A Montreal-based provider of dedicated hosting has opened a new data centre from which it has begun to offer what it’s calling Smart Servers to give customers faster server provisioning, easier migration, and better remote visibility of server functioning.

iWeb Group Inc. completed the construction of its fourth data centre in the Montreal area a couple of months ago where a “pre-wire” automated process now allows for servers to be provisioned within two hours, according to Martin Leclair, president of products and technologies with iWeb.
“We’ve been working hard on automation and really making the service different,” said Leclair. “Before you needed to ask for manual intervention to have (an additional service) available.”

Besides provisioning, Smart Servers are useful for system migration, such as moving an operating system installation to new hardware, which is “normally a pain in traditional server hosting,” said Leclair.

iWeb’s Smart Servers resolves the usual migration challenge with what it calls a Smart Layer that sits between the hardware and the customer operating system so “they don’t need to reconfigure their operating system, their applications,” explained Leclair.

IT admins responsible for monitoring the servers also benefit from a remote console that gives visibility into server functions.

Currently, Smart Servers only support the Linux operating system but eventually that will broaden to include Windows. Leclair said the initial choice of Linux was due to 80 per cent of iWeb customers using Linux.

iWeb’s dedicated hosting service is niche with not much mid or large enterprise play, said Darin Stahl, lead research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd.

The need for dedicated servers appeals more to customers running Web apps who want the comfort of knowing those apps run in physical isolation, said Stahl. “It taps into that mindshare for sure,” he said.

Moreover, iWeb will be competing with the likes of Amazon’s EC2, said Stahl. But, he added, the advantage of using iWeb is “this data is in Canada, it’s not cross border.”

Besides the new Smart Server offering, iWeb offers dedicated hosting in two data centres and co-location services in another. Leclair said the goal is to eventually convert the two data centres with classic hosting to Smart Servers. He estimates conversion will begin in nine to 12 months as free space becomes available in those facilities.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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