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What is WorldDirector?

What is WorldDirector?

What is WorldDirector?

WorldDirector is a fully managed Internet cloud technology used to create globally distributed, geographically load-balanced private and public clouds or Content Delivery Networks (CDN), designed to accelerate content from enterprise (private cloud) or public cloud data centres to remote clients at the edge of the Internet. WorldDirector is the first ever technology of this kind, developed in 1994, and deployed since 1995.

In 1994 the original aim of the WorldDirector design was to overcome the effects of a massive earthquake that would keep Silicon Valley servers out of reach for several weeks.

WorldDirector has evolved to a modular product and is offered as service (PaaS, IaaS), optionally with open source or custom applications (SaaS), and it also includes content acceleration by HTTP compression, anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-tojans, anti-worm, anti-cryptolockers filters and DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) protection, local and global load balancing, intrinsic disaster recovery by active and passive data duplication across several data-centres. In fact, WorldDIrector may also be used to provide an effective and inexpensive solution to disaster recovery and may be bundled to provide cloud services, such ashosting, colocation, email services, DNS, data archives, backups, audio and video streaming.

In 2003 the European IST prize selected WorldDirector as a “European IST Prize Nominee”. The European IST Prize was the most distinguished award for innovative European IT products. Selection criteria for the prize included: technical excellence, innovative content, potential market impact, capacity to generate employment, contribution to the acceptance and understanding of IST in society, and likely social impact.

From the product perspective, the WorldDirector technology ensures that Internet connectivity is the most efficient and reliable on the market, at the best cost of ownership. Any site or Internet application can be enabled by WorldDirector. All what is needed is that one of our Linux devices containing WorldDirector hardware and software is placed close to the customer’s server and/or at the ISP’s Web farm. WorldDirector does not require any ‘extra’ software to be installed on the Client software or at the or client server side. There is no ‘Plug-in’ of any kind at either server or client end, nor any modification to the server application needed.

WorldDirector is currently available either under license or as a fully managed service, including hardware and software to install a complete WorldDirector CDN solution. It is available to host end users’ applications, to ISPs, and to corporate accounts. WorldDirector is offered at Wornex data centres in Europe, USA and Asia (including as an option: AWS, Google and Azure cloud locations), and provides service to 300+ web sites, B2B & B2C applications, portals and streaming services on behalf of customers in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

Which innovative features does WorldDirector provide?

In 2015, WorldDirector has been re-developed into a modular product, and includes the following features:

  • Edge caching for Internet servers and applications, regardless of protocol (http, ftp, TCP/IP, UDP, etc.);
  • Multimedia streaming (audio & video) enabler from multiple locations, to bring multimedia content close to the edge of the Internet, and to the end user;
  • HTTP content acceleration via standard IETF Content Encoding to any Web site, regardless of the server’s operating system, HTTP origin server or type of Internet application;
  • Static and dynamic web server accelerator: adds scalability at a very low cost to any web portal or application. Offers more than 40 times increase in performance for dynamic portals, with more than 200 concurrent accesses.
  • Global and local load balancing: this will automatically reduce response time under high load, as well as greatly reduce load on the origin web site. Compared to other systems, a high number of edge servers is not required. The cost of each WorldDirector node is a fraction of the origin Web server in case of large portals. For smaller sites, each WorldDirector node may be shared among different web sites;
  • Protection to Internet Worms & DDOS, by filtering undesired requests to the origin server, as well protecting crosssite scripting vulnerability and upload of malware to origin servers. This may be especially useful to avoid situations of network congestion and breakdowns such as those created by the internet worms, most types of attacks and similar;
  • Automatic Disaster Recovery for any Web site, multimedia archive or ftp site: any content available via “GET” (including dynamic portals) may be made available from any WorldDirector node when the origin Web site is unavailable;
  • Automatic configuration and de-configuration of each WorldDirector node when servers are down, and when they are up again. Any server can be brought down for maintenance when needed, or any network segment can fail without disrupting service until at least one WorldDirector node is reachable. This mechanism is absolutely transparent to end user, application and administrators, and does NOT depend on any master/slave, and has NO central point of failure characteristics like similar cloud and CDN implementations. It also introduces no latency at all, compared to other master/slave or star centered solutions.
  • Distributed email service: WorldDirector is also very effectively used to provide a redundant, globally distributed corporate email service (based on multiple geographically distributed SMTP & MX servers), with DDOS, antivirus and spam protection that can sustain high traffic peaks and multiple server downtime with uninterrupted service.

