Journal Content
Journal Content

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cloud computing?

Answer: Cloud computing has several definitions.  We define cloud computing as the availability of computing resources on demand via the Internet.  The three main categories are:

  • Software as a Service (E.g. Google search)
  • Platform as a Service (E.g. Force.com, Salesforce.com)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (E.g. Amazon’s EC2, Flexiscale, and Gogrid)

Infrastructure as a Service has the potential to change the computing landscape with several big players entering the market (Amazon, IBM, Microsoft).  In addition to computing resources, network resources will also evolve to support cloud computing.

Infrastructure as a Service provides highly accessible, geographically redundant infrastructure on demand without any upfront capital expense. This means that customers pay for usage only. Instead of buying, building and maintaining infrastructure, companies can simply rent infrastructure at a fraction of what it costs them to run such infrastructure themselves.  Economic principles around the specialization of skills and economies of scale are at play here.

The benefits of Infrastructure as a Service are as follows:

  • Increased flexibility – Pay-as-you-go model provides the flexibility a long term contract does not.
  • Lower costs – Providers host datacenters in locations where electricity and resources cost less, resulting in reduced expenses for the user.
  • Reduction in time to market – Infrastructure is available within minutes of sign up.
  • Greater access to critical IT resources – Companies can re-direct resources originally allocated for infrastructure maintenance to core business activities

Companies such as Kaavo enable organizations to leverage infrastructure as a service, making it easy for customers to securely tap various public clouds through a simple online interface. 

How secure is cloud computing for enterprise use, especially when customer sensitive data is involved?

Answer: Kaavo enables companies to have the highest level of security when using cloud computing. For secure cloud computing using public clouds (Amazon EC2, Flexiscale, GoGrid, etc.) following three must be addressed:

  1. All the servers in public clouds should have properly configured firewalls
  2. There must be secure (VPN) connectivity for sending/receiving data between the internal servers/datacenters and virtual servers in public clouds.
  3. Any sensitive data that is stored in public clouds should be encrypted so that even if someone gets it they can’t do anything with it without getting the decryption key.

Kaavo’s enables the customers to achieve desired level of security by enabling all or any of the above listed items.

What value Kaavo provides in addition to value provided by cloud computing infrastructure providers like, Amazon EC2, Rackspace, etc.?

Answer: Getting infrastructure, servers, storage, etc. within minutes is only part of the solution.  To fully leverage cloud computing, automation is needed for configuring the infrastructure resources to run applications and workloads on-demand within minutes.  Also there is need to manage service levels for  applications running in the cloud by automating the response to known events.  Kaavo is started by enterprise IT veterans, we understand the issues of security and controls in the adoption of cloud computing from enterprise IT perspective. In addition we also realize the huge opportunity and potential of cloud computing not only in reducing operational costs and providing flexibility; but most importantly in simplifying and streamlining the configuration management and change management processes in enterprise IT. In addition to providing simple interface to various cloud providers, we provide the following key value:

  1. Security and access control: Role based access control and ability to easily enable data encryption for persisted data, establish secure connectivity to the servers on the cloud, and configure custom firewall rules on the servers in the cloud.
  2. Monitoring/Alerts & Auto-Pilot: Rule based alerts and monitoring of CPU, disk, bandwidth, memory. and in addition the auto-pilot functionality automates the run-time management of application by triggering appropriate workflows and actions in response to specified events.
  3. Application/Service centric n-tier configuration: Automation to bring entire system (one or multiple servers and services for running a service or application) online with one click.

How can cloud computing change my business?

Answer:  At Kaavo, we focus on enabling companies to run their business critical application in the cloud by eliminating barriers to the use of infrastructure as a service. Our product makes cloud computing easy and secure.

This allows businesses to focus on core competencies and avoid the challenges associated with datacenter management, server procurement and other complex, costly computing issues.

Other benefits of cloud computing include reduced costs, unlimited storage capabilities, flexibility, higher visibility and the ability to access your information from anywhere in the world. 

How does IMOD enhance my use of cloud computing?

Answer:  IMOD makes it easy and secure to use cloud infrastructure around the world.  The IMOD product can be used for both internal and external clouds.

Using a simple browser based interface, users can manage and monitor applications & services run in the cloud.

System administrators and developers can log-in to the cloud servers where they can manage, monitor, deploy software, and securely transfer files to and from the cloud.  IMOD provides single click deployment of complex multi-tier systems and also provide run-time automation for managing service levels.

What added security does IMOD provide to cloud computing?

IMOD provides added security benefits to the following areas of cloud computing:

  1. Servers running the cloud – Secure with Kaavo
  2. Connectivity to the cloud – Secure with Kaavo
  3. Data persisted in the cloud – Secure with Kaavo

Kaavo covers all three major areas by properly configuring firewalls and VPN connectivity with both the cloud server and an internal datacenter or network.  IMOD provides a data encryption mechanism in the cloud such that gives the data owner sole proprietary access and decryption rights.

What type of encryption is provided by IMOD?

Answer: Kaavo uses AES-256 bit encryption.  AES-256 bit encryption is currently the most highly recommended encryption solution and is approved by the National Security Agency for protecting top secret information.
 
What is the difference between Amazon EC2, Rackspace Cloud, GoGrid, and OpSource Cloud?

Answer:  From a macro- level, they all provide infrastructure as a service on-demand (ie. virtual private servers).  There are some differences in application programming interface (API), service level agreements (SLAs) and pricing.

Where will my data be stored?

Answer:  The data will be stored on the backend provider platform.  (i.e. Amazon EC2, GoGrid, FlexiScale)

Do you have the ability to complete restoration of data in case of a disaster?

