Cloud based virtual servers, cloud replication, fully managed private cloud infrastructure - Inflight Cloud Platform from Envision Technology Advisors

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Ready to stop wasting time and money trying to manage your own network infrastructure?

Then Inflight is for you.

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What is InFlight

InFlight is a cloud services platform for servers provided by Envision Technology Advisors.

InFlight can be delivered through one of Envision’s secure data centers, providing high availability, security, and complete management and monitoring up to the operating system so that you can focus on your business applications*.

We leverage best of breed technology to deliver exceptional performance while our Ground Control team keeps a vigilant eye on availability and environmental metrics.

Anatomy of the InFlight Offering

InFlight services include:

  • Cloud Based Virtual Servers - provision 10 virtual machines or 100, the InFlight cloud can handle whatever you may need and can deliver rapid scalability for your business
  • Fully Managed Private Cloud Infrastructure - the InFlight platform can provide you with dedicated blades, storage, security, and backend infrastructure that's fully managed. Get up and running fast and avoid the headaches of owning the equipment and the problems.
  • Managed Replication Targets - don't want to have to keep track of your offsite replications? Envision's Ground Control team will manage the replication for you.
  • Management of Your Windows VMs - whether you are leveraging InFlight for cloud based virtual servers or for a fully managed private cloud, Envision's Ground Control team can manage the servers being delivered by InFlight. Stop worrying about patching, reporting, monitoring, trend assessment, and service availability. Our team can give you the freedom to focus on your business.

*Depth of monitoring depends on services contracted

InFlight Specifications

Don't build it yourself. Leverage our certified professionals and the InFlight Cloud Platform to help free up your IT resources and keep your business agile and competitive.

Compute Environment

  • Redundant Dell server blades to ensure high performance and availability
  • Redundant 40Gb/s back-end and 10Gb/s front-end switching
  • For customers needing VM image-level backups, Veeam backups are available

Performance Storage Powered By Tintri

  • Unparalleled virtualization-centric storage
  • InFlight's Tintri backend can deliver hundreds of thousands of IOPS, ensuring you the best possible performance
  • Dedicated storage arrays available for customers with compliance obligations who need additional security

Physical Facility

  • SAS70 II - SSAE 16 to ensure world class service and support to our customers
  • All InFlight facilities are Tier III or better
  • Fully alarmed secure facility with 24/7 electronic video and environmental surveillance
  • Redundant HVAC cooling systems to ensure there is no single point of failure
  • 800 kilowatt 3-phase service from National Grid which enters the facility on redundant feeds, conditioned power and backup power via UPS, and a back-up diesel generator
  • Registered with ARIN and carrier neutral to provide fully redundant IP bandwidth using Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) up to 10Gb/s

Management and Reporting

  • The Ground Control customer portal provides access to reporting on all cloud services provided by Envision, not just InFlight's reports
  • Using another vendor's cloud services? The Ground Control portal can accept and aggregate their reporting too!

Scalability

  • With InFlight, you can increase capacity at any time

A Case StudyVirtual DBS

"Our experience with the InFlight platform has been nothing but positive. We have experienced an over 300% performance increase in key areas of our processes, as well as a marked reduction in adminstration tasks. Support is also available promply when needed, and we never find ourselves waiting on responses to questions or requests. I would highly recommend others considering Envision's InFlight platform to handle their network environmental needs."

Ken Stewart,
Chief Technology Officer

Virtual DBS, Inc. is a Rhode Island-based data analytics company that first began looking at Envision’s InFlight Cloud Platform in late 2013.

At the time, the company was running their business from a relatively robust private cloud. This environment provided the necessary resources to run their internal production and analytics environments, hosting of customer environments, data platforms, a development environment, and all the shared business functions needed to run their business.

As robust as their private cloud was, Virtual DBS had some components that were coming up on end-of-life, and the business was looking to avoid substantial CapEx spend. They were also hoping to see some OpEx optimization from a support/maintenance perspective and improve overall performance by moving to a new environment with better hardware.

 

Evaluating InFlight

Initially, Virtual DBS planned to build their new environment themselves, as they had done with their previous one, but when they began to compare the costs to build versus the costs to rent, they decided to take a serious look at Envision’s InFlight platform.

Comparing the total cost of ownership for building and hosting their own environment (including colocation costs, hardware costs, support and maintenance costs, IT staff/consulting spend, replacement schedule costs, etc.), Virtual DBS discovered that InFlight provided a less expensive alternative to building everything themselves. With InFlight, Virtual DBS would not need to expend IT resources to manage the environment. Instead, IT would be freed up to focus on end user support and business needs.

 

Increases In Performance

While the CapEx and OpEx savings for Virtual DBS were substantial, the company also determined that the performance of InFlight would be superior to what the company could expect to get from an environment they would build on their own.

