As a cloud hosting provider it is only natural for us to choose a virtualisation platform that we are going to offer, support and maintain long-term for our customers. Eleven years ago this was UML (user mode Linux) and for the last seven years or so this has been open source Xen. Cloud computing is all about open standards and the portability of your servers and many customers commented to us that they felt locked into their existing hosting provider. This was partly due to long contracts but most of all the fact that their virtual servers were not using an open standard so exporting them as a server image to another provider or, indeed, back on-premise was deliberately made difficult.
In addition to this, as a successful supplier to Government through the G-Cloud framework, we wanted to comply with guidelines to avoid vendor lock-in so we embarked on our Miniserver export service which is now in beta. This beta service means that you can take a snapshot of your server at any time and save it either as a VMDK (VMware format) or a VHD(Microsoft Virtual PC format), a feature which offers limitless possibilities in terms of creating a test/staging environment with another supplier, moving the servers back on-premise after using Memset as a testing platform etc. In other words, we are showing confidence and openness in allowing customers to easily snapshot and port virtual server images to wherever they may want them to reside.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said of open source and open standards:
"Having open information and software that can be used across government departments will result in lower licensing costs in government IT, and reduce the cost of lock-in to suppliers and products."
In a world where other hosting providers are still trying to think about locking people in and making it hard for them to leave, Memset is actually expending time and resources developing open systems to allow people choice and flexibility in porting infrastructure to wherever they want it.
Nathan Johnston, Sales Manager at Memset, comments:
"We are still having conversations with public and private sector organisations who are tied into long-term contracts with hosting companies and also have no easy way to move away if they want to. Cloud is all about no contracts and no lock-in and we are proud to be leading the way in offering customers flexibility and no lock-in with any virtualised infrastructure they may choose to host with us. Naturally, we want customers to stay with us long term, but for the right reasons of value for money, reliability and that we are genuinely nice people to deal with, not for the wrong reason that it is impossible to leave."
You can read about the feature in the Memset documentation.