Service Providers Under Attack From Amazon Look To Abiquo For Help

In brief: Managed Service Providers and hosting companies worried about customers moving to Amazon can now offer True Hybrid Cloud services with Abiquo’s new Provider Edition Cloud Management Platform.

Managed service providers (MSPs) and hosting companies are seeing customers test and move to Amazon’s Web Services platform, as Amazon’s 60+% year-on-year growth suggests. And it’s not just US companies under attack – Amazon has hinted that it may open a German Data Centre too.

To help these MSPs retain customers and build new offerings, Abiquo, creator of the Cloud Management Platform already used by top ranked MSPs to deliver their Virtual Data Center services, has today released its new Provider Edition – a single platform for MSPs to create True Hybrid Cloud services for Enterprise customers.

“Hosting companies and service providers tell us that their customers are starting to use public clouds such as Amazon and DigitalOcean, and that they’re worried about losing revenue and the ‘trusted partner’ status that they’ve worked so hard to gain” said Ian Finlay, VP of Product at Abiquo. “By implementing Abiquo Provider Edition they give their customers access to their choice of public cloud provider alongside their own high-quality on-premise cloud products.”

Gilles Samoun, CEO at Abiquo commented: “Time to market is a critical issue for service providers. The longer they wait to have a service in the market, the more they risk their customers going elsewhere. Our customers get to market in weeks, instead of taking months to develop on open source software. It’s also very easy to get a sales team ready to sell – a focus on business rather than implementation”.

This new release, with an elegant new user interface and simplified workflow, builds upon Abiquo’s proven solution to offer a True Hybrid Cloud platform – one portal, one reporting interface, one metering engine and one set of APIs across on-premise infrastructure and public cloud providers alike. A rich set of configuration options and integration points lets providers differentiate their product from competitors and serve their specific customer bases.

Samoun adds: “Customers can be confident that this new Provider Edition is proven at scale, having been running in our free Abiquo anyCloud SaaS service for some months”

Abiquo Provider Edition ships with support for Amazon, VMware ESX, Hyper-V, KVM, Oracle VM and Xen, with additional modules for Google Compute Engine, HP Cloud, Rackspace, ElasticHosts and DigitalOcean in the pipeline.

Abiquo Provider Edition is a free upgrade for existing customers, and can be sampled for free online at www.abiquo.com/anycloud.

Abiquo anyCloud

Abiquo anyCloud allows public cloud users to integrate and manage public cloud services Amazon EC2 and Rackspace from a single console.

Rackspace is the first OpenStack implementation and further public cloud integration is planned, with support for all major public clouds to be released in the coming months. Abiquo anyCloud users can expect a continual addition of new features; in particular reporting and auditing capabilities which will allows users to monitor and control usage across their public cloud infrastructure.

Other features include:

– Greater insight: Users are able to deploy and import Amazon instances to gain visibility of public cloud environment

– Workflow controls: Set email alerts and approval notifications for new deployments

– Secure user access: Users can create multiple, secure user accounts in Abiquo anyCloud for a single Amazon account and create different roles and scopes for each user account.

– Business intelligence: Broad reporting tools and access to a full and informative audit trail

Sign up to Abiquo anyCloud and start managing your public clouds today!

sixsq                                                                               Abiquo

 This post has been co-authored with SixSq.

Important events from 2013

After their switch to cloud, some businesses have been disappointed as the promised operational cost savings and simplified  procedures have not always materialized.

This is explained, in part, by the widespread confusion between virtualized resources and cloud, especially in the private cloud sector.  Disappointed businesses deploy machines  into a cloud haphazardly, losing the opportunity to truly manage their service infrastructure.

An increase in users directly provisioning machines via their Amazon AWS accounts independently of the IT department further exacerbates the problem. As a result, we have seen a demand from IT departments to gain back control through the adoption of management tools. The IT departments have also started to direct their attention to spending in the cloud and therefore, are looking to acquire and to use systems which include comprehensive reporting and billing features.

