You are here

Home » Blogs » Konstantin Boyandin's blog

CloudSigma: build ye cloud

CloudSigma logo

Remain in control

There are many cloud providers nowadays. Depending on what you expect, you can choose from a variety of hosts. Some are standardized, as those using OnApp, others are using proprietary interfaces and APIs. I have already tested a number of providers, to name a few: Amazon EC2, RackSpace Cloud, Elastic Hosts, HP Cloud, GoDaddy Cloud Servers, GreenQloud, OpSource, VPS Farm, GigeNet Cloud.

As a developer, I often need ability to build/clone VPS/cloud server with predefined parameters. To run it and to stop it at will. To pay only for what I need, to use whatever OS I need, to have my servers persistent — i.e., even when stopped, they should retain all the configuration.

To sum up, talking of IaaS-type of providers (infrastructure as a service), at the moment I found CloudSigma matches my demands, even if it's not the least expensive provider on the Net. The price becomes not that important, due to a number of advantages, to name a few:

  • when using pay-as-you-go billing, I only get billed every 5 minutes (typical minimal billing period in the cloud industry is 1 hour)
  • advanced APi allows me to run/stop/etc my servers whenever I wish to, fully unattended
  • I can switch my servers off when they aren't really used; thus I will only pay low price for the storage the server uses

And so on. Friendly and capable support is also what I receive at CloudSigma, as my own experience confirms. Below I provide a brief introduction to what you will see when you begin using CloudSigma resources.

A short introduction to CloudSigma

All the images below are clickable. You will see their full version if you click on them.

First thing you will see is the mention of 7-days trial. It is quite enough to have a complete impression of the service, so I suggest starting with a trial. It won't take much time to subscribe, minimal anti-fraud measures aren't that hard to pass. Typically, you can start testing CloudSigma services within a few hours, if you sign up during business time. Since there are two facilities, in Zürich and Las Vegas, it won't be a problem.

After you log in to dashboard, you'll witness kind of WebOS. It's perhaps the first interface of this style I saw, that worked at once and didn't bother me with error messages or broken controls. The only thing that was long unavailable were forums (available now). I suggest starting from reading the legal documents (termas of service and acceptable use policy), see the link in the upper menu. You won't see anything especially new, but it's always better to know the rules before you begin the game.

There will be a prebuilt server, to test at once. You can see the list of servers by clicking upon the corresponding tool. Note that every tool opens its own window and the interface is truly multi-window: you don't have to close other windows if you need to open a new control. I find that convenient.

You will see a number of tabs, when you double-click upon a server. Take you time getting acquainted with the tabs. They contain all the basic information you need. Example below demonstrates the general parameters tab. Note that you can change server's capabilities (CPUs number and RAM available) by simply moving the sliders.

The first thing I was interested to learn more about was the billing.

The corresponding control opens window with your billing statements, subscriptions available, current prices etc. Note that the pay-as-you-go prices can vary (if you know what 'spot instance' at Amazon EC2 means, you understand the idea), whereas subscriptions prices are fixed and lower if you pre-order for a large period of time. Note that your current funds amount is seen in the upper right part of the dashboard, and your current subscribed amount of resources is see in the bottom.

What I most like is the separate billing for different resources (RAM, CPU, disk, VLANs, static IPs, bandwidth). You may prefer to have subscription for some of them, but use pay-as-you-go approach for others. The final choice, how to pay for what, is yours. Combined payment model is also available, read the help to learn more.

Another thing I like is ability to install nay type of OS. If you don't find what you need in the existing drives library (see below an example), you can upload your own .iso image to boot/install your server from. That allows using completely encrypted, proprietary boot sequence in case you wish to achieve maximal security. It also is a great thing to do a variety of tests and to perform development tasks.

And more

There are few things more to mention.

First, try using the online support control available on dashboard, to get assisted if you are stuck. I received response shortly, it was helpful and polite. Cloud servers mean you understand something in system administration; however, you will receive support regardless of your level of experience in these disciplines.

Second, do experiment. Remove servers, create new ones, run benchmarks. Find the model that fits exactly your needs.

Third, you will get contacted by a CloudSigma staff member shortly after your sign-up. It's not a formal thing. That person will guide you through the whole process and will try to assist you from the beginning. Make use of this opportunity to start using IaaS as soon as possible.

In my future posts about CloudSigma I will describe the real-life use case of CloudSigma facilities to run a VM for the company I work for (with all the details to the extent I am allowed). Also, I will describe my own use case: building and running a private subversion server on CloudSigma.

Stay tuned!