The third version of our private mini data center. For testing purposes devices are not yet mounted in a MiniDC case.

The third version of our private mini data center. For testing purposes devices are not yet mounted in a MiniDC case.

A perfect cloud

do not let your operations get clouded

Hello!

I'm super excited that we launched this new blog! Today I would like to share with you our new private cloud platform. You are probably familiar with public cloud computing, in the form of Office365, Gmail and the likes. There are many many different apps and software companies, you probably have your own favorites (I personally can't do without LBRY.tv, but that's another story).

Seeking the balance between stability and fast paced evolution

Cloud computing software is often very user centric. While a few decades ago software made it through the business world first before getting adopted by the general public (like email), a lot of cloud software is introduced into the business world after it was already largely adopted by the masses (for example, an app like Slack wouldn't have become so popular without the mass adoption of WhatsApp first).

If you are an IT manager you probably can relate to the question whether you should control the use of technology in your business top-down, or let the business be driven by technology bottom-up at the initiative of tech savvy team members. You might feel that technology evolves so quickly that the kid with the macbook overrules your reign.

We think there should be a clear balance. On one hand you should encourage that kid to keep figuring ways to help your business thrive by technology. But it is also important that you don't let the enthusiasm compromise the framework that you had set out to ensure compatibility, continuity and security.

We see many businesses struggle with this balance. Especially when they still have mission critical software and data running in a legacy (not cloud) environment for some part, while also starting to adopt modern cloud apps for other parts. A classic example are organisations with a local fileserver that use wetransfer or google drive for sharing links with business partners.

Wouldn't it be better if your local fileserver had cloud capabilities? Wouldn't it be better if no matter the app, the underlying data is always the same? Wouldn't it be better, no matter the app vendor, your would only have to remember one login? Wouldn't it be better if the kid wants to test a new app, you have a place where (s)he can do this safely?

An integrated platform for better cloud computing

Of course that would be better! But unless you are a big business with a big budget, acquiring such an integrated cloud infrastructure might seem too expensive and complex. That's why we invested a lot of time to come up with a solution.

To meet the expectations of tech savvy kids, normal people and serious IT managers alike, we identified a set of requirements that take in account the wishes of both:

  • a solid backup and disaster recovery plan should be baked into the architecture of the platform.
     
  • access and identity should be managed centrally, preferred with the option to enforce strong password policies and/or multi factor authentication.
     
  • data should be ultimately stored at a location controlled by the business to ensure absolute data discretion, while being still easy accessible through all the apps needed to get the job done.
     
  • tech savvy team members should have a platform where they can test new apps in a safe way. It should be easy to validate their ideas and roll them out to the rest of the business when the time is right.
     
  • for normal people, the app should just work ;-)

These five ideas are the foundation of our platform, that consists of all the required hardware, software and services to run your business cloud infrastructure.

Prepare for the worst

For backup and disaster recovery we make heavy use of configuration management tools and distributed storage. Because having an outage is one thing, getting back up is where most businesses struggle even more. With us, a primary onboarding to our platform might take some time, but as soon as your business architecture is recorded using our configuration management tools, disasters won't hold you back for long. Should your primary MiniDC fail completely, it can be fully cloned from backup to a new one in the blink of an eye. If you combine several MiniDC's the chance you go down completely becomes virtually zero.

Comply with GDPR, easy

To make sure your business can adopt state of the art IAM (Identity and Access Management) software, we selected Keycloak, a suite developed by RedHat (now acquired by IBM). It gives you fine grained control over who can do what with your business cloud. If you already have apps in your business that support the SAML or OpenID protocol, you can easily integrate those too.

Keep your data close

As we value everyone's privacy at lot, we designed our system so that your data is always stored on your MiniDC and that it is always transported using latest TLS encryption. A problem we had to overcome was to make sure that even when a small business cloud goes offline, we don't miss any data that is sent to that cloud is dropped. For this reason MiniDC's can make use of our Cloud Transport Layer, a data relay we offer as a service. The Cloud Transport Layer makes sure MiniDC's stay connected, are monitored and in the case of an outage they queue data meant for the troubled cloud until the problem is fixed.

Deploy new apps super agile

Tech savvy kids can now use your platform to safely test new apps, without scattering your data around the web. Our MiniDC's cloud engine supports Docker containers, so if that kid can find (many cloud software is offered as a docker container) or create one, (s)he can spin up that new application in no time.

Improve your overall digital culture

Most people working for your business are not tech savvy kids or IT managers, and in the end cloud infrastructure should make their life easier. That's why our platform comes already fitted with three cloud apps that every professional needs: Nextcloud for easy file sharing, SOGo for mail, calendar and contact management and Riot/Matrix for instant messaging and video conferencing.

All these apps share the common qualities: they are easy to use, respect your privacy and provide both a web interface and mobile app.

You can read more in depth on the rest of our website how this works, and if you like a more personal introduction and demo, do not hesitate to use the contact page to get in touch!