— Digital Mines Blog

We are delighted to announce a funding round from Delta Partners, Enterprise Ireland and our existing investors.  This the the first investment by Delta Partners from the Bank of Ireland Start-Up and Emerging Sectors Equity Fund.

From left to right – Des Doyle Enterprise Ireland’s Manager Growth Capital, Donal Duffy, Head of Enterprise Ireland Relations at Bank of Ireland – then Ed Byrne, CEO, Digital Mines and Shay Garvey, Partner, Delta Partners

Digital Mines was founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Ed Byrne.  The company, which has offices in Dublin and Krakow, is focused on the European market and has built an infrastructure as a service product for the business market. Prior to this, Ed was General Manager of Hosting 365, which was sold last year to SunGard AS.

Digital Mines has developed a simple and intuitive service which will enable customers to deploy, configure and manage a cloud computing environment. The company also provides access to cloud computing resources on a pay as you go model which allows customers to manage their infrastructure and view their balances in real-time.

According to Shay Garvey, General Partner, Delta Partners: “This investment will help Digital Mines to exploit the shift to cloud computing as companies look to reduce the costs of setting up and managing their IT infrastructure. We believe Ed Byrne typifies the new breed of entrepreneurs and displays the ambition and the skills required to build the next generation of Irish technology companies that can achieve strong positions in overseas markets. We look forward to supporting Ed and his team“.

Commenting on the announcement, Donal Duffy, Head of Enterprise Ireland Relations, Bank of Ireland said: “The Fund is geared to support entrepreneurial companies that turn ideas into new products and services for domestic and export markets. Digital Mines is a true example of how, in the current economic climate, a €350,000 investment can support a high-potential export oriented company grow, which is both critical for the company and to supporting Ireland’s economic recovery and growth.

Ed Byrne, CEO, Digital Mines commented: “Cloud Computing is the future of the IT industry, but most business owners struggle to take advantage of it because they do not have the technical expertise in their company. Our service simplifies the whole process to the point where our customers literally have the power at their fingers to manage their hardware and access their billing. Despite its size, the European Union is a relatively untapped market due to the range of languages, currencies and legal systems in the market. In response, we have developed a tailored European solution with local pricing and compliant solutions to business users, ensuring that their services are deployed and remain in Europe. This investment will ultimately realise our ambition in becoming a major player in the cloud space in Europe. “

Welcoming the announcement Des Doyle, Enterprise Ireland’s Manager Growth Capital, said: “The new Bank of Ireland Start Up and Emerging Sectors Equity Fund is one of four new funds set up by Enterprise Ireland in association with the banks and other partners to provide critical start up funding for new high potential business in Ireland. These four funds now have a total of €124m available for investment in high potential Irish companies. Digital Mines is a typical example of the new innovative businesses that these funds have been set up to support”.

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OK, now you have your server running on the Amazon Cloud and Digital Mines is managing it for you, what next? Apps! Let’s get some software installed on it.

In this post we’ll explain how to connect to your server. In the next few days you may not even have to do this step, we’ll be releasing an extremely powerful application deployment system where you’ll be able to do everything inside the control panel with a few clicks. Keep an eye on this blog for some sneak-peak pics of the system in action.

In the meantime, there is no harm in knowing how to connect and install the standard way. You may still need it for some niche apps you want to install at any stage.

One of the big advantages of Digital Mines over traditional shared hosting is that you have full control over your server and can get command-line (aka shell) access to do whatever you want. However, to make sure evil-doers cannot do the same, security has naturally been increased. So no more FTP passwords being sent in the clear!

A small drawback of the increased security is that connecting the first time requires you to follow a few setup steps. We’re going to walk you through the process for connecting from a Windows machine but Mac or Linux is very similar. We are also assuming you have deployed the default Ubuntu server. You’ll only have to carry these steps out once and, after that, connecting will just be a matter of double-clicking an icon.

First you need to install PuTTY from here. Pick the file called putty-0.60-installer.exe. Once downloaded, run the installer.

Then login to your Digital Mines Control Panel to get your SSH key:

 

Copy that Private Key into a text editor and save it as something like MyDigitalMinesKey.ssh

Run the application called PuttyGen that was installed with PuTTY:

Click Conversions->Import Key and select the ssh file above when asked.

You’ll then see a screen like this:

 

Click Save Private Key.

When asked if you’d like to save it without a password, click Yes.

