To start providing cloud services, it is not necessary to invest huge sums in equipment in order to create a complex and expensive IT-infrastructure, which then have to be maintained. It is much more profitable to rent a virtual data center from a reliable IaaS provider in order to focus all your efforts on software development, i.e. to turn all your attention to your business.
Cloud technology is increasingly penetrating a wide variety of areas of activity, and as practice shows, it simplifies many tasks, while reducing costs. Since the cloud is a technical solution, it is not surprising that IT companies are the first to become familiar with it.
One of them was the company "First BIT", which is the creator of the project "LIVE" – a cloud service for hosting databases 1C. "We wanted to do cloud projects specifically – because we believed in the convenience and benefit of a new idea for business, explains Victor Kanaev, head of cloud computing at First BIT. – On the one hand, there are no large initial expenses, and on the other hand, professionals are responsible for the server part."
"First BIT" has decided. move towards the creation of a cloud area based on a 1C product, since this software (as well as all its advantages) is widely known in Russia. "The choice fell on IaaS. – Victor says. – The prospect of leasing capacity looked the most sensible, given that the company’s main business is software development."
All company projects are based on typical blocks. Each block consists of a Windows server with a 1C base and a client part. In addition to the 1C infrastructure itself, auxiliary services are Active Directory, Linux machines for routing and other networking functions, Windows terminal farm and monitoring systems. Terminal Service (RDP) is used to connect clients.
Generally, the ultimate goal of the company, according to Victor – to make the service of remote access to the databases of 1C as easy as working with e-mail, such as Gmail – cloud technology allows to achieve this.
And here’s another one example company that has moved to the cloud is the Speech Technology Center. The CRT is a developer of innovative systems in high-quality audio and video recording, processing and analysis. For example, one of their cloud-based products, VoiceFabric, is designed for speech synthesis. It is suitable for a wide range of applications: recording audio podcasts, book and video voiceovers, and website articles.
The service offers two ways of dubbing: via a built-in web service directly on the site or via a built-in API that integrates via HTTP protocol. The communication between the VoiceFabric API and the user’s app/device takes place via HTTPS.
MDG Team says that keeping up with the times is helped by cloud technology, which gives more flexibility and expands the horizons of the services provided.
But it’s not just tech companies that realize how much useful clouds can be. Just look at The Weather Channel, an American company that provides weather information anywhere in the world. When a storm is coming, employees have no time to think about disk space and the amount of traffic, which increases 20-fold when a storm hits.
A bit of statistics. As a rule, about 12 million unique users visit the company’s site per month. However, if there is a storm in the forecast, then the same number of people can visit the resource for one day (sometimes the attendance jumps up to 30 million users per hour).
To cope with these fluctuations in workloads, flexible scalability is required. "Moving all tasks to the cloud has allowed The Weather Channel staff to focus on using the applications and services the business needs, " said Landon Williams, vice president of infrastructure and services.
Williams also noted that about four years ago, it was about 10 percent more profitable for the company to maintain its own data center. But as time passed and cloud vendors began to offer more and more profitable and cheaper solutions, it became economically inefficient to maintain their own data center.
The company decided to store all of its vital services on the sites of multiple IaaS providers, an approach used to provide additional insurance. 70% of the resources were located on the side of one IaaS provider, 10% on the side of another, and the remaining 20% in the company’s own data centers. Some applications and services run on only one vendor site, while the most critical ones, such as the SUN (Storage Utility Network), run in both clouds at once.
As it turned out later, cloud technology came in handy. When Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S. in October 2012, the company had already begun the transition, so it was able to handle the enormous flow of traffic. "We could handle Sandy, " Williams notes. – "But it would have required ‘weakening’ the site in terms of collecting detailed statistics, limiting content and disabling additional features."
To become a little closer to the clouds, the automobile industry seeks to become a little closer to the clouds. The following story will be about one of the largest chains of car dealerships in Russia, which wished to remain unrecognized. The company is engaged in the sale and service of cars, as well as a range of related services.
Her transition to cloud technology was due to the emergence of the need for additional computing power and services. Initially, the company’s management made a decision to purchase new equipment with the aim of deploying a private cloud on it using VMware virtualization technologies.
However, "hardware" tends to become obsolete, and expensive purchased equipment can become irrelevant in just a few years. That is exactly what happened to the hero of this story. After this incident, the managers decided to rent a rack from a reliable vendor, which turned out to be much more profitable than maintaining a fleet of servers themselves.
The move to the cloud was simplified by the fact that the company already had a developed virtual infrastructure – it was just necessary to move all the data from a private cloud to a public one. The specifics of the company are such that the main power of the cloud is consumed by the terminal farm – all employees use a thin client, with the exception of department heads who work with personal laptops.
Due to the nature of the workflow, all requests from customers come in the form of HTTP- or HTTPS-requests, which makes it possible to get by with ordinary browsers and not to install specialized software.
Since the company needed to use a file server and there was no standard Windows solution available, NetApp was used as the file repository. By creating DFS links from the domain controller to NetApp, the company’s users were allocated a shared Public folder, and after setting up directory snapshot functionality, they [the users] were able to restore accidentally deleted files on their own.
This is not the first time an automotive company has needed to put the services it needs for its business into the cloud. Another example is is the well-known company Tata Motors. Its employees use specialized portals hosted in the cloud. With the help of these portals, fleet owners can track all vehicles in real time.
According to reports from Tata Motors, using web services in the cloud has a positive impact on the company as a whole. Cloud solutions help implement new infrastructure projects in a short timeframe, from the planning stage to implementation.
"Tata Motors’ move to the cloud has improved the speed of services essential to the business, including improved web hosting availability, the ability to use cloud storage and the video library, publishing catalogs, and more, says Madhusudan Shekar, head of IT solutions at Tata Motors. – All of these things together required and require a large, complex infrastructure, which is quite easily solved by moving to the cloud."
P.S. Material on the subject from our Habra blog :