In the previous section, we learned that services on the Catalyst Cloud are pieces of hardware and software that we make easy and convenient to use by controlling them through means such as our Dashboard or the CLI (Command line interface). Now we’ll discuss the various services offered by Catalyst Cloud so that we know what we can do on the Catalyst Cloud, even if right now we don’t know how we can do it yet.
The compute service provides compute power on demand, in the form of “instances”. If you like to think about physical computers, you can imagine an instance as one or more CPUs and GB of RAM that you have provisioned usage of. Instances come in many sizes, as you can see on the Catalyst Cloud’s compute page.
It is a common task to install an operating system onto a block storage volume, so that you can boot the instance into the operating system. The image service was created to make this as easy as possible.
An image is a “pre-made” operating system installation that can be used immediately by an instance, rather than spending time installing the operating system, the drivers, miscellaneous files, and configurations that help the instance integrate better with the Catalyst Cloud. Images allow you to know that your preferred operating system will work on the Catalyst Cloud the first time you try.
Among the operating systems provided out of the box on the Catalyst Cloud image service are Ubuntu, Microsoft Windows 2012-2016, Debian, and CentOS. You can also create your own custom images to account for your own specific needs.
The block storage service provides volumes of data storage that you can attach to instances. You could imagine block storage volumes as hard disk drives and solid state drives on a physical computer. Block storage volumes can be as large or as small as you want them to be, however they are not dynamic; you decide beforehand how much storage you want to partition. In addition, block volumes are automatically replicated multiple times across the data centre to make your data very durable, and very available.
By attaching a volume to an instance, you mount it, making the file system available to the CPU and memory.
Object storage is a storage system unique to cloud computing. Instead of provisioning a volume of storage capacity, you just upload a file, and Catalyst Cloud handles it’s storage.
One of object storage’s biggest advantages is it’s price. As an illustration, imagine you’re provisioning a block storage volume for a database. Many of the bits you’ve provisioned within that volume are unused 0s, not yet used by the database to store any data. With object storage, you only pay for bits your files are using, not any empty, unproductive bits. This allows you to minimise your costs. Secondarily, data stored in object storage can be more efficiently stored than block storage, allowing Catalyst Cloud to charge less for it.
The network service allows you to perform networking tasks easily, flexibly, and quickly. You are given the ability to create, edit, assign, and delete the basic elements of a network, like:
Firewalls (called security groups);
Applications trying to deliver at scale with high service levels on the cloud typically do so by delivering their services from numerous compute instances at once.
However in order to balance requests between the many compute instances, a load balancer is needed. The load balancer service makes managing this additional component easy.
The load balancer assures requests are handled quickly, performs health checks to assure compute instances are still available, handles the durability and updates for the load balancer, and provides a convenient interface to make setting up load balancing is as smooth and intuitive as possible.
The orchestration service allows you to upload a template defining an application’s infrastructure stack. The orchestration service will then work to deploy infrastructure that matches the definition in the template.
Interestingly, you don’t need to tell the orchestration service how to achieve your definition. Instead, the orchestration service will intelligently determine the actions it needs to take to make the stack match your definition.
The orchestration service can either be used on it’s own, or as another resource that automation tools can make use of to more easily do their job.
Catalyst Cloud is an entirely automated platform that adheres to the NIST definition of true cloud computing. Among other things, that means you have total and near instant control over all the services you use on the Catalyst Cloud. You don’t need to wait for a human to do things for you.
There are a few exceptions where human help is required for security reasons. Signing up for the first time, increasing your quota, and whitelisting IP addresses are the most common. We intend to automate these in the future.
Resources on the Catalyst Cloud can be created, deleted, assigned, resized, copied, and edited at your convenience using one of the many tools available to interact with the Catalyst Cloud. Performing these administrative actions do not cost anything.
With the Catalyst Cloud, you have total control over your infrastructure. You have root/console access to your instances, and Catalyst Cloud places no restrictions on what software you use. This is because each project on the Catalyst Cloud is isolated from all the other projects. Isolation means that the resources and the actions taken in one project can’t effect anything else outside of that project.
It’s important to discuss how a true cloud computing platform like, Catalyst Cloud charges you for the resources you use; because it strongly effects the way you’ll use it.
Catalyst Cloud charges by the hour. Each hour, we check what resources you’re using, and add a small amount to your bill. Each month, we send you an invoice for the bill you’ve accumulated that month. This means you can save money by disabling your resources for even short periods of time, such as overnight.
This is useful information to apply for situations like automated testing, for example. Many organisations will have a staging server running 24/7 where they will deploy their application to test it before applying changes to the main, production server. Running the staging server 24/7 is wasteful, however. Instead, the organisation could implement an automated process that will only create a staging server when they are actively testing their application. This will save costs greatly.
There is no minimum limit for the resources you need to consume on the Catalyst Cloud per hour. In fact, we encourage you to disable your resources if you don’t need them. This flexibility is one of the biggest reasons so many in-the-know organisations are building and migrating their applications to the Catalyst Cloud.
Now that we’ve discussed what services are available on the Catalyst Cloud, we can discuss how to use them.