To build an environment as robust as InFlight would be cost prohibitive for Virtual DBS, but with InFlight, they could realize that increased performance. With 60Gb/s to every blade, hybrid flash storage, and a vCloud Director SDDC model, InFlight provided the security and the performance that Virtual DBS was looking for at a price that could be afforded.

 

The Project's Process

Internal IT at Virtual DBS worked with Envision Technology Advisors as part of a three phase process to move their infrastructure over to InFlight. Before getting started, the two teams outlined everything that was running in the current environment (not by specific VM, but by business function). This planning helped to produce a document that listed all the proposed VMs in the new environment, the resource allocations needed, the specific functions of each VM, and the access controls needed to ensure security.

For the first phase of the project, clean VMs were built for everything defined in that initial planning document. Using VM templates, the team was able to deploy all the Windows Server 2012 VMs quickly and customize them as needed.

The second phase of the project was a data migration. Some of the data was moved via NAS, while other data was moved over the IPSec tunnel between datacenters and InFlight. Over 40TB of data was eventually moved from the old environment to the new one, and because of pre-planning, the new environment’s layout presented that data in a way that easier to manage for the future, as well as for better adherence to security policies.

The final phase of this project was the move of hosted customer environments and other critical business systems that we were keeping intact and not rebuilding, including ones that required high uptime during this migration. Using Veeam Replication, Envision pre-seeded the VMs in the two-weeks prior to the final cutover of those environments and VMs. Thanks to Veeam, all the VMs from the old system were able to be cutover to the new environment in sync with each other with less than 30 minutes of downtime (power down source, final sync, power up destination, DNS propagation, etc…). Veeam Replication also handled re-IPing the VMs and attaching them to the appropriate virtual networks at the destination.

Project Results

While the full impact of Virtual DBS’s move to InFlight has yet to be determined, some incredibly positive results have been seen already, including increases in performance and substantial savings in cost.

While Virtual DBS is still decommissioning their old environment, the savings that the InFlight system will bring are roughly $10k per month in colocation and data transport circuit costs, $3k per month on storage and hardware support renewals, and $5k per month on hardware (assuming a 5-year replacement schedule).

In terms of performance, Virtual DBS is already seeing a significant improvement in CIFS and NFS performance for the reads and writes of the very large data files that they work with. They have also been able to consolidate IIS and SQL servers to a smaller overall number, which improves management without negatively impacting performance due to the improved IOPS profile of the new environment.

General line of business applications have seen an increase in performance as well, with a decrease in file build times and improved data analytic performance. According to Ken Stewart, Virtual DBS' Chief Technology Officer, the company has "experienced an over 300% performance increase in key areas of our processes, as well as a marked reduction in administrative tasks." He goes on to say that he would "highly recommend others considering Envision's InFlight platform to handle their network environmental needs."

Cloud Replication Services

Most companies recognize the value of replicating their data and VMs off-site, unfortunately the process is often too expensive and complex to be viable. With InFlight, that ends now. InFlight simplifies the process by offering two forms of replication: Scheduled Replication and Live Replication.

Scheduled Replication

For most companies, the priority is to ensure that there’s a copy of their data and VMs off-site in the event of an emergency. To meet this requirement, Envision leverages Veeam Backup and Replication technology to send a copy of your VMs and data to the InFlight cloud on a daily basis.

InFlight Scheduled Replication contracts are easy to understand - size your InFlight cloud environment so that it can run all the VMs in the event of an emergency. The monthly replication cost will be 65% of the cost of that cloud contract. If you have an emergency and need to stand-up your VMs for production purposes, your monthly charge will increase to the full amount of the cloud contract. It’s that simple.

Need to run a quarterly test ? That’s OK, InFlight has you covered. Each Scheduled Replication agreement comes with an allowance that allows you to perform a restore and spin up your replicated VMs for up to one hour each quarter with no additional charges.

Live Replication

Powered by Zerto technology, Live Replication transmits data and VM changes continuously from your system to the InFlight cloud. In the event of a failure at your site, your replicated system will be ready and waiting for you.

With Live Replication, your replicated VMs are always being replicated to the InFlight cloud and can be set to power on as soon as an outage is detected. A Live Replication contract is exactly the same as an InFlight Cloud Server agreement. Simply size your cloud environment and bandwidth (see our sizing guide) and once your cloud is provisioned, you are ready to go!

Don't want to manage Zerto? No Problem! With Envision's Ground Control managed services, we can build an agreement to manage all aspects of the replication to your specific needs.

How To Plan for Replication

Planning for replication doesn't have to be difficult. It's a simple matter of understanding your needs and environment.

Understand your RPO and RTO

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – This is the amount of data that you can afford to lose if you have an emergency. For years, most companies backed up nightly. As a result, if they lost the network at the end of business (prior to the next backup) they would lose that day’s data. That's a 24-hour RPO.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – RTO is the measure of how long it will take to get critical systems back up and running. For many companies, a 24-hour RTO is still appropriate. The problem is that recovery from tape could take hours, days, or even a week, depending on the data footprint in the environment. That is not acceptable in today’s business environment.

