Can there really be a high-availability cloud?

Adding industry standard routing support to their IaaS infrastructure makes ProfitBricks a more attractive alternative.

Virtual datacenter provider ProfitBricks has announced that all of its customers will be getting high availability as a basic component of their infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering. With claims that it already provides the best performance in the industry when compared to better-known vendors such as Rackspace and Amazon, ProfitBricks is looking to use availability as the differentiator that drives business adoption of the IaaS offering.

From the high-level perspective, this is a great idea, and a serious differentiator for ProfitBricks. For people like me, those who keep a close eye on the IaaS market and advise clients on vendor selection, availability should be a top concern. There has been a seemingly continuous series of events, many very high profile, of major services hosted on IaaS platforms going down because of issues that have long been addressed in physical datacenters, but are just seeing processes developed to deal with in the world of the virtualized infrastructure.

ProfitBricks has rolled out its high-availability solution based on Address Resolution Protocol. This allows dynamic routing of IPv4 address to virtual machines. This capability is now standard with its service. ARP is not a new protocol, but ProfitBricks claims to be the first IaaS provider to implement it in this environment, bringing this brick-and-mortar datacenter standard to the cloud. Its cloud will now support industry standard Linux distributions such as Debian and Ubuntu deployment with Linux-HA, without any special configuration requirements.

This may not sound like a big deal, but current HA solutions for cloud vendors have started off by adding levels of complexity that supporting ARP doesn't have. Being able to build HA networks using traditional models and technologies will be important in driving further business adoption of the cloud.