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Report written by Sophie Lavergne

VPS 2016 - Infrastructure, Hardware and Usages

Launched in France at the beginning of summer, the VPS 2016 range is now available to OVH customers worldwide. What are the major advances in this new release? Damien Rannou, Tech lead (technical leader) of the project and Jean-Guillaume Burlet, VPS product manager, respond to this question and more.

Why a new range?

Damien Rannou: For the most part, customer feedback on VPS 2014 was, “It’s good, but I need more advantages in performance and stability and for less than 5 euros!” Responding to this, a team of fifteen French and Polish developers put their energy and gray matter into action to bring about a solution.

And what did you do?

D.R.: Up front, the main question was on the choice of the underlying technology, which needed to respond to the expressed needs of our customers. We quickly made the obvious choice; we had to change infrastructure.


D.R.: The originally developed infrastructure was based on Dedicated Cloud. This offer corresponded exactly to what customers wanted at that time. But we did not expect the large craze that the VPS received and discovered some sticking points. We analyzed the new needs presented to us and we were left with the choice of how to best respond. The chosen solution was OVH Public Cloud based on OpenStack, a younger infrastructure but one that met our requirements.

What does this new infrastructure bring with it?

D.R.: We started again on a new underlying infrastructure with both newer hardware equipment and software more suitable for our use. On the side of hardware, we have the latest generation of hosts with Intel processors allowing us to obtain very significant gains in performance (between 23 to 198% increases on our two ranges).
VPS SSD, the combination of CPU and SSD RAID array, allows us to guarantee both data security and greater performance. In fact, performance is not that far off from what can be obtained by a machine without the virtualization layer while still being offered at a very low cost. For the VPS Cloud, the customer need was slightly different. We needed performance, but above all, we needed to ensure the fastest recovery time possible in case of any problem on the host. Therefore, we have switched to the new generation of Ceph clusters (for data security) and NVMe disks to assure our customers the best performance possible.For this new range, we also analyzed the network infrastructure. To adapt to our needs, we moved from a virtual to a physical architecture. Before, we had virtual switches, and today we have physical equipment. The distance between the VM and the network is as short as possible, with this direct connection to the network equipment being a contributing factor in higher performance.
This new infrastructure also offers us more stability for the virtual machines. The switch to OpenStack allows us to address some of the difficulties experienced with the previous VPS Classic range. The former offers were based on OpenVZ containers, yet offered Docker – this is to say a container in a container – which was not straightforward. We also had issues with Archlinux which was a distribution in high demand. We could only propose this for VPS Cloud offers, leaving our, entry level, VPS Classic customers waiting. Today, to the satisfaction of users, the problem has been resolved, we are able to offer Docker, in an optimized version, and Archlinux on our most affordable VPS offers. We are now seeing a growth in the number of Archlinux customers.

In terms of usage, how does VPS compare to Public Cloud?

Jean-Guillaume Burlet: Both offers are based on a common shared cloud infrastructure, but they respond to two different types of customers and needs. On one side, there are those looking for one or several independent VMs and VPS is the solution for this crowd. On the other side, there are those wanting to build a complex cloud infrastructure. For these customers, Public Cloud compute and storage instances are the solution because the two can be combined and exchange data between one another.

What is the roadmap for VPS 2016?

J-G. B.: The focus for us, at the moment, is to quickly add features to the new ranges in order to match the features included in our previous offers. Within the past weeks, we have released the following options: snapshot, backup, multiprotocol and IP geo-localization. Very soon, we will offer IP failovers and automatic backup. Features will be added as they become available and may vary, please be sure to check your local website to verify what features are available at any given time.
D.R.: We are also working on a new offer to meet the needs of other use cases, especially for those requiring more disk space. We studied the possibility of offering an additional disk, with several technologies, notable Cinder, with guaranteed I/O and the ability to attach a Swift container, as well as other options. We are not short of ideas!

Migrating from the earlier range to the new, what can we expect?

J-G. B.: We are already beginning to see many users switching over to the new ranges. For now, we’re letting customers move naturally to the new offers. Our goal is to put in place a gateway to promote a large scale switch over. We are going to offer several methods of migration but currently we’re still in the testing phase.
D.R.: Migrating from one infrastructure to another is not a simple task. Because of our scale, we are seeing bugs appear on VPS which do not exist on classic Public Cloud. One challenge in particularly concerns network addressing, the network route doesn’t always appear when it is systematically deployed under OpenStack. This bug was reproduced systematically on the VPS platform. It was the frequent occurrence of this issue that allowed us to fix it quickly. We must understand that the infrastructure is subjected to a shock treatment. We experiment and test to push it to the limits of its capabilities. Moreover, it is still young and therefore we also have a lot of best practices to discover. With the most number VMs deployed and challenging configurations, VPS is OVH Public Cloud’s largest customer. As such, internally, VPS receives preferential treatment. The Public Cloud and VPS teams are very much linked together which boosts efficiency. To give another illustration, when we had the need for Cinder, we immediately spotted bugs. Obviously, any fixes or patches created also serve Public Cloud.

What is your opinion of VPS hosting market?

J-G. B.: Our VPS offers follow the developments of the market. They are emerging as a major piece in the transition towards the cloud. Using this logic, a VPS is a natural and cost effective gateway. It permits testing the cloud under the best conditions, providing performance and stability with progressive growth while making many templates available. Almost all the web standards are offered: Plesk, PrestaShop, WordPress… To recap, VPS is perfect for your move towards the cloud!