ISWest is a regional ISP based out of Agoura Hills, CA (approximately 30 miles north of Los Angeles). Started originally as a dial-up ISP, ISWest moved into the standard suite of ISP services including various forms of connectivity (DSL, T1, DS3, OC-x, Ethernet, etc) as well as ancillary services such as shared web and email hosting. Early growth was accomplished with a focus on small and medium sized businesses in the southern California area through strategic partnerships with outsourced IT organizations and customer referrals.
Business situation: To Stay Competitive by Offering an IaaS Cloud Service
With the benefit of owning and operating their own datacenters ISWest had a considerable amount of experience with the underlying infrastructure such as HVAC, UPS, Generators, structured cabling and other physical aspects related to datacenters. The ISP side of the business gave ISWest experience with designing and implementing highly redundant, high performance networks, as well as the servers associated with various essential internet services such as DNS, email, and hosting. Offering an IaaS cloud service was the next logical business step to stay competitive.
The business goal was to target existing clients either through the existing partner network of outsourced IT consultants or direct contact to prospects (typically colocation customers with old hardware). The requirement for these customers was different than “traditional” cloud which was largely based around public-facing e-commerce or other consumer driven websites. In contrast most customers were looking for a way to re-create network environments they were currently using which were primarily private (NAT) with only a limited number of public IP addresses used. At the time this type of configuration was either not possible with the popular cloud providers (AWS, Rackspace, GoGrid, etc), or was exceedingly complex to configure.
Given the predictable usage of the target customer, a system that provided hourly billing data was not required, but it would be good to have available should it be required in the future. An integrated billing system was also not required, as long as the usage data could be exported in a standard and structured format such as XML, JSON, or CSV.
The ultimate goal was to provide each client with their own private network, or in some cases multiple private networks, VPN access to those networks, and use VLANs to segregate customer networks from each other. ISWest evaluated a range different IaaS CMPs including Eucalyptus, Enomaly, and OpenNebula. At the time OpenStack was in its infancy and there were concerns as to its stability and/or production readiness, what direction(s) the project was moving in, and what type of support would be available if commercial support was needed.