Month: November 2012

Claranet’s VDC wins Best IaaS Technology of the Year at SVC Awards 2012

Claranet wins a third UK industry award for its Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering, Virtual Data Centre (VDC) at the Achievements in Storage, Virtualisation and Cloud Computing (SVC) Awards 2012.

The SVC Awards honoured the cream of the IT industry – recognising IT projects and channel players, alongside vendors. Claranet VDC was awarded IaaS Technology of the Year following a two-stage judging process, which saw entries assessed by a panel of industry experts before being shortlisted for a public vote.

Michel Robert, managing director, Claranet UK, said: “This is the third major award that we have won in the UK this year for VDC, but the first that is awarded by the public. This is a huge vindication for the service, the hard work that the team put into building it, and also for commitment to listening to the market’s requirements and concerns when we were designing VDC. Before launching the service, we conducted in-depth research into the key concerns of end users, and found that the top three worries were reliability and accountability, data sovereignty and ease of migration.

“We designed Claranet Virtual Data Centre specifically to tackle these legitimate concerns, by building a service that featured integrated networking, a hypervisor-agnostic platform, hosted exclusively in-country data centres. The response from the media, analysts and, above all customers has been terrific, and to win the public’s approval at the SVC Awards is the perfect cap to a fantastic year for the company.”

Claranet’s Virtual Data Centre enables organisations to migrate to the cloud rapidly and with ease, using its self-service portal. The portal enables end-users to manage both dedicated and shared cloud platforms from a ‘single-pane-of-glass’. Users are therefore able to merge existing cloud servers into logical applications and template them for deployment via a simple drag-and-drop interface, all within minutes. In addition, the cloud portal delivers server and resource provisioning ‘on-the-fly’, as well as an ability to migrate from an existing virtual server platform into the Claranet Virtual Data Centre.

Find out more:

  • For more information about Claranet’s award-winning Virtual Data Centre, visit Virtual Data Centre
  • For more information about Claranet’s hosting portfolio, visit hosting services
  • For our blog article Claranet’s Virtual Data Centre picks up another award in time for its first birthday, click here

Five top tips for the journey to cloud – Industry Insight – Blogs – Technology Blog and Community from IT Experts – Techworld.com

Five top tips for the journey to cloud – Industry Insight – Blogs – Technology Blog and Community from IT Experts – Techworld.com.

Testing for cloud – Unleashing a barrel of monkeys – Views from the Lab – Blogs – Technology Blog and Community from IT Experts – Techworld.com

Testing for cloud – Unleashing a barrel of monkeys – Views from the Lab – Blogs – Technology Blog and Community from IT Experts – Techworld.com.

Claranet acquires Star in a deal valued at £55 million

This acquisition creates Europe’s largest mid-tier provider of integrated hosting and network services

November 23rd, 2012Claranet, one of Europe’s leading managed service providers, has acquired Star, a UK provider of managed technology services. The acquisition creates the largest mid-market provider of integrated hosting and network services in the UK and continental Europe.

Claranet is acquiring STH Limited and its subsidiary, Star Technology Services, in a deal valued at £55 million. The trading entities will be maintained and will become wholly owned by Claranet Limited.

Charles Nasser, CEO and Founder of the Claranet Group, stated:

From a market and customer perspective, this is a great opportunity to bring together the experience and resources of two great companies to deliver a broader service portfolio to benefit our customers. It’s our mission to help our customers make the most of internet-enabled technology, and the acquisition of Star will enable us to continue to deliver on this promise.

“This announcement confirms our ambition to become the clear European leader in the delivery of managed services,” he added. “This is nothing short of a British entrepreneurial success story, as both companies were founded here in the UK.”

Operating under the Claranet brand, the expanded company will have revenues of over £120 million, circa 700 staff, over 4,500 customers, and operations in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. Claranet’s customers will include Airbus, Amnesty International, Care UK, Channel 5, Veolia, Signet, CSH, IRIS, De Vere Hotels and Richmond Events.

The new business will have a service portfolio ranging from the data centre to the desktop. In addition to managed hosting and network services, which both companies provide to many customers, Star customers will be able to take advantage of Claranet’s pan-European, award-winning Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering, Virtual Data Centre, as well as advanced managed application hosting services. Meanwhile, Star’s strength in Unified Communications, remote desktop and advance security services will complement Claranet’s existing portfolio.

In addition, Star’s customers will be able to take advantage of Claranet’s European operations and benefit from the knowledge that the enlarged company is on a strong financial footing, with far greater purchasing power in the market.

