- We started adopting Hyper-V-based virtual machines within our internal and external systems in 2008.
- In 2011, we released a fully automated, multi-server cloud environment leveraging Microsoft Hyper-V & System Center.
- We pulled off a major feat in 2010 by migrating our entire shared-SQL environment to our cloud infrastructure (which has proven to be an immensely successful endeavor).
- Newtek, The Small Business Authority, has been working with cloud computing one way or another throughout its 14-year history.
Although we only recently began offering server instances on our cloud infrastructure a few months ago, don’t get us wrong: Newtek, The Small Business Authority, is no beginner in the cloud-computing realm. As a matter of fact, we have been doing it throughout all of our history one way or another. As time passes, we simply just get better and more advanced at what we can give to our customers.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Jump forward a few decades, and you could even say (perhaps loosely) that the origin of shared web hosting is actually cloud-based. This is a large set of consumers sharing resources from one environment. This gives them the ability to have great resource consideration and performance at a ridiculously low price. Perfecting this model, with the help of Microsoft over the last 12 years or so, has made us a pioneer and early implementer of cloud computing.
Assuming we all agree that cloud computing is basically our ability to offer robust, scalable, easily manageable and advanced systems, this model extends not only to early shared hosting, but also throughout our history.
Let’s step into the rest of history and discover how Newtek has given this technology stack to its customers.
About 3-4 years ago, Microsoft brought out a new model called Hyper-V, which provided—natively for the first time on its Windows Server platform—the ability to have virtual instances of a server on one physical box. As a Microsoft provider, we quickly adopted this model and started offering Hyper-V virtual instances to our customers. This was the start of our dedicated virtual server instances. We could give a customer a manageable virtual instance at a rate much lower than the cost of a real physical server.
Next, Microsoft advanced this technology and started offering what is now known as Microsoft System Center. The new technology could manage many servers connected together where we could load virtual server instances. And we could manage them independently of the hardware.
So, at the beginning of 2010, we started building a very strong, stable, and high-performing environment for the purpose of testing out this new virtualization. It worked very well, driving us to look for production components we could manage in this new environment.
First, we decided to move our extremely busy shared Microsoft SQL servers into the new cloud. Many told us it was impossible, and even Microsoft had doubts that this high-volume database environment could survive. But to everyone’s surprise, it has more than survived. The databases for the most part performed better on the new environment than on the older standalone hardware. (Mind you, the older hardware was 64 bit large processor servers with tons of computing power.) This was such a successful move that Microsoft has written a Case Study about us, based on our cloud efforts, and is in the process of writing a second one that showcases what we did with the SQL migration to the cloud.
Did this help our customers? You bet it did. Their shared MS SQL databases are now performing better in a new cloud environment that has been very close to 100 percent available. Our customers are getting the highest level of database support at no additional charge.
OUR CLOUD TODAY
In April, we began to offer actual retail virtual instances from the same environment (you can learn more here). Of course, on our new architecture, they perform very well. All databases are in the cloud, the server instance is in the cloud, and so far, again, availability is almost perfect.
So, what’s the big difference from the older Hyper-V virtual instances? This cloud model is completely adjustable and scalable on the fly. That’s right; anyone who has one of these servers can change processor power, disk space, and RAM memory instantly … well, 10-15 seconds, in reality, from our control panel. Turn it up one week and down the next depending on how much you need, and pay only for what you consume during the times you are using the resources. And before I forget, you can do it at about 50 percent less in price than our older Hyper-V model and 75 percent less than our current dedicated-server models.
We spent the resource time to build against the new Microsoft System Center management interface and programmatically, on the fly, adjust virtual server parameters in seconds. Is this different from the rest of the world? You bet. I cannot find another technical team that has produced this type of advanced feature set, all to help its customers while reducing their costs and minimizing their risk in the virtual world.
In the next few months, we will be exposing data storage in this model at a cost way below the market average. This is in late beta and is already being consumed by high-tech customers.
We are also considering moving all of our email servers into the cloud at no additional cost to consumers, and we are preparing to offer a cloud-based backup solution. This is just the start of what will be possible in the future.
This environment will allow us to move leaps ahead into the next phases of data-center management and offer profound solutions to our customers. Much at the expense of Newtek and the Research and Development completed here. Customers will benefit in many ways from this, at no to lower costs. What’s that old phrase again? Oh yeah … Win-Win for everyone. And yes, after all these years, we are The Cloud Authority and deserve to be called this.
Bob Cichon is President of the Web Services division at The Small Business Authority