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: https://www.clouda.ca/blog/general/faster-than-rackspace-digital-ocean-and-linode/

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.

How Cloud A stacks up against the competition

We compared our performance using Redis-Benchmark next to some of the more traditional US based Cloud providers and this is what we found. Trying to keep the tests as “apples-to-apples” as possible, we chose the most similar instance sizes offered (1GB flavour) by each player and ran the tests using the same version of Ubuntu & Redis Server for each:chart_1-9

Cloud A vs. Digital Ocean vs. Rackspace vs. Linode
SET 315,556 234,907 74.44% 264,623 83.86% 64,259 20.36%
GET 312,793 256,344 81.95% 280,678 89.73% 68,939 22.04%
LPUSH 311,380 294,941 94.72% 350,185 112.46% 89,186 28.64%
LPOP 317,107 227,117 71.62% 316,509 99.81% 50,725 16.00%
Average: 80.68% Average: 96.47% Average: 21.76%

Cloud A Benchmarks:
Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 10.17.32 AM

Rackspace posted their benchmarks here: http://developer.rackspace.com/blog/redis-benchmark-and-rackspace-performance-vms.html
Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 9.55.49 AM

Digital Ocean Benchmarks:
Screenshot 2014-02-03 10.13.16

Linode Benchmarks:
Screenshot 2014-02-03 09.42.17

For Digital Ocean & Linode we created instances of the same size and the ones we tested for Cloud A. For the tests we ran, we took 5 samples for each test, removed the highest, lowest, and then took an average of the 3 remaining results.

What does a high benchmark score mean? The Redis team talks about the benchmarking tool here, and the factors that impact the requests per second the most are: virtualization overhead, per-core cpu performance, and RAM speed to name a few.

We are always measuring our own performance and taking queues from competitors on areas to optimize. We also realize that single benchmarks are to be taken with a grain of salt and we do not claim to be redis performance experts.

The best metric to consider is end user experience, in a recent video demo of how to create an instance it only took 24 seconds for Cloud A to instantiate a standard Windows VM (you can see it here) whereas Digital Ocean proudly advertises it takes 55 seconds to do the same think on their platform.

There will be more benchmarks posted soon around I/O performance, one of the biggest challenges in the public cloud space.

Associate a Public IP address to your Cloud A VM Instance


Starting at the main dashboard (“Manage Compute”  –> “Instances”), you should see something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.17.20 PM

When you click on the “Associate Public IP” link you will see something like this (left below), click on the plus (+) sign:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.37.41 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.39.55 PM

On the screen that pops up (right above) Click on the “Associate IP” button then when you are back at the first screen you should see your IP address in the field, then click “Associate”. When done you should see this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.43.25 PM

Notice your new Public IP address is now listed under the “IP Address” Column (highlighted above).

How to securely connect to your Cloud A VM instance directly with Remote Desktop

Because we are so concerned about security here at Cloud A, we use the policy that everything is locked down by default. If you have some network knowledge you will likely understand and appreciate this approach. If this stuff is new to you don’t sweat it, with Cloud A it’s simple and we will walk you through the two steps needed to access your VM securely.

OK, so Remote Desktop Connection is great technology native to Windows that you can use with Windows, Mac, or Chrome to connect directly to other Windows computers (learn more this here). For this connection to work we need to enable port 3389 on your Cloud A network instance. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about ports, this is as technical as this will get 🙂

Step One: Open Port 3389

To do this you need to go to the “Manage Compute” Menu and select  –> “Access & Security”. You should see something like this, click the “edit Rules” button:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.22.36 PM

You will see something like this, Now click the “Add Rule” button:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.24.31 PM

In the field labeled “port” enter the number 3389 (the other fields should be populated by default, then click on the “Add” button at the bottom:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.28.23 PM


Step Two: Make sure that your Cloud A VM has a public IP associated with it –> INSTRUCTIONS HERE

Step Three: Connect directly with Remote Desktop

Now you have everything you need to securely connect to your instance via your Remote Desktop Connection. Fire it up and enter the IP address, username & password (you can leave the domain filed blank) like so:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.52.39 PM

When you click “Connect” enter the your username & password like so:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.52.56 PM

You can ignore this message, click connect”:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.51.34 PM

And voila! you are now directly connected to your Cloud A VM instance via Remote Desktop, have fun!

