3 advantages of using SoftLayer for cloud deployment

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SoftLayer Cloud DeploymentThere are a few obvious characteristics to consider when choosing a cloud provider. Reputation and capabilities are two that come to mind. However, there are some topics that usually aren’t given much thought in the initial selection process (even though they should).

SoftLayer offers a few key advantages that can make a huge difference to your cloud deployments:

Choice of deployment infrastructure

Typical cloud solutions offer one way to deploy your infrastructure: as a virtual machine (VM) in a shared environment.

SoftLayer offers three main ways to deploy your solution to the cloud:

  • Virtual compute instances
  • Bare metal servers (x86 or IBM POWER 8)
  • Private cloud

A virtual compute instance is a VM with certain options. Rather than just offering small, medium or large sizes, SoftLayer provides a wealth of configuration options for any given VM, including very granular options on virtual hardware (processors, memory, type of storage, type of networking).

Bare metal servers are just what the name implies. When you request a bare metal server, you get to specify exactly what kind of machine you would like. You can specify the type of processor, number of cores, amount of memory, type of storage, networking options and more. Additionally, you can choose which operating system (OS) to initially load on the server. After the server has been configured (which takes between two and four hours), you have complete control over it. Recent additions to the portfolio of bare metal servers are IBM Power 8 based servers running Ubuntu Linux for Power. These start at 8 cores and can handle some rather impressive workloads.

Finally, the advantages of having a bare metal server available should be quite obvious:

  • You own the entire server. There are no competing VMs on the server—just whatever you load.
  • You get to configure the storage inside of the server. SSDs and spinning disks in a RAID 5 are just a few of the options available.
  • You have full access to the hardware, including graphics processing units.

This can be important for software that is licensed based only on the hardware or software that needs access to a physical box (such as a license server).

Private clouds are a combination of virtual and physical options. By setting up a private cloud with SoftLayer, you get to choose which hypervisor to use. Plus, no one else will be on this private cloud, so there are no competing VMs in it unless you create them.

Unified management

The entire SoftLayer platform is built on an integrated management system (IMS). Everything in the platform—including the provisioning and de-provisioning of services, logging, billing and alerts—is controlled by IMS. SoftLayer has made very conscious design decisions to emphasize the automation of service provisioning over any kind of manual intervention.

SoftLayer provides a rich set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that lay out every capability in the system in a programmatic fashion. These APIs use representational state transfer (REST) but also offer language bindings for the most common programming languages. Thus, SoftLayer customers have the option of controlling the entire environment from their applications.

Additionally, SoftLayer uses these APIs to provide the management console and a wide range of mobile management apps.

Triple network architecture with a dedicated backend network

SoftLayer offers a wide range of data centers as well as network points of presence (POPs) throughout the world. Connecting these data centers and POPs is a redundant, high-speed network. Therefore, traffic between data centers or POPs is never routed over the internet but rather stays within SoftLayer’s private network.

Better yet, all network traffic on the internal network is unmetered and therefore without charge. This creates very compelling deployment architecture opportunities, especially for failover and disaster recovery where it is possible to mirror data between data centers without having to pay for the (sometimes significant) traffic between data centers.

The triple network architecture provides three network interfaces to each and every server, regardless of whether it is a bare metal server or a virtual compute instance:

  • Public internet access
  • Private network
  • Management access

Watch this video to learn more about SoftLayer’s data centers, one-of-a-kind network and integrated management system:

For more information, visit here or contact me on Twitter at @wkulhanek.

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