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GoGrid Update: Save Server Image Enhancements (MyGSI), New Usage Report, Billing Improvements, Ubuntu & Debian Support

March 11th, 2011 by - 9,455 views

Part of a new Engineering and Product initiative at GoGrid is the fact that we will be providing more frequent updates to our Cloud Infrastructure Services. These updates may take the form of new or updated features, bug fixes, or back-end enhancements. Our goal is to provide these updates and feature releases on a monthly basis (more information on our new agile software engineering process will be coming) so that we can answer customer requests and needs on an extremely timely basis as well as introduce revolutionary services to the Cloud Infrastructure marketplace.

Today (March 11, 2011), we released our March 2011 update (code name “Long Beach”). The major features and updates are listed below:

  • Enhancement to the MyGSI Feature
  • Usage Report
  • Billing Improvements
  • Ubuntu 10.04 Cloud Server Support
  • Debian 5.0 Cloud Server Support

Please read on for details on each of the items listed above.

MyGSI Updates

About a year ago, we introduced a new feature called MyGSIs – customized GoGrid Server Images – and how easy it was to create and save a Server Image. Server images are helpful for horizontal scaling, re-imaging of servers, disaster recovery, or setting up failover environments. Until this update, we had a pretty straight forward 3-step process: 1) create a Sandbox Image, 2) configure your server, prep it, and run scripts, and 3) save the server to cloud storage.

Now, we have consolidated this process into ONE step. Simply select the existing server you want to save and click the Save icon. That’s it! There is no need to create a Sandbox Image, run preparation scripts or anything else. And, the best thing is, any existing server can be saved as a server image.

MyGSI_save_menu_icon

The Save button is also in the List view:

MyGSI_save_menu_list_view

Once you choose the server that you want to save and click the Save icon or link, you will get the following prompt.

MyGSI_save_step1_data

Note that if your server has more than 50 GB of data on it, the saving process will fail and you will need to reduce the amount of data on your server.

Simply give your server image a name, description, and indicate whether it is a Web or Database server.

After this, you server will be gracefully shut down, and the image saving process will start. You will see your server’s status light turn to amber:

MyGSI_saving_amber_state

And there will be an entry in the Jobs tab that not only states that the action has started, but also after a few seconds, displays the expected time for the server to be fully saved to cloud storage. If there is no “Estimated Job Duration,” just wait a minute and refresh the Jobs tab.

MyGSI_create_job_log

Your server will come back on line shortly.

Once the server image is created, you have the ability to instantiate new servers from it, or share it with the GoGrid community as a Community GSI (CGSI).

MyGSI_CGSI

Lastly, the MyGSI process is backwards compatible, meaning that if you had created a Sandbox Server previously and it still appears within your GoGrid account, you can still convert it into a MyGSI using the same older process. Also, any MyGSIs created using the legacy process will still be available to create new server instances. However, the creation of Sandbox Images has been removed as of this release, and replaced with the much easier process described above.

Be sure to read the MyGSI User Documentation that can be found on the GoGrid Wiki.

USAGE REPORT

Included with the “Long Beach” update is a new feature to help you get a better view into the activity within your GoGrid account. There is now a new tab called “Usage” which is under the My Account section. This new report is in beta for the next 90 days.

The Usage Report overview is broken up into two sections: Metered Services and Fixed Services. Metered services are things like RAM, Storage, and Outbound Transfer. Fixed services are for items that recur regularly during a month’s time, things like monthly licenses or IP addresses allocated to your account. Metered services are more variable in nature.

Usage_main

The Usage Report shows a quick snapshot of Metered and Fixed Services for the current or previous billing period. NOTE:  The historical data in this report will not be backfilled; therefore the previous billing period will not be viewable as of this release. Also, the Usage data collection officially starts on March 11th, 2011. This means that the current billing period report may be inaccurate for up to 30 days for some customers. Once a full billing cycle passes, the Usage Report will show accurate data.

Usage_previous_period

Under the Usage Menu, you can see a link to “Download usage report”. After selecting the billing period from the drop-down menu, click the link to download all of the associated usage data for that period and it will be downloaded to a CSV file.