Michel Robert, MD of Claranet UK, added:

Star is a leader in providing managed services in the UK and therefore a natural fit for Claranet. Star has developed a strong base of customers, has a well-defined service portfolio as well as a talented and dedicated team,”

“It is this very success that makes Star such a logical fit for Claranet, and as part of our continued investment in evolving our services, is one that will directly benefit our customers,” he added.

Ben White, co-founder of Star and a partner at the cloud-focused venture investor Notion Capital, added:

The cultural and strategic compatibility of the two businesses is second to none and I am confident that the enlarged group will go on to even greater things, creating significant opportunities for customers, partners and staff.”

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Ares Capital Europe and a minority investment by Abry Partners financed the acquisition.

Advisors on the transaction are Oakley Capital, acting for Claranet, and Ernst & Young, acting for Star.

Find out more:

  • For more information about Claranet visit Claranet limited
  • For more information about Star, visit Star

Create, test, deploy webinar

Ralph Lorkins, Solution Architect Manager, explains how Claranet’s Managed Application Hosting services can be of benefit to those looking to host applications in the cloud. November…

Configure Load Balancing on your Site using the the pfSense Firewall

Assumptions

This document assumes the following:

  • You have a need for load balancing TCP sessions over multiple servers.
  • You have a configured pfSense firewall up and running.
  • You are comfortable with the pfSense Firewall interface.

This document will configure load balancing for an example web site as shown in the diagram below:

image

Configure pfSense Firewall

First logon to your instance of the pfSense firewall.

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Next select Services -> Load Balancer

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You are then presented with the following page:

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Select the “Monitors Tab”

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Click on the “+” icon next to the “HTTP” rule, to duplicate the monitor:

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Enter a new name and fill in the Host field if your web site utilises virtual hosts and click the “Save” button.

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Click on the “Apply changes” button.

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Next we need to create a new pool for the load balanced servers.  Click on the “+” icon.

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Fill in the Name, Description, Port and Number of Retries.  Change the Monitor to TCP and add  the Server IP Addresses for the web servers, click the “Add to pool” button after you fill in each Server IP Address.  In our example the IP addresses are 192.168.10.2 and 192.168.10.3.

Make sure each IP address is listed as an Enabled Member.  Click on the “Save” button to save the configuration.

Click on the “Apply changes” button.

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Next click on the “Virtual Servers” tab.

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Click on the “+” icon to add a Virtual Server.

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You should fill in the Name, Description, IP address (should be the IP address of the WAN interface), and the port field.  The remaining fields should be left as the defaults (assuming this is the first Load Balancing rule you have added).

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Click the “Submit” button.

 

Click on the “Apply changes” button.

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Finally we need to add a firewall rule to allow traffic to traverse the firewall.

Click “Firewall” – > “Rules”

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Click the “+” icon at the bottom of the existing firewall rules.

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Fill in the “Destination port range” as port 80.

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Fill in a description, and click the “Save Button”.

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The site should now be load balanced and traffic should flow through the firewall.

The file will then be downloaded.

By Jay Fearn Google

 

If your interested in using the Claranet VDC product please fill in your contact details below:

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Configuring your First Virtual Appliance in the Claranet Virtual Data Centre

Login to the Virtual Datacentre Portal

 

To access with the Virtual Datacentre (VDC)  portal you must go to the following web page https://portal.claranet.com/cloud.

 

When you go to the cloud portal the following web page is displayed, to enabled you to login to the portal.  All configuration changes need to be made within the portal.

 clip_image002

User Names

The User entry box is where you enter the User Name you have been allocated, this is the email address that you provided.

Password

This is your password that was sent via email when you signed up the Claranet VDC service.

Remember Password

If you select this box then when you next login to the portal, your user name and password will be remembered.  Do not select this on a public/shared computer.

Language

Select your primary language.

Accept

Click here to login to the VDC portal.

 

 

 

VDC Main Screen

After you have logged onto the VDC portal you are presented with the main portal screen.  This screen is your looking glass into the VDC platform.

 

clip_image004

 

The screen is broken down into 5 sections:

 

1.     Menu Bar

2.     Enterprise Resources

3.     Virtual Datacentres

4.     Running Virtual Appliances

5.     Events

Menu Bar

The Menu Bar allows you to switch the display from the main screen to the following screens:

clip_image006

 

·         Virtual Datacenters

·         App library

·         Users

·         Events

·         Documentation

·         Support

·         User Details

 

Enterprise Resources

The Enterprise Resources section of the main screen shows the allocated resources as well as the amount of resources used.

clip_image008

In the above example the Enterprise Resources allocated are as follows:

·         3 – Virtual CPUs

·         40GB – Storage

·         6GB – Memory

·         100GB – External Storage

·         2 – VLANs

·         1 – Public IP Address

 

One of the VLANs is already in use, depicted by the red colour.

