EduCloud Server

EduCloud Server is a low-cost, virtual data centre for higher education institutions

EduCloud Server is a private, self-managed higher education cloud server service that provides simple and secure access to provision and manage virtual servers at a fraction of the cost of implementing physical servers. A self-service portal offers users the flexibility to deploy, redistribute, and remove server resources as needed - anytime, anywhere, from any device.

The service is available 24/7, is fully monitored, and is 100% FIPPA compliant - securely storing all data within British Columbia. EduCloud Server is operated and supported by the University of British Columbia

 

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Overview

What is EduCloud?

EduCloud Server provides secure, multi-tenant infrastructure as a service for higher education institutions in British Columbia.

Each institution is provided isolated virtual pools of compute, storage and network resources, which can be used to build and deploy robust, highly available applications and services for the institution. Compute and storage resources are available in several different performance tiers allowing you to choose the performance levels most appropriate for your applications or application components.

The underlying physical infrastructure is available at two sites within British Columbia – Vancouver and Kamloops – allowing you to run your workloads in different regions of the province. Using shared physical infrastructure increases hardware utilization and server consolidation, reducing overall cost for service users. It enables opportunities that might be challenging to achieve in a non-shared environment (e.g. remote location for disaster recovery).

EduCloud Server meets all of British Columbia's  provincial requirements under the FIPPA legislation. It is built using VMware vSphere technology, the industry-leading server virtualization platform.

 

How is it used?

EduCloud provides flexible, cloud based, infrastructure on which to design, build and deploy applications and services for your institution without sacrificing security or control.

The EduCloud self-service web portal provides simplified, self-managed access for your IT administrators and service users. Your IT organization manages all access to your resources via role- based access controls that can integrate with existing directory services. Quotas and leases allow you to place limits on the amount of resources and length of time they can be consumed.

Advanced networking lets you manage network design and security controls (firewalls). Load balancing services assist with design and deployment of highly available, horizontally scalable applications.

Catalogs allow pre-built services to be easily selected and quickly deployed by your service users.

The features, flexibility and control allow you to leverage EduCloud for a wide range of use cases, from deployment of single server to large-scale, highly available multi-server applications. Deploy critical disaster recovery services in a different geographic location than your primary workloads. Use the catalog, quota and lease features to provide self-provisioned labs for courses with automatic cleanup at end of term.

 

How is it managed?

Administrators in your own IT organization manage the service, including:

  • Requesting resources assigned to your organization
  • Networking and security configuration (networks, firewalls, load balancing, NAT, VPN).
  • Users and groups - determine who can access the service and the privileges they have.
  • Deployment of virtual servers and the resources assigned to them.
  • Quotas and leases to control the amount and length of time resources are consumed.
  • Catalogs – pre-built images of operating systems or applications that can be self-deployed by service users.
Benefits
  • Cost effective – significantly lower costs than physical hardware or public cloud services
  • Self-management through a web-based portal
  • Service availability,  7-days a week, 24-hours a day
  • Scalable infrastructure compliant with BC privacy legislation and FIPPA requirements
  • Secure, isolated resource pools for running your institutions applications
  • Efficient provisioning, sharing, and management of virtualized resources
  • Standard catalog of predefined virtual machine templates
  • Multiple sites – resources can be provisioned in both Vancouver and Kamloops
  • Multiple performance tiers – compute and storage
Service Fees

 

Description Price Unit
Basic fee (includes licensing and support) $85 per VM/year
CPU
High Performance Tier (Kamloops only) $50 per GHz/year
Standard Performance Tier $9 per GHz/year
Memory $10 per GB/year
Disk
High Performance (includes local and remote backup) $0.40 per GB/year
Standard Performance (includes local and remote backup) $0.15 per GB/year
Virtual Firewall Included in basic fee
Virtual Load Balancer Included in basic fee
Eligible Members

This service is available to all BCNET members. 

Connecting to the BCNET Advanced Network is preferred for the use of EduCloud, but not required. EduCloud is available over the public Internet; however, BCNET cannot guarantee the quality of service when accessing EduCloud services over the public Internet.

BCNET members

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What sites are available?

EduCloud Server has physical infrastructure available at two sites within British Columbia:

  • Vancouver – deployed in the University Datacentre at the UBC Point Grey Campus. In a moderate to high risk seismic zone.
  • Kamloops – deployed in a tier 3 datacentre through the B.C. government managed hosting agreement. In a low risk seismic zone.

Your institution can deploy workloads at any of the available sites. All sites have direct, high speed connectivity to the BCNET Advanced Network.

What is an Organization?

An organization is unit of administration for a collection of users, groups, and computing resources. An organization is created for each institution using the EduCloud Server Service.

What is a Virtual Datacenter?

