Automation is the next evolution in Cloud-tech

We’ve built an automation layer on top of Openstack that we’ve called “Cloud Bricks”. You can think of it like combining the benefits of Cloud technology with the modular ability of Lego. In a nutshell this is how it works:

  • We fully streamline the process of configuring new instances in a turn-key way
  • All deployment environments, dedicated databases, & application servers are by default delivered optimized for the typical use case
  • Instances are full VM’s not limited by the automation layer we introduce so you always have complete customizable control of all your infrastructure
  • For an additional monthly fee ($35 per instance) we Manage OS & Application Level Updates for you automatically.

The Cloud Bricks Service was designed to make your life easier. Typically it’s very well suited for applications that have outgrown the small PaaS environment that was initially used often as a prototype.  It works out exceptionally well for those who want  responsibility of maintaining the entire stack to remain at the DevOps / IaaS level.

The Bricks Service is an OpenStack orchestration and automation module that was developed by our team to help deploy custom-configured instances, and keep them up to date with the latest security patches and offer OS level support for those instances for the lifetime of it, at a flat rate per instance.


Cloud Bricks Overview

cloud bricksOur Bricks service allows you to create a new instance from scratch using a specific configuration that is optimized to run on our infrastructure, and automatically configured to make best use of the instance size you’ve chosen. After your instance is deployed, our automation service is able to push updates to your server to keep it up-to-date so you don’t have to worry about maintaining what’s below the surface.

This allows you to have unparalleled flexibility in a world where automation means that you’re confined to someone else’s box, or you’re responsible for everything. Since we have greater control over the OS level, you can install any custom packages that you require while the underlying server remains supported and up to date for you.

What does this mean for you? You can finally rest at night knowing that your servers are secure, and up to date. When exploits or bugs are found at the OS or application layer of your server you can be confident that our emergency updates service will keep your instance secure and ensure your application and data are protected the moment anything happens. In the mean time, your servers undergo routine minor version updates, performance enhancements, and bug fixes on a scheduled interval.

You can think of Cloud Bricks as your DevOps team in some regards, we help you make initial decisions on your stack to ensure it’s stable, secure and maintainable by our deployment engineers. Some initial decisions include versions and distributions of the OS, chosen web servers, and pre-installed versions of applications. Our Cloud Brick configurations additionally shepherd you through clean separation of concerns for App and DB servers to help when it comes time to scale up.

The Cloud Bricks service can be logically split into three distinct stages for you. Laying a Cloud Brick, Managing Brick Updates, and Platform Support. Let’s go over what each of these do in detail to give you a better picture of what’s involved.

Stage 1: Laying a Cloud Brick

The first step you take using Cloud Bricks is choosing which configuration you want. Cloud Brick configurations come in a few of different categories and offer different features for each.

Deployment Environments

This class of bricks is meant to turbo charge development and deployment operations. With environments built for Python, PHP, and Ruby and git deploy hooks pre-configured you’re able to do a `git push clouda master` to deploy your application with as much convenience as you would get with a full PaaS offering with all of the configurability and performance of any high performance Cloud A instance.

Once you receive your email that says your brick “has been laid“, you can get started on installing any of your application’s dependencies using the standard build chain for that language. Once you’ve deployed your additional requirements (Django / Flask, Rails / Sinatra, WordPress / Drupal) on top of the base environment and pushed your code, the web service will restart immediately and begin serving your application. On subsequent version control pushes, the web service is gracefully restarted for you as part of the deployment process.

Database & Caching Servers

These bricks are built for storing all of your data, no shared DB servers here — just optimized configurations for your own dedicated database installation, with all security and maintenance tasks automated for you so you can worry about building your application, and not worry about keeping your database up to date and online.

Pre-Configured Applications

This class of bricks is meant to take the pain out of deploying and updating internal applications for your team. Allowing you to be more productive, and worry less about whether your productivity tools are online. More information to come soon.

Stage 2: Managing Brick Updates

This isn’t simply turning on “auto-updates“. The biggest long term benefit to using bricks is the managed updates service, which not only saves you time but gives you confidence that your servers are staying up to date with the latest battle-tested versions of the software you depend on.

Our DevOps experts are continuously involved in maintaining and updating the Cloud Brick configurations that you’re depending on, and by opting into the managed updates service — this expertise is available to you through our secure & automated update mechanism built into our platform. All configuration updates are put through staging deployments for multiple configurations on our staging cloud to ensure the update process is seamless to you and doesn’t cause undue downtime.

With all of the recent major security vulnerabilities in core services, you want to be protected against the worst as quickly as possible. Brick updates help protect you against zero-day attacks on your infrastructure. Read more about how a Bricks Managed Updates customer got updated for both ShellShock and Heartbleed in minutes (Download Case Study).

Stage 3: Platform Support

By using our managed updates service, and our pre-configured Cloud Bricks configurations it allows us to offer an unparalleled level of support. For instance: by having control over which versions of applications are running, and how services are configured we’re able to have insight into helping you move your application onto our platform and support any of the configurations on the server that we supply.

This means that you’re able to run your own high performance cloud servers, resting assured that someone on our team has dotted all the Ts and crossed all the Is. And if there’s ever an issue with those Ts and Is, we’re able to respond and deploy hot-fixes at any point for you.