General

How do I get started with Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has been designed to get up and running very easily, please see our Installing Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator guide for more information.

Can I test Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator?

If you would like to evaluate Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator, please contact our sales department here: https://www.flexiant.com/contact/.

What virtualisation technology do you use?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports KVM, Xen, VMware vSphere, Hyper-V, and Virtuozzo (formerly PCS).

Will all my applications run unmodified?

Yes! So far, we have not come across any application that would not run on top on Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator.

Can it support a hybrid environment (a mix of cloud and physical servers)?

Yes, we have built specific functionality into our networking to make it easy to integrate cloud and physical servers; you can even have them running on the same layer 2 VLAN if required using Interworking VLANs. Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator can also be integrated into external networks to provide direct Layer 2 access from remote sites, so the possibilities are endless.

How long has Flexiant been in operation?

Flexiant spun out of XCalibre Communications Ltd in 2009, but the technology behind Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has been in development since 2004 and in active commercial use since 2007. This makes it the longest running, most mature Cloud Orchestration solution in the industry. 

Infrastructure / Security / Resilience

What happens if Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator detects a hardware node failing? Will it automatically re-start my virtual machine?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator automatically detects soft and hard failures of nodes and can recover the virtual machine automatically on a new physical server, if required. It begins the recovery process without any human interaction needed and usually within minutes of detecting the failure.

How quickly can it recover from a hardware failure?

Should a physical Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator server fail, Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator will automatically restart the virtual machine within minutes, moving it to one of the other physical servers within your platform.

How secure is Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator is extremely secure. Internally, we use multiple segregated networks with firewalls for data security; powerful encryption for the storage of data and advanced password and user management to ensure customers only gain access to the resources they are allowed to. From a customer perspective, customers can secure their network using VLANs to secure their network traffic, encryption to secure their stored data, and Dynamic Workload Placement to ensure they are the only customer running on specific physical servers if required. In all areas Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has security covered. For more information about Dynamic Workload Placement, see How the Dynamic Workload Placement System Works.

What happens to my data when a server terminates or stops?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator’s storage model is persistent. The physical servers do not store any customer data on their local disks and everything comes from a centralised storage back-end (except where local storage is configured). When a server stops or even aborts, all the data is safely retained and will be fully available the next time your server boots up again.

What boot image formats does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator support?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator servers will boot from any bootable image with an appropriate boot loader depending on the hypervisor that is in use on the platform. That includes ISO9660 format CDs and hard disk images for KVM/Xen & OVA files for VMware.

What Operating Systems does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator Support?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports a wide range of Operating Systems, although overall, they are dependent on the hypervisor in use; options include:

Do I have to change the OS to make it run in Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator?

There are no OS changes required to the core OS. For optimum network performance and available cloud management functions, depending on the hypervisor and operating system some virtualisation drivers may be required, which we supply.

What applications will Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator support?

Any applications that run on the above operating systems. If you have concerns about the suitability of Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator for a very specific type of application, please feel free to talk to our support or sales team on 0870 050 0080 or +44 1506 606 000.

What things do I need to consider if I want to build my own boot images?

All you need to remember is that you may wish to install our virtualisation drivers. We also have a firstboot package will allow you to set the initial password. Full details on how to build images is available from Building an Image.

How can I make my own images?

You can either convert a snapshot of a disk into a image (using the image widget on the control panel) or upload your own image the same way.

Can you take snapshots of an existing server?

Yes. For information on how to do this, see Creating a Snapshot. Note that if you take a snapshot whilst a server is running, the data may not be consistent because it may not all be written to disk; some may be in the server’s RAM. So if you restore from such a snapshot, the disk may not be clean (i.e. will require a fsck or chkdsk).

Such a snapshot is the same as you would get if you switched the power off without shutting down and then copied the disk. As you can imagine, restores might not work perfectly. Therefore, we suggest that you always shut the machine down before taking snapshots if you want to ensure a restore will work correctly.

