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Zimory Public Cloud

Product Overview for End Customers

Zimory Public Cloud delivers server capacity for short-term computing power needs. Via the Zimory Internet platform you choose from a variety of data centers around the world offering the resources that you need. You define the quantity and quality of performance (including security), and set the desired usage period. After completion of the online order (usually less than 5 minutes), you have access to your resources.

With Zimory Public Cloud you receive computing power from certified datacenters with binding service level agreements (SLAs). As an intermediary between providers and users, Zimory handles all pricing, contracting, and accounting. The price is based on usage (CPU hours, RAM, data storage and data transfer).

Zimory Public Cloud enables a flexible extension of your infrastructure - you "rent" computing power in a predefined way - helping you to manage projects and peak loads automatically and at low cost.

Technical Overview
Zimory Public Cloud combines diverse virtual servers from data centers around the world into a homogeneous „Compute Cloud". Via the Zimory internet platform you can draw the desired computing power - in a pre-defined quality - with very short notice.

You get access to Zimory Public Cloud with the online platform "Zimory Cloud Manager" - the world‘s first Internet platform for the trading of computer resources. Zimory Cloud Manager handles ordering and billing, as well as the entire administration of the virtual server. It provides the following functions:

- Web-based interface
Users rent or offer virtual servers using Zimory Cloud Manager --the interface for online selection and reservation of virtual servers. Also, the entire administration of the virtual server with remote access is handled through Cloud Manager.

- Search and filter appropriate resources
The Cloud manager supplies a transparent representation of resources within the data center location, hardware and SLA. It offers comprehensive search functions as well as different technical and non-technical filter mechanisms. Thus resources, which are based on a different virtualization layers, can be filtered first.

- Filtering appropriate resources
The Cloud manager supplies a transparent representation of resources within the data center location, hardware and SLA. It offers comprehensive search functions as well as various technical and non-technical filtering mechanisms - allowing resources that technically do not fit an application to be filtered out in advance.

- Interfaces for monitoring and billing
The system provides an administration client for monitoring and billing. This allows admins to transfer user-related data directly into the billing system. Zimory Cloud Manager offers flexible billing models, which can be based, for example, on the current resource utilization.

- Automated Administration - using time-based or load-based triggers
The user can define rules that trigger automated management operations in the virtual machines. For example, in the case of a continuously high CPU load, additional server instances in a cluster will be added. Another example is that after a certain period an instance can automatically be stopped.

- User Account Management
Authorized users of the Zimory Public Cloud can add and manage additional users within their accounts. For example, employees of a team can administer together a pool of virtual machines. The account manager can see usage statistics of the other users and remove or block them from his user account.

- Backup and recovery of virtual machines
Zimory Cloud Manager provides the end user with complete VM backup management, enabling them to save their machines with little effort and restore them later - or create new clone instances from backup.

- API to manage virtual machines
All functions are controllable by a SOAP and REST-based API. Users can generate automated workflows with simple implementations (e.g. using Ruby).

- Add virtual machines
After registration and approval by Zimory, users can add additional virtual machines to Zimory Public Cloud and offer them to other users via Zimory Cloud Manager. The new machines will be automatically checked and adjusted for the selected cloud resource.

- Planning mechanisms
Zimory Cloud Manager includes a planning module which distributes virtual machines optimized to cloud resources. Since cloud resources can be dynamically added and switched off within Zimory Enterprise Cloud, this planning module is required - to select, based on usage profiles and heuristics -- the best resources for each application.

How Zimory Public Cloud works
Simply go to https://cloud.zimory.com/ and provide your name, login, password, credit card and contact e-mail address. Companies also have the option to pay by invoice (please contact sales@zimory.com). By entering your login name and your password, you generate a personal account. There are no costs or contracts to generate a Zimory account.

Now you can start your virtual server. Zimory distinguishes between appliances and deployments. Appliances are preconfigured images that are either just the operating system or a complete application with the associated operating system included. This can be a Debian OS with 40 MB, an SAP application with 80 GB or a complete Microsoft Exchange Server on a Windows 2008 server. Zimory offers preconfigured turnkey appliances with different operating systems, a standard web application stack, and storage. Alternatively, you can also upload and use your own virtual appliances, generated using Xen or VMware.