Security has been another big talking point in 2013. In light of the NSA security issues highlighted by the Snowden Report, data location issues have become critically important.  We have seen a backlash within the tech community around data security and privacy questions which we expect to spread to the general public.

The challenge will be for service providers and authorities to address these security and privacy concerns.

This ultimately, comes down to trust. Trust is the foundation of business and always will be. Customers want to trust the person or provider from whom they are buying a service. The more they trust a provider, the more critical the applications they will be willing to outsource, and the more they will be prepared to spend. Therefore, service providers will have to up their game in building that trust by being transparent and more closely meeting the customer’s business needs.

Future predictions

The European cloud – The development of a European Cloud will offer challenges and opportunities to European cloud providers which will also have a significant impact on improvements in data security and sovereignty.

Creating an app store for cloud – 2014 will see Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and enterprise customers shift to an application deployment model, relieving them from the confusion of which cloud to choose. They will be able to choose an application from a self-service portal, which will run on a similar provisioning model for MSPs and enterprise customers.

The evolving channel industry – the channel has undergone a number of changes in the past few years and they have made a good business from selling hardware and related services. However, they now have to rethink their business models to accommodate cloud-based services, which their end users are increasingly using. In order to avoid losing revenue and to turn this issue into an opportunity, they have three options in 2014: become a cloud builder, cloud distributor or ultimately become a specialised service provider.

 

Contributing Authors

Dr. Charles Loomis

Dr. Charles Loomis is a founding partner of SixSq Sàrl in Switzerland.  He has worked in European computing technology projects, notably the European DataGrid and EGEE projects, precursors to the large-scale, European scientific grid, EGI.  As the Project Coordinator for the StratusLab project, he guided its production of a complete open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud distribution.  Within SixSq, he is a key architect and developer of its SlipStream product–a service that allows automated, full-scale software systems tests to improve the reliability of those systems.

Click here to learn more about SixSq.

Ian Finlay

Ian Finlay is VP of Products at Abiquo, specifically focussing on product development and management.
Ian brings unique insight to Abiquo having implemented the software whilst at Claranet, where he held the role of Chief Information Officer, Claranet Group – Western Europe’s largest independent Managed services provider.
Prior to joining Claranet, Ian was CTO of ControlCircle, leading a team of 50 to design, develop, deliver and support a range of networking and managed hosting services and maintaining data centre facilities across Europe and in Singapore.
Before that, he held the position of Vice President of IT and Business Systems at Interoute Communications, where he led a worldwide organisation of more than 60 staff to drive business agility, productivity and customer service through innovative technology solutions focused on business priorities.

Many organisations are wary of the agility that comes with cloud services and rightly so! They feel that they will no longer have control over users who now have access  to self service, outside the constraints of normal IT controls. Abiquo helps you deliver those cloud services, so that your users have the benefits of self service, whilst allowing you to remain in complete control.

Resource limits can be set for all of your cloud resources (compute, memory, storage and networking) for each cloud tennant. Those same resource limits can also be applied at a more granular Virtual DataCenter, or physical data center level, if required. Meaning that the cloud provider remains in complete control of anyone who can using that resources and where in the infrastructure those resources can be used. All of Abiquo’s resource limits contain a hard limit, that cannot be exceeded and a soft limit that can generate warnings or alerts to both the end user, or the administrator, or even the sales guy.

 

                                                                                    Abiquo Resource Limits

With v2.6, Abiquo has extended its capabilities to include AWS EC2. The same control of resources now applies to the public cloud, with the cloud administrator controlling how much resource can be used in each AWS region, and therefore controlling how much can be spent. Here are the limits you can set in an Amazon Virtual Datacenter in Abiquo:

                                                Setting resource limits in your Amazon environment with Abiquo

 

Contact Abiquo now to take control of your cloud resources!