A Virtual Datacenter (VDC) is a logical grouping of compute, memory and storage resources assigned for use by your organization. An organization utilizing multiple sites or compute performance tiers will have multiple virtual datacenters assigned. When deploying virtual servers, users must select which VDC they are deployed into.

What is a vApp?

A Virtual Application (vApp) is a container for virtual machines (VMs) that offers resource controls and management for the virtual machines that are inside. Think of a vApp as a portable, self-contained box that holds multiple virtual machines that make up a multi-tiered application (like a web server, database, and security server), including all custom network configurations.

It offers the following features:

  • A container for multiple virtual machines
  • Management of VM startup and shutdown sequences
  • Management of network configuration for the contained VMs
  • Portability of the vApp such that everything can be contained and transferred to another virtual infrastructure
  • Entire vApps can be powered on, powered off, suspended, or shutdown
  • Entire vApps can be cloned
  • Snapshots can be taken of entire vApps

 

What is available as self-service in EduCloud Server?
Feature Self-Service Open Service Request
Manage access to my organization in EduCloud Server X  
Deploy vApps/VMs X  
De-provision vApps/VMs X  
Manage VM CPU, memory, disk and network resources X  
Take and remove vApp/VM snapshots X  
Migrate vApp/VM between VDSc X  
Migrate vApp/VM storage between disk tiers X  
Manage firewall rules and load balancer configuration X  
Configure networks, routing and network address translation X  
Add additional resources to my Organizations VDC(s)   X

 

What browsers does EduCloud Server support?

The EduCloud Server Web Console is compatible with recent versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Note: The EduCloud Server Web Console is compatible only with 32-bit browsers. When a browser is listed as supported on a 64-bit platform, use of a 32-bit browser on the 64-bit platform is implied.

 

Browsers Supported on Microsoft Windows Platforms

On Windows Platforms, the EduCloud Server Web Console is compatible with the most recent version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and their immediate predecessor versions.

Note: The EduCloud Server Web Console is not compatible with the Microsoft Edge browser.

 

Browsers Supported on Linux Platforms

On these Linux platforms, the EduCloud Server Web Console is compatible with the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, and with their immediate predecessor versions.

  • CentOS 7.x
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.x
  • Ubuntu 14.x Browsers

 

Supported on Mac OS X Platforms

On Mac OS X, the EduCloud Server Web Console is compatible with the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, and with their immediate predecessor versions.

 

Supported Versions of Adobe Flash Player

The EduCloud Server Web Console requires Adobe Flash Player version 11.2 or later. Only the 32-bit version is supported.

 

Supported Versions of Java

EduCloud Server clients must have JRE 1.6.0 update 10 or later installed and enabled. Only the 32-bit version is supported.

What is the vCloud Director Client Integration Plug-in?

The vCloud Director Client Integration browser plug-in is required to perform any import and export operations, and to open and connect to the console of any virtual machines.

Please ensure the appropriate plugin is installed for any browser you wish to use with EduCloud Server:

Browser Plugin
Windows (Google Chrome) http://vsphereclient.vmware.com/vsphereclient/3/6/3/5/3/4/1/VMware-Clien...
Windows (Other Browsers) http://vsphereclient.vmware.com/vsphereclient/3/8/6/3/8/4/6/VMware-Clien...
Macintosh (Google Chrome) http://vsphereclient.vmware.com/vsphereclient/3/6/3/5/3/4/1/VMware-Clien...
Macintosh (Other Browsers) http://vsphereclient.vmware.com/vsphereclient/3/8/6/3/8/4/6/VMware-Clien...
Linux http://vsphereclient.vmware.com/vsphereclient/3/8/6/3/8/4/6/VMware-Clien...

 

What OS images are currently offered in EduCloud Server?
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 64-bit
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 64-bit
  • Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS 64-bit
  • Ubuntu Linux 16.04 LTS 64-bit
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise 64-bit
  • Windows 10 Enterprise 64-bit
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
How is licensing handled in EduCloud Server?

Each BCNET Member is responsible for licensing their own operating system and applications for each virtual machine. All infrastructure components are already licensed and included with your VM basic fee.

What are snapshots and how do I use them?

Snapshots allow you to preserve the state of the virtual machine so you can return to the same state repeatedly. The most common use for snapshots is to preserve system state before making major changes or applying operating system patches. Please note that snapshots are not backup systems – they only contain deltas of changes between the time the snapshot was taken and current state.

You can take a snapshot of a virtual machine either on a virtual machine level or a vApp level. Please note that you can only take one snapshot at a time – subsequent snapshots replace previous snapshots of the VM or whole vApp. vApp snapshot will take a snapshot of each VM contained within it, thus replacing any individual VM snapshots taken previously.

After you take the snapshot, you can revert a virtual machine to the most recent snapshot or remove the snapshot. Remove the snapshots as soon as possible, especially on high-transaction virtual machines (e.g. email or database servers).

Note: Snapshots do not capture NIC configurations.