Save it to a name like MyDigitalMinesKey.ppk

OK, that’s the security key imported. Now it’s time to actually connect to the server.
Run PuTTY itself and you’ll see a screen like this:

 

In your Digital Mines Control Panel, go to your Server and you’ll see the Public IP address:

 

Enter that Public IP Address in “Host Name (or IP Address)” in Putty.

Click on the Connect Category and then the Data sub-category. Enter ubuntu as the auto-login username:

 

Click on the SSH Category and expand it out. Click on the Auth sub-category.
Click Browse on the “Private Key for authentication” field and browse to the MyDigitalMinesKey.ppk file you created earlier:

 

Go back up to the top of the categories and click on “Session”.

Enter something like “MyFirstDigitalMinesServer” in the “Saved Sessions” field

Click Save. From now on you just have to double-click that MyFirstDigitalMinesServer entry to login to your server.

Now click Open and answer Yes to the question about Cache…….and you should be connected and logged into your server!

 

In the next post we’ll show you how to install some apps.

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This is the first in a series of Howtos we will do this month. No, you don’t have to roll up your sleeves, the whole point it that the experience will be utterly painless! So let’s head on over to the main Digital Mines site and kick-off the sign-up process.

(Sidenote: Let us know in the comments if you’d also like to see screencasts with voiceovers).

Sign-up takes approx 1 minute.

 

Just enter an email address and password and you are done. You do not need to have an Amazon Web Services account to use Digital Mines.

 

Once you click “Create Account”, you are immediately logged in and you’ll see that you have no services configured yet:

 

When you click “Add Service”, you’ll be asked if you want to Create Cloud Services or Import Cloud Services. We’ll cover the Import functionality in a later post. For the purposes of this Howto, we are assuming you haven’t used Amazon Web Service before.

 

Once you click on “Create Cloud Services”, you’ll see a pop-up about Creating an Instance. An Instance is just a virtual server that will run on the Amazon Cloud.

 

Now for the fun bit, creating your first running server. It’s going to take you all of 30 seconds!

 

Don’t worry, to get a FREE server, you have to fill in exactly one box on the form, the server name. I’ve called it MyFirstServer. Leave everything else at the defaults. And then click “Deploy”.

 

Note that this free server is far more powerful than anything you would have dealt with if you previously used a shared hosting account. You’ll be able to install anything on it and it has far more welly and storage included.

 

There will be a delay at this point if you are a new user and this is your first server. Go off, make a cup of tea and when you come back, lo, a running server:

 

You now have your own personal virtual server running in the Amazon AWS Cloud in Dublin managed by Digital Mines! How easy was that?

In the next posts we’ll show you how to login to your server, install some standard apps and get a basic web-site up and running.

If you have any questions at all, let us know in the comments.

 

 

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Over the next few weeks we want to show you all of the great features you can use in Digital Mines now and then give you an insight into what’s coming next. Ease-of-use is the motivation behind everything we do and we are always looking for your feedback on how we can do that even better.

The reality is that most cloud computing solutions out there are far too complex for the average business user to get to grips with. We want to change that with Digital Mines and make deploying a fully-configured live server as easy as clicking a few options and waiting 60 seconds.

The next post will walk you through signing up for Digital Mines and deploying your first server. We’ll then talk about all the features in the control panel including our dead-easy backup and restore system.

 

 

 

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Our vision at Digital Mines is to democratise access to computing resources. We do this by empowering any IT user to take advantage of the powerful and advanced new infrastructure components being made available today.

A key component to delivering our vision, is the user experience. There are some truly excellent companies providing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and innovating at an astounding, and accelerating pace (such as Amazon Web Services, the leader in the IaaS space), but by adding capabilities, complexity is created. This is a barrier to normal IT users, such as SME’s and IT Managers – anyone who is not an infrastructure professional.

Our mission is to create a world-class interface to complicated infrastructure so users can easily create extremely powerful systems.

What does a world-class interface mean to us:

  • Intuitive for non-experts
  • Powerful for advanced users
  • Useful for everyone
  • Intelligently Available on all devices

As Kathy Sierra said at the ‘business of software’ – we want to give our users superpowers.

If you believe in this vision and want to get involved, we are looking for a talented UI designer to join our team. Contact us on Twitter @digitalmines or email careers@digitalmines.com. Below are some of the things we’re looking for, but most of all – we want someone with the ability to learn, collaborate in a team, and a person that wants to add value to building a great company and product.

