The Story behind Fuga Cloud
After a long day of work Paul leaves the office in Alkmaar. It's Wednesday 9th of januari 2013 when Paul, on his way home receives a phone call from a friend at Rackspace: "Paul, do you have any plans for April this year?"
Full of enthusiasm, his friend tells Paul sparkling stories about OpenStack and the related OpenStack Summit from April 15th to April 18th in Portland, Oregon. Three months later Paul checks in at the airport to visit his first OpenStack Summit.
In Portland, Paul meets several employees of The OpenStack Foundation, other organizations that use OpenStack, and many community members who contribute to the development of this open-source project. Paul: "The dynamic there was overwhelming. A large group of people who create practical solutions and their enthusiasm in tackling technological obstacles made me very enthusiastic. At that time 1,500 developers worked non-stop on OpenStack. A product where users can have an influence on the final result and on the road they're taking. What I found most interesting was that the people I talked to were facing the same problems as many other hosting providers did."
On his way home, Paul was overwhelmed with ideas. Wouldn't it be great to launch a Public Cloud where the core would be completely open-source? No licenses, no vendor lock-in, a community with over 82.000 members and support from large companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and AT&T which all contribute to the development of this project.
The First PZAP
PZAP ("Pizza Projects") and Fuga Cloud are closely connected to each other. PZAP has grown into a well-known phenomenon within the Cyso Group and it involves having a nice evening, working on your own cool projects with the help of your colleagues.
The first PZAP was born after Paul had visited the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Oregon. Because of his enthusiasm, Yuri (now Product Owner of Fuga Cloud) wanted to test OpenStack and see if he could get it to work. That evening in the fall of 2013, Yuri picked up some old, written-off hardware and shortly after he got help from several of his colleagues.
Yuri: "We had spent hours working on it and because it got late we ordered some pizzas. With pizza and beer in hand, we finally got our first installation of OpenStack working that night. Man, what a magical moment that was."
Yuri and Paul looked at each other and started to smile, they realized that this open-source project could disrupt the entire IT industry.
I am still proud to have been able to contribute to the Foundation
With this in mind, Paul and Yuri visited several organizations to see how they implemented OpenStack. The development of OpenStack was still in a very early stage. It was still immature software, not yet redundantly set up, and primarily developed to be used for Private Cloud purposes. Alas, Paul wasn't looking for a private cloud. He wanted to make it accessible for everyone. OpenStack needed to be the foundation of this Public Cloud.
At the same time, Paul stayed in touch with the people he met in Portland and became closely involved with the OpenStack Foundation. Paul: "Through these contacts I had the opportunity to cooperate in improving the process of code reviews so the OpenStack Foundation was able to enforce the quality of code. Improvements that ensured that the development of OpenStack could be lifted to the next level and therefore could be iterated on more quickly. I am still proud to have been able to contribute to the Foundation this way."
Headache and sleepless nights
Paul couldn't make the decision on his own if money and time should be invested in developing a new Public Cloud with OpenStack as the foundation. He had to persuade the other executives Sven and Tjebbe with who he had built the Cyso Group.
This project was an excellent opportunity to introduce a new way of working and to be able to continue innovating
Paul: "Together, under the name of Cyso, we built a successful enterprise over the last 20 years with Managed Hosting as our main focus. Besides the fact that I truly believe in open-source and the development of a Public Cloud, it was my opinion that we needed to work on our methods. We got stuck in our way of thinking and working and that's dangerous. Our motto is that we reinvent ourselves at least once every five years and that is actually the case. This project was an excellent opportunity to introduce a new way of working and to be able to continue innovating."
Soon after, Sven and Tjebbe where convinced of the need and usefulness of this new project. The lessons they would learn during the development of Fuga Cloud could be applied to the other brands of the Cyso Group. Fuga Cloud was pioneering on multiple fronts.
Of course, there were many doubts. How do you, as a relatively small player in the world of IT, develop a Public Cloud based on OpenStack while several big players failed or did not manage to get it working properly? In addition, we had a small team that would be working on this project and there were doubts it would be sufficient for innovation. Also, there are much higher demands for a Public Cloud when it comes to availability, stability, and security. Paul: "When you're running a (Private) Cloud you know the users. You know which use-case it is used for and which applications they're running. Maintenance windows can be discussed directly with the users. That’s the complete opposite when you're running a Public Cloud. It’s accessible to everyone without the provider knowing what the users are using it for. Every customer that uses a public cloud service demands 24/7 uptime and doesn't want to be confronted with noisy neighbors. Maintenance has to be done with zero downtime."