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.58.16 PM

How to easily move your accounting system (Quickbooks) to the cloud in under an hour.

One of the best things about the advent of cloud technology is that small businesses are now able to afford advanced solutions that were simply just not cost effective for an SMB owner before now. Have a look at any publicly traded company’s financial statements  and you will see a lot of zeros behind the line items related to managing and backing up the data for their accounting systems. In this post we will show you how you can easily and cost effectively replicate the same type of an enterprise class solution with all the same features and benefits by leveraging modern cloud solutions.

For a small business one of the most important and often overlooked mission critical systems is the accounting system. In many organizations the software is installed on one or a few computers and the files are passed around via the local network or USB sticks. This solution works ok until the organization grows to a point where the management team needs to access timely reporting and the daily transactions are managed by people other than themselves so a disconnect starts to emerge. Often at that point the software is installed on one machine (sometimes called a “server”) and different folks use remote desktop technology to access it (and then they are often not able to use it at the same time).

That solution works better but over time that old “server” starts to get on in years and becomes a massive time bomb for the organization. When the hard drive fails (and it will even if it has RAID protection), hopefully someone has backed up the files locally but often that isn’t the case and months of data can be lost, often for good. So if your “server” looks anything like this one does,Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 3.11.53 PM you may want to seriously consider being proactive because being reactive is typically very expensive. This solution will work for any software installed on any computer (“server”) that you may have in your office today. In this case we are going to look at the steps involved to move Quickbooks to the cloud that anyone can do in about half an hour as real world example.

Step One: Sign up for a free account on Cloud-A

You can use any VM type solution for this but most other solutions don’t offer you the ability to sign up for a free account and automatically give you the ability to start making as many VM instances as you like on your own right away. This combined with the average price point being typically half or less as compared to the other guys means you can leverage the cloud with a very modest investment without delay (The VM suggested below is only $25/month). It’s free to setup a Cloud-A account and you get a $10 free credit for doing so that will mean you don’t pay a dime if you test drive the VM we suggest you try out below for a couple weeks and decide it’s not for you for any reason at all.

Step two: Create a Windows VM instance

It’s as simple as filling out the “Create New Instance” form that is front and centre when you are logged into your Cloud-A account (for best results for Quickbooks use the settings as seen below) :

Step Three: Log into your new Windows server

You can think of this server as being like that old server but it’s lighting fast, doesn’t have hard drives that can fail, and is accessible to you wherever you have a browser connected to the internet. It’s in the cloud! and that’s good because you never need buy another  replacement server, install windows, worry about if you have the valid key for windows again. After creating your new instance you should see something like this:

Next, click on the “Console” link under the “more” menu (next to “Create Snapshot”). You will be prompted to accept the Microsoft license agreement and to set your password (make it secure).  Once complete, use the Ctrl+Alt+Del button at the top to login.

Now you are using Wndows in the cloud! Just minimize or close the system information panel an you will see the familiar blue Windows default desktop.

Step Four: Install quickbooks

It’s as simple as going to the website (from within the new cloud server you just made) and downloading the software from the Intuit website (using your favourite browser and a search for “Download Quickbooks” will get you there easily)

Because your server is in the cloud you can download things very very fast (because you are directly connected to the backbone of the internet!). Often when people first experience this they think something must be wrong because it’s so fast you might not even see it finish downloading (don’t worry, it’s just really fast!).

Now you install the software just like you normally would and enter your Quickbooks licence key when you are asked for it (if you don’t have one they give you a 30 day free trial)

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.05.11 PM           Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.18.10 PM

That’s it, you are all ready to go with Quickbooks in the cloud now, It’s that easy!

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.19.42 PM

Now when you or anyone else in your organization wants to use your accounting system it’s available to them from anywhere on the planet where they are connected to the internet. You can always access it (and any other VMs you make) via your Cloud-A account or if you like you can configure your Windows VM to be accessible directly via an external IP address if you know how to set it up and prefer the usability of Remote Desktop as compared to the simple web interface we provide (link below). We don’t do this for you by default so that you can rest assured that your data is safe and never accessible to anyone else unless you make it available to them.

