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How do you buy Virtual Data Centres ?

When a business wishes to utilise the services of a Virtual Data Centre (or VPS) provider, they should be presented with a ‘menu’ of choice with the below as the key options;

1. Location: Where will the VDC or VPS be physically located? Which city, country or other specific location will host the platform. There are several laws which are country specific which require certain data to remain within borders. As an example, New Zealand’s tax laws require that tax accounting information must remain within New Zealand. This has posed a problem for Cloud accounting software company Xero, which is NZ based and host their platform with a data centre in the USA.

2. Processor or CPU: Each VPS requires a certain amount of processing power. Smaller less critical VMs such as a simple web servers need very little whereas a database server which processes mining assay data will require significantly more power. CPU is usually sold either by the vCPU core or Ghz (speed of the processor).

Processor requirement and memory are almost linked, the more memory a VM needs, the more processing power is needed to process the data stored in the memory.

3. Memory or RAM: Memory is the most significant piece when sizing a VM as all operating systems and applications need to operate within system memory. Too little and the system will run poorly and too much and resources will be wasted.

4. Storage or HDD: The amount of storage, or hard disk space, will depend on the actual amount of data that needs to be stored. Storage comes in almost as many shapes and sizes as there are colours in the rainbow, however, it can generally be categorised into 4 or 5 levels of performance and sold accordingly.

Some applications and systems, such as database and email systems require high performance storage (Tier 1 and 2 with SAS and maybe SSD disks), whereas general office servers sharing files can comfortably reside on lower performance storage (Tier 3 with NL SAS and SATA disk) while a business’ off-site backup storage could very happily be housed on high capacity, low performance SATA disk.

Selecting correctly between capacity and performance can have a drastic positive, or negative, impact on the overall price of the storage and performance of the VM.

5. Data Traffic: There are 2 main ways to access a VDC, either through the internet or via a dedicated point to point connection which could be put in place to connect the VDC back to the business’ principal place of doing business.

6. IP Addresses: To access the VDC, or VMs inside the VDC across the internet, the business will need to be allocated a certain number of IP addresses. The more distinct applications running inside the VDC there are that require direct access from the internet, the more IP addresses will be required.

7. Network and Security configuration: There are several ways to separate and segregate VDCs from a network security perspective, either they can be deployed in a small ‘shared pool’ or in a dedicated ‘Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN)’ or perhaps even on dedicated physical hardware to provide a higher level of security and separation from the other users on the platform.

8. Operating System: The choice of Operating Systems is almost limitless and this will greatly depend on the applications that are required and the preference of the business.

Some popular operating systems are;
• Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Web, Standard and Enterprise
• Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2008 & 2011
• Microsoft Windows Data Centre server
• Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7
• Ubuntu Linux
• CentOS Linux
• Debian Linux
• Open Indiana (Open Solaris)
• FreeBSD
• And many more

9. Applications: Applications which run inside the Operating system are even more numerous than the operating systems.

Some popular applications are;
• Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook etc)
• Web Browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox
• itunes and other music and video applications
• Microsoft Exchange email server
• Microsoft SQL database server
• MYOB, Quickbooks or other accounting applications
• Plus many, many more