Which Solution is Right for You?

For most companies, a 24-hour RPO is acceptable if the RTO is very low. VMs that are replicated to InFlight have an extremely low RTO and can be spun up almost immediately in the event of an emergency. If a nightly replication with a fast recovery time is right for you, then Envision recommends Scheduled Replication to our InFlight cloud platform.

In some cases, regulatory or business obligations could require a much shorter RPO. In those situations, Envision recommends Live Replication to our InFlight cloud platform. To learn more about Scheduled Replication vs Live Replication, review our replication services summary or ask one of our solutions engineers for more details.

Understand Your Environment

To plan for replication, gather information about your current virtualized systems. Information you will need includes:

  • Total number of vCPUs assigned to your VMs
  • Total amount of assigned vRAM and the average amount of vRAM used at any given time
  • Total amount of storage assigned to your VMs

Cloud contracts are priced based on the amount of storage, vCPU, and vRAM in your environment. Right-sizing your VM’s (assigning only the resources they actually need) will help keep your costs under control.

You will also need to understand your change rate and available bandwidth in order to size your environment for replication. See our sizing guide for more information.

Replication Sizing Guide

If you've prepared for cloud replication, then you know whether you need to consider Scheduled Replication or Live Replication. You likely also know what resources you will need in terms of vCPU, vRAM, and storage. However, there's still the issue of bandwidth. How do you figure out how much bandwidth you need? That answer is that you have to understand your change rate.

Understanding Change Rate

Change rate is the amount of data that changes in your environment daily. If you have 900GB of data, and 15% of that changes daily, then you have a change rate of 135GB per day. Industry averages vary, but most experts say that the average file server will see a daily change rate of 5% - 10%, while database servers will likely be as high as 35%.

Every network is different. To determine your change rate, look at your current backup system. A differential backup shows you the exact amount of data that’s changed since the last backup.

Available bandwidth

Once you have a sense of your change rate, you need to consider available bandwidth. The operative word here is available. For example, if you have a 20Mb/s internet circuit that’s 50% used during the day, then you have 10Mb/s of bandwidth available for replication during business hours. Once the work day ends, that could climb to as much as 90% of the total circuit speed giving you 18Mb/s to use for replication during the overnight hours.

With Live Replication, your primary concern will be bandwidth available during business hours. With Scheduled Replication, you will be primarily concerned with bandwidth available during off-hours.

Most people work backwards. They start by understanding their change rate and then go from there. For example, let’s assume you have a total data volume of 800GB with change rate of 4% (32GB changes per day). You want to do a Scheduled Replication during off-hours and have a window of 10 hours to complete the replication. That means you need to move 3.2GB per hour. Converting that to Mb/s,you need a circuit that has available bandwidth of about 7.6Mb/s. In other words, the 20Mbps circuit mentioned above will be more than enough for Scheduled Replication.

Additional Factors

Other factors that will impact the performance of your replication may include your internet provider’s latency, any data de-duplication, and any compression occurring. For guidance on these factors, and for help sizing your environment, please reach out to one of Envision's team members for assistance.

As a starting point, we present the following bandwidth conversion chart. It will help you understand the amount of data that can be transferred at various internet circuit speeds when considering an overnight window or a full day.

Circuit Speed GB/hour Data Moved in 10 Hours Data Moved Per Day
5 Mbps 2.09 20.9 50.16
10 Mbps 4.19 41.9 100.56
15 Mbps 6.28 62.8 150.72
25 Mbps 10.86 108.6 260.64
50 Mbps 20.95 209.5 502.8
100 Mbsp 41.91 419.1 1.005 TB
500 Mbps 209.5 2.095 TB 5.028 TB
1 Gbps 419.4 4.194 TB 10.065 TB

The Team Behind Inflight

The InFlight Cloud Platform is an Envision Technology Advisors' solution.

Founded in 1998, Envision Technology Advisiors are technology consultants focused on cloud evolution. With specialties that include cloud and managed services, desktop and data center virtualization, wireless infrastructure and design, networking consulting, website design and development, and enterprise data solutions, Envision offers much more than just a cloud platform – they offer the services to help make your businesses’ transition to the cloud a success.

With two offices – one just outside of Providence, RI and the other a few miles from Downtown Boston, Envision is one of New England’s most comprehensive business-oriented technology companies.

Envision's people are regular contributors to leading industry publications and speakers are various events and conferences. Proud of the work that they do and the culture that they have created at Envision, those same people have voted the company as a "Best Place to Work" for the past six consecutive years.

You can learn more about Envision at envisionsuccess.net.

Want to Learn More or Take a Tour?

Do you have additional questions or would you like to see InFlight up close? We would be happy to take you on a tour of our solutions and the datacenter that powers InFlight. Complete the form below and a representative from Envision will be in touch with you to answer your questions or schedule your tour.

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