Whilst the debate on public, private, or hybrid cloud continues, it is clear that we should actually be thinking about the application itself, rather than defining the platform that it runs on. There are very clear application use cases for backends sat on a private cloud and for the use of public cloud for front end services or short term bursting. It is therefore vital that any cloud service is able to easily build hybrid applications.

Here at Abiquo, we have recently extended our supported infrastructure to include Amazon Web Services and additional hypervisors such as Hyper-V 2012 and Oracle VM. Choosing AWS for our first foray into public cloud was a no brainer. First of all it is clearly the market leader in this space, but secondly, and probably more importantly was that Abiquo is already built on the same networking concepts as AWS. This not only makes an integration “easy”, but also means that once integrated it will be easy to connect the private and public infrastructures making the utopia of a hybrid application possible. To briefly explain:

An Abiquo Virtual Datacenter (VDC) is defined by a datacenter (usually a physical location) and a single hypervisor technology. It gives the cloud users a defined set of resources, in a known location and on a known infrastructure platform. Within that VDC the resources can include three different network types:

1. Public networks, typically used for true public IP addresses

2. Private networks – isolated networks existing only in the cloud platform

3. External networks – allowing connectivity outside of the cloud platform to the corporate network and other services

When adding AWS resources, Abiquo continues to use exactly the same concepts, only a VDC is now defined by the AWS region. Within the VDC Abiquo is using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud http://aws.amazon.com/vpc/ which aligns perfectly with Abiquo’s existing Private Networks. In both of these networks, because they are isolated, you have control over the IP address scheme that is used. Connect them up via a VPN and suddenly the possibilities for your application are endless. AWS Elastic IP’s are of course, the equivalent of Abiquo Public IP’s and the functionality is very similar, with the Abiquo UI making the purchase and provisioning of an AWS Elastic IP quick and easy.

The Abiquo UI not only simplifies the provisioning of new instances into AWS VPC’s, but it also provides a single view of the private and public resource, so you can see all of the components of your hybrid application in a single view.

 

Abiquo 3.1 public cloud screen

Click to zoom

Abiquo UI: A single view of public and private cloud resources

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Over the last decade the internet has evolved from being a collection of individual static content driven websites to an integrated eco-system of services and solutions.  In 10 years many businesses have evolved from simply having a website, to completely operating their business via multiple always on and available , ‘cloud’ based  resources.

It’s more than a bunch of fancy ecommerce sites – Service Providers are developing and delivering solutions that offer up flexible infrastructure, platforms of all shapes and sizes and rich, integrated applications – I think its fair to say that the cloud OS hasn’t just arrived – it’s thriving.  There are a growing number of Service Providers in this marketplace  but it is already dominated by one solution – Amazon Web Services.

They are all competing to deliver the cloud OS to the customer, trying to find a niche trying to offer a better deal.  But there’s a big difference in Service Providers who open their minds and work with Amazon, to those who choose to compete against them.

Amazon is in the position that Microsoft was with the desktop OS in the late 90’s, just imagine developing a service or application yourself back then and choosing NOT working with standards based around the market leader.

Your documents would be formatted differently, it would be tricky to share data and working with other organisations would take up more time than need be.  You would find most people would actually choose what everyone else does – services that interact and exploit the market leading service – because for both the consumer and business, it seems the safer bet and keeps them employable.

Successful (now legacy) IT vendors built their services around the Microsoft marketplace, not ignore it, simply because it offered more customer opportunities to exploit.

Now apply that to delivering a cloud OS or application today – Service Providers that are developing their own services that do not integrate with or work with the market leader are missing a huge opportunity and are likely to have limited success – at best they will probably remain a niche player in the market.

We have just launched Abiquo v2.6, which allows organisations to ‘connect up’ their existing private infrastructure and cloud resources with Amazon AWS. Abiquo networking concepts are immediately aligned with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud networks, and what is traditionally seen as a major obstacle for enterprises no longer exists – this means that hybrid cloud, and more importantly hybrid applications, become real possibilities for enterprises and Service Providers alike.

