Who Is Genesis?¶
Genesis Hosting Solutions provides top-of-class infrastructure solutions for both businesses and personal use. Genesis has previously offered VMware-based solutions, but has been transitioning to OpenStack for a few years, and has launched various solutions that use our OpenStack platform design, including Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Storage, and Backup solutions. Our core values include openness as much as possible, so lock-in is avoided at all costs.
Long ago, a couple decades now, we had plans to create an Infrastructure as a Service company. At the time, we had few choices including Xen, Virtual Iron, and VMware. We could have taken a chance with Virtual Iron, but VMware was dominating the market at the time. Xen was still relatively new and very buggy and lacking features. So, our only choice was VMware. However, VMware really didn’t want to work with service providers (and never has, btw). We managed to work with them on a service provider agreement, long before their VSPP agreement was available and built a service.
As VMware continued to raise prices and provide service providers with no incentive to use their platform for IaaS, we had to come up with an alternative. This was many years ago, so the landscape changed significantly since we started. Now with Hyper-V, significantly improved Xen, XenServer, and KVM available as alternatives, we finally had some choices. These were just hypervisors with some level of automation controls such as CLIs, APIs, SDKs, etc., not full infrastructure orchestration suites as cloud providers are providing.
We had previously build some automation to provision VMware infrastructure, but it was a far cry from what AWS has created, for example, in terms of orchestration. Hyper-V was out since Microsoft could care less about their partners, taking customers away by providing services identical to what their partners are providing. We felt they couldn’t be trusted and decided we needed to stick with an open source or free software hypervisor, and preferably one with a proper orchestration platform.
Backing up a step, we should talk a little about cloud, and its meaning. It’s been a long debate as to what cloud is, since the marketing geniuses who know nothing about computing, decided to use the term cloud as a name for everything from a web site hosting platform to a hyperscale cloud provider. The term cloud originated from diagrams of networks and compute clusters where people wanted to abstract a large group of resources into a single bubble, of sorts. The proper use of the word cloud really has nothing to do with hypervisors, VMs, or high-availability, it is used to describe an orchestration platform that simplifies the process of provisioning and managing large groups of resources, whether it be compute, network, or storage.
Often, you will hear the word cloud associated with relatively simple services, such as web site hosters, cPanel hosting, virtual private server hosting, and even individual physical server hosting. However, these companies just jumped on the marketing bandwagon since everyone was using the term cloud for everything. If a service does not provide an easy mechanism for the ability to deploy massive amounts of infrastructure (compute, network, and storage), typically using “orchestration”, these services are definitely not cloud providers. In addition, cloud platforms are expected to provide much more than just infrastructure including container orchestration, CI/CD platform functions (DevOps), and other basic necessities such as Logical separation of resources, user management, IP Management, DNS, DHCP, port filtering, load balancing, secrets vaulting, and quality of service functions.
Back to our plans. We really wanted to be a cloud provider - providing a service that can ease the deployment of one or massive amounts of resources. Looking at the cloud orchestration software landscape, there were really only two choices left, CloudStack and OpenStack. However, OpenStack was really the only choice due to its acceptance by vendors, its relatively rapid development cycle.
It’s sad that we only have a single choice, but we bet the farm on it and started working on a major shift of our company’s focus. As a service provider, we not only have to deal with multi-tenancy, but also billing, client management, client sign-ups, provisioning and de-provisioning of client resources, and the hundreds of other small details that make a service a service, not including the design, deployment, scalability considerations, hardware choices, and monitoring choices. Plus, it has to be ridiculously reliable, so testing processes have to be well defined and executed on a regular basis. Just mentioning a few of these things and you can see why you don’t just install OpenStack like a Windows application, and that it isn’t for the faint of heart. You will hear that “it takes a team to operate OpenStack” and they aren’t wrong.
So for the past 3 to 4 years, we have been on a mission to bring OpenStack to the public in the form of a public cloud provider, along with many features and capabilities of the platform.