Other things you can do in the Cloud with your new Cloud-A VM / Next Steps:

A New Cloud A

We’re happy to announce the launch of our brand new client portal, refreshed website, and updated dashboard. All three were rolled-out last night, without a hitch. We’re live and excited to share the news with you!

New Client Portal


The brand new Client Portal helps you manage all of your Cloud A account details. The portal lets you easily sign up, modify your billing profile and view past invoices. Starting today, new signups will enter their billing information as part of the account activation process. Existing Cloud A customers will have until the end of the month to enter their information before we switch them over to the new billing process. If you’re an existing customer, we will be sending you an email shortly with instructions on how to add your billing details.

Coinciding with the launch of billing, we’re offering a $10 credit to new customers. We know jumping on to the cloud (or changing cloud providers) isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. To truly realize the value of the cloud, we want you to be able to run a full-scale deployment on our infrastructure. So, use your $10 credit however you like: choose from all our our instance sizes (as many as you need) and use all the storage you require. For more details, check out our pricing page.

Polished Website

Cloud A Home

The website has been completely overhauled and purpose built for giving you all of the information you need, as quickly as possible. Take a few minutes after you’re finished reading and have a look around!

With the new website and blog launch we will be publishing posts on some not-so-obvious use cases for moving to the cloud, as well as technical how-tos for our users to simplify the administration of their infrastructure on Cloud A.

Redesigned and Hardened Dashboard


Last (but not least), our Dashboard has been given a significant face-lift. We went back to the drawing board with the dashboard design—we reworked the layout from the ground up to be more fluid, easy to use and consistent with the new Cloud A look. But the changes aren’t just skin deep. The Dashboard is integrated with the client portal’s new Single Sign On feature, so you can explore all of our tools without needing multiple logins. We’ve also spent a lot of time working with your feedback to improve the infrastructure provisioning workflow and squash bugs. We hope the new dashboard experience is much more enjoyable and productive for everyone.

We plan to keep up the pace and continuously release enhancements and fixes to our infrastructure. So, if you have any feedback, questions or concerns about any part of our launch don’t hesitate to email us at support@clouda.ca to speak with us directly!

Why are we different?

Here at Cloud A we get this question a lot lately. Understandably many people struggle to believe that a little company way out on the far eastern shore of Canada has done what we have claimed:

We’ve invented the next generation cloud automation technology that truly scales!

(think Heroku but with better security, faster performance, and all at a lower cost).

Read more

Creating Network Infrastructure in Dash

Dash is an extremely powerful web-based UI that helps users efficiently manage their cloud infrastructure. While we aim to make the initial setup process as quick and simple as possible, we also want to give administrators the flexibility to create networks and systems that fit exactly to their needs. Due to the variety of options and settings that users are presented with when setting their infrastructure up for the first time, we provide an Introduction Wizard to guide them through the process of creating a network, volumes, and instances. However, some of the choices for getting a core network setup and ready to place instances on can be confusing for beginners.

Read more

Cloud A Launches Public Beta

Cloud A Launches Public Beta Offering

Offering a commercial OpenStack® powered elastic compute options for the first time in Canada.

For immediate release

Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 8th, 2013  – Cloud A (Clouda.ca) announced today that it will be offering its OpenStack® based elastic compute platform to the public in beta. “We identified the need for a true elastic compute platform in Canada early last year and have been working with OpenStack® to provide a solution to clients with data residency requirements in Canada,” said Brandon Kolybaba, Cloud A Co-Founder.

The company successfully completed Alpha trials in 2012 and subsequently a private beta testing period within a production environment located in Halifax over the past several months. Some publicly funded groups and government organizations require that their data to be stored in Canada, to comply with privacy laws. Other organizations simply want a Canadian solution to their on demand elastic compute and storage needs. To learn more about Cloud A’s roadmap to roll out its OpenStack® based solution in Canada please visit: http://www.clouda.ca/roadmap/

About Cloud A

Cloud A is a Canadian based cloud infrastructure solution where all data is stored in Canada and leverages OpenStack® at its core. This enables businesses and IT service providers to offer truly Canadian based cloud data solutions to their clients. The cloud infrastructure is provided as a service with elastic provisioning, provided as a utility and is scalable on demand.