal and larger up-front cost, our typical private cloud customer is usually a somewhat larger company of 50 employees or more. However private cloud installations are possible for any size of company.

So if you have a demanding regulatory environment, want to publicize the exclusive hardware used in your IT infrastructure, or simply want to know that your cloud server services are being provided by hardware dedicated to your company, a private cloud may be the solution. Each situation is different, so consult a reputable cloud computing service provider like Atlantic.Net to discuss your case and see if a private cloud is right for you.

Service Spotlight: Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud services link together remote and local IT infrastructure – leveraging existing hardware and providing a wide range of cloud computing options.

Cloud hosting is all about providing modern businesses with computing efficiency, flexibility, and scalability. In many cases, this involves setting up computing services on shared or private hardware in one of our datacenters, and accessing those resources over the Internet. This model dramatically cuts down on IT costs, and it can be ideal for small companies or companies looking for rapid growth. But what if you already have substantial established IT resources?  Those resources may not be adaptable enough to meet your company’s current computing needs, but they still have tremendous value.  If only there were some way to layer cloud applications onto local hardware!

This common need is the inspiration for the hybrid cloud. This model of cloud computing service involves an alliance between an Atlantic.net datacenter and a set of in-house IT resources on the client side. Various operations such as processing, data storage, or machine virtualization can be shared or mirrored between the two, and our expertise in communications technology allows us to set up simple yet secure interfaces for connections between local and remote data centers.

Hybrid cloud models allow businesses to keep some in-house IT resources, while benefiting from cloud features, including:

  • scalability
  • automatic metering
  • machine virtualization
  • location-independent application delivery
  • access to the whole range of hosted services

Like standard cloud and private cloud models, many of the expenses of a hybrid cloud are tax-deductible. In addition, accounts can easily be added only when needed, and services are billed by actual usage. All of this results in tremendous potential for cost savings.

If all these definitions of cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud seem to overlap, that’s because they do: “cloud computing” is an inherently flexible concept that can be adapted to meet almost any set of technical, operational, or financial constraints.

If you take one message home from reading our blog, it should be that cloud computing can offer solutions you might not expect.  If your growing business has IT needs, talk to an expert about how cloud computing can meet those needs securely, effectively and efficiently.

Service Spotlight: Private Cloud

Private Cloud services blend dedicated hardware with a layer of cloud applications for exceptional efficiency, scalability and security.

In previous posts, we’ve discussed how cloud hosting is a powerful and flexible IT solution, and a perfect fit for many growing businesses. One of the key features of cloud computing is that its infrastructure is transparent – i.e., the cloud applications and virtual machines run on shared hardware in one of our datacenters. This is the best model for most clients, since shared hardware offers high flexibility and cost-effective implementation along with industry-standard security measures.

However, you may have special requirements for data security, regulatory compliance, or system performance. Sometimes, these special requirements mean that shared hardware may not be suitable. Or perhaps you just want more visibility of the underlying hardware used to run the cloud. For more demanding situations like these, a private cloud can be the perfect solution. It provides many of the advantages of a cloud computing environment, with greater control over hardware specifications and a greater range of sophisticated security options.

The term “private cloud” is sometimes used to mean different things, but an Atlantic.net private cloud is simply a layer of cloud applications running on private, dedicated hardware. We can provide the hardware and operating systems to match your requirements, and layer on the hypervisor technologies needed to run and manage concurrent virtual machines. The resulting cloud model means that you can have private hardware without the standard hassles, while also getting most of the key benefits of traditional cloud computing, including:

  • easy scalability of virtual machines, bandwidth, or processing capacity
  • billing based on usage
  • reduced initial start-up costs
  • tax-deductibility of some expenses
  • easy access to additional hosted services

With a private cloud, the actual hardware running your cloud services is dedicated completely to you, so you get the peace of mind that comes with in-house control. Of course, we can provide self-service to every level of your hardware and software systems, while maintaining cloud services like virtualization management and disaster recovery. And all of these options are flexible and scalable, in keeping with the spirit of cloud computing solutions. Private clouds aren’t appropriate for everyone, but they offer a whole new world of options to clients who want – or need – to maintain private IT infrastructure.

In our next Service Spotlight we’ll address Hybrid Cloud, which can offer cloud hosting solutions to companies with existing IT infrastructure.

Choosing a Cloud Service Provider – A fresh perspective from Web 2.0 conference 2010!

Cloud computing has been steadily gaining momentum in contending with the managed server and dedicated server markets.  For some, there are serious advantages to cloud computing.  For others, there are major reservations, but this is understandable since cloud computing is still in its early phases of deployment.  For early adopters of cloud computing, there are various platform options available but a lot of confusion and hype involved as well.  One has to diligently do their homework when evaluating options.  When Atlantic.Net sponsored the Annual Web2.0 conference this year in San Francisco, cloud computing was the topic of conversation among many attendees.  Believe it or not, there were almost eight cloud hosting service providers in attendance as well as all the major server colocation and managed server hosting providers and all were showcasing their latest cloud offerings.  Even though Atlantic.Net is still beta-testing our cloud product, we are confident that our cloud will outperform and outlast most available cloud products.  Continue reading