These days the hosting industry is passing through a profound transformation thanks to virtualization and cloud computing. And during this evolution some providers are taking some risks to differentiate their offering and find new, profitable niche.
So while Softlayer decided to adopt Parallels Server Bare Metal as hypervisor of choice for part of its hosting facility, The Planet decides to adopt KVM to power its new cloud computing hosting platform.
The infrastructure includes Oracle/Sun SANs, Intel Nehalem processors, Cisco and Juniper network equipment, and Dell servers.
Quite interestingly, The Planet selected Ubuntu Server rather than Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) as virtualization host.
Apparently, the version of KVM being used by The Planet doesn’t support vCPUs and vRAM hot add:
Seamless, Rapid CPU, RAM Upgrades: Customers buy only what they require to get started and grow their performance seamlessly as demand expands. A single system reboot from the server host recognizes any added resources.
Despite the choice to use Ubuntu Server, The Planet is not using the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud version, which leverages the open source Eucalyptus cloud management system to control large scale KVM farms.
The hosting provided has built everything from scratch, leveraging the Libvirt standard library to programmatically control KVM and build on top of it inventory management, virtual machine to hardware tracking, IP management, ticketing, billing, monitoring, provisioning, reporting, systems management and customer interfaces. Such system is internally called ORBIT.
Supported guest operating systems are CentOS 5.x, Windows Server 2003 R2 and 2008 R2 (both Standard Editions only).
Compared to other cloud computing offerings, which adopts a pay-per-use model, The Planet decided to stick with a more traditional pricing that is common in the hosting industry.
The basic virtual server include 60GB of storage and 1 Terabyte of bandwidth at the following pricing:
During the beta period, The Planet early adopters provisioned over 1,000 virtual machines.
Excluding the IBM and the AT&T clouds, this is probably the most significant KVM implementation seen in production so far.