CloudSigma wants to be the silent partner in your computing. The company has released CloudSigma 2.0, and it’s not just a marketing thing. The new software features a completely new codebase to take advantage of new technologies, including Software Defined Networking and Solid State Drives.
The Zurich, Switzerland-based company is very different from most other cloud computing providers. It wants to make public cloud and owned infrastructure completely seamless. Founded in 2009, the company grew out of frustrations with public cloud offerings at the time.
"What we found was that public cloud offerings were restrictive and proprietary," said cofounder and CEO Robert Jenkins. The company launched in 2010, and expanded into the U.S. in 2011. CloudSigma was self-funded, but it did take on a small group of angel investors, including Anthony Foy from Interxion. The company has around 40 employees.
The company made its platform as open as possible, focusing on providing qualitative rather than the quantitative. The business model itself is a different beast.
“It’s a challenge to explain it to people because it’s quite different than buying servers and drives,” said Jenkins. “You buy 300GB of RAM and we don’t care how you arrange it. You can spread it across a couple or hundreds of servers. We sell resources, not servers or drives. You don’t buy on a per server basis; we look at aggregate consumption. It’s just like electricity. Customers can build it out and it’s a very efficient way to do so. Longer term usage combined with short term purchasing. If load goes up, you spin up some more servers. Our system looks every 5 minutes and we charge on what you’re using. Customers have a credit limit or pre-paid balance and purchase however they want.”
What's New in Version 2.0
As mentioned before, the company started from scratch with a completely new code base to take advantage of new technologies.
- Direct private patch/hybrid cloud capability: CloudSigma allows customers to connect their infrastructure to CloudSigma’s public cloud vLANS, improving data portability by exactly mirroring on-premise infrastructure (regardless of software or OS) and improving security since VMs are not on public IPs. “Us and Amazon are the only two clouds that can take a physical cross connect and put it in our cloud,” said Jenkins. “With private networking, you can choose a completely private IP solution, a private line coming into the cloud. You wouldn’t know whether the server was in the cloud or yours if you want. One environment flows into another.”
- Disaster Recovery as a Service: CloudSigma streamlines data portability through new private patching, giving customers instant data access and recovery while further protecting against cyber-attacks, data leakage and malicious hacking by avoiding public IPs. CloudSigma is completely open, you can get in and out if you use x86, meaning customers are never tied to its platform. This also has the advantage of enabling cloud disaster recovery quickly and easily. “We’re allowing customers to do live snapshots and backup to another cloud location,” said Jenkins. “It’s an ideal solution – run the same environment in the public cloud. You can run any x86 in our cloud, unmodified. You don’t need to constantly run two environments. You can seamlessly have resources going private to public. You can do that in CloudSigma.”
- All-SSD, high-performance storage: The solution incorporates all solid-state drive (SSD) storage eliminating I/O bottlenecks and CPU wait time to provide the highest levels of speed and stability.
- Advanced CPU options for better application performance: The company places no restrictions on VM size, offers all resources, including CPU and RAM on a utility basis, and now incorporates advanced CPU options with a fully-exposed architecture, including CPU and NUMA visibility to meet any app requirements. “What this means is people running big machines, it has a big performance difference,” said Jenkins.
- SDN support: CloudSigma now includes full SDN support with the ability to network cloud private networks directly onto physical customer lines without the need for a VPN, offering very high network throughput with low latency.
Jenkins disclosed that the company is working on rolling out a marketplace to offer Platform as a Service options.
Private And Public Cloud Blurs
This is a public cloud that competes with private cloud. The company is able to provide private cloud levels of performance economically. "We’ve got a short, two-year leasing cycle on everything including networking," said Jenkins. "We’ve now introduced all SDN enabled networking. We introduced all SSD late last year." Short leasing cycles means the company refreshes its technology often, offering the best available in a true utility style model – not VMs, but the resources themselves. “The price point is not necessarily higher than Amazon, especially in terms of qualitative computing,” said Jenkins. “We’re competitive.”
CloudSigma doesn’t mess around. Their webpage has a giant button labeled “Launch my cloud” that, when clicked, launches the user-interface and lets you explore and create for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up, that’s when you sign up for the 7-day free trial. It’s completely upfront about pricing, offering up cost analysis on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to whatever you decide to cook up when you’re playing around.
It’s definitely not commodity cloud. The new features speak to this. “What we’re moving towards and developing is the idea that we can deliver a guaranteed qualitative aspect to the cloud," said Jenkins. "If people buy computing in private, they get explicit performance. In public you get available performance. We’re making straight-line performance available, we can offer an SLA. Customers can dial up networking performance and we’re able to deliver it technologically. You can compete against private cloud.”
While the company wants to be a silent partner in your computing, it’s completely transparent about its infrastructure.
“We have 2 locations; In Zurich, it’s 2 site location, with failover between two sites, in Interxion and Equinix data centers. In the US, we have private colocation space in Las Vegas at SwitchNap – that’s an incredible facility, N+2 everything,” said Jenkins.
On the roadmap is a U.S. East Coast presence with Equinix, coming very soon. “Equinix East is going live in 1-2 months. Ultimately, we’re looking for 3-4 locations in the U.S.,” said Jenkins. The next two markets following US East will be Amsterdam and London, with plans to enter Latin America as well.
“What we want to do is let customers understand where their data is and the jurisdiction. US customers, data stays in the US. Swiss data stays in the Swiss jurisdiction,” said Jenkins. “As we open Amsterdam and London it will be the same thing. Customers decide what jurisdiction they’re subjected to. It helps with compliance.”
Jenkins says the company isn’t really inundated with compliance requests yet, but in Europe there are so many jurisdictions that companies have to consider this issue upfront.” Jenkins said that “In the US, there have been less questions about data privacy – in Europe, it’s a big deal. Though that might be changing,” Jenkins said referring to recent news.
So far, 70 percent of CloudSigma’s customers use its European cloud, meaning 70 percent of its revenue is from Europe through customers spread across 80 countries. “We’ve been in Europe longer,” said Jenkins. “Originally a European company, committed to opening in emerging markets. We see a lot of demand from those markets.” The revenue mix will change with time.
The company has more than 1,000 customers, including some big companies in the US. It’s been growing around 10 to 15 percent a month. In terms of typical customers it focuses on a number of verticals, “media and entertainment in particular have quite significant computing requirements,” said Jenkins. “Other focus areas have been scientific computing, we have a good relationship with European space agency, other large providers. We have good traction more recently in the finance industry. In industries like Oil and gas, we can compete quite strongly.”