Cloud Computing and LBi Software

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Cloud Computing is a general term used for delivering hosted services over the Internet. What’s different about Cloud service as compared to traditional hosting is that it is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic — a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider. A Cloud can be private or public. A public Cloud sells services to anyone on the Internet. A private (virtual private) Cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a limited number of people. When a service provider uses public Cloud resources to create their private Cloud, the result is called a virtual private Cloud. Whatever type used, the goal of Cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a collection of various hosted network services. LBi uses two of the services offered – Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3).

EC2 is a web service that provides resizable computing capacity in the Cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. LBi uses EC2 to host all of its websites, as well as several applications. EC2 allows you to run virtual servers (called instances) in the Cloud. You can run as many servers as you want and Amazon invoices based on hours of use and bandwidth. LBi has also used EC2 to load test versions of its products. For example, LBi HR HelpDesk was installed on one instance and a load testing program was run on another instance. The benefit of using EC2 is that it provides more bandwidth and processing power than running the test in LBi’s offices. An additional benefit of hosting something in the Cloud is that the website/data is now stored out of the office in a backed-up/redundant environment. This helps to prevent the catastrophic loss of data from something such as a fire in the company’s data center.

In addition to EC2, LBi also utilizes S3. This service is essentially a virtual hard drive in the sky. S3 is used to back up our EC2 databases every 3 hours, and files are backed up from S3 back to LBi as an additional safeguard.

Almost two years ago, we began all our hosting through EC2. This was done after a successful, issue-free, year long test using EC2 to host our corporate and Appraisal Application sites. By using these services, we can be sure our sites are secure, resilient and reliable. We can also ensure that they provide us with the ability to scale our applications to any size business, small or massive. LBi also uses cloud computing for demonstrating our applications. Using cloud computing, the application is available for prospects to evaluate at their convenience.

LBi also utilizes EC2 to deliver its SaaS (Software as a Service) Cloud option. As of 2010, LBi Software began to deliver its HR HelpDesk and Time and Attendance products as SaaS. LBi Software offers two SaaS hosting options: 1. Dedicated Server Environment (hosted on a physical dedicated server) and 2. Cloud Computing Environment (utilizing Amazons EC2).

Sites LBi is hosting on EC2

Appraisal Application
Appraisal application that LBi developed for a local real estate appraisal company
Dutch Property Management
LBi designed and hosts Dutch Property Management’s corporate site
LBi HR HelpDesk
LBi’s HR Case Management and help desk product. LBi hosts its SaaS Cloud offering on EC2
LBi Time and Attendance
LBi’s time and attendance tracking product. LBi hosts its SaaS Cloud offering on EC2
LBi Software Corporate Site
LBi’s corporate brochureware site including a download portal for downloading patches and demos
LBi Technical Support
Website for LBi’s PC and Network support offering
Richard Security
LBi designed and hosts Richard Security’s Corporate Site
Suntec Forest Homeowners Website
LBi designed and hosts Suntec Forest Homeowners bulletin board site

In order to safeguard our clients’ material LBi has a process of maintaining redundant backups. The disaster recovery server for all these sites is located at LBi. The database for each site is real-time replicated from EC2 to LBi’s Disaster Recovery server. The Disaster Recovery server is in turn backed up every night. In addition, the entire hosted site is backed up every three hours (increased to 1 hour for critical apps) from EC2 to S3. This process insures that no data is ever lost.

Today, firms require hosting companies to have generator backup, redundant ISPs and in many cases co-locations. When a site is down there is a potential loss of revenue. Through the use of Cloud Computing, smaller companies such as LBi Software can offer its customers this type of premium hosting at a lower cost. For example, one weekend this past July an air conditioner malfunctioned, spiking the temperature in LBi’s Corporate Server room. Technicians had to bring down the servers in the room for six hours. Since all hosting was in the cloud there was no disruption of service to any of LBi’s clients.