Basefarm: A Case Study

How Basefarm deployed IncludeOS Mothership to add virtual network functions to their network.

Background

About Basefarm

Basefarm logo

Basefarm is a European managed service provider for mission critical it. With nearly 20 years experience in managing on-line systems and applications, they help their customers achieve their digital ambitions. They are a truly hybrid cloud provider combining their local cloud platforms and public clouds. With focus on close collaboration they make IT a true business enabler for their customers with services ranging from colocation in Basefarms data centers to fully managed solutions.

Basefarms infrastructure

Basefarm has a big and complex network consisting of thousands of virtual machines, spread across several data centers. Today, most of their machines are virtualized running on several different hypervisors, Vmware VCenter being the dominant one.

The challenge

In most networks there’s a need for certain functions to be present in various parts of the network. Firewall, routing, load balancing are the most common functions. Traditionally these funtions have been implemented as physical boxes. Today, a lot of these functions are virtualized and they are then commonly referred to as Network Virtual Functions (NFV).

The dominant actors in the NFV market have solutions available. However, these are often propritary to a specific hypervisor, expensive, cumbersome or complex. By deplying IncludeOS NVFs Basefarm identified an opportunity for significant savings, both in terms of direct costs as well as through improved operational effectiveness. In addition this also leaves Basefarm free to pursue a multi hypervisor strategy.

The solution

Basefarm decided to use IncludeOS® Mothership to manage a fleet of small, fast and efficient IncludeOS Virtual appliances. The solution allows Basefarm to utilize unikernel NFV appliances in their infrastructure without having to program the appliances themselves.

The NaCl-based configuration language has proven to be flexible, intuitive and powerful, allowing Basefarm full control over traffic flow inside their network.

Updates without downtime

By using IncludeOS Liveupdate to update the appliances updates and configuration changes can take place without noticible downtime. Liveupdate performs a hotswap of the running application, without losing state. This allows maintenence to take place during normal working hours without the need for scheduling downtime. This allows for greater flexibility and higher effiency.

Time taken from committing a change to the change being reflected in production is a critical metric for Basefarm. Mothership makes sure that the changes are pushed out within 10 seconds - without any downtime.

Performance

IncludeOS has stellar performance. By designing the OS in a very CPU-friendly manner, we allow the CPU to leverage its caches and features to the fullest extent possible. The result is a steller performance. The graph is created by researches from Oslo Metropolitan University comparing IncludeOS to Linux with regards to throughput. As the complexity of the firewall increases the difference in performance becomes more and more distinct.

Netfilter vs IncludeOS

Cost effective virtual machines

IncludeOS instances are tiny compared to fully fledged Linux-based virtual machines. Depending on workload the instances can be deployed with as little as 64 megabytes of memory and only about 10 megabytes of storage. When running thousands of instances the savings become significant. The configuration management systems is easy and allows for powerful automation. New appliances can be deployed in a fully automated manner.

Do you want to see IncludeOS demonstrated?

If you are intested in getting a demonstration of IncludeOS Mothership, please get in touch with us by sending an email to our CEO, Per Buer. For demonstration purposes the system can be deployed in a cloud environment or on your local hypervisor.

About

Basefarm is a managed service provider for mission critical IT. They manage and run IT-solutions for hundreds of customers in several European countries.

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