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Nov 14, 2017

Choosing a Public Cloud: Avoiding Noisy Neighbors

Paul Painter, Director, Solutions Engineering

I frequently hear people asking how to choose from among so many potential cloud options. The answer, I’m afraid, is “It depends.” Some cloud providers may over-provision their resources, causing your traffic to slow down. This drop in service is often called the “noisy neighbor” syndrome, but how can you avoid this?

Location, Location, Location

Just like choosing a house, it’s important to get a comfort level with the neighborhood. To evaluate cloud provider environments, you need to ask a few questions:

1.) What is the underlying hardware in the cloud environment?

For performance issues, you first want to confirm that the processor is equal or greater in horsepower than your computing needs. It is also important to know if hyper-threading is activated on the processor. For example, our AgileCLOUD is built using Intel e5-2650v3 processors, which have 10 cores running at 3.0 GHz per core and hyper-threading enabled, effectively doubling the processing power.

2.) What is the vCPU ratio?

In a virtual cloud environment, the hypervisor will divide the CPU cores into smaller mini-CPUs or virtual CPUs (vCPUs). Many providers will oversubscribe the available vCPUs; in other words, they will assign more vCPUs than physically available. This assumes that running virtual servers requires all the CPU cycles assigned. Cloud environments that oversubscribe are often cheaper and are ideal for workloads that are typically idle most of the time.

When a guest operating system is installed on the hypervisor, the guest instance is assigned a pool of vCPUs, as well as virtual RAM (vRAM) and disk storage to be used. The hypervisor manages the time a vCPU has access to the physical CPU in a round-robin manner, thus creating vCPU queues.

3.) What are the underlying disk configuration and network speeds?

The local disk type (SSD or HDD), number of disks and the RAID configuration will affect the performance of an I/O intensive application. AgileCLOUD uses SSD disks with RAID10, providing the fastest local disk performance possible.

Hypervisors and the Noisy Neighbor Syndrome

Just like large lots make for quiet neighborhoods, a low physical to virtual ratio makes for good computing. A cloud with a low ratio will have more access to the physical hardware, like a house with a large yard keeps noisy neighbors’ music from disturbing your dinner. A higher ratio of resources means you have less access to the actual physical hardware, which would be like your townhouse neighbor’s rock band practicing next door.

Understanding a cloud provider’s performance is more complicated than vCPU price performance.

  • Compare the processor speeds: some cloud providers have different generations on hardware with different clock speeds (and cores).
  • What is the oversubscription ration?
  • Available Disk I/O, both read/write capacity of the drive and network access if attaching to a block storage device are critical to server performance.
  • Finally, understand the physical network capacity of the server to move both LAN/WAN data and any storage access.

INAP Provides You Options

Our AgileCLOUD for example, comes in two flavors and, depending on your workload, one may be better than the other. Our Series A is specifically suited for web, application and light I/O workloads. Our Series B is better suited for applications that have higher CPU and memory demands.

Answering which of these two options is better for you depends on the workload you have, and the answer may even be both!  Let me break down the differences for you. The obvious differentiator between the two options is the hypervisor on the AgileCLOUD lineup.

To keep it simple, our AgileCLOUD offers two series of cloud compute (see table below).

Our A Series, good for small databases, websites and content management systems that require moderate CPU utilization has a 3:1 vCPU to CPU ratio.

Our B Series, better for medium databases, complex websites and scheduled batch processing tasks requiring heavy memory and CPU utilization has a one to one (1:1) ratio.

In other words, we don’t overprovision on the B series, so there is no chance of CPU contention and little chance of that noisy neighbor.

Armed with this knowledge, we believe that you will be in a better position to understand the vast array of available cloud options. If you are interested in learning more about cloud solutions that can fit into your unique cloud strategy, contact us today to speak with one of our cloud professionals or deploy your instances right away in our cloud portal.

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Paul Painter

Director, Solutions Engineering

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Oct 5, 2017

AgileMigration Part 1


Discovering the Monster

If you ever have to manage an IT system migration, you will have plenty of potential conflicts. Based on what I have experienced in over a decade in the field, you may encounter something like this:

You accept a job at a great company managing a pretty sizeable IT environment. You’ve been made aware that stability and cost control will be your primary concerns. This includes moving the majority, if not all, of your infrastructure to “The Cloud” in the next 6 months!

You arrive enthusiastic, but, after a major outage in your first week, you try to triage with a root cause analysis. Each department in IT can only give an account of a few specific systems, so you ask for access to monitoring systems and to be added as a recipient of all critical alerts to get an overhead view.

That’s when you find out that such a system doesn’t exist in the department. You ask why, and one of your employees explains, “Johnny DBA doesn’t want us to monitor his program because he says he owns it.” Suddenly you realize why stability and cost control are your navigational goals: territorial thinking and departmental silos have led to a dysfunctional organization.