Note:  The difference between Storage and External Storage is:

·         Storage is the disk space that is used by the running operating system and is ephemeral in nature, i.e. when the virtual instance is un-deployed the changes made to the operating system is lost.

·         External Storage is storage that is persistent in nature and is mounted on the ephemeral operating system instance.

 

Virtual Datacentres

This section of the main screen shows the Virtual Datacenters that you have allocated resources in.

clip_image010

 

 

Running Virtual Appliances

This section of the main screen shows the amount of running Virtual Appliances.  A Virtual Appliance is a collection of Virtual Machines.

clip_image012

 

Events

This section of the main screen shows the events pertaining to you Virtual Datacenter.

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Change Your Password

When you first login to the VDC Portal you will need to change the password you have been allocated, this is to ensure that only you know the password and increases security within your environment.

To change your password you need to click on your name in the top right hand corner of the menu bar, as highlighted in the red box on the graphic below:

clip_image016

 

 

 

When you click on your name, you will be presented with the following screen:

clip_image018

Enter your current password into the Current Password field, followed by your new password into the New Password and Repeat Password fields shown in the above screen shot.  Then click the accept button.  There will be no feedback, but rest assured your password will be changed to what you have entered into the New Password field.

Pre-Requisites to Your First Virtual Appliance

We first need to allocate a public IP address to your enterprise so that we can allocate it to the Virtual Firewall later in this guide.

 

clip_image020

·         Click on the Virtual Data Centres icon in the top menu bar

·         Click on the network tab.

·         Select you Virtual Data Centre on the left, in this example it’s STAFF_UK_HIT1.

·         Select Public to list the Public AP addresses allocated.

·         Click on the “+” key to add a public IP address.

You will then be presented with a list of available public IP addresses.  Select one and click accept:

clip_image022

 

 

Your First Virtual Appliance

The best way to learn how to use the Claranet VDC is to jump straight in and create a simple environment. 

We will be creating a single Virtual Appliance (a container) containing a single firewall and a single web server.  We will configure the firewall (basic configuration), allow traffic to the web server and patch the web server.   The end environment will look like the following diagram.

clip_image024


 

Create Virtual Appliance

To create a Virtual Appliance you need to select the “Virtual Datacenters” button on the Menu Bar.  The following screen will appear:

clip_image026

You will need to click on the + button in the bottom left of the right hand pane.  The following window will appear:

clip_image028

Enter the name for the Virtual Appliance and select, from the drop down menu, the Virtual Datacenter you want to deploy this Virtual Appliance into.  Click Accept.

An empty Virtual Appliance will be created for you, and the following screen will be displayed:

clip_image030

Click and drag the pfSense Firewall image from the left hand side to the right hand pane, labeled Virtual Machines.

Next click and drag the Ubuntu image from the left hand side to the right hand pane, labeled Virtual Machines.

Finally click the icon that looks like a floppy disk at the top left of the right hand pane to save the Virtual Appliance.

Configuring the Virtual Appliance

After saving the Virtual Appliance we need to configure the interfaces on the firewall at the Virtual Appliance level.  Move your mouse over the pfSense Virtual Machine, two icons will appear, a wheel and a X.  Click on the wheel, which configures the virtual machine.  The following screen will appear:

clip_image032

You will now want to add a public IP address to the firewall, so go ahead and select the Network tab and then click on the + button near the bottom of the pane.  The following window will appear:

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Click on the Public Tab.

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Select one of the available public IP addresses, and click accept:

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The default gateway is now set to a public IP address.  This is the firewalls default gateway.

We need to now move the public IP address from NIC1 to NIC0 as NIC0 is to be used as the outside interface of the firewall.  So we first need to delete the existing NIC 0.

Select the line for NIC 0 and clicking the – button.

 

As you can see the public IP address is now on NIC0.

clip_image040

Now we need to re-add the internal network back on NIC 1 so click the + button and click default network.

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Select the 192.168.0.1 .  This will be the default gateway for your virtual servers on the LAN.

 

Click Accept.

clip_image044

Make sure the Default Gateway is in the same range as the Public IP Address, if it is not select the right gateway address from the dropdown box.  If the right gateway is not listed in the dropdown, click save and try again.

Finally we need to secure the VNC access password, select the “General Information” tab, type a password into the Password field.

clip_image046

Click save then close.

Finally click on the deploy Virtual Appliance button on the top right hand side of the Virtual Machines pane.

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The following windows will appear:

clip_image050


 

Updating the diagram with IP Addresses

We now need to update the diagram of the environment showing the IP addresses we have allocated.

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Firewalling

This chapter outlines the basics around firewalling and how you configure your firewall within the VDC platform.

