The Infrastructure and Service behind the Cloud

March 10, 2021
Cloud, Customer Service, Hybrid IT, IT Services, Storage

A lot of cloud services providers (CSPs) like to say, “all clouds are not created equal,” implying that theirs are different — maybe even better. The problem is they seldom specify what makes their public cloud offerings distinctive. That’s largely because most cloud services have more in common than they have different.

That’s not the case with the US Signal cloud. It does stand out from those of many of our competitors. The details make a difference whether you’re a customer or an MSP or reseller. 

Resource Pools

US Signal’s public cloud — known as Enterprise Cloud for direct customers and PartnerCloud for MSPs and resellers — is based on resource pools. They include everything needed for a public cloud environment, including compute, memory, storage, and operating system.

Resource pools work as customer-managed virtual data centers, with customers able to create and manage virtual machines (VMs) in US Signal’s multi-tenant cloud infrastructure. All VMs reside on high-performance storage arrays and have a Service Level Objective of less than 8 milliseconds of latency.

Customers can choose flexible or dedicated resource pools to best meet their needs. Both options allow them to take advantage of US Signal’s Microsoft SPLA agreement for licensing Windows operating systems and applications in their resource pools.

  • The Dedicated Resource Pool option includes 100% dedicated compute, memory, and storage resources. Customers can configure VM reservations, limits and shares, and manage their over-subscription.
  • The Flexible Resource Pool option features dynamic availability of compute and memory resources based on available resources and 100% dedicated storage resources. Flexible resource pools offer the ability to burst over the allocated amount of CPU.

Resource pool access is via a VMWare vCloud Director management portal. It enables customers to manage their servers with policy-based user controls from anywhere with Internet connectivity.

Customers have a choice of connectivity to resource pool workloads through US Signal’s private MPLS/VES, VPN tunnels, or MPLS NNI. US Signal resource pools also include access to two geo-diverse data centers. One can be used to run production workloads; the other can be used or backup and/or replication. A fiber network connection between the two data centers is included for free. There are no egress fees, and US Signal doesn’t meter and monitor data in and out like most public cloud providers do. 

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The Infrastructure

The robustness and resiliency of cloud services are largely dependent on the infrastructure that power them — including the network connections. One of the biggest distinguishing features of the US Signal cloud is the US Signal network. It’s the Midwest’s largest privately-owned network and powers US Signal’s cloud and data center services. Comprised of 14,000 miles of fiber optic, it extends throughout 10 states and encompasses 8 data centers, metro rings in 20 Midwest markets, access to over 225 data centers and POPs, and several Tier 1 peering relationships

US Signal’s data centers, which house the underlying infrastructure of US Signal’s cloud services, also have notable attributes that stand out from what other providers may offer. They’re strategically located in business-friendly, mid-sized cities throughout the Midwest — considered one of the safest geographical areas in the U.S. Most are at least 200 miles apart and all are on separate power grids to minimize the effects of natural disasters. They’re situated in areas protected from weather-related events, but are easily accessible from main transportation routes

All 8 data centers regularly undergo independent audits to ensure compliance and/or certification with HIPAA/HITECH, PCI DSS, SSAE 18 (SOC 1 and 2), ITAR, FBI CJIS, GDPR, and Privacy Shield. They all also feature leading-edge technologies and top-tier equipment. All data center and cloud infrastructure is SLA-backed for 100% availability.

The Service Side

Cloud services are only as good as the service behind them. This is definitely an area where US Signal shines and is evidenced by a 98% customer retention rate. Much of it stems from US Signal’s service approach, which we refer to as our “concierge onboarding.”  

It starts with spending considerable time with our customers in the pre-sales stage. Because of our extensive experience in IT services, we know the right questions to ask so we can better understand the challenges they face and identify the problems they need solved. This enables us to help them develop a long-term strategy for transitioning from how they currently handle their IT operations to a consumption- or cloud-based model that can better meet their business and technical needs.

Not every customer can immediately jump from an on-premise environment to a cloud service. Maybe there’s equipment that still has book value or isn’t fully depreciated. There could be compliance requirements that necessitate keeping some workloads on-site. US Signal can customize and rightsize solutions that accommodate these requirements — directly or in conjunction with MSPs and resellers.

Dedicated project managers work in conjunction with US Signal’s solution architects to ensure exceptional service delivery and successful implementations. In addition, a dedicated professional services team is available to take on migration and special projects. This is something many IT service providers can’t provide.

The US Signal team has extensive experience in helping customers migrate from one IT environment to another using proven methodologies. They know the pitfalls. They know which best practices work best. They know how to adapt or pivot when necessary. They know the importance of staying in communication with customers throughout the process to keep things on track. Once a project is completed, the service and support is ongoing.

Technical Support

It’s not unusual for CSPs to offer technical support in conjunction with their cloud services. What makes US Signal different is technical support is available 24/7/365, and calls are typically answered within 30 seconds.

There's no putting you on hold or passing you off to a series of other technicians. US Signal’s TOC is staffed by subject matter experts that specialize in all aspects of cloud, data center, and network services. The professionals who answer the Technical Operations Center (TOC) line are trained to handle just about any IT issue that could arise. 

Customers are never left hanging. If an issue can’t be taken care of on the issue call, customers a call back every hour until it is resolved.

Test Drive the US Signal Cloud

There are many more aspects of the US Signal cloud that stand out from what many competitors can offer, ranging from built-in disaster recovery capabilities to customization options. But the best way to evaluate the US Signal Cloud – and its ability to meet your organization’s needs – is to try it yourself.

Test drive flexible or dedicated resource pools for 30 days for free.