Put your shoulder to the wheel
There were enough challenges ahead so all we could do is get to work. Puppet guru Arnoud was asked to participate in the development of the future Public Cloud. Configuration Management Tool Puppet should help us with the management of our future cloud service. We were working day and night on our first proof of concept. Unfortunately, we were still using old hardware that occasionally faltered and failed. Because of this, it was clear that OpenStack was flexible enough for the mission Yuri and Paul had in mind. With blood, sweat, and tears we finally got our fully redundant OpenStack platform working. But this wasn't the end. OpenStack still wasn't connected to the public internet en without that connection our service would not create value for anybody.
It was so new that even our most experienced Senior Network Engineers couldn't get it to work
Yuri: "Creating a stable network was a big challenge for us. It had taken us months to figure out the right configuration to connect our OpenStack platform to the internet. This OpenStack technology was so new that even our most experienced Senior Network Engineers couldn't get it to work. A very frustrating period." The development of OpenStack to a redundant, stable and secure Public Cloud that's available on the internet had taken a lot of our time. The team behind Fuga Cloud didn't want it any other way. Paul: "As of this moment we have knowledge of every fiber of our platform. Because we know every detail about how it works we are able to manage it with ease and adjust the platform to our needs."
After months of development, we finished the first version of Fuga Cloud and it was time to test it. How would our platform perform when used intensively. Paul and Yuri wanted answers and decided to put Fuga Cloud services in Beta. Colleagues and customers of Cyso were granted access and started working with it right away. Yuri: "When you give technicians the task to test and see if they can wreck your platform, they will find very innovating ways to do so. Very exiting to see but also a very educational period. To be honest they managed to wreck it a couple of times as well and we were very glad they did. In this stage the amount of feedback we received and things we learned about our platform where overwhelming. A great number of bugs that we didn't know existed could now be fixed in no time."
The Private Beta period gave us great insights into the limitations of our platform and the hardware it was running on. Before this, the limits were not fully known and proved to be much higher than we expected. After all the bugs were crushed and our platform was fully polished it was time to let the rest of the world become acquainted with Fuga Cloud.
About two and a half years after Paul visited the OpenStack Summit in Portland the time had come to launch our Public Cloud, with OpenStack at its core. On September 25th, 2015, we officially launched Fuga Cloud that would prove to be a major milestone for the Cyso Group.
A new OpenStack release every six months
We must keep up with the latest developments. Running behind is not an option and means game-over
After a successful launch, it was important to keep up with all the new releases of OpenStack. There were second doubts if this would be possible with a still relatively small team. The development of OpenStack and new releases followed at high speed. Yuri: "Yes, we had a stable Public Cloud, but keeping up with the new releases of this community gave us many sleepless nights. It's simple, as soon as you are behind, it's game over. Customers want new features and want to be able to have access to the latest developments. Keeping up is key."
Paul became a regular visitor of OpenStack summits, and the summit of 2017 changed his view on how to provision new OpenStack releases. During this summit Paul heard about how DevOps and CI/CD where taking over the world of IT. Despite the fact that Fuga Cloud was keeping up, this could ensure that the service would remain scalable and manageable in the future. This could be the answer that we were looking for because the team behind Fuga Cloud was still struggling to keep up with every release.
Agile en Scrum
In 2017 we said farewell to our traditional way of working. We needed to generate more customer-value and the team needed to find a way to anticipate more quickly to the constantly changing market. The team behind Fuga Cloud started working with the Scrum Framework in sprints of two weeks. Long enough to release new features and short enough to change where needed in this rapidly changing market.
We added DevOps gurus to our team, who ensured that the mindset behind CI/CD was upheld in all our practices. Also new marketeers and front-end developers where welcomed into the team. This resulted in better UI/UX and continues improvements to our customer experience. After one year Fuga Cloud was growing fast and our (hardware) capacity needed to be doubled.
At this moment of writing we are working hard to launch our second region, this is one of the most asked for features. This new region is going to be fully loaded with all kinds of new technology. The supporting Fuga Academy will help users be successful in integrating new technologies like Kubernetes, Docker, Ansible, Autoscaling, Self-healing and CI/CD. Because we are integrating technologies like this, for example, a CI/CD pipeline, we are able to automatically deploy changes and updates without human interference. Everything is fully tested automatically.
Despite the fact that we are almost at this milestone, we will always continue innovating and reinventing ourselves. There are no challenges that we will not try to conquer and have a single mission; a rock-solid Public Cloud that is easy to use for everyone.
Want to be informed about the development and updates of Fuga Cloud?. Subscribe to newsletter receive the latest updates directly in you inbox