Answer:  Yes, disaster recovery mechanisms are developed by backend providers such as Amazon EC2.  Kaavo’s interface makes it easy to recover the data from distributed repositories.

What happens to my data if Kaavo collapses or is bought out?

Answer:  If Kaavo fails, the user’s system and data will continue to sit on the backend provider platform, e.g. Amazon, IBM, Rackspace. The only component at risk is the easy to use and secure interface provided by Kaavo.  If this is a concern, Kaavo can provide mechanisms allowing companies to host their own instances of Kaavo’s application in the event that Kaavo or an acquirer of Kaavo can no longer support the customer.  Kaavo has partnered with large established IT services companies, and customers concerns can be addressed by the established players supporting Kaavo's offerings.   
That being said, we are committed to the long-term interests of our clients and look forward to a bright and successful future for Kaavo.

How is Kaavo's IMOD different than BladeLogic, Pan Manager, and Opsware?

Answer:  Tools like BladeLogic, Pan Manager, Opsware, etc. were developed to handle the configuration management and datacenter automation challenges during the phase II of IT evolution.  At that time most of the companies were consolidating datacenters to run multiple applications on same physical servers.  All these tools were designed to manage resources using an infrastructure centric approach.  Basically datacenter automation tools were designed for IT team running the datacenters.  Cloud is a move towards providing self-serve model to the IT applications teams, so the cloud management tools must be designed to address their needs.  This is why Kaavo has taken an application centric approach towards infrastructure management.

Kaavo’s IMOD is designed grounds to handle the challenges of virtualization and cloud computing.  IMOD provides application centric approach to managing infrastructure and middleware resources required for  any given application.  All the infrastructure and middleware related configuration and resource requirements are captured in the System Definition for the application.  IMOD automatically brings the entire infrastructure and middleware online and configure the appropriate software components, e.g. database, application servers, web servers, etc. required for running the application, and deploys the application.  During run-time IMOD monitors the application service levels and take appropriate actions based on pre-defined workflows in the System Definition for the application.  E.g. in case of a security breach, the IMOD can automatically shutdown certain ports or servers based on pre-configured workflows.  Application owners can define actions for events in the System Definition, actions can be sophisticated workflows.  In addition to built-in monitoring, IMOD can be integrated with external monitoring tools (e.g. Hyperic, Zabbix, Nagios, Tivoli, alt.) for application level monitoring.  During run-time of the application , IMOD can receive data or events from external monitoring tools and take appropriate actions based on pre-defined workflows to make sure application can keep on running smoothly without any negative impact on the application service levels.

How is Kaavo's IMOD different than RightScale?

Answer:  Rightscale is built for infrastructure centric management.  Scripts and templates by RightScale are designed from a server management perspective to bring and configure a single server.  Rightscale provides certain pre-configured components with multiple servers, e.g. MYSQL Master/Slave configuration etc., however, Rightscale's bottoms-up appoach of configuring multi-resource system using scripts has a complexity ceiling.

Kaavo’s IMOD is built grounds up for handling complex multi-tier multi-server deployments.  Kaavo uses a top down application centric management approach from the application owner's perspective of the system.  Kaavo allows users to easily configure single server templates like Rightscale.   However, most importantly because of the application centric approach IMOD makes it very easy for users to define the entire configuration for a multi-server n-tier system with different OS, middleware, etc. in a single System Definition and bring online complex n-tier system with a single click.  Because of the use of unique and innovative appraoch, Kaavo doesn't require the use of proprietary images.  Kaavo provides enterprise class solution with robust security, tools for managing application service levels, and for  ensuring business continuity.  In addition Kaavo provides autopilot capability for the runtime service levels management of complex enterprise applications without human intervention.  Kaavo's event to action architecture provides a flexible and reliable framework for automating the deployment and management of any complex custom application in public, private, or hybrid clouds.  In addition to the SaaS solution Kaavo IMOD is also available for onsite deployment for managing large private or hybrid clouds.

Can we use images/appliances from rPath & CohesiveFT with Kaavo’s IMOD?

Answer:  Yes, tools like CohesiveFT and rPath allows users to create custom images for single server appliances.  Using Kaavo’s IMOD these appliances can be tied together using the System Definition to build n-tier multi-server systems.  Using IMOD these multi-server systems can be brought online in the clouds with a single click and users can manage their multi-server systems for running their applications using Kaavo’s innovative application centric approach.

Can we integrate IMOD with external monitoring solutions?

Answer:  Yes, in addition to built-in monitoring IMOD can be integrated with external monitoring solutions, we have tested the integration with Nagios, Zabbix, and Hyperic.  Our standards based modular architecture allows plugging in different monitoring tools.  Please contact us if you want to use other monitoring tools with IMOD for application centric management.

What kind of security is provided by Amazon for EC2 & S3?

Answer: Amazon has published a detailed document covering serveral aspects of security related to EC2 & S3, including physical security, security of traffic within the Amazon datacenters, and serveral other related topics.  Please click here to access the Amazon security document.

 Can I convert my existing vmware images to EC2 and manage them on EC2 using Kaavo's IMOD?

Answer: Yes.  Here is the link to a detailed article describing the steps for migrating the vmware images to EC2 http://thewebfellas.com/blog/2008/9/1/creating-an-new-ec2-ami-from-within-vmware-or-from-vmdk-files .

Where can I find information to fill in on the Kaavo's IMOD's account profile page for AWS setup, Profile -> Providers -> Amazon?

Answer: Please refer to Kaavo Wiki AWS setup section for details.

Where can I find information to fill in on the Kaavo's IMOD's account profile page for Rackspace setup, Profile -> Providers-> Rackspace?

Answer: Please refer to Kaavo Wiki Rackspace setup section for details.

 

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