Skills:

  • Designing Layouts and Mockups (Photoshop and OmniGraffle/Balsamiq genius)
  • Expert in CSS and HTML5.
  • Working knowledge of jQuery and awareness of jQTouch
  • Understanding of Personas and Agile Development Methodology
  • Understanding of Web and App Metrics

For the right person or contractor – everything is negotiable.

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We spend a lot of time thinking about where this industry is going – there’s so much hype, so many new entrants, and the term has become so generic it’s hard to pin down what’s relevant and what’s just PR. Based on our experience, what we’ve learned from talking to customers, and being keen industry observers, we’ve put together the trends we think will influence Cloud Computing in 2011.

(For a primer, you might want to read our previous post – State of the Cloud 2010)

  • Adoption: Cloud Computing is mainstream now and there are many solutions and plenty of providers to implement them. While developers have been the early-adopters, in 2011 IT Managers and IT Services Providers will move to utilising Cloud Computing within their service catalogue. 2011 will be the year businesses begin to adopt Cloud Computing in a serious way.
  • EcoSystem: The ecosystem of applications on top of base-level infrastructure and platform providers will emerge as a force controlling a lot of Cloud deployments. This year saw the ecosystem begin to solidify, with a couple of acquisitions, but a lot of startup funding. This paves the way for 2011 to be a big year for ‘value added providers’ in the Cloud. We expect a lot of innovation and a few more ‘Heroku’ like big wins. (Heroku was acquired by Salesforce for over $200m).
  • Public/Private & Hybrid Cloud: Public Cloud Computing (IaaS – providers like Amazon) has dominated the spectrum so far, and industry professionals spent much of the first half of 2010 arguing over the technical definition of ‘Private Cloud’. To us, a Private Cloud is an infrastructure which is controlled BY or FOR the users’ organisation and meets the core tenets of Cloud Computing – which are: self-provisioning, elasticity (bi-directional) and utility-based billing or metering. Virtualising an internal IT infrastructure is a step in the right direction, but it is not a Private Cloud. A large percentage of companies have already implemented virtualisation, and we will see this progress to Private and Hybrid Cloud Computing in 2011 as these IT managers seek better measure and manage their IT resources, and to take advantage of the Public Cloud for portions of their workload. Hybrid Cloud Providers will emerge in 2011 and this will be a hype space for a while as use-cases need to be demonstrated.
  • Infrastructure as a Service Providers: Amazon currently lead the charge and will continue to dominate in 2011, although we expect to see strong challenges, from both existing entrants like Microsoft and potentially other large IT companies not yet active in the space – IBM/SunGard/EMC/Cisco. It makes sense for the large infrastructure suppliers to enter this space eventually – despite the fight they have put up against it thus far – as customer demand is strong. Lots of local Cloud providers started to emerge towards the end of 2010 and this trend will continue, although it is hard to see how they can effectively compete at the commoditised layer of Cloud Infrastructure with the big players.
  • Hosting Companies: As traditional IT Companies start to move into Cloud Computing, so too Hosting Providers will move to offer more traditional IT services such as applications, communication and collaboration, and managed services. The hosting industry is changing – with platforms like WordPress and Salesforce small businesses no longer need basic web or application hosting; and on the other side large businesses like Amazon and Microsoft are competing for the ‘bread and butter’ business. Hosting Providers will start to re-brand their existing services as ‘Cloud Services’ to try and stay relevant.
  • Data Centres: The growth in the need for Data Centre space will not diminish with the growth in Cloud Computing. Quite the contrary – Cloud Infrastructure needs to be located in Data Centres – the change may be the smaller customers go with an IT provider (that resells Public Cloud space, or provides their own Private or Managed Cloud Services) so Data Centres see a reduction in customer numbers and a shift of power to the IT provider. Some Data Centre enterprises may acquire into the Managed Service space and become a ‘New Age Systems Integrator’ and compete with traditional MSPs and IT Service Providers.
  • Managed Cloud Providers: We see a new type of business emerging in 2011, that sits between Public and Private Cloud providers. A so-called ‘Managed Cloud Provider’ is one which delivers IT Infrastructure, from first customer meeting through to deployment, SLA implementation and technical support, on a mix of dedicated Private Cloud (on-site or co-located), Local Managed Cloud (infrastructure deployed and managed by the service provider for multiple clients) and Public Cloud resources. The industry will likely debate this heavily as the definition of Private and Public Cloud is barely agreed, but what matters is customer acceptance, and these IT companies that transform into Managed Cloud Providers already own a vast amount of the available customer base, and so they will win business regardless of industry experts acceptance of their offerings and marketing collateral.
  • Cloud Software: Already this area can be segmented into Cloud Enablers, Cloud Platforms and Cloud Management. Cloud Enablers are those companies whose application enables an organisation to offer it’s own Cloud Services. Enomaly, OnApp, Flexiant, Eucalyptus, Cloud.com, OpenStack, are just a few, and VMWare is entering the space with vCloud, which will test the mettle of the smaller independent software businesses. Cloud Platforms make up a lot of the EcoSystem mentioned above – companies such as Heroku and EngineYard, and we will see more in 2011. Finally, Cloud Management providers, like ourselves in Digital Mines, are businesses that build on top of commodity Cloud providers and virtualisation applications, and provide value-added services, such as monitoring, support, and managed services to enable Cloud Computing in organisations.