Service Providers can now leverage from the Amazon infrastructure themselves, allow enterprises to control and manage different cloud resources as if they were their own and make it simpler to place the right workload or data in the right place.
Those Service Providers that choose to play, integrate, coexist, leverage and profit in that marketplace, where millions of enterprises have already spent real dollars, will stand a much better chance of success – and we are keen to help them achieve that.

Cloud Management vendor Abiquo releases v2.6 claiming to help service providers profit in the face of Amazon and VMware’s vCloud Hybrid Service

Cloud management software provider, Abiquo, has today released v2.6 of its award winning cloud management platform – a single platform for service providers and enterprises to manage and control their entire private, public and hybrid cloud infrastructure.

The new release now allows service providers and enterprises to integrate and manage public cloud service Amazon EC2 with their existing cloud infrastructure from a single interface layer and console. Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 and Oracle hypervisors are also supported within the new release, along with support for NFS managed storage solutions.

Other features include:

  • Enhanced APIs: it’s now quicker and easier for service providers and enterprises to develop new cloud services and integrate them into their existing cloud offerings
  • Simplified multiple backup: a consistent, simple interface is now provided for users to set multiple backup schedules and stay informed on backup status – no matter what the underlying technology
  • Simplified workflow: business administrators can now remain in control of resources they consume, whether public or private. This can also be integrated to existing business workflow systems and email approval processes

Ultimately, service providers and enterprises using Abiquo v2.6 can finally take advantage of public cloud offerings, whilst benefitting from the control of their existing on-premise solutions.

A clear vision and direction  

Abiquo has made solid progress during the last two quarters. It announced a new round of investment in April 2013, adding Oxford Capital Partners to its existing investors. It has also just appointed a new CEO – entrepreneur and former NTRglobal and Solsoft Chairman and CEO, Gilles Samoun.

Newly appointed Samoun comments: “With v2.6, Abiquo will become the bridge between Amazon and VMware; between the public and private cloud. We now enable customers to move to one and provision the other, allowing them to utilise both Amazon and VMware seamlessly through one console and single interface.

“We have all seen the way that the market is evolving and Amazon not only holds the lion’s share of the enterprise market but wants to increase it by challenging VMware. So, now we enable Abiquo users to utilise both VMware and Amazon seamlessly and with ease. My belief is that we should let Amazon and VMware fight it out, whilst at the same time, we can be the saviour of their customers.”

With the recent appointment of Gilles to the company, Colin Watts, Investment Director at Oxford Capital Partners comments: “Gilles is more attuned with the needs of a start-up company and is an industry veteran. He is the best person to move Abiquo forward in this new stage of its growth. He has some provocative ideas and we believe in his vision for the company.”

Along with Gilles’s vision for the company, another key appointment is that of Ian Finlay as VP of Products. Formerly Group Chief Information Officer at Claranet – an award-winning Abiquo customer and Western Europe’s largest independent Managed Services provider, Ian brings a unique insight to Abiquo having successfully implemented and benefitted from its cloud management platform whilst at Claranet.

Sharing Gilles sentiments Ian adds: “Abiquo 2.6 delivers new opportunities for service providers to create new service offerings. Our integration with Amazon AWS lets service providers embrace commodity cloud services, whilst adding value with their hosted solutions and existing management services. For large enterprises, the ability to manage resources on multiple on-premise systems and Amazon through one interface provides security, control and insight across a complex infrastructure landscape.”

Looking to the future Ian states: “Our roadmap is clearly focussed on helping service providers create easy to deploy, easy to manage and easy to sell cloud solutions; embracing the commodity cloud services their customers demand rather than having to compete with them. For large enterprises, having one point to integrate with back-office systems makes Abiquo a compelling choice for a cloud management platform”

Click here to learn more about how v2.6 can benefit your business