Cloud.bg – A Cloud Hosting Service Automated for cPanel/WHM

Everyone talks about “Cloud” and Cloud computing. Both terms represent a significant change in the way we use computers as well as in the way companies produce computing services. The Wikipedia’s definition for Cloud computing is “… Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like the electricity grid”.

I will disagree with the phrasing “… provided to computers and other devices on-demand”. It is not a must. An Internet based service, such as web hosting, can be delivered on a subscription base, not on-demand and still qualify as a “Cloud”. I have a different understanding of Cloud computing. It is an Internet based model of provisioning computing resources and technology services, produced from fully redundant and dynamically scalable computer infrastructures.

We can make it even simpler. A computer technology is a “Cloud” if it consist of many items. Those items could be applications (programs); if we use the term “Cloud” to describe a software platform, they could be hardware or virtual instance if we use “Cloud” to describe an infrastructure. Those items (software applications or devices/instances) must work as a group and be part of a system architecture.

Cloud Computing in Hosting Industry

In the IT Hosting industry “Cloud” refers to the distribution of computing resources across a network of servers (system of servers). In this article I’ll present you an approach to Cloud computing (Cloud hosting) adopted by a company called Cloud.bg ( http://www.cloud.bg/en/ ).

Dot-BG is the national domain name of Bulgaria, a small nation in Southeastern Europe. As of 2010 it is the poorest country in the European Union. However for various reasons it has a relatively strong IT sector. Popular web hosting providers like Hostway, Aplus, IDCSoft, Sitegorund, Host Color and many others operate local offices and outsource a significant part of their operations in this country. But let’s get back on the topic.

Cloud.bg is an unique cloud hosting service, not because of its domain name. The founders of the company tell ServerSchool.com that they have chosen the Bulgarian national TLD, not because they wouldn’t pick up any com, net or org domain name. The company was named Cloud.bg because because all “cloudy” web addresses that its founders came across were already registered. So they decided to take a risk and to launch a cloud hosting service for the international market, using their own national TLD.

“It sounds strange to sign up with a company that operates under .BG web address, we know that! But when people come to our website and see what kind of cloud hosting we do, the .BG domain turns from disadvantage to a big advantage”, says the company founder Dimitar Avramov. “Why it is like that?”

The First cPanel Cloud Hosting Service

Cloud.bg provides High Availability hosting services powered by a load-balanced cluster of servers. It runs cPanel/WHM on top of the whole cluster and it is a Shared Cloud Hosting. All cloud account holders host their websites in a Storage Area Network (SAN) replicated for redundancy. They share the resources of many processing nodes part of the Cloud.bg HA cluster. The infrastructure model is based on the Red Hat Cluster Suite (RHCS) standards and runs CentOS.

Cloud.bg is a L.A.M.P. cloud. A very interesting feature is that it enables IP load-balancing of cPanel/WHM based web sites. Company’s load-balancer automatically detects new IP addresses added in cPanel. The service (Load-balancing is a service in Cloud.bg’s infrastructure, not a physical device) configures the load-balancing for all services running on the customers’ websites (IP addresses). In case of failure of any server part of Cloud.bg infrastructure, the load-balancer excludes the failed server from the operational group of processing nodes.

The premier hosting services of the company is named sCloud (abbreviation from Shared Cloud). It features 100 GB premium replicated SAN storage, 1,000 GB monthly bandwidth, allows customers to host up to 100 websites and to use the familiar cPanel/WHM interface.

Each additional 1 GB of SAN space costs €0.20 ($0.24) and each additional 1 GB of data transfer is priced at €0.03 ($0.036). Cloud.bg also offers Reseller Cloud Hosting. It allows resellers to host up to 200 websites on their cloud account.

“We are smaller than all major clouds you have ever heard about, however our cloud hosting service is based on the best Linux standards such as Red Hat Cluster Suite, cPanel/WHM and Fuscan Linux Cloud”, says the company on its corporate website and explains that “moving to the clouds” is risk-free for site owners who sign up with Cloud.bg.

The cPanel Cloud has some disadvantages as well. Shared Cloud accounts save a lot of money for everyone, but do not work for users who need to work in an isolated environment. Cloud.bg promises to launch a new cloud service, based on virtual instances. This should happen at the end of the year. It is  also about to add PostGreSQL to the cloud at the beginning of Q4 of 2010.

The European based cloud is well connected. It operates a redundant network. The company has published a map of its internet connectivity ( http://www.cloud.bg/en/connectivity-of-cloud-europe ). It maintains 4 independent up-links through Interoute, Cogent, Spnet and BIX (Bulgarian Internet Exchange). A pictures of Cloud.bg’s data center can be seen here – http://www.cloud.bg/en/data-center-sofia-bulgaria.

For those who wonder if the shopping with .BG based cloud host is secure, the company says that its customers financial data is processed through Chase Paymentech Solutions, a credit card processing company owned by JPMorgan Chase. The web host uses security products of Comodo, one of the most trusted names in the market of SSL certificates and Internet security solutions.

I’ll finish here with the message that Cloud.bg sends to site owners.

“You don’t need to learn Cloud computing. Just start using it”.

Cloud Hosting

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