Disclaimer: This blog post is an opinion piece only and by no means exhaustive. We welcome discussion on any of the topics above, these opinions were formed based on our experiences in the industry, and we are more than happy to discuss them.

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Cloud Computing was a headline leader again in 2010, but this year it was about new products, case studies, and emerging new technologies and ways to take advantage of them. We spend a lot of time talking about and delivering services in this space, and as part of that we like to look back at the year that’s been, and analyse the activity. Cloud Computing is a hugely exciting space with daily developments, and it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. For anyone interested in the area, we hope the below summary information provides some guidance.

  • Definition: The term ‘Cloud Computing’ was a bandwagon in 2009 and everyone decided they were ‘Cloud Companies’, in 2010 the definition of Cloud Computing was generally accepted as being 3 layers -  IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service). While we feel it adds less value being so generic (the term originally emerged for the IaaS space – hence the word ‘computing’), we welcome that the area now has a definition.
  • Mainsteam Acceptance: Cloud Computing is now generally known and accepted as a service within business IT departments. However, it is not well understood and adoption is still low.
  • Startups: A vast amount of money poured into a large number of startups, purely doing ‘Cloud Computing’. Infrastructure Providers, Management Applications, Storage Systems – a whole new breed of IT company is being created around this new ecosystem.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft are investing heavily with Azure, and are moving into the general IaaS area with their latest server offering, Azure has yet to gain any measurable traction though, and is still an early stage service, trailing in features and innovation from Amazon Web Services. Hyper-V and System Centre Operations Manager are MS’s Private Cloud products and they ares selling them hard. While small ground was made 2010, momentum seems to be shifting their way.
  • Salesforce: The Force.com platform is gaining momentum, although we do not see a lot of interest – it seems to be primarily an extension for existing Salesforce customers. The buy of Heroku, and launch of Database.com could extend Salesforce into the main Cloud Computing arena next year.
  • Amazon Web Services: AWS has had another huge year. By all accounts, AWS is the industry leader by some distance. They continue to increase the pace of innovation, with regular new product introductions and feature enhancements. AWS appeals mainly to developers, due to it’s complexity, and Rackspace is winning here as it’s offering is much lower-level, but is easier for hobbists and IT managers to work with.
  • The Other Big Co’s: IBM, HP, Dell, Oracle/Sun – a lot of announcements but nothing concrete from these players. The typical not-invented-here syndrome and protecting the existing ‘tin sales’ may be what’s holding them back. We felt Sun had great potential to become a competitor with their Cloud plans, but these were shelved with the acquisition by Oracle.
  • EcoSystem: The Cloud Computing ecosystem is only beginning to emerge, with AWS as the primary platform for these applications. Heroku was the big winner this year with a 200m+ buy out. EngineYard, Cloudkick (acquired by Rackspace), Rightscale (raised an additional 25m in funding this year to bring it to 45m total), Digital Mines (that’s us!) and a few more are defining a new type of IT Company, building atop of giant, commodity infrastructure suppliers, and delivering a host of value-added services.
  • VMWare: VMWare made some big acquisitions this year in the drive to get away from deriving most of their revenue from the hypervisor (which is basically an nonchargeable commoditised piece of software now). They now have application offerings in platform (Springsource) and collaboration (Zimbra) and with ex-Microsoft employee Paul Maritz at the helm, it seems their strategy playbook is very similar to Microsoft’s own – ‘extend and dominate’. vCloud Director, their product to enable a VMWare based network of Cloud Providers, was launched and well received, but as yet not a lot of use cases have been shown, and parts of the product need further development.
  • Citrix Xen: Xen became an enterprise player this year, with statistics that a large number of the Fortune 500 are now using it instead of VMWare. Citrix have created an application stack for Cloud Computing – with Xen Cloud, Xen Desktop and Xen App and this year moved from developer into mainstream IT. VMWare still control the enterprise, but Citrix are becoming an able challenger.
  • Local IT Providers: Predictably, a large tranche of IT Providers, VARs and ISV’s, launched ‘Cloud Offerings’ this year. Some are partnering with Microsoft on BPOS, or Salesforce, others are investing in their own infrastructure platforms, and yet others are re-branding their existing services as ‘Cloud Services’. There will always be a need for these companies – the local provider of IT services – but in 2010, following the trend in 2009, they were under pressure to find new revenue channels as businesses stopped spending capital on IT resources and drove to reduce IT service costs.
  • Storage: Storage has to be mentioned as an area with a lot of activity this year. Servers and Networks continued their usual pace of development, but storage companies were funded, bought & sold, and many new entrants emerged with ‘value-added’ services such a local gateways to Cloud Storage & better synchronisation and collaboration. The storage space was ‘hot’ in 2010, with a healthy amount of user adoption, not just product and press releases. Noteworthy were the HP acquisition of 3PAR (after a fight with Dell) and Dell of Compellent. The Cloud Storage battle has yet to be fought, and new alternatives, methodologies and providers are emerging all the time. We think a Cloud Storage ‘format war’ is brewing and no clear contender has emerged – hence the amount of money being spent in the area.

