Press Release – Cloud A Becomes Hortonworks Infrastructure Partner

HWX_Badges_Cert_HDPHalifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – Feb 24, 2014 – Cloud A, a leader in open cloud infrastructure solutions for Big Data, announced today that it has forged a partnership with Hortonworks a leading commercial vendor promoting the innovation, development and support of Apache Hadoop. The agreement will enable Cloud A to enable the acceleration and adoption of Apache Hadoop by organizations who wish to have their data reside in Canadian data centers.

Enterprises everywhere are racing to deploy Apache Hadoop to enhance their data management capabilities. Cloud A in conjunction with it’s partner community are developing solutions that will make it easier for enterprise customers to deploy and manage Hadoop by leveraging the leading technologies from both vendors to create the first enterprise Hadoop solution that handles everything from deployment on bare metal all the way to the application.

Cloud A will combine the Hortonworks Data Platform with Cloud A’s Openstack Canadian open cloud to create an integrated solution that addresses the problems enterprise data centers experience when developing Hadoop solutions internally. The Hortonworks Data Platform powered by Apache Hadoop, is a massively scalable, 100 percent open source platform for storing, processing and analyzing large volumes of data. The platform includes the most popular and essential Apache Hadoop projects including HDFS, MapReduce, HCatalog, Pig, Hive, HBase and Zookeeper. These combined solutions will make it easier to bring a Hadoop project from proof-of-concept, to production, to scale-out.

“We are very excited to be able to offer a Canadian Openstack powered cloud to deploy Hadoop solutions for enterprise customers that addresses the often overlooked problem of setting up and managing the underlying cluster for Hadoop,” said Brandon Kolybaba CEO of Cloud A. “Hortonworks thought leadership in the space is exceptional and we are very excited to work with them to leverage the advanced technologies, and support infrastructure for Apache Hadoop.”

About Cloud A
Cloud A is a leading provider of Cloud Infrastructure powered by Openstack based in Canada. Our product simplifies the installation and management of the hardware and software that provides the infrastructure for large scale environments having hundreds or thousands of servers supporting Big Data, Analytics, or High Performance Computing. For more information visit

Jacob Godin
Cloud A (

How a Cloud A client saved over 265% on their monthly IAAS costs with our hourly billing model

One of the questions we often get at Cloud A is “How does billing by the hour work?”. The answer is simple. We bill by the hour instead of by the month; compared to the more traditional IAAS provider model. In some cases by the hour doesn’t matter since most instances are up and running 24/7, but in the case where environments need to be available for testing, or ad hoc / batch processing purposes, it’s extremely compelling.

One of our beta testers is a company called Maintenance Group Inc.. They are an IBM partner focused on the Asset Management / Equipment Maintenance space working with a software product called Maximo / Tivoli. Before moving to Cloud A they had dedicated environments setup for testing new installations, configuration changes to those environments and doing other intensive tasks like batch processing jobs.

As with traditional VM solutions, snapshots play a big role in how they deliver solutions to their end clients. They use snapshotting a lot to streamline the deployment process and once an environment is setup and working well they then use it as a failsafe mechanism to ensure that they always have a current rollback position. In the past, they needed to pay to have those environments active on the system. Typically were are always left on even when they were not being used. When Maintenance Group Inc. learned that with Cloud A you only pay a tiny fraction of the cost to have a snapshot image stored while not active ($0.25/GB/month), they decided to take advantage of the opportunity to file those old & seldom used environments away and only spin them up when they were needed. The result was a dramatic cost savings of over 265% compared to the previous quarter’s spend on hosted infrastructure. In addition they have found other ways to leverage Cloud A’s on demand compute power to do batch processing of large datasets.

“We’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen at Cloud A so far. Many of our clients require their data to reside in Canada and that has prevented us from leveraging the large US based providers who have billing by the hour solutions like this to date. This is a great solution for them as well as for our clients in the Caribbean & the US regions. It’s great to have a Canadian solution like this” – Jeff Seaward,  Maintenance Group Inc.

Your Cloud A, however you need it.


New Flavours!

We’re very excited to announce our new instance flavours. We know as well as anyone that a general purpose compute node is great, but once you start getting into larger instance sizes you have a better idea of the performance characteristics and demands of your server. After hitting the drawing board and crunching some numbers, we’ve put together two new flavour types: High Memory, and High Compute. These flavours are available on instance sizes greater than 4GB and you can start using them today from the instance launch screen.

Cost and Value Modelling

We spent a lot of time putting these new flavours together, to offer the best value for everyone no matter your needs. We will be updating our pricing page shortly to include the new flavour types. Once of the biggest challenges to introducing these new options was ensuring that we can present it in an un-intimidating and easy to understand manner. In the spirit of transparency and making sure you get the best value for your computing needs we took the time to model out the value proposition for three different types of demand: General Purpose Computing, High Memory, and High Compute. Graphing the relationship between the cost, and perceived value for each type of customer shows how these new flavour types are extremely valuable.

General Purpose

The General Purpose (GP) flavour type is for a user who requires a balanced, and powerful server. A user who values CPU, Memory, and Disk space equally. The High Memory and High Compute flavour types are less attractive in the general purpose case because they don’t provide equal increases across the board. You can see that the GP flavours really stand out.

General Purpose Value

High Memory

The High Memory (HM) flavour type is for a user who has more demand for memory than disk or CPU. Compared to the General Purpose version of the same flavour, HM instances have 60GB of disk space, and double the amount of memory. For memory heavy applications, the GP flavour type doesn’t make as much sense for you because you’re provisioned more CPU and Disk than you require and your values are not the same as a General Purpose user. Let’s view the same graph as a user who values memory over all else, and you can quickly see how the High Memory flavour is attractive for this user.

