Expedient's Cloud Evolution - A Vision 5 Years in the Making

Author:
John White

In 2013, Pat Gelsinger walked on stage at a capacity VMworld general session and introduced a vision for the next evolution of virtualization: the Software-Defined Data Center. A model where infrastructure provisioning would be disaggregated from the underlying hardware and defined simply by code.

At the time, most people in the packed Moscone Center had very little concept of what Gelsinger’s vision actually meant. Most would never even get the chance to build it as it really wasn’t their core business. But, those in the audience who knew their future existed in providing cloud computing services listened intently and began dreaming about how to make this vision a reality.

Expedient started providing virtualization services as an alternative to colocation in 2007. Since then, our virtualization platform has been extremely successful: we have hosted more than 17,000 virtual machines, maintained a 100% SLA, and served hundreds of individual companies. Like anyone else, the last place we wanted to be was behind the eight ball as our customers’ needs and demands evolved, at least partially due to competition from hyperscale cloud providers.

That’s why, in 2015, Expedient Product Strategy engineers started working on a new concept, which we dubbed Cloud 2.0. This was going to be the platform of the future and a revolutionary infrastructure design to our existing virtualization platform. Software-defined everything, single access to all resources, multi-cloud capability, secure — and most importantly — increased operational efficiency.

Thousands of hours were invested in education, certifications, VMware-run design service sessions, advisory boards, beta testing, product road map-shaping, and acceptance testing by the Expedient Delivery and Support engineers. All of this effort was to produce a platform that would carry Expedient cloud services into the future and position us optimally for competition against other infrastructure-as-a-service providers.

The platform, now called the Expedient Enterprise Cloud, consists of a full VMware stack of products providing a single ecosystem that simplifies management, monitoring, and support. This includes ESXi as the hypervisor, NSX-V for the software-defined network, vSAN for the storage layer, vCloud Director as a management console, and the vRealize suite of services consisting of Operations, Automation, and Log Insight. This software is deployed on 64-node clusters of Dell R740xd hardware. Each server contains dual Intel 6140 processors, 768GB of memory, and 12 1.92TB SSD drives.

You may think, why invest the time? Why evolve a product that has already been built by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google? Two reasons: demand and choice.

Demand: In the past three years, Expedient has experienced an average 24% CAGR in its public cloud services. This growth has been driven primarily by new customers seeking an enterprise cloud similar to what they have historically been running in their own data centers and new services like DRaaS.

Choice: As pundits pointed out early in this cloud journey, there are really two types of clouds needed: An Enterprise Cloud where the applications need to have hardware redundancy and an Application Cloud where the applications have redundancy built into them. Hyperscalers are focused on application clouds, yet very few companies have the applications to take proper advantage of them. Expedient Enterprise Cloud is not a direct comparison to hyperscalers’ perceived unlimited elasticity; however, with a modern API and software-driven architecture, it can act very similarly and still provide customers with the hardware redundancy needed while they morph applications to Cloud Native.

Our Product Strategy team is not stopping here. This release marks the beginning of a continued platform evolution, with the main objective of providing our customers – both existing and future – with the tools they need to complete their internal cloud vision, as well serve as a cloud option in a multi-cloud future. And, we strongly believe in our value proposition: hardware-redundant clouds available anywhere — in one of our data centers, a partner data center, or an on-premises customer location — providing a low-latency, predictably priced, highly performant cloud well-equipped to handle any application thrown at it, while at the same time keeping a direct connection to the hyperscale clouds to do any AI/ML, big data, HPC, or infinite scale applications you might need. Virtual Machines and Containers have just found a new home: the Expedient Enterprise Cloud.

Watch John White provide a live demo of Expedient Enterprise Cloud at VMWorld 2018.

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