Configure the Firewall

You now need to configure the firewall to allow traffic to and from the firewall, as well as allowing traffic from inside to outside and finally allowing port 80 (HTTP to the web server).

Firstly open up a web browser enter the IP address of the public interface of the firewall that we allocated earlier in this procedure, in this case https://195.157.13.168.

Ignore the certificate error by clicking on “Continue to web site”.  The following screen will appear:

clip_image062

The default user id and password is located on the ‘cloudhelp’ site.  .  For the pfSense firewall it is “admin” and “v1rtu4LDC”.

You will not be presented with the main web page of the firewall.

The first step we need to complete is changing the default password for the admin user.  Move your mouse over the System menu item at the top left hand side of the page until a drop down box appears and select “User Manager”.

 

clip_image064

The following screen will appear:

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clip_image068 Move the mouse over the edit icon to the right of the admin user’s line to edit the user.

The following screen will appear:

clip_image070

Type a new password where indicated (Twice).  Scroll down and click save.

 

 

Next we need to move the SSH port, this will allow you to access the Web Server via SSH.

Select “System” – “Advanced” and the following screen will appear:

clip_image072

Scroll down to the SSH section:

clip_image074

Click to “Enable Secure Shell” and set the SSH port to “8022”.

Scroll down and click “Save”.

Next we need to configure the firewall with the following rules:

·         Allow SSH on port 8022 to Firewall

            Select “Firewall” – “Rules”

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            Select “WAN” and then click clip_image078 to add a new rule:

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Enter the following:

Action: Pass

Disabled: not selected

Interface: WAN

Protocol: TCP

Source: any

Destination: Wan Address

Destination Port Range – From: 8022

Description: SSH to Firewall on Port 8022

Click Save

Click Apply Changes

You are now able to ssh using your preferred tool on port 8022.

 

·         Allow SSH on port 22 to Web Server

Select “Firewall” – “Nat” and the select “Port Forward”

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Click on the Add NAT Rule button clip_image084

clip_image086

Disabled: Not selected

No RDR (NOT): Not selected

Interface: WAN

Protocol: TCP

Source: Ignore

Destination: Wan Address

Destination Port Range – SSH

Redirect Target IP Address: 192.168.2.2

Redirect Target Port: SSH

Description: SSH to Web Server

NAT Reflection: leave as default

Filter Rule Association: Pass

 

Click on Save and then apply rule.

You can now SSH into the web server (IP address as firewall with port 22), with user sysadmin and password “v1rtu4LDC”.

 

·         Allow HTTP on port 80 to Web Server

·         Select “Firewall” – “Nat” and the select “Port Forward”

clip_image087

Click on the Add NAT Rule button clip_image084

clip_image088

Disabled: Not selected

No RDR (NOT): Not selected

Interface: WAN

Protocol: TCP

Source: Ignore

Destination: Wan Address

Destination Port Range – HTTP

Redirect Target IP Address: 192.168.2.2

Redirect Target Port: HTTP

Description: HTTP to Web Server

NAT Reflection: leave as default

Filter Rule Association: Pass

 

Click on Save and then apply rule.

 

·         Allow all from inside out (NAT rule).

Select “Firewall” – “NAT”

clip_image090

Select Outbound:

A default rule has been applied, so no rule change is required:

clip_image092

 


Patching the Web Server

Now SSH to the public IP address of the firewall on port 22, you will get a security alert that states the public key is different from what is stored in the SSH client.  You can safely connect, because we have moved the destination for the IP address and port to a different end point.

Logon to the Web Server using the default userid and password.

The default user id and password is located on the ‘cloudhelp’ site.  For server image information follow this url: https://portal.claranet.com/cloudhelp/templates/logindetails.html.

When you are logged in change the default password by typing the following into the terminal window:

passwd

You will be prompted for the existing default password and prompted twice for the new password.  Remember this password, because Claranet cannot obtain the password for you.

Next we will patch the operating system.  Type the following into the terminal window:

clip_image054

And type the password you have just changed.

This will update the local repository for patches.

Next type the following into the terminal window:

clip_image056

After a few seconds you will be prompted to continue, type Y and press the Enter key.

After a few minutes the web server will be patched.

We now need to install the apache package to enable the server to be a web server.  Type the following into the terminal window:

clip_image058

Again you will be prompted to continue, Select Y and press Enter.

The web server will start automatically.  You can test this by starting your favorite web browser and entering the address for the public IP address of the firewall into the address box, and pressing Enter.

The following screen should be displayed.

clip_image060

This is the end of the example “Your First Virtual Appliance”, it provides a foundation for building on and can be extended to enhance your cloud infrastructure into whatever you want it to do. 

 

 By Jay Fearn Google

If your interested in using the Claranet VDC product please fill in your contact details below:
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