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UK cloud provider connects island data centers with Nicira NVP

U.K.-based cloud provider Calligo enlists Nicira NVP to virtualize its two island data centers into a single virtual data center for customers.

Connecting disparate data centers can be a struggle for cloud providers. Making two data centers on different islands operate as a single data center is even more challenging.

Calligo, a cloud provider located in the U.K. Channel Islands, is using Nicira's Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) to virtualize its two data centers -- based on the islands of Jersey and Guernsey -- and make them operate as one.

Nicira NVP: Putting data in two places at once

The Channel Islands' only cloud provider, Calligo had to ensure network reliability to its offshore clients leveraging its cloud services. Nicira, a provider of network virtualization, was a good fit for Calligo's cloud services, which are based on virtualization and a software-defined network, said Julian Box, CEO of Calligo.

"Network virtualization gives that flexibility that users like for server and storage virtualization. It's a natural fit into any cloud business," he said.

Cloud services are ideal for an island, or any business in a geographically difficult location, Box said, noting that Calligo sought to connect its two data centers, located on different Channel Islands, in order to pool physical resources into a virtual data center.

"Nicira NVP has allowed me to span across both islands and create one virtual data center for my clients, so I can not only geographically spread their cloud environment, but make their data more resilient," he said.

A single virtualized data center built with two physical data centers is attractive to users and prospective clients because their data can be retrieved faster from either location. It is also easier to manage. And it's especially attractive to Calligo's customers -- notably those in the financial industry located on the Channel Islands -- who are faced with security and compliance regulations.

"From a user's perspective, they see a single entity -- their virtual data center -- but have the knowledge that their data is being safely stored in two different geographic locations," Box said.

Calligo customers are reaping the benefits of total network isolation per their industry regulations, while Nicira NVP offers scalability for Calligo's multi-tenant environment. 

Box noted that customer feedback has been positive. "At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter [at] which facility [a customer's] data is -- [the cloud provider] wants the user to see a seamless service."

Nicira NVP is attractive to cloud providers, Box said, noting that the technology allows Calligo to control the virtual data center via a web portal. "I don’t have to worry about who the data center owner is, who the physical chip manufacturer is or who is the network provider for the bandwidth. From the console, I can control the environment rather than physically connecting into switches."

More on software-defined networks:

Software-defined network can ease cloud management

The software-defined network and OpenFlow networking

The rise of the software-defined network

Why Nicira abandoned OpenFlow hardware control

Cloud providers should consider the software-defined network

As more businesses start to shape their infrastructure around software and the cloud, Box said, cloud providers will be moving toward the software-defined network.

Calligo clients are able to link into Calligo's cloud environment at the same Layer 2 interfaces that they have in their internal environment without having to make changes to their existing infrastructure, saving both the cloud provider and the client time and money, Box noted. 

"Whatever [the customer's] LAN is running at, we can sort that configuration into the cloud and make our cloud part of their Layer 2 environment-- even though it gets routed over a Layer 3 infrastructure."

The easier it is for the client to accommodate the cloud provider's environment, the more attractive the cloud offering, Box said. "Nicira NVP allows us to connect and extend our cloud services into our client's environment very easily and simply, without the client needing any complicated network changes."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer.

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