Ninefold offers consultancy on availability zones

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Ninefold offers consultancy on availability zones

Prepared for Amazonian rival.

Australian cloud provider Ninefold has begun offering free consulting to its approximately 1000 existing users in a bid to encourage use of a second availability zone for redundancy and disaster recovery purposes.

The new availability zone — hosted on a separate floor to the first deployment in parent company Macquarie Telecom's Intellicentre 1 facility — exited a two-month private beta last week, allowing users to separately deploy virtual machines on two sets of infrastructure.

Investment in the zone and the timing of its release last week was spurred on by several outages to the infrastructure, largely caused by hardware issues.

The zone is expected to largely solve those problems, completely replicating the servers, storage and architecture from the first cloud deployment Ninefold launched last year.

A third availability zone is planned for launch in the fourth quarter of this year in Macquarie Telecom's North Ryde, Intellicentre 2 facility.

"The reason we're doing that is to ensure higher availability, to give people that added security," Ninefold managing director Peter James told iTnews.

"We've certainly learned from those outages. Having said that, I wouldn't say they're ever-behind us in our psyche but we're constantly moving on and looking to improve."

Though the zones are not geographically separate, James said he did not worry about the potential for a disaster affecting both zones simultaneously.

However, it will still be the customers' onus to deploy applications or virtual machines to both availability zones for redundancy. Ninefold is yet to offer discounted pricing for dual deployments but would not charge for bandwidth transfer between the two zones.

"We've seen new customers come on board and deploy straight to the multi-availability zones but also existing customers ... also running up, deploying [virtual machines] on the new availability zone," James said.

While the move comes on the back of Ninefold's own outages, similar outages to global cloud deployments have highlighted the need for redundancy strategies.

An outage last month at Amazon Web Services purportedly affected only "seven percent of virtual machines" in its Virginia region, but saw numerous popular web services go down for the better part of a day.

Much of the ongoing outages to such services were blamed on poor redundancy in architecture strategies.

"One of the learnings we've found is there's still a degree of education we have to do with our customers about the cloud does and doesn't do, and how to architect for the cloud," James said.

"It's about this whole process of education ... there's a thinking that because it's in the cloud, there will be this 100 percent backup just as people would back up their own files in the home and business."

Though Ninefold has its own backup strategy, James said customers should consider their own redundancy methods; "that depends on the customers having appropriate architecture for both availability zones".

Ready for Amazon

James was also defiant of Ninefold's stature within the Australian cloud market despite the prospect of pressure from Amazon's looming entry into locally hosted cloud computing.

The US-based cloud giant made its clearest indications yet of a local entry with the launch of a Sydney-based node for its content delivery network and domain name hosting while sources have told iTnews of plans to launch locally hosted services more widely by the end of the year.

James acknowledged potential for pressure on pricing, particularly on bandwidth costs, but pointed to local ownership and support as continued points of advantage for Ninefold over its potential rival.

"We've always seen Amazon coming into our market; it's not a surprise so the business plan was predicated on it being here well before this," he said.

"They're already here, they're already offering their services into this market, they've already got staff ... we'll see what their pricing is at that moment.

"We respect them, we're obviously mindful for who they are but we've been in the market actively, physically before they were here and we always thought they'd be some day."

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