Net Access Blog

The Data-driven Data Center: Building a Modern Hosting Platform

Posted by Dan Cech on Sep 24, 2014 10:52:55 AM

Net Access Data Driven Data Center


When I joined Net Access in June I was given a deceptively simple mandate: design and build a new internal management & monitoring platform to support our vision for hybrid colocation and managed services. While a lot has been said about “software defined datacenter,” very few companies have actually tried to implement it from the ground up. Because Net Access operates both datacenters and managed hosting assets, we feel we are in a great position to do so.

So, what does this modern hosting platform need to do? The goals of the platform are to provide both our staff and our clients the ability to monitor, manage and automate their infrastructure, and to make it easy to write tools to do so. We want our clients to be able to easily integrate both their colocation and NAC managed hosting services. On the backend the system also needs to be secure, resilient, scalable & maintainable.

To achieve these goals we are following the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) model, which essentially means that the functionality of the platform will be broken up into distinct pieces with different purposes that communicate via defined APIs. In practice, this provides for a more scalable, modular software platform, allowing us to rapidly make changes to existing components, or add new components.

The core of any SOA is the messaging layer, which allows information to flow between the different components. We are using RabbitMQ to support both worker queues for dispatching internal asynchronous jobs to the various services, as well as for publish/subscribe to create a clearinghouse for the data collected from across our infrastructure.

All access to the system will be via the core API layer, FlexAPI. FlexAPI is the management layer used to interact with the system and underpins the new portal. It provides a unified interface to interact with all aspects of our infrastructure, and a "single pane of glass" for integrating against the Flex platform. It is implemented as a RESTful API and implements HATEOAS concepts to support easy traversal of the resources it exposes.

Customers will be able to access the platform either via the API or web portal. The new FlexPortal uses the API to interact with each of the systems that make up the overall platform, and will provide a unified user experience for each of the services we offer, as well as the ability to support functionality like notifications for events generated from support responses through to data center badge access.

The next major piece of the puzzle is the ability to store, analyze & graph the data we collect from across all the systems that make up a modern data center. Every minute we collect a huge amount of data about our power, cooling and infrastructure assets. We want our customers to be able to view the data they want, in any way they want. There are a number of open-source and commercial solutions available that we are evaluating. Stay tuned for more updates as we select and implement this critical part of the data-driven data center infrastructure.

Dan Cech, CTO



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Topics: data driven datacenter