Article

NEED TO INTRODUCE A NEW SYSTEM FAST

14 Dec 2016

In this post, I would like to discuss the topic “Need to introduce a new system fast” in a wider sense and touch upon the issue that the client’s business needs regarding IT infrastructure can change abruptly not only from the viewpoint of functionality but from safety and accessibility aspects as well.

It is paramount for new companies at their initial stage of development to gain their market share, as well as client trustworthiness. Cloud solutions help ensure a multifunctional IT infrastructure that supports, e.g., firewall load balancing, a VPN connection, creating new servers and the functionality of managing spare data copies and disk space located in safe data centres. The most important benefits for the company are the time and money they save, which would otherwise be spent on establishing a server room, buying server software, and maintenance of the physical infrastructure.

For existing companies that already have an IT infrastructure or companies that need to adhere to strict requirements for buying new computer equipment, cloud solutions limit the need for additional computing resources, e.g., for creating test environments or hosting a new information system. Using cloud services with the server infrastructure based at two geographically separate data centres for ensuring the running of high accessibility information systems (IS) is getting increasingly more popular.

Data safety is often a concern shared by company system administrators. Cloud solutions provide only a part of the solution for these issues because the same principles of good practice of information system creation and management have to be followed if servers are located in data centres (server rooms) managed by the client, as well as if the virtual servers managed by the client are located on cloud infrastructure.

  • I would like to underline the following as one of the main points to be observed by companies: an IS safety policy that, for example, regulates user access, user and password management, updating software and applications, making additional data copies and testing them, performing periodical safety audits, etc.
  • The second important aspect for ensuring the availability of your IS is IS management which covers, for example, keeping track of the server hardware load and health, managing free resources, managing the computer network etc.
  • The legal aspect of determining the liability of parties has to be mentioned as well.

I would like to briefly specify how the aforementioned points relate to companies that host their virtual server infrastructure on cloud services.

I will attempt to answer with some examples:

There are several points I would advise to take into account, in line with the principles of good practice: install a firewall and anti-virus software, data backup systems and, if necessary, encrypt the OS and data disks.

  • Access rights to cloud services are provided only to persons determined in the agreement. Active directories and Windows Server Update Services functionality can be used for the biggest virtual server infrastructure based on Microsoft. The Linux infrastructure solutions are based on scripts, Zabbix, Puppet Enterprise Furthermore, Veeam Backup & Replication, R1Soft Server Backup Manager can be used for crating data backup copies. I recommend scanning, for example, the safety of the company webpage(-s), audit user accounts, etc. with various scanning tools.
  • Various tools can also be used for the management of server infrastructure and services, for example, Zabbix, Veeam One, etc., as well as web-based services like com, Monitis.com, Site24x7.com, etc.

Cloud services mostly differ by the functionality they offer. Let me discuss the Telia Cloudy solution that is based on Apache CloudStack and is offered by Telia.

When you start using cloud services, I suggest to thoroughly research the virtual network infrastructure that offers a simple computer network protected by a virtual router – firewall along the perimeter (gust network); however, if you need to create a higher safety and functionality computer network, you can choose VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) networks that allow creating subnetworks and defining access lists among them.

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Choosing a virtual server is very simple – the client defines the server’s computing parameters, disk size and the virtual computer network in which it will function.

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Telia Cloudy is a fully fledged cloud service with wide functionality in which clients can create high-accessibility systems through Affinity Groups, manage virtual disk drives, create virtual server snapshots both at the level of VMs and virtual disks. Templates can be used for creating bigger ISs. Clients can oversee the actions of users on the cloud services, create new accounts and users.

“Projects” is a great solution for companies whose main activity is developing software – this functionality allows to create temporary test and development environments.

A detailed reporting section has been created for clients to allow tracking the costs of used resources.

Telia Cloudy is an enterprise-level cloud service. Great care is taken to manage safety issues, e.g., access to the client’s virtual infrastructure is protected with two-factor identification.

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