Do you support image cloning?

Yes, you can create an image from a snapshot using the Image Widget of the Control Panel.

Do you provide images with fully configured LAMP or IIS setups?

We don't directly. However, our partners offer a wide range of additional images and services on top of Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator. You can find out more on our Partners page.

Performance / server specification

What performance can I expect from my server?

Virtualisation typically takes a few percent of overhead for its own resources, but apart from that performance should be relatively the same as with a dedicated server.

How does it compare to physical hardware?

Once a Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator virtual machine is fully booted up, only somebody with a deep understanding of the underlying hardware will be able to tell that this server is actually running virtualised.

How quickly does a server boot up?

Depending on the Operating System installation and Hypervisor, a typical boot up time is around 10-50 seconds from asking for the server to start.

What kind of hardware do you need to use to run compute nodes?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator can run on almost any modern server, as long as it has VT support.

Can I have multiple CPUs?

Yes you can. These virtual CPUs will be presented to the host OS as physical CPU cores.

How much memory can I have per virtual machine?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator places no limitation on the amount of memory a virtual machine can use; the only restriction is the maximum amount of memory that your chosen hypervisor specifies that a VM can use.

Billing

How does the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator charging model work?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator uses a unique unit based billing model. This can be specified and customised on a per billing entity basis, allowing you to offer different charging structures to different customers.

What can units be used for?

Units can be spent on four main types of service: servers, disk, network and software images. Each of these is priced in units per time period (for services such as a server running, or a disk is in use), or usage (such as data transfer or disk IO). Time periods can be hourly, daily, monthly or yearly.

How often does the billing engine run?

The Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator billing engine runs every 15 minutes, though this is configurable. For more information, see Configuration Customisations.

What happens if a customer runs out of credits?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has built in capabilities for warning customers (at a configurable level) of when they are running low on credits, and if you are using the billing system the software can even automatically top up a customer's account from their credit card, or by issuing them an new invoice.

What happens if a customer runs out of units?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator's balance checking system runs once per hour by default, if it detects a customer has run out of units, it will automatically shut their virtual machines down to prevent unauthorised usage.

What happens if an automatic top-up fails?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator will automatically keep retrying automatic top-ups once per day.

Instead of using credit card based top-ups, would it be possible to use invoices?

Yes, Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports full invoice creation and management capability.  It also supports integration into existing external billing solutions.

Control Panel

How can a customer/end user access the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator control panel?

The Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator control panel is accessible via a web browser; you will receive details of how to access it via the install process.

What does the control panel let a customer control?

The control panel provides a great deal of  functionality. Amongst other things, it allows a customer to:

API

Is there an API to control and manage Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator?

Yes, Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has several APIs for control at different levels of the platform. These are discussed in more detail in the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator Developer Guide.

What standards does the Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator API follow?

Our API presents a SOAP/XML Web Service interface. A REST API is also available.

IP Networking

Does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator provide fully static IP addresses?

Yes. All addresses used in Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator are static.

What Networking modes does Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator Support?

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator supports the following network modes:

Can I use multiple IPs on one server?

Yes.

Can I have multiple NICs on one server?

Yes, and they can span different networks if required.

Storage

Can I mount the same disks on multiple servers simultaneously?

This is not possible with the standard virtual disks we provision with each virtual machine. The reasons for this are not related to Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator but rather with file system data integrity if more than one server can write to the same disk. However, if you wish to share data between servers, you can use a shared file system such as NFSv4.

I am going to run out of storage space on a virtual machine, what can I do?

You can mount a second virtual disk, or you can resize your current disk. Note that you are responsible for resizing the filing system within the virtual disk (resize2fs on Linux).

Can I shrink the size of a virtual disk?

No. Your operating system would be unlikely to support it anyway. If you need to do this, create a new smaller disk and copy the data over.

Support

What support options do you provide for Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator?

These depend on which edition of Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator you have, please see our website.