The blurring of borders

vom 11.11.2019

8.11.2019 by Henrik Hasenkamp

Compliance and performance requirements often demand dedicated servers - even though the concept of owning hardware for specific purposes seems to have fallen out of time. A new concept called "Virtual Locations" should build the bridge to the cloud.

Dedicated servers and the cloud do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. The seemingly contradictory worlds can be combined under the term Virtual Locations. In such a concept, the server is virtual so that from the user's point of view it does not differ from ordinary cloud servers and can be requested, configured and operated in the same way. However, the server remains dedicated because behind the software layer there is actually a single machine with previously specified parameters. The concept of virtual locations is therefore a compromise between virtual and dedicated: It combines the "look and feel" of virtual infrastructures with dedicated hardware.

If dedicated servers have to be integrated into cloud infrastructures, hurdles arise that demand a lot from the IT teams. It is therefore an obvious idea for providers of cloud services to put together offerings that combine the best of both worlds and circumvent the difficulties of standard infrastructure solutions. This is possible when the virtual infrastructure is distributed across multiple data centers and sufficient hardware resources. This makes 100 percent availability a reality and avoids the disadvantages of a lower service level. Virtual locations provide a direct link between the server booked by the user and the underlying hardware resources.

This involves assigning a correspondingly large physical device to the virtual device. These resources can be booked in parallel to the traditional virtual servers via a simple user interface of the infrastructure provider and work seamlessly with them. They are available on the familiar user interface with the same automation capabilities as a traditional virtual server. There can only be differences in the booking process - for example, by billing to the day rather than to the minute.

Hybrid Solution, Cloud and Dedicated Server

However, the fact that something is technically possible does not necessarily mean that it makes sense in practice. So is there really a need for such a hybrid solution that combines a dedicated server setup with cloud services? However,the highly regulated industries alone are often forced to use their own servers for individual workloads, but at the same time to work as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, due in part to the sensitive data they handle. In addition, time-critical tasks often have to be performed here with high priority.

Virtual locations have some advantages over typical virtual servers that make them attractive for companies with special data sovereignty and compliance requirements: All resources (CPUs, RAM, storage) are assigned to a specific user company only. It does not have to boot up and assign them, they are available at any time. Compliance requirements are thus covered. Assigned resources may perform tasks that a virtual server cannot handle, such as "number crunching" with the very high computing power required.

Virtual locations with high-performance servers can thus considerably accelerate the processing of computationally intensive tasks. Also important: The "Noisy Neighbor" effect in cloud computing (a data-hungry application blocks resources for other apps) is not completely overcome by the current hypervisors of the providers. A virtual location system, on the other hand, is immune to this: it uses the entire computing power and is therefore not disturbed by high utilization of shared resources. Virtual locations and virtual servers also work together in a single infrastructure without any problems. In this scenario, reliability can be achieved by extending the virtual location to several physical servers.

As a cloud adaptation of a classic root server, virtual locations can also have certain disadvantages for users compared to a virtual server. One aspect worth considering is the cost: Compared to virtual servers, the reserved hardware results in higher unit costs and higher total cost of ownership (TCO), as there is no billing to the minute. In addition, users do not need to start the server quickly. Only conventional virtual servers can be started immediately, otherwise a certain waiting time is to be expected.

The original article in german can be found here.

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