You ask your team for an inventory of all the systems, and over the next few weeks you dig further, uncovering more and more gaps in the inventory and even a feeble attempt at a coup, which results in the termination of one of the most tenured system admins. With his termination, knowledge of the oldest systems still clinging to the infrastructure leaves with him.

It’s at about this point that you realize you’ve inherited a monster:

  • Outdated servers running critical systems
  • Questionable backup processes
  • A staff with entrenched territorial thinking

I call this the Frankenstein of IT, and I learned early on in my career that only a formal inventory could protect my IT environment from the monster.

Taming the Monster

Introducing INAP’s AgileMigration Service

As the leader of your IT organization, the need for accurate and detailed reports is critical to your success. This includes things like:

  • The physical infrastructure – What hardware and how old
  • The application stack including versions, service packs and patches
  • Resource utilization – What is assigned to the host or guest v. how much is really needed

To migrate any environment, then, you want to call out gaps and issues as quickly as possible so that you can set real expectations. Performing a data audit will help you determine what budget is likely needed, who you will need to manage, and how to migrate the environment. You need to understand not only the infrastructure being moved, but also the inter-application dependencies and affinities. In other words, you need to know how any system works with each other system for any given report or service.

In talking with our customers, we found that they struggle to get this information in a timely manner. This was the primary driver for launching AgileMigration, a comprehensive white glove migration service.

The AgileMigration solution is comprised of three distinct phases: Map, Manage, and Migrate. In the Map phase, our noninvasive technology collects a complete inventory in the environment, including the application workloads and dependent systems across the network. In the Manage phase, detailed infrastructure inventory reports compiled from the data create a clear plan to migrate. Finally, our technology will Migrate your entire environment from your existing platform or cloud provider to new environments with minimal or no downtime.



Discovery is the First Step

Whether you are looking to use INAP services or you have no intention to move but you need assistance auditing your environment, we can help. The AgileMigration service is made up of discovery tools, migration tools and professional services, each with a unique role to play.

For discovery, we will provide you with a physical or virtual appliance to set up in your environment to collect the details you need. We typically like to run the collection for a period of no less than two weeks, but we recommend at least a month to capture any end-of-month activity.

Our Agentless Deployment provides you with the following benefits:

  • No Software Prerequisites or server reboots
  • Lightweight, Quick implementation
  • No port scanning or packet interrogation
  • Affinity mapping
  • Discovers all equipment (servers, networking, security appliances and storage appliances)

To get the most from your discovery, Customized Detailed Reporting allows you to configure the information you need in exportable spreadsheets.

Banishing the Monster

Our AgileMigration service will lower your project costs by reducing personnel hours associated with manual discovery efforts and eliminating challenges associated with subjective data. More importantly, you will be able to keep skilled IT staff on projects that add value to your organization’s mission. Finally, our discovery provides a “source of truth”: using hard data for planning will help break down silos.

Once you have completed Discovery, you have several options for how to use the information. In the next blog post, I will detail how INAP can help your company through the Mapping and Migration phases.

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Nov 21, 2013

Next-generation AgileCLOUD is now available!


Our next generation AgileCLOUD goes into public beta today, and we’re really excited about the launch. Huge strides have been made in the areas of both scalability and performance.

Next generation AgileCLOUD is 100% OpenStack underneath the hood. We’re consuming the latest version of OpenStack, Havana, soon to be Icehouse, and we expose the full OpenStack API to our customers. It’s open, interoperable and helps eliminate vendor lock in.

In addition to general openness, performance is also a key message of our next generation AgileCLOUD.
We offer both virtualized instances as well as bare-metal instances with no hypervisor, all over the same OpenStack API.

In addition to the OpenStack API, our customers can still use hAPI, the hosting API as well as our portal to manage their complete environment.

Next generation AgileCLOUD is flexible. Not only do you have the option get the exact amount of CPU and RAM that you need for your instances, we’ve made great strides in the types of disks we offer. Disk I/O is traditionally a big pain point in the cloud, and we think we’ve got a really appealing solution for you. Not only do we have local ephemeral storage that is 100% SSD-backed, we also offer external network-attached block storage with finely grained quality of service.

For the first time, you can be guaranteed that noisy neighbors do not affect your disk I/O performance. Instead, you can dial up or dial down the exact amount of IOPS and bandwidth that you need. Pay for only what you use and get the performance that you expect.

You can sign up for the beta of next generation AgileCLOUD at

In addition, as a gesture of our gratitude, we’ll provide you with a $1000 credit for use on our generally available next generation AgileCLOUD.

We encourage you to sign up for the beta. Kick the tires, spin the wheels. We’re eager for your feedback.

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