The following example uses the pre-configured Zimory appliance with Debian 4.0 Etch, a preconfigured web server and 8 GB of storage.

A deployment is an appliance that was in use in the Public Zimory at least once. During deployment, a Zimory preconfigured appliance or a self-made appliance gets a unique name and a defined hardware environment:

  1. Memory (RAM) can be selected between 128 - 8192 MB. This value is part of the billing.
  2. An external IP address can now be assigned to the deployment, which is needed for external access. This is not necessary for configuration of an internal cluster or a load balancer because an internal IP address is sufficient and the communication within the cloud can be handled with internal IP addresses.
  3. Now you choose a cloud provider based on criteria of „proximity" and „desired quality". The selected quality level - gold, silver or bronze - reflects various SLAs (see Section 6) with different prices for each deployment.
  4. After setting the various parameters, the appliance will be provisioned and started  at the cloud provider of your choice - and will turn into a deployment.

Control of Deployment
The external IP address of a deployment is available immediately after the start. If the virtual server contains a web server for example, it is instantly available via HTTP on the external IP address.

In addition, all deployments can be accessed via a Java VNC viewer with the „Console" icon in the Zimory Cloud Manager. The VNC password is generated individually with a random generator.

Now you will see the login prompt - either on the graphical web interface or directly on the console. The default user name is either ‚root‘ or ‚zimory‘, the default password is ‚zimory‘.

Image Management
Zimory provides some pre-configured images - but users can also upload their own images. Images that are made with Xen 3.2, VMware Server 1.x or VMware ESX 3.5 can be used in the Zimory Public Cloud (and also in the Zimory Enterprise Cloud). With Zimory, images can be migrated quickly on different platforms. Thus, virtual machines can easily be deployed in different locations. Moreover, users can very quickly set up a large number of identical machines. This technology works with Xen as well as with VMware.

Zimory image management creates maximum transparency for administrators - distribution of images and storage of „Disk Snapshots" is carried out automatically. The user only needs to select the target platform using the above described criteria - and the rest happens automatically.

Supported Virtualization Layers and Applications
Zimory currently supports VMware Server 1.x, VMware ESX(i) 3.5 and Xen 3.2 - which must be used to generate boot images. Zimory will support other virtualization layers such as KVM, VMware Server 2.0 and Hyper-V.

Currently Zimory offers preconfigured standard images for Ubuntu and CentOS Linux systems. Users can also upload their own images - that are already pre-configured and with equipment with their own software stack. Zimory standard images range from a simple Linux operating system to a fully configured „application stack", such as a LAMP server. In addition, all applications that are available for Ubuntu or CentOS can be installed in the standard images. At the moment, Windows appliances have to be created and uploaded directly, but in the near future, standard appliances for Windows will be offered as well.

To operate an application with a highly fluctuating load within Zimory Public Cloud, the application must be scalable within itself. Given that, Zimory Public Cloud works well for multi-tier software architectures. Multi-tier architectures are scalable, since the individual layers are logically separated. For example, in distributed system architectures, the data layer runs on a central database server, the logic layer runs on a remote application server, and the delivery is handled by a web server. In such an architecture, the individual components can be adapted to increasing load by replication. For example, if many users use the application, a clone of the application server can be created, which shares the requests with the first server. This clone operation can be triggered through the API of the Public Cloud with a rule-based trigger. This means that the clone operation will be started if the virtual machine already has a significant CPU load for a defined time period.

Security
Zimory uses standardized, proven hypervisor technologies, which do not cause any negative effects on the operation of other virtual machines when a single virtual machine malfunctions. At the network level, Zimory also uses standard technologies.

Individual users of the Zimory Cloud are separated by different VLANs - allowing the individual virtual machines of different users to interact with each other only via a firewall.

Using VLANs also ensures that other systems of a data center are protected from the virtual machines of the Zimory Cloud. Furthermore, the Zimory Cloud supports the use of different physical networks -- which allows a further separation.