Let’s talk about OpenStack for a bit. OpenStack is an open source project, led by the OpenStack Foundation. It consists of 100+ separate projects that work together to make up OpenStack. This has its benefits and disadvantages, just like anything. The benefit is that a very large number of people are working on projects that ultimately make OpenStack more capable, faster, and compatible with many other software initiatives, whether they be open source or commercial solutions. The disadvantage is that there are a very large number of people working on these projects, which creates bureaucracy with people working on things that benefit them, or have a lack of insight as to how many projects should be glued together. The disadvantages, though, are usually limited to little details that make you go “hmmm…”, making you wonder if someone really thought about the big picture when they designed/developed something. The community has done amazing things, and when you start to use OpenStack, it becomes very clear that there were millions of man hours invested and many people have poured their hearts and souls into it.
Onto our service. We are launching our OpenStack public cloud service, Genesis Public Cloud, as well as a basic VM offering, Genesis VMs, after years of work.
You are probably asking, why do we need another cloud provider? Having many choices in the market creates competition for features, performance, stability, scalability, and price. There is still plenty of room for all of these in the market, and while we don’t have the insane number of features that the hyperscale cloud providers have, we do have performance, stability, scalability, and price nailed. Our price/performance metrics easily beat all of our competition, which was by design. For example, no more worrying whether you have a Nitro instance or “EBS optimized” instance, or whether your instance has enough network bandwidth. All VM flavors are built on the fastest hardware with huge 100Gbps+ pipes. We will continue to add features as the OpenStack community develops them and scale out our platform as we grow - also by design.
- Some features of our Genesis Public Cloud service include:
- Super fast Xeon Gold Skylake 3.7GHz processors
- FortiGuard-protected network edge
- DDoS-protected network edge
- Billing is on-demand with resource metering every 30 seconds
- 30-second metering values can be used for alarm triggers
- 3 VM types (compute-optimized, memory-optimized, and general purpose)
- Shared and dedicated core VM types
- 14 volume types (5 general purpose SSD, 2 spindle types, and 7 provisioned iops types)
- Low-cost Archive and Throughput-optimized spindle storage
- Ultra low-latency (<0.5ms) NVMe-connected replicated networked SSD storage
- Dual 100Gbps connected nodes (compute, load balancers, network nodes, etc.)
- Inexpensive $0.005/GiB VM egress traffic (including Internet-bound traffic)
- HA routers with NAT Gateway built-in
- HA load balancers with dedicated resources for load balancers
- Distributed routing
- Jumbo frame support (up to 9150 bytes)
- Nested hypervisors enabled
- Low-cost $0.01/GiB/month object storage that is Swift and S3 compatible
- Object storage has no early deletion fees, transaction fees, nor bandwidth costs
- VM image storage with image upload/download
- Inline snapshots using point-in-time virtual images
- Group snapshots
- Backups (like AWS snapshots) onto object storage with compression included
- Image library with most commonly used images (CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, Windows Server 2012R2, 2016, and 2019)
- Automatic Windows licensing
- Public DNS authoritative DNS servers controlled using OpenStack
- Forward and Reverse DNS set using standard OpenStack commands
- HEAT orchestration
- Firewalls controlled using OpenStack
- VPN tunnels controlled using OpenStack
- Affinity groups for servers
- Cluster management
- Secure Secrets Storage
- Metered data available for querying (Gnocchi)
- Cloudkitty is used for billing, so standard Cloudkitty queries can be used to determine costs in real-time
In addition, we have introduced our Genesis Backup service, which provides OS-level backups. Available for Linux, MacOS, and Windows, this allows you to perform file, database, and image-level backups/restores for more granular control of your data backups. Backups are compressed and incremental, with retention settings set to whatever you want, including unlimited. Backups can be performed real-time or on a schedule. Windows Desktop and Server are supported with the same product.