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Introduction To Cloud Servers

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This is one of a collection of posts I’ve written recently to provide a high-level introduction to all of the products and services available within a Rackspace Cloud Account. I like to think of them as the building blocks of the Internet. Each post will give a description of the product, how to use it, the costs and the most frequently asked questions about that product.

I’ve also included several videos to help show how to configure, deploy and use all of these products. 

As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated!

What is it?

The easiest definition to apply to a Cloud Server is an on-demand virtual machine that is engineered to deliver customizable performance and reliability. You can also think of a Cloud Server as the primary compute engine behind your application running in the open cloud and one of the fundamental building blocks in cloud architecture. The number of definitions that can be applied to a Cloud Server show how flexible and adaptable they are.

How do I use it?

As the definition implies, a Cloud Server can be tailored to serve many different purposes, many of which we’ll discuss in later sections. For the purpose of this introduction, let’s focus on configuring and deploying a Cloud Server.

A new Cloud Server can be deployed from your account’s control panel by clicking on “Servers” in the upper row of products, and then by clicking “Create Server.”

Once in the Create Server screen you will need to provide the new Cloud Server with a name, region, image and flavor. You also have the option of attaching the Cloud Server to an isolated Cloud Network and, depending on the selected flavor, manually partitioning the disk.

If you’re new to Rackspace you might not be familiar with some of these terms. Let’s take a closer look.

Server Name

You can name your new Cloud Server anything you want, but I recommend using a clear and descriptive naming convention that will allow you to identify what site/application the Cloud Server is associated with and what purpose it serves. For example, if I was hosting a site for ABC Realty, I would name the primary web server web1.abcrealty.com and the slave database slavedb.abcrealty.com.

Region

A region is a collection of one or more data centers connected with a low latency, high bandwidth network. A region can be viewed as a “logical data center” and is designated by the nearest airport code.

  • Northern Virginia, USA (IAD)
  • Dallas, USA (DFW)
  • Chicago, USA (ORD)
  • London, UK (LON)
  • Sydney, AUS (SYD)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)

All cloud devices provisioned within the same region have internal connectivity over a private, low latency, high bandwidth network called ServiceNet free of charge. Cloud devices that are provisioned in different regions must communicate with each other over the public Internet and will incur normal bandwidth charges.

It should be noted that because First Generation Cloud Servers have different architectures, they’re not considered in the same region even if they’re in the same data center as a Next Gen or Performance Cloud Server. The only region that still supports First Generation Cloud Servers is DFW.

Lastly, you should select a region that is geographically located close to where the majority of your visitors are located. This could minimize load times.

For more information about regions, reference this article in the Rackspace Knowledge Center: About Regions.

Images

An image contains the operating system for a Cloud Server, as well as, in some cases, additional software. The OS contained in the image has been configured by Rackspace to work with the OpenStack platform and is not the same image made available by the system’s publisher.

In addition to the images provided by Rackspace, there is a second tab labeled “Saved.” If you have taken an image snapshot of a Cloud Server, this is where you can select that image to create a clone of that Cloud Server.

Flavor

For all practical purposes, flavor can be thought of as the size of your server. The more power you need, select a larger flavor.

More accurately, a flavor defines the amount of resources made available to a Cloud Server as well as the type of hardware supporting your virtual machine. Configurable resources include CPU, RAM, system disk, network throughput and disk I/O speed.

The flavor you select will be the primary drive for the hourly cost of your Cloud Server.

There are three categories of flavors from which you can select:

Performance 1

Best suited for web servers, batch processing, network appliances, small databases and most general-purpose computing workloads.

Performance 1 Cloud Servers are configurable up to 8 vCPUs, 8GB RAM, 40GB system disk + 80GB data disk and 1.6 Gb/s network throughput.

Due to the dual disk architecture, this flavor of Cloud Server cannot be resized.

Storage is a high-performance, RAID 10-protected SSD.

Performance 2

Best for applications demanding high RAM, disk I/O and consistent performance, such as large relational databases, NoSQL data stores and distributed caches.

Performance 2 Cloud Servers are configurable up to 32 vCPUs, 120GB RAM, 40GB system disk + 1.2TB data disk and a 10 Gb/s network connection. Due to the dual disk format, this flavor of Cloud Server cannot be resized.

Storage is also a high-performance RAID 10-protected SSD.

Standard

Best for low traffic environments and development sandboxes.

Standard Cloud Servers are configurable up to 8 vCPUs, 30GB RAM, 1.2TB system disk only and 1.2 Gb/s network throughput. Standard flavor Cloud Servers can be resized with minimal downtime.

Storage is a RAID 10-protected SATA hard disk drive.

Cloud Networks

When creating a Cloud Server you have the option of attaching it to a Cloud Network, which is a single-tenant portion of the region’s internal network reserved just for your account. We’ll go into more detail about configuring a Cloud Network in a later post.

Watch me do it

Now that we’ve covered how to configure a new Cloud Server, let’s create one from within the Rackspace Cloud control panel.

In this next video, we’ll look at the Cloud Server detail screen and then connect to the new server using SSH.

And here’s how to connect to a Windows Cloud Server using Remote Desktop Connection.

How much does it cost?

There are multiple variables to take into account when determining the hourly/daily/monthly price for a Cloud Server. Please reference the pricing page for the most up to date information.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Joseph Palumbo.

As a founding member of Rackspace's Managed Cloud Support Team, Joseph spends half of his time teaching customers about the Cloud and the other half learning about the Cloud from them. When he's not in meetings, he can be found presiding over cultural happenings around the Rackspace office, discussing support innovation with other 'Fanatics' and wishing paper documents had a built-in search function.


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2 Comments

These IaaS platform, it can be configured and used to install the software, systems, firmware, etc. (eg, solution stacks) that are required to provide IT services and build applications.

avatar David on February 27, 2014 | Reply

Its a good information but i think that cloud hostingis the best thing ever :)

avatar bighost on March 12, 2014 | Reply

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