Frequently Asked Questions

Cloud Servers 101

What is a 'cloud server'?

A cloud server, sometimes called a virtual machine or virtual dedicated server, is like the big noisy server that you may have in your office, except hosted elsewhere, and with additional redundancy.

You can host websites, databases, email accounts, files, or anything else that your heart desires on a cloud server, without having to pay the up-front capital cost or maintain the hardware.

Why should I choose a cloud server?

Let me start by saying that a cloud server is not for everyone. If you have a small simple website, you probably don’t need it. If you have a large database or are looking to reduce capital costs though, this is the solution for you!

Firstly, there are multiple elements of redundancy to ensure that downtime is absolutely minimal, if it arises at all, as there is more than one device to complete the processing and distribution of data to users, therefore, if one fails, another can seamlessly fulfil the same role.

Next up, there are a number of functions and benefits a cloud server solution can offer, depending on a business’s specific needs. A cloud server solution allows you to take advantage of all the features and functions a physical server offers for any period of time, without actually having to purchase a physical server. Here are some examples of the possible uses of a cloud server solution:

  • Performing short term testing or development.
  • Serving internet-facing content internally or externally.
  • Providing services for a distributed workforce across the nation or world.
  • Storing remote backups on cheap archival storage.
  • Infrequent workloads, as processor and memory are not billed for while powered down.

Using a server in the cloud is a means of reducing operating expenses, and, subsequently overall capital costs. The solution is completely redundant, given the backup routines in place to ensure functionality is perpetual even if there is a minor failure. The hardware itself is protected by high grade onsite security so there is the lowest risk of theft, and the location is equipped with smoke and fire detectors as well as high performance backup power generators. In summary, here are a number of the benefits that can be expected with using a cloud server system:

  • The solution is hosted in Australia; the physical servers exist within the country.
  • The products utilised are the most efficient in the industry.
  • Local support is available for any issues/requests that may arise.
  • The solution utilises a ‘Cloud 2.0′ infrastructure; proven stable and secure.
  • You can add or remove disks, memory, processors, IP addresses and similar resources, at any time.
  • The solution is scalable; it is possible to start small and improve as you go.
  • The solution is reliable; it is used by small and large businesses Australia-wide.

How is it different to a 'VPS'?

A ‘VPS’ is a ‘Virtual Private Server’, and can be thought of as a slice of a cloud server. You are in the cloud, but you do have to contend with other people that also have a VPS on that server.

The best way to imagine this, is that having a VPS is like having a shared office space; you can’t control who they have over for Friday after-work drinks, or how many customers they have visit. You can’t even control how many other businesses are sharing that office space! A cloud server however, is like renting the whole office so you don’t have any of those worries.

Billing

How does the billing work?

All resource usage is billed on usage per hour at the start of each month, for the usage of the previous month.

Depending on your relationship with us, you will either receive an invoice at the start of each month with an amount due, or your credit card will be billed automatically and you will receive an invoice with the payment already applied.

How does the cost estimation work?

The portal shows you an estimated cost based on being turned on for 730 hours in one month, and no assumptions on bandwidth (internet data) are made.

What am I billed for when a server is turned off?

Only disk space and IP addresses are billed while the server is powered off, as those resources are reserved. Processor and memory resources are not billed for.

Technical

How fast is it, really?

Blindingly fast, trust me!

You can deploy a standard Windows cloud server in under 45 seconds, and a standard Linux cloud server in under 15 seconds. On top of that, we’ve benchmarked our cloud server platform against the 5 leading competitors in Australia, and beat them across the board.

Why can't I choose the number of processors?

Our cloud server platform is designed so that there is no contention or over-provisioning. You’re guaranteed your resources when you fire them up. To do this, we have to have the cloud server tessellate on the physical hosts. To do this, we created a processor-to-memory (CPU/RAM) series of tiers, otherwise known as ‘Instances’, that cover everyone’s needs.

What powers your cloud platform?

Well we can’t reveal all the secrets, but here’s a bit of detail for the technical people out there.

We use a ‘Cloud 2.0′ infrastructure, consisting of super-computer class servers with direct-attached SSD storage. These servers have n+1 redundancy at every point, and replicate between one-another across 40 Gbps InfiniBand. By moving past the traditional ‘SAN based storage’ model, we have eliminated a common point of both congestion and failure.

The hypervisor running on this raw metal is Xen, offering state-of-the-art virtualisation performance and reliability. This infrastructure is tried and true, running servers for companies across the nation and being monitored 24×7 by a team of experts.

What server templates are available?

The current template list includes:

  • CentOS 6.6
  • Debian 7 (Wheezy)
  • Debian 8 (Jessie)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty)
  • VyOS 1.1 (Helium)
  • FreeBSD 1.10 (Release)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter

We are however continually adding more, so please feel free to make a request.

Can I install my own operating system?

You can definitely install your own operating system. Here’s some instructions:

  1. Create a cloud server with an extra disk attached.
  2. Boot to it your cloud server and download your ISO.
  3. Write your ISO to the second disk and then shut-down the server
  4. Change the second disks mode to CD-ROM, and change the servers boot mode to CD-ROM
  5. Boot to your new virtual CD-ROM.

If you need help with this process, just flick us an email and we’ll get onto it! Please note however that some advanced functionality such as hot-adding resources may not work.

What does the Windows license include?

Windows Server Datacenter Edition features everything that Windows Server Standard does, but with a different licensing model that enables it to be used in cloud environments such as ours.

What is not included in this is the Client Access Licenses (CALs), which can be per-User or per-Device, depending on your requirements. For more information on CALs visit this Microsoft page or contact Computer West, who can advise on, quote and supply any licenses required.

Performance

Processor / Memory

Standard

A general purpose server with a good balance of compute and memory resources.

RAM (GB) vCPU Cores CPU Time
1 1 0.25
2 1 0.5
4 1 1
8 2 2
16 4 4
32 8 8
64 16 16

High CPU

A high ratio of compute to memory resources – typically for applications that require more CPU power than memory.

RAM (GB) vCPU Cores CPU Time
1 1 0.5
2 1 1
4 2 2
8 4 4
16 8 8
32 16 16
64 32 32

High Memory

A high ratio of memory to compute resources – typically for applications that require large amounts of memory with low CPU.

RAM (GB) vCPU Cores CPU Time
1 1 0.125
2 1 0.25
4 1 0.5
8 1 1
16 2 2
32 4 4
64 8 8

Storage

High Performance

Super High Performance Redundant SSD Tier (InfiniBand replicated) – Up to 50K IOPS per Volume depending on size.

Allocated IOPS 25 IOPs per GB
Max Volume Size 2 TB
Maximum IOPS 50,000 per Volume
Description Guaranteed IOPS using strict IO allocation.

Standard

High Performance Redundant SSD Tier (InfiniBand replicated) – Up to 8K IOPS per Volume depending on size.

Allocated IOPS 4 IOPS per GB
Max Volume Size 2 TB
Maximum IOPS 8,000
Description Minimum 4 IOPS per GB with burst

Archival

Magnetic Storage Tier for Slow Log/Archival Storage (InfiniBand replicated) – Up to 100 IOPS per Volume depending on size.

Allocated IOPS Shared IO – Up to 100 IOPS
Max Volume Size 4 TB
Maximum IOPS 100
Description Archival Slow Storage