Hostway FlexCloud Servers Offer Scalable Cloud Infrastructure

FlexCloud Servers is a scalable, on-demand cloud infrastructure from Hostway that offers self-provisioned servers in a pay-as-you-go model.

Web hosting provider Hostway has released FlexCloud Servers, a pay-as-you-grow enterprise-grade cloud platform.

Designed to be flexible, reliable and easy to use, FlexCloud Servers can be self-provisioned 24 hours a day. IT managers have full administrator access and control to add or modify individual systems and have access to servers within minutes, according to Hostway, which announced this new cloud offering on Nov. 18.

"A lot of our customers are people that are running online applications or Websites and they want to have quick and easy control of the infrastructure they are using," said Todd Benjamin, vice president of enterprise hosting at Hostway.

Hostway joins an already crowded field, with companies like Fujitsu, Joyent and Rackspace, all jockeying to offer their own cloud infrastructure.

IT managers can create and self-manage multiple clouds, and automate the allocation of processing, memory, networking and storage resources across individual server instances, Hostway said. Security and load balancing capabilities are also available from the console.

FlexCloud Server is "similar to what Amazon has with EC2" in that administrators can instantiate a server and be up and running quickly, said Benjamin. Administrators can also clone and manage their servers and install software, he said.

Acknowledging that "different users would look for different things," Benjamin said there are a community of service providers who are using FlexCloud to offer cloud solutions to customers and handling the provisioning and management tasks on their behalf.

Hostway has set up public and private image libraries to let users save and copy images. User-initiated snapshots of their servers are saved in multiple states, and backups are automatically scheduled and performed within the FlexCloud.

The Hostway Standard image library contains a "handful" of images such as Linux and Windows operating systems that administrators can use when provisioning new servers, said Benjamin. Linux images include Red Hat, Ubuntu and Fedora, and Microsoft Windows images include Windows Server 2005 and 2008, Benjamin said. Database control panels are "coming soon," he said.

There is no extra cost for using Windows Server images, as opposed to Linux images, Benjamin said.

As for the public image library, service providers can publish any image that others can use to instantiate servers or to create virtual appliances, Benjamin said. Hostway is currently speaking with other partners to add more images, such as CRM and ERP software, to the public library, according to Benjamin. All the images in the public library are available to anyone with a FlexCloud account, at no additional cost, he said.

"We will be building out that library as we go along," Benjamin said.

Unlike most public clouds, FlexCloud Servers offer high availability features including automated failover for servers. Enterprise-class storage area networks increase performance and reliability, and the cloud has fully redundant host, network and storage hardware, Hostway said.

"With FlexCloud Servers we picked and chose the best that cloud technologies and business models have to offer, creating a package of features and functionality that is unparalleled in the industry," said Benjamin.

Hostway is offering a special pricing model known as Automatic Price Protection, which will automatically set pricing at the lower of the usage-based of fixed monthly rating, the company said. This allows organizations to pay as you go for low or variable utilization, but still keeps a fixed cap on how much the resource will cost each month.