Cloud infrastructure for a business from scratch

In this case study we will look into how cloud infrastructure solves business tasks, discuss what a company needs to work efficiently in the cloud and share the details of a cloud project for our client’s company.

What is cloud infrastructure from a business perspective?

Cloud infrastructure is a flexible computing platform that allows the company’s entire IT arsenal to function. IT infrastructure as such is the foundation of any modern business; this complex of hardware and software is a necessity if a company wants to use:

  • remote workstations
  • office software
  • ERP- and CRM-systems,
  • development platforms,
  • a corporate website, and so on

The cloud allows for quick and cost-effective adaptation to any workload, thanks to the features of its architecture. The scale of the cloud depends on the actual needs of the company: you can use as many computing resources as you need at any given moment. This advantage is used for seasonal influxes of customers in online stores, software development projects for clients or other departments of the company, unpredictable workloads, or global scaling along with the company’s growth.

In addition, hosting IT services in a provider's cloud is a good way to save the company's time and resources. Local infrastructure entails spending on component replacement, power bills, physical space rental, and the purchase of new servers if the system needs to be scaled. Meanwhile, the IT staff is forced to spend its time supporting the IT platform instead of working on the company’s long-term goals. By renting a cloud, a business can delegate these tasks to its service provider and reduce expenses.

We, SIM-Networks, have been building IT infrastructures for companies for over 10 years. Our experience shows that the technological features of the platform are not enough to work efficiently in the cloud. Each company is unique, so the benefit of any solution depends on how well it is integrated into the business. The architecture of the solution should be designed with the specifics of the business and the particular company in mind so that the features of the cloud platform match everyday tasks and long-term plans.

The case we describe in this article is an illustration of our approach to building IT infrastructure. This approach is based on transparent communication and attention to the specifics of the client's company. In this case, we were asked to integrate the cloud infrastructure into a unified system with the client's existing tools and carry out data migration. In addition, the client's employees had not previously worked with the platform on which the SIM-Networks cloud is built. These kinds of projects are our specialization.

The client's future infrastructure was based on SIM-Cloud, our proprietary public cloud hosted in a Tier III+ data center in Germany. The system is built on the OpenStack modular platform for cloud computing. The cloud's computing power is provided by two types of Intel Xeon series CPU cores: Standard vCPU and Power vCPU for tasks with high performance requirements. Additional features include an integrated BaaS automatic backup service. If you want to learn more about the technical specifications of SIM-Cloud, please read the product page.

What kind of project did the client need?

In most cases, clients delegate cloud infrastructure management to the provider. However, the client in question wished to leave management to the company’s technical staff. SIM-Networks specialists introduced the client’s staff to the basics of OpenStack. The client wished to keep working with Windows OS, the proprietary server operating system. For this purpose, SIM-Networks provided the licenses for rent.

Client's requirements:

  • deploy the IT infrastructure and familiarize the client’s staff with SIM-Cloud management;
  • set up a network connection between the client’s instances;
  • create and set up network tunnels between the client’s office and the cloud infrastructure, as well as between the cloud and the separate development platform.
Cloud Server

Cloud server

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How did we implement the cloud solution?

Our first step was to evaluate the complexity of the future IT infrastructure. The client’s wish to set up VPN IPsec between the OPNsense virtual router in the public cloud and the client’s Kerio router in site-to-site mode was taken into consideration. Setting up and diagnosing the tunnel was complicated by the fact that the client did not provide access to the nodes. We set up the client-to-site L2TP tunnel between the router and the client’s instances while bypassing the limitations of Windows OS with consideration of the specifics of working with NAT. As a result, we found an effective solution which allowed us to permit a connection with the L2TP/IPSec server when it’s behind NAT.

SIM-Networks technical specialists successfully carried out the migration of 19 virtual machines with 3 TB of slow and 8 TB of fast disk space. The client’s tech staff was given a comprehensive consultation on the specifics of managing public cloud services. The consultation gave the client’s employees the skills necessary for working with cloud projects, such as creating new drives, setting up their volumes based on the chosen OS, launching instances etc.

After the consultation, the client’s staff were able to set up a connection between the instances, as well as the isolated DevOPS platform, set up permission rights for incoming traffic and put restrictions on the instance ports using security groups. The client also got practical recommendations on setting up VPN, firewalls, routing and NAT for connecting the web servers to the internet.

IT infrastructure scheme proposed by SIM-Networks technical experts Solution proposed by SIM-Networks technical experts

It was important to the client to transfer from a trial version of Windows to a licensed full version without losing custom settings. We familiarized the client’s staff with the specifics of software licensing and provided a package of software necessary for the project.

How did cloud-based infrastructure benefit the client?

We have set up an IT infrastructure in the public SIM-Cloud from scratch, based on our experience and the client’s wishes. The client’s instances are interconnected; the networks tunnels between the client’s office and the cloud, as well as between the cloud and the DevOPS platforms function as intended. The client’s staff got comprehensive training that allowed them to carry out the initial setup and manage the cloud on their own. We also provided all the necessary licensed software for rent.

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