WorldDirector compared to other cloud and CDN solutions

Although Web accelerators, content caching devices, and multimedia streaming/caching services have recently become available (or claim to be) no similar product or service is currently marketed that includes all the features above.

Generally speaking, cloud solutions are delivered by a single data centre location, possibly using redundant hardware, but more often from a single location, from a single network or AS (Autonomous System), which represent a single point of failure by itself. WorldDirector, instead, provides all services from many different ASes, different networks, and several different geographical servers that operate as autonomous nodes, in an all-master (not master-slave) configuration, and therefore is able to operate even if some servers or parts the Internet are down or unreachable.

Similar services offered by competitors may require modification of the Web site content in order to provide replication. Others  sell devices that heavily depend on master/slave or redirection mechanisms, may add latency and may operate as a single point of failure, diminishing the reliability of the whole system in case of failures.

WorldDirector is conceived as a turn-key system with full service and monitoring included, 100% transparent both with regards to the server application (does not require any modification to the origin web server, its pages or to any of its applications), as well as with clients (it does not require any additional software or plug-in). Additionally, the reliability of the WorldDirector system has allowed us to maintain a status of 100% always available since 1995 for a number of clients’ web sites and applications, even when one or more servers have been unavailable for hours or days for maintenance or due to faults either in the network, hardware or software.

5 secrets to fast and reliable cloud services

5 secrets to fast and reliable cloud services

5 secrets to fast and reliable cloud services

I often come across low cost, low-grade competitors who offer cloud and free-bundled DNS services out of a single server farm or, even worse, providing DNS services hosted on the same server or the same network, sometimes even at the end of a very remote xDSL line. Under these conditions, using a single location for a DNS system, long latency and any temporary network failure cause disruption of all services for a domain, including the potential loss of email.

The importance of a good Domain Name System (DNS) and a network consisting of globally distributed application servers help to build fast and reliable cloud services.

  1. When looking for always-on internet solutions, to protect against network failures and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks the ideal situation is to use redundancy. This usually means using both redundant DNS and redundant servers hosted at different locations, possibly routed by different AS (Autonomous Systems). Down-times with major cloud and CDN providers often occur because their systems are not designed to survive a single point of failure that is inherent in their architecture.
  2. Any cloud service provider should offer their clients multiple (more than two), redundant DNS servers on different network segments and at various physical locations, with inherent redundancy in all potential single point of failures. Anycast DNS services can also be a more expensive solution (sometimes less effective) to this problem.
  3. Do you remember the notorious technological problems of HealthCare.gov (the US president Obama Health Insurance Marketplace)? When too many users access an application at the same time (i.e. any line application or a web server) either the server itself or the network may become overloaded. The result is increased latency (slow or no response) and potential loss of data. By carefully engineering on-line applications so that the number of servers can be dynamically increased, the application load and the number of users may be distributed among different servers, at different geographical locations, and more transactions can be managed at the same time. On the other hand, when a single data centre or a single server fails, or if a router or the network is overloaded, all online services will become slow or unreachable.
  4. By increasing the number of geographical locations where multiple origin servers are hosted, it is also possible to “load balance” and improve reliability of the whole system. If one or more servers or one or more network segments fail, a globally distributed load balancing system will continue to provide service, until there is at least one server online. To this extent, the most common load-balancing or passive CDN solutions that rely on a single origin server are not valid solutions.
  5. Configuration and de-configuration of servers in case of network or server problems should be fully automatic and should require little or no human intervention after initial set-up. A global load balancing mechanism like WorldDirector provides a fully redundant and distributed DNS system including content acceleration.

Check for example applications like Italyguides by Compart Multimedia that use a distributed cloud system. Italyguides appears “faster” anywhere in the world, and responds quickly to end users despite a large amount of data involved.