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Instacloud: More Simplicity for Virtual Servers

Virtual servers in the public cloud made simple
Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Once considered cutting-edge technology, the “cloud” as a platform for delivering online services to Stanford is now commonplace. Over the past five years particularly, University IT (UIT) has delivered more and more services using cloud-based tools to the point that just about everyone is using the cloud to get their work done, whether or not they know it. And it’s not just UIT. Many school and department IT teams and savvy individuals are setting up cloud-based infrastructures to deliver local services.

Still, setting up and maintaining that infrastructure can be challenging…until today.

Enter Instacloud, a UIT service available to individual faculty and staff member that sets up and helps you maintain virtual Linux and Windows servers. You can get the full control you need with the benefit of semi-automated configuration and maintenance without the overhead of managing cloud accounts. Even better — lest you worry the added simplicity comes with a high price — Instacloud servers also cost less than building your own server in your own cloud account.

A few benefits

The service includes:

  • Common server software — free and open-source applications like Apache, MySQL, and Let’s Encrypt for SSL certificates are pre-installed
  • Security compliance configuration — software components necessary to meet Stanford’s Minimum Security Standards are built-in and preconfigured
  • Automatic patching — updates to the operating system and some third-party applications are automatically applied periodically
  • Nightly snapshots — seven nights’ worth of automatic snapshots are retained for rollbacks when needed
  • Lower costs with predictable monthly charges — a comparatively lower monthly charge without long-term usage commitments; Stanford accounts are charged the same flat rate each month, irrespective of the usage
  • And more!

Additionally, UIT is developing optional add-on services for you, including attached high-performance storage, monitoring and alerting, pre-purchased support hours, and automated data backups.

Support model

Instacloud uses a shared responsibility model for server and application maintenance. The following summarizes those responsibilities for you, UIT, and any cloud vendors you use.

Infographic showing UIT Instacloud responsibility model. Described below.

UIT Instacloud Responsibility Model

Client is responsible for securing the things in the cloud account

Instacloud is responsible for setting cloud account controls, provisioning server, applying OS patches, monitoring

Cloud vendor is responsible for securing the cloud, data centers, hardware

Modified from the AWS Shared Responsibility Model. https://aws.amazon.com/compliance/shared-responsibility-model/

Click image to enlarge

Learn more

Instacloud may not be compatible for all purposes and is uniquely different from other UIT services that deliver virtual servers. Check out UIT’s Instacloud service page for more details, including a summary of additional benefits, upcoming optional features, costs, and a link to set up a free consultation to see if Instacloud is right for your needs.

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