What compute tiers are available?

Two compute tiers are available:

  • Standard – in Vancouver and Kamloops – 2.2GHz clock speed.
  • High – in Kamloops only – 3.2GHz clock speed.

The standard performance tier is the most cost effective and should provide sufficient processing power for the majority of your workloads.

The high performance compute tier is available for critical application components that require a higher clock speed and dedicated resources to achieve desired application performance. It is currently only available at the Kamloops site.

What storage tiers are available?

Available storage tiers and tier names vary by site.

Vancouver Kamloops Description
Standard SATA ($$) Standard ($$)

Standard performance disk tier designed for everyday applications:

Provides low to moderate I/O performance. Use for file servers, OS Drives, everyday application drives.

High SAS ($$$) High ($$$)

High performance disk tier designed for more demanding workloads:

Provides moderate to high I/O performance. Use for high transaction rate DB servers or other I/O intensive workloads whose I/O performance can’t be met by the standard tier. 

  Extreme ($$$$)

Extreme performance disk tier designed for very I/O intensive workloads:

For workloads with very high I/O performance requirements. Use for workloads who’s I/O performance can’t be met by the high tier.

We recommend all applications be deployed and performance validated on the standard disk tier first. Move higher I/O disks to higher performance tiers if performance expectations are not met. Movement of disks between storage tiers is non-disruptive.

The Extreme tier is currently only available at the Kamloops site. The Kamloops site takes advantage of an updated disk platform that can deliver higher I/O performance and delivers a more consistent user experience within each disk tier.

The Standard($$), High($$$) and Extreme($$$$) disk tiers will be available in Vancouver when  similar disk platform is deployed in the in the summer of 2017. The older “Standard SATA($$)” and “High SAS($$$)” disk tiers will be deprecated and phased out..

What is the backup frequency and rotation?

A crash consistent backup is taken every night, and vaulted to a remote site the same day.

28 daily restore points are retained at the local site.

28 daily, 12 weekly, and 12 monthly restore points are retained at the remote site.

Dashboard Frequently Asked Questions

What are EduCloud Dashboards?

EduCloud Dashboards is a web application which gives EduCloud administrators visibility into their virtual data center environments. Various dashboards and metrics are available to assist in monitoring, troubleshooting, and capacity planning.

Do I need to request Dashboards for my virtual data center? Is there an extra cost to use the Dashboards?

EduCloud Dashboards is available to all EduCloud virtual data centers. The Dashboards are part of the EduCloud Server service and there is no additional cost to use them.

How do I access the EduCloud Dashboards?

From a web browser, you can go to https://dashboard.educloud.ubc.ca. This is available on the public internet.

What is my EduCloud Dashboard username and password? Are they the same as my EduCloud Server username and password?

Your Dashboard credentials are different from your EduCloud Server credentials. You should’ve received an email with your Dashboard login credentials. If not, you can submit a request for credentials at http://web.it.ubc.ca/forms/bcnet/.

Please note that at this time we can only provision one EduCloud Dashboard account per organization.

Can I change my password?

Once you’re logged in, you can click on the Dashboard link at the top right corner of the screen to change your password.

Can I set up alert notifications or reporting in EduCloud Dashboards?

At this time, there are no alert notifications nor reporting features in EduCloud Dashboards.

Can I make changes to the data available, such as add/update metrics or create custom dashboards?

At this time, EduCloud Dashboards is read-only so no custom changes can be made.

 

Known Issues

Certificate Expiration

You may receive a federation certificate expiration notification email from vcdbcnet@it.ubc.ca such as this:

"The federation certificate expiration is MM/DD/YYYY HH:MM:SS AM/PM. An expired certificate may disable federation with the identity provider setup with your organization. The certificate can be regenerated from the Federation Settings page."

  • Option 1: This email can be ignored as it only applies to SAML authentication
  • Option 2: The certificate can be regenerated (via Administration -> Federation -> Regenerate), but it will expire within 1 year and send another warning shortly before it expires
Unable to change vApp/VM configuration when deploying from catalog

A vApp or VM will fail to deploy if you make any changes to the resources assigned to the VM (e.g. change CPU, memory, disk sizes, etc) when initially deploying from catalog.

To work around this issue, deploy the vApp or VM without changing resources, and modify the resources after it has been successfully deployed.

This issue has been fixed in the next release of vCloud Director – expected to be deployed in the summer of 2017.

Unable to move or copy a VM or vApp between sites

You will be unable to copy or move a VM or vApp between virtual datacenters located at different sites if any of the VM disks have a storage policy set. If you need to move or copy across sites, you must ensure that the storage policy for all disks is set to “(Use VM default)”.

You would not be able to copy or move a VM to another site with the following hard disk configuration until you changed the storage policy for Disk 0 to “(Use VM default)”.

 

How to purchase

For more information about purchasing, please contact Client Services.


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