Disclaimer: This blog post is an opinion piece and not to be taken as facts. Many developments and companies were not included in this post – it is not intended to be exhaustive – but merely to provide a short, useful snapshot of Cloud Computing in 2010. We welcome discussion on any of the topics above, these opinions were formed based on our experiences in the industry, and we are more than happy to discuss them.

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It’s been a really exciting year for us, and we just wanted to say ‘thanks’ to everyone that supported us – customers, staff, advisors and friends. We launched Digital Mines a couple of months ago, and couldn’t be happier with the response we are getting. This is just the beginning! For 2011 we have many new features on the roadmap – watch this space!

Have a happy christmas, and a great new year.

Ed & everyone at Digital Mines.

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Hi Everyone,

We have been hard at work for the past few months, ever since we put up the holder page on our web site (thanks to everyone that registered interest – we really appreciate that!). Now the time to pull the off the covers and show you what we have been building!

Digital Mines is a European Cloud Computing Service Provider. We founded the company because we believe that the needs of the business market, and the European market specifically, are not being met by current providers, that are developer and US focused.

Cloud Computing has been heralded as a revolution in IT, an approach that allows users take advantage of world class infrastructure, for a fraction of the price it would be in the traditional in-house or outsourcing model. But to date only lip service has been paid to business users, with product offers targetting developers, whose needs are quite different that the enterprise market. Moreover, simply getting billed in Euro within a localised contract is near impossible at present!

So we developed our business plan and product based to address this, based on 3 core principles:

  1. Business Friendly: We will tailor a service that meets your IT requirements – from compliance, to policy, to price and SLA. We’ll provide you ”predictable utility pricing” so you can take advantage of pay-as-you-go computing, without wildly varying bills.
  2. Local: We will provide a localised contract, that we agree with you face-to-face if you wish. We will bill you in your local currency – be it Euro, Zloty or Pound. And we will provide a localised technical support and implementation. We are focused on the European market.
  3. Empower the Customer: We have built an web-based application that allows you to provision, manage, monitor and automate your Cloud Computing infrastructure – easily. But we will also provide  pre-sales support for successful project planning, hands-on assistance with setup and configuration, and friendly technical support when there’s a problem.

We deliver managed cloud services, on the world’s leading infrastructure – and we make it easy. We deliver success in Cloud Computing for business. Our plans start from 150 euro a month for a server, with backup storage, and technical support from our team. You can modify your plan as much as you wish, and contact us for help at any time.

What’s next? Stay tuned – we have an exciting roadmap! If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it, you can email me directly at ed.byrne@digitalmines.com

Have a look around our web site, and if you want more information, you can contact me directly.

Lastly, I’d like to say ”thank you” to the team of people that took the leap into a startup with me. It’s exciting, and it’s challenging. It would have been easy for everyone to stay in secure, well paid jobs. Thank you team – this is just the beginning !

- Ed Byrne and everyone at Digital Mines

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