High Memory

High Compute

The High Compute (HC) flavour type is meant for users with heavy CPU requirements over memory and disk. Compared to the General Purpose version of the same flavour, HC instances have 60GB of disk space and twice the amount of CPU cores available. Let’s now view the same graph weighted for a user who values CPU over all else. Again, you can see how the High Compute flavour is very attractive over the General Purpose of the next size up.

High Compute


New Flavours Modal

These new flavour types will allow unparalleled cost savings and customization. Allowing you to build exactly the cloud that you need, without wasting money on resources you don’t need, all metered by the minute and running on our blazing fast hardware. If you already are using a General Purpose flavour and you would like to switch to a High Memory or High Compute flavour: simply save a snapshot of your current instance, and create a new instance using the new flavour restoring from that snapshot (assuming that it fits on disk).

We would love to hear your feedback on how you’re making use of the new flavour types to build your infrastructure, and you can get started immediately in your Dashboard. You will see the new flavours split up by type, with the full detailed breakdown in the sidebar.

How to setup simple Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with Cloud A & Chromebooks

These days many organizations are looking to leverage VDI solutions to maximize the value of the cloud.  Here are a few of the key benefits to this approach:

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  • Dramatic cost savings: Because the endpoint is essentially not much more than a very thin client that resembles a dummy terminal from years gone by you can go with cost effective low horsepower devices. Entry level Chromebooks are under $200 and they work great for this purpose because they are durable,  replaceable, lightweight, and don’t have moving parts (SSD instead of HD).  They can also run for over eight hours on a single charge.
  • Increased Security: You can’t really install software on a Chromebook so there is no risk of malware such as viruses, trojans, or key-loggers. If you use third-party vendors, contractors, consultants, you can use locked down Windows environments and still allow them to work immersed in your environment the way you require.
  • No More Desktop Support: This approach allows you to have complete central management of all your desktops and as a result, control and monitor everything installed and used on all the images.
  • Corporate Data never leaves the Network: Mobile workers benefit as sensitive data is stored on the server in the data center and not the device. If the device is lost or stolen, the information isn’t on the device so it’s not at risk.
  • OS migrations: Imagine how simple it will be the next time you need to roll out the latest Windows OS. Not only do you not need physical access to the end users hardware ever again, there is also no need to upgrade hardware to meet memory or disk space requirements. With VDI, you can just push out a Windows image and you are done.
  • Scaling up and down on Demand: You can create a series of VDI snapshots to meet all of your company needs. If your company is seasonal, you can have extra images to handle the increased employee traffic when you need them. When you are don’t need them, you just turn them off.
  • Snapshot Technology: With VDI, you have the ability to roll back desktops to different states. This is a great feature, and it allows you to give a lot of flexibility to your end users.
  • It’s Environmentally Friendly: A thin client VDI session will use less electricity than a desktop computer. Using VDI is a way to reduce your carbon footprint on our planet and save your company money in power costs.
  • It’s BYOD on Steroids: With VDI, you never have to worry about hardware ever again. No matter if it’s a Chromebook, a notebook, an old PC, Macbook, or Linux, etc. As long as you can connected to the Internet your users connect right through to the corporate Windows environment, networks, and data they need.

Getting Started: 

Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, there are an infinite number of ways to design your VDI network.  For this post we are going to use a very simple architecture for illustration purposes.  For more complex environments you may want to consider the value that products like Citrix or the services of an expert cloud solution specialist can bring to the table.

Here you can see via the Cloud A network topology view that we’ve setup two groups of servers on separate networks each with their own router.

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The Default network is the one we have setup for our VDI instances (we have 3 but you can have as many as you like).  If you want to know how to setup this type of infrastructure in more detail please have a look at the blog post we did on that here.

Once your have setup your cloud infrastructure, you can then connect to it via some form of Remote Desktop solution.  In order to do so, you will want to ensure you have properly configured your instances to have external IP addresses and have updated your security profile to allow RDP connections so that you will be able to connect to your private VDI cloud.

Configure the Chromebook

At this point connecting to your VDI cloud to a Chromebook is as simple as installing a Chrome extension, such as the one that you can find here:

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When you launch the App you will see a login prompt that has all the same fields as the native RDP client does:

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Congratulations!  You are now using Windows on A Chromebook via your own private VDI Cloud.

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2014 is off to a phenomenal start for us at Cloud A in January!

January was a big month for us, we successfully launched billing for our  public cloud offering and in doing so blew our projections out of the water by on-boarding 162% of the target we set out for ourselves! Thank you so much for all the folks who signed up especially those who gave us feedback (we value it very much).

Here is just a short list of some of the features we added in the last month:

  • Launched a new Client Portal
  • Improved signup flow process
  • Introduced the free credit for new signups
  • API Servers are now fully redundant
  • Improved reporting  engine to include predictive analysis
  • Improved the instance creation flow for all Windows VM’s
  • Streamlined the provision process for public IP assignment

We are also very excited that due to our newly redundant API servers, we had 100% uptime for both client instances, and API servers. Stability is critical to you and your business requirements, and we are always working hard to maintain it for our cloud.

In January we also compared our offering to see how it stacked up against Rackspace, Digital Ocean, & Linode and the results were very flattering to say the least:

It was really an amazing month and we can’t thank you enough for all your support, it’s really very exciting for us to have so much interest in what we are doing and look forward to seeing what happens in February.