Author Topic: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?  (Read 587 times)

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Offline Martin F

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Hi all,

We're a small startup manufacturing data loggers. Shortly, we'll be releasing a logger that allows customers to transfer their data to e.g. an FTP server.
Down the road, we would like to offer our users the option to upload their data to a cloud server solution that we host. I.e. so if they e.g. don't have an easy server that they can access and upload to, they can use our service at a small fee.

In this regard, we have a few questions - and maybe some of you have experience:
1) What would be a good supplier if we wish to rent cloud server space at small scale (e.g. starting at 1 TB) with good flexibility?
- We would need to be able to have our users gain their own user/pass and get space on the server for uploading their data
- Further, we would need to allow the users to access their log files from this cloud server easily from any location

2) Down the line, we would potentially like to expand our service so that customers can use some form of cloud computing setup to "convert" their log file data using our software. This can be done locally today, but takes a long time for heavy data sets. Cloud computing would be ideal for users where speed is key and where they have tons of data. Is this something that most cloud suppliers can easily supply "on top" of the basic server storage?

We're a bit unsure how to start and who to reach out to. Any tips or experiences on getting started with this would be great!

We have some fairly strong coding expertise, but no past experience with hosting cloud server space for clients.

Looking forward to any inputs!


Offline Jeroen3

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Re: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2017, 04:02:26 am »
Hire someone that has IT and hosting experience. You will need him/her to ensure the hosting is done properly and secure.
You wouldn't want data loss, service downtime or worse.

You will most likely be looking at virtual solutions, so you can scale up. And possibly duplicate/relocate to get more capacity on different parts of the world.

FYI: FTP is probably not the correct way to do this. At least get something that encrypts the passwords or api key.

Offline evb149

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Re: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2017, 07:09:30 am »
Well I don't know if there are easy answers.  Amazon, Microsoft, and Google among others are competing in the cloud server space among others.  Their cost models vary depending on your CPU and storage and network requirements so you'll have to pick some possible architectures and do the math to see what is suitable in terms of performance and cost scaling wich various models of usage from nearly 0% to whatever meets your marketing "high end" expectations in the intermediate term.

One possibility would be to consider adding virtual private server or data center colocated self or outsourced manged server or managed physical private server technologies into the mix.  You mentioned something like 1TB which isn't a lot of storage space but is a lot of network traffic at high bandwidth / scaling.  So from that standpoint you might find it pretty cheap to start with a baseline offering of one or a few rented + hosted virtual or physical -- or -- colocated physical servers to provide baseline capability to your first customers and then allow scaling up from that baseline capability using some level of dynamic cloud network / storage / CPU resources to provide elasticity and dynamic responsiveness of capacity to demand.   It'll probably always be cheaper to use cloud or colocated / data center networking for moving around high bandwidth network traffic to and from the internet, but pretty much always (my guesstimate, I could be wrong)  be cheaper to have owned / rented / semi-private / private CPU and storage servers if you're going to have a presistent need to store and process TBs of data with a lot of instance "uptime" but not needing a particularly large number of machines to actually handle the CPU / disk load itself (even one pair of redundant servers and RAIDs can handle multi-TB data stores easily with GBy/s scale network throughput).

Then again if you're just experimenting with some ideas it may not be a big deal to go 100% cloud for network + server CPU resources + disk storage.  Pay for 6 months or whatever of a deployment and see what you like or don't like about it and then you can easily refactor that in terms of providers and leased / "statically" allocated capacity vs. highly dynamic resource instance use.


Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2017, 09:48:33 am »
If you expect fair growth or change in your demands within 5 years, it makes sense to look into the well known parties that can rent you infrastructure: Amazon, Microsoft and maybe Google. The choice would depend on your specific demands. Buying your hardware could be cheaper, but that supposes you use your hardware fairly optimally and depends on your needs. That means correctly projecting usage and then using your hardware consistently. Considering it is unlikely that you will use most of your hardware from the start and not grow out of it after that, it seems to make sense to rent infrastructure. You can scale up and down according to your wishes. When things settle down and growth is more predictable and less volatile, you can start looking into buying your own iron. You could always use a hybrid solution, using rented infrastructure as a backup for temporary spikes or specific types of usage.

Of course, choosing cloud services has serious consequences. You will need to put a lot of effort in making sure your customer's data is secure and stored correctly, which also means making sure that it stays in the correct countries and does not get backed up to the wrong countries. Obviously, that is also the case if you have your own hardware. You, as a company, are still responsible for where the data might end up.

Also plan for problems. Even the biggest companies have outage issues at times. If the data logging is mission critical for your customers, you will need to have some kind of failover contingency plan. Be sure to be contractually very clear about what they can and cannot expect, but pointing at Amazon because a client lost irreplaceable data is not going to make you friends.

Of course, whatever you do, make sure you have competent people creating and maintaining your infrastructure, virtual or physical. It does not take too much for a major liability to arise if someone is fudging things. Make sure security is not an afterthought. Proper design and maintenance with attention for security from the start is key.

Offline julian1

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Re: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2017, 11:25:22 am »
Cloud computing is established and very competitive. It may make sense to verify that you are not deviating from your core business competence / competitive advantage - the manufacture of data loggers. How likely are different customers going to have different needs? Specifically in terms of role authentication, bandwidth, redundancy, expiring old data, access protocols, licensing etc. Maybe research and document the setup of some canned examples using different stacks mqtt/http/anon ftp etc - that anyone could take and adapt for use on cloud services like AWS or Digital Ocean.

Offline Halcyon

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Re: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2017, 04:11:30 pm »
Why not ask gnif? This is his speciality.

Offline sarel.wagner

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Re: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2017, 05:04:47 pm »
Hi Martin,

I work for the 4th largest software company. Here is a link to about 70  local Cloud services providers in Denmark, also Amazon or Azure cloud are options as previously mentioned.

Click in the black search bar and you can then select Denmark and the system will give you the list.


Offline EEVblog

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Re: How to best provide cloud server access to customers at small scale?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2017, 07:25:25 pm »
Amazon have countless cloud services
Not very user friendly, but cheap, reliable, and super scaleable.

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