Communication between components is done via standardized communication protocols, which simplifies integration into existing network-level security concepts.

Data are exchanged via HTTP, which handle server requests as completely independent transactions. In particular, requests are handled without reference to previous requests and no session information is exchanged or stored.

Zimory Public Cloud continuously back-ups in secure back-end storage. In addition, you can generate your own snapshots with the corresponding Zimory functionality. By storing your backup data in different data centers you increase the level of security for your data.

In case of failure of a single physical machine, or even an entire data center, the image can be started again very quickly in a remote data center. In doing so, however, the data from the RAM generated after the last backup is lost. Zimory technology makes it very simple - with low overhead - to create online backups of individual machines. This can also be automated.

Service Level Agreements and Support
Zimory offers high available server resources by selected data center operators. In the first step, virtual servers in the Public Cloud are provided by Zimory partner T-Systems. Additional certified data centers will be connected soon.

Zimory makes certifications and quality standards of the various data centers transparent and easily understandable. Users have the option to select higher-level certifications for specific applications and to choose less expensive services for other applications. You can also select data centers with independent certified safety standards.

Zimory Public Cloud distinguishes three levels of quality - Gold, Silver and Bronze - according to the SLA of the connected data centers. All resources in the Public Cloud apply to the security standards described in the previous chapter. However, individual resources could have more quality characteristics such as certifications, failover systems and guaranteed support level.

A major difference between Gold, Silver and Bronze levels is the classification of the connected data centers based on tier classification. The following definition is used:

  • Tier 4: Has multiple active supply paths for power and air-conditioning, has redundant components, it is fault-tolerant and provides an availability of at least 99,995%.
  • Tier 3: Has multiple active supply paths for power and air-conditioning, with only one system active in standard use; has redundant components and is manageable at the same time and provides an availability of at least 99,982%.
  • Tier 2: Has one path each for power and air-conditioning; has redundant components and provides an availability of at least 99,741%.
  • Tier 1: Has one path each for power and air-conditioning; has redundant components and provides an availability of at least 99,671%.

Use Cases
You can implement various use cases using Zimory Public Cloud. Here are a few examples:

  • Sudden peak loads and additional external resources
  • Your company's marketing campaign is a complete success. From one day to the next, the number of visitors on your website increases tenfold. With Zimory Public Cloud your web server easily handles this increase. If the number of visitors on your website goes down again after the end of the campaign, you can reduce the hardware for your website as well and you pay only for what you have used.
  • Recurring peak loads
  • Daily, weekly or monthly booking runs regularly cause short-term peak loads. These periods are well known and well defined. Using Zimory Public Cloud resources automated and on-demand, you manage peak loads cost-effectively without investing in additional hardware.

Testing and development server
Whether for the introduction of a new content management system or ERP system, companies rewrite testing and development capacities for a few days or weeks. With Zimory Public Cloud admins can see at a glance where to get the needed capacities.

Pricing
The Zimory price plan is based on a "pay what you use" only price model. There are no

hidden or additional costs.

The pricing is based on:

- Virtual CPU and RAM per hours

- Network traffic (upload) per GB

- Network traffic (download) per GB

- Storage per GB per month

The Zimory Service Level Agreements are an important component for your security.

You can choose from the three quality offerings gold, silver and bronze.

The final price you have to pay will be shown before you deploy a virtual software

appliance on a configured resource in a data center you have selected.

More Stories By Glenn Rossman

Glenn Rossman has more than 25 years communications experience working at IBM and Hewlett-Packard, along with startup StorageApps, plus agencies Hill & Knowlton and G&A Communications. His experience includes media relations, industry and financial analyst relations, executive communications, intranet and employee communications, as well as producing sales collateral. In technology, his career includes work in channel partner communications, data storage technologies, server computers, software, PC and UNIX computers, along with specific industry initiatives such as manufacturing, medical, and finance. Before his latest stint in technology, Glenn did business-to-business public relations on behalf of the DuPont Company for its specialty polymers products and with the largest steel companies in North America in an initiative focused on automakers.