The CSV file contains the usage statistics for the following objects:

  • Cloud Servers – # of GB Hours
  • Outbound Transfer – # of GBs
  • Licenses – # of instances of a particular license
  • Cloud Storage – maximum GBs stored for that day
  • Load Balancing – # of instances of a load balancer
  • Public IPs – total # of IP addresses allocated to the account
  • Operating Systems – # of instances of a particular Operating System in use

The fields reported are listed below:

  • Account Name
  • Customer ID
  • Report Start date/time
  • Report End date/time
  • Object Type (see above)
  • Name of the Object
  • Description of the Object
  • Data Center
  • Usage Start date/time
  • Usage End date/time
  • Quantity
  • Units

Usage_download_excel

A quick tip, be sure to format the “reportStart,” “reportEnd,” “usageStart” and “usageEnd” to mm/dd/yy hh:mm to see the full details with the date and time.

format_download_datetime

For additional details, visit the GoGrid Customer Portal Guide that discusses the new Usage feature.

Billing Improvements

One of the advantages of utilizing GoGrid’s Cloud Infrastructure Services is the ability to choose a Pay-As-You-Go plan or a Volume pricing plan. We are allotting more focus to the “billing experience.” In the past, our focus was on the delivery of the services and after engaging with our customers, we realize that some time and care was needed for the overall experience. To that end, we have kicked off a complete overhaul of the billing process to provide you with not only a better experience but also with more insight into your account usage.

This first iteration of Billing Improvements consists of the following changes:

  1. Monthly Invoices
  2. Account Plan Changes
  3. Usage

The details of each of these items are listed below.

Monthly Invoices

To make the billing and invoicing process easier, we are removing daily invoicing. From this point forward, customers will now receive monthly invoices on their monthly bill date. The monthly bill date is the date on which a customer opened their account with GoGrid.

There are a few exceptions in which additional invoices may be generated:

  • Fixed Services – if you are using a fixed service like dedicated servers, VPN, or hardware firewalls, you will receive an immediate, one-time invoice. The charge(s) for this service(s) will be pro-rated through the next bill date. However, the next monthly invoice will include a full charge for the next month’s fixed service and is paid in advance.
  • Manual invoices – if there are manual invoices generated off-cycle.

NOTE: There may be a bit of a transitional period during March 2011 because of the switch from daily to monthly invoicing. If you have any questions, please contact your account manager.

Account Plan Changes

We have updated the process of making changes to your GoGrid account plan and have a clear trail of the changes you have made and when they were made. We have also added email notifications to the process so that you get two email confirmations: one when you request a change and one when the change is implemented.

Account_plan_full

Just as you could in the past, select either the RAM or Data Transfer Plan and then choose whether you want your plan to be Monthly or Annual (you get a better discount if you choose an Annual plan):

Account_plan_select

Confirm the plan you want and accept the terms of service.

Account_plan_confirm

Once you make your selection, there will be an indication of the plan change within the Plan Selection page (in red) and your current or active plan will appear grayed out:

Account_plan_changed

Also, within the Jobs tab, you will see an entry confirming your plan change.

Account_plan_job

You may upgrade or downgrade your various plans as you see fit. Downgrades take place on the customer’s next bill date. Plan Upgrades take place retroactively back to the beginning of the current billing period.

The process for Upgrades is a bit more complicated. On the next bill date, customers are credited the last month’s lower plan charge and are charged for the new plan for the previous month and in advance for the next month.

Sometimes examples are a bit easier to understand:

Date Current Plan New Plan Charges
Jan 1st Professional – $199 $199
Jan 20th Business Cloud – $999
Feb 1st APPLIED CREDIT – Professional Cloud – ($199) Jan – Business Cloud – $999
Feb – Business Cloud – $999
($199) 

$999

$999

TOTAL CHARGES $1998

In the case above, you can see how the charges for the lower plan are reversed out and the new plan is retroactively applied.

In most cases, people upgrade plans during a current month because they are going into an overage situation or in anticipation of incurring overage charges.

Ubuntu 10.04 Cloud Server Support

With this release, we are pleased to announce that Ubuntu 10.04 32- and 64-bit Cloud Server Operating Systems are now available to complement Ubuntu within the Dedicated Server Operating System choices. This is the LTS – Long Term Support – version of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu_images

Debian 5.0 Cloud Server Support

Also with this release, we have included Debian 5.0 32- and 64-bit Cloud Server Operating Systems to complement Debian within the Dedicated Server Operating System choices.

Debian_images

More to Come

The “Long Beach” release is the kick-off of a new agile development process here at GoGrid. We will be aiming to have regular monthly releases from this day forward so stay tuned for more exciting news from GoGrid. Be sure to subscribe to the GoGrid Blog Feed to get regular updates.

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Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan, formerly the Technology Evangelist for GoGrid, is a recognized technology, social media, and cloud computing pundit and blogger who writes regularly about technology news and trends.

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