AussieHQ in Uber enterprise overhaul

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AussieHQ in Uber enterprise overhaul

Eyes Federal Government customers with high availability solution.

Web host AussieHQ is rebranding as "Uber" in a bid to win over Federal Government and enterprise clients to its cloud-like hosting services.

Uber Enterprise, which will be run by the same 40 staff that manage AussieHQ's commodity clients, was registered on August 1 and will be based out of racks located at Canberra's TransACT and Sydney's Global Switch data centres.

Uber managing director Michael McGoogan told iTnews that the company has put together a high-availability infrastructure-as-a-service offering that connects services hosted at these two facilities via a NextGen-supplied fibre connection in a configuration that only suffers 4 milliseconds of latency.

McGoogan said the two facilities, connected with fibre, are at perfect distance to provide Federal Government clients with an "active/active" cluster.

An "active-active" configuration would mean that a virtual machine running a given application is cloned and synchronised at another physical facility in real-time for high availability.

If one data centre was to experience problems, services would automatically fail over to the other.

"The physical limitations of running active/active - based on speed of light - is 300km between two data centres," McGoogan said.

"The disaster recovery requirements of Federal Government states that 200km of separation is best practice.

"There are only two major cities in Australia are between 200km and 300km apart - and that is Sydney and Canberra."

McGoogan said the active-active configuration refers to both server processing and data storage.

"If a user wants to write a file to the server in one facility, the operating system doesn't action it until it is written to storage at both sites," he said. "We literally have a recovery-time objective time of zero."

So confident is McGoogan in the availability offered under the service, Uber is offering 100 percent uptime in its service level agreements.

"We are able to engineer solutions with uptime up to 100 percent," he said. "The penalties for not hitting that SLA can exceed six months of invoicing. We're talking every dollar back."

McGoogan said that Uber's racks and four gateways are DSD (Defence Signals Directorate) certified. Government data is stored separately according to whether it is rated unclassified, in-confidence, protected, highly protected, secret or top secret.

McGoogan told iTnews that retail giant Wesfarmers and the Department of Climate Change have already signed up for Uber's enterprise services.

An Uber image overhaul

McGoogan was sympathetic to suggestions that AussieHQ had always been considered a commodity hosting provider rather than a serious contender for enterprise business.

The company had never been considered an enterprise hoster as "up until July 1 not a single person worked on marketing," he said.

"We've been a company run by geeks. The reality is we have been busy running the fastest growing web service provider in Australia, and the third largest."

How cloudy?

Whilst McGoogan said Uber's infrastructure is VM-agnostic (offering hypervisors from VMware, Citrix and Parallels), its high availability customers are offered "cloud" services by logging in to Uber's VSphere 4.1 implementation, where Uber technicians have pre-configured server and storage for use.

McGoogan conceded that enterprise customers would still need to make a phone call to upgrade or downgrade server and storage pools.

The company is investigating the option of adopting the open source graphical user interface to allow enterprise customers to self-provision these services.

Customers can nonetheless "scale up and down workloads on a month to month basis," he said. "It is pay as you use, essentially."

Uber will have little trouble convincing customers of the scale of compute available.

"We carry 200 servers of capacity at each end [Sydney and Canberra] at any given moment," McGoogan said. "That's 400 servers waiting."

Will Gershon rain on Uber's parade?

McGoogan said he was unconcerned at AussieHQ/Uber being left off the Federal Government's interim data centre panel, which aims to consolidate Federal Government agency data processing into a smaller number of facilities.

"We've met with AGIMO [The Australian Government Information Management Office] and our reading is that the consolidation of data centres and gateways applies only to internal agency infrastructure," he said.

"The actual Gershon consolidation policy was about the consolidation of infrastructure operated by the Government, not infrastructure utilised by the Government as a service. It refers to traditional IT that they operate, not what they source from managed service providers.

"The main point of it is that government agencies shouldn't be operating data centres.AGIMO is broadly supportive of moving to more efficient models. We see [the Gershon review] as a strong motivator for agencies to consider the best way to service their needs."

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