Data Centre Specialist Offers “Pick-and-Mix” Service Provider Cloud Solutions

Data Wednesday 6th June 2012 •
Billy Law-Bregan, Communications Officer

“The dynamic, flexible nature of the Hyper-V infrastructure means users can continue to add or modify their services as their business requirements and budgets dictate.”
Paul Bryce, Business Development Director, Node4

Node4 wanted to offer an outsourced private cloud computing service, allowing United Kingdom (U.K.) firms to build their own solutions without committing capital upfront. The infrastructure for the service uses Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V virtualisation software and the Microsoft System Center suite. Customers pay only for the services they need, and can continue to add or modify their packages as business needs change.

Business Needs
Node4 is a data and communications firm operating four data centrs in the U.K. It has recently reinforced its long-standing presence in the private cloud computing market by launching n4Cloud, offering organisations outsourced infrastructure, applications, and services.

Founded in 2004 and with its head office in Derby in the U.K., Node4 wanted to allow customers, including resellers and partners, to build their own private cloud solutions using a “pick-and-mix” approach. Node4 Managing Director Andrew Gilbert – 2011 Data Centre Entrepreneur of the Year in the U.K, – says: “We’ve seen growing numbers of businesses looking to move to a private cloud infrastructure, but they don’t necessarily have the in-house resources or upfront capital to invest in these projects. With n4Cloud, our technology and expertise will help customers confidently establish themselves in the cloud in a cost-effective way, paying only for the services they want, when they want them.”

Node4 set out to design n4Cloud with the flexibility to offer customers a hybrid solution of a private cloud with a shared infrastructure. The company needed a multitenant self-service portal to help resellers create virtual dynamic data centres across multisite environments. As the intuitive control element in the infrastructure, n4Portal is central to n4Cloud. It’s a powerful online web portal that manages various parts of the service and performs administrative tasks. From here, users can easily access a comprehensive collection of products.

Node4 developed its private cloud-based service to reflect the different ways businesses use cloud computing. For instance, n4Cloud can be part of a hybrid cloud whereby two or more clouds – either public or private – remain separate entities, but are bound together by standardised technology.

The infrastructure choice for n4Cloud was Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Hyper-V virtualisation software and the Microsoft System Center suite of products. Specifically, Node4 is using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 for easier manageability of the infrastructure. Security is addressed through Microsoft Forefont Unified Access Gateway and Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway.

Jason Whitaker, Head of Cloud Services, Node4, says: “Hyper-V was the right choice for us because we didn’t want to spread our resources too thinly. Our engineers are skilled in Microsoft hypervisor technologies. The solution is highly scalable and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 makes it easier and quicker to provision new virtualised servers.”

n4Cloud consists of a range of components, including:

  • n4Compute – a virtual server platform
  • n4Store – a storage platform
  • n4Balance – load balancing infrastructure

Paul Bryce, Business Development Director, Node4, says: “By choosing from the avaliable components, users can pay only for what they need and therefore don’t buy services that they won’t use. To complete the solution, customers have the option to add licences that can also be paid for on a monthly basis using the agreements Node4 has with Microsoft and other software vendors.”

Companies that want to build their own infrastructures within the private cloud can make use of Node4 expertise to provide secure and resilient hosting from its data centres in Derby, Northampton, and Leeds. Node4 also offers dedicated connectivity to a company’s sites and the Internet.

Node4 is giving its customers flexibility and control over their IT assets. The range of components available includes virtual servers, a storage platform, load balancing, and a multitenant self-service portal, which clients can customise and brand as their own. Resellers also have the ability to create virtual dynamic data centres across multisite environments from assigned resource pools.

  • Outsourced service gives customers freedom to build their own solutions.
    Gilbert says: “Our customers want IT provisions to be built around them in a way that offers flexibility, but also has high levels of support and security. The result is a service that we believe will help more people set up cloud infrastructures than ever before.”
  • Multitenant self-service portal offers resellers re-labelling potential.
    Through the Hyper-V infrastructure, resellers will find it easy to brand and customise data centre offerings for customers, for example, in the retail industry.
  • Subscription-based financial model avoids the need for upfront investment.
    The suite of services offered by n4Cloud is available on a pay-as-you-go model, which removes the need for capital expenditure. Bryce says: “In addition, the dynamic flexible nature of the Hyper-V infrastructure means users can continue to add or modify their services as their business requirements and budgets dictate.”
  • Node4 helps businesses focus on strategy rather than IT management.
    n4Cloud gives companies the assurance that their IT applications are delivered through an infrastructure that’s reliable and well maintained. Node4 is responsible for security, power, and cooling at its data centres, so companies can concentrate on the core functions of their business. Bryce says: “In-house IT staff can focus on business strategy instead of spending time conducting maintenance tasks.”
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