Creating a logo… not an easy task

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In a post coming soon I’m going to talk about how Cloud.net actually works behind the scenes, and how we’re using the OnApp federation to deliver huge scale and reach for your VMs, through one control panel… but first, I wanted to take a short break from the detail to look at one of the other aspects of launching a start-up – the brand and the logo.

A tough nut to crack

When I talk with people who’ve never been part of a start-up, it’s amazing how many of them think that branding is one of the easier tasks. Far from it! The brand can be one of the toughest nuts to crack on the road to launch. Because, to be blunt, it’s hard to be original – especially in cloud, and especially with the logo.

When you’re building a brand and creating a logo, you’re trying to create something that has never been done before, while at the same time making it easily recognizable, and if possible, relate to the product you are selling. Of course some very successful companies have been able to create brands that had no obvious link to the product – Google and eBay spring to mind – but with a name like Cloud.net, it would be hard to justify having, say…

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We toyed with the idea of using something other than a cloud itself, but every attempt led to something we were not happy with. In the end the decision was made to just go with a cloud as the logo, but try and make something different… because every single cloud logo out there is a close imitation of Apple’s own iCloud logo:

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So how did we try not to fall into the same trap? We hired the person who made the iCloud logo! So I’d like to share with you the phases we went through to design the new logo for Cloud.net.

Phase 1: It’s not just about clouds

We noticed that almost every cloud logo is blue or white. Of course, clouds are white, the sky is blue – well, except here in the UK – so that’s just obvious, right? Well… no. That’s not actually true.

We started by looking at this photo by Dan Marker-Moore, a collage of a time lapse of 60 photos of a sunrise over L.A. It served as inspiration for how the sky can create a beautiful array of colours… not just blue.

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We also looked at the “Sky” series by Eric Cahan, a gorgeous visual series that shows how beautiful sunrise and sunset can be, in a minimalistic photo style that seems to focus on the range of colour displayed at those times:

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Inspired by those photos, we decided to create a color palette for our logo that would use some of the real colour range we see in the sky – the idea being that when you look at the logo you can get a sensation of looking to the sky at any time, be it sunrise, sunset, dawn, dusk or even noon. Here is the final palette we fixed on:

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Once we settled on the colors, it was time to create the shape!

Phase 2: Taking shape

We decided to use the famous golden ratio to create a harmonic, fluid shape. It allowed us to create a more visually pleasing logo, and since this ratio can be found everywhere in nature, it makes sense to apply it to a cloud.

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The golden ratio is a universally pleasing virtual proportion, a width and height ratio of 1.618:

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The golden ratio is used by artists and architects to create harmonic paintings and appealing buildings…

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and nowadays, even Twitter too:


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(If they’d had patents back then, someone would have made a killing patenting the golden ratio). But back on track: we then started to define the shape, and as every good designer knows, you go through many versions before reaching the final one. Here are some versions of the logo we discarded…

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There is still debate internally over them, as some people preferred some of the early mock-ups, but that’s design for you: everybody has different tastes, and you often end up with a compromise on the version most people agree on. Many times you return to the first draft ever: other times it’s the last. For us it was the last! In the end we decided on the following shape and design:

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“Still looks like the iCloud logo!” you might say, but peel away the golden ratio layers, and this is what you get:

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And after refining it with its final shape, we are left with our own version of a cloud – one with a distinct shape and the entire colour range of the sky. We could not be more proud:

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Phase 3: Typography

A unique logo is no good if the font alongside it is obviously the same font grandma uses to create her e-postcards.

The typography for cloud.net was created not only to complement the cloud shape, but also to stand alone if need be. Designed from scratch using a geometric grid, the typeface is unique to cloud.net:

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Phase 4: Bringing it all together

The last step of a logo is to see how good it will look in a wide variety of media, anywhere from the website to stationery. What about against different backgrounds? With different colours being used? People will use the logo for a wide range of applications, and not all of them will fit with the original design scope. So began our testing:

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And the mandatory stationery testing too – it has to look good on the business card:

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We were happy!  We had a logo that suited our vision, it was fresh, it worked in a variety of applications and it was original as one can hope.

We hope you enjoyed this little aside into another aspect of creating Cloud.net. We still have tons to do and are hard at work on the federation that will bring you choice, scale and reach that was simply not possible before… more on this next time. In the meantime, please do sign up to our Beta newsletter and enjoy the many colours of the sky on our logo!

~ Carlos

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The staff at Cloud.net are busy digging in and creating the systems that will allow access to the first ever federation powered cloud marketplace, that will reach to every corner of the globe.

This Cloud marketplace will allow users to consume resources for their websites and applications, anywhere and anytime they desire and within a scalable frame that was previously unobtainable.

However, creating the system for the federated marketplace takes a lot of hard work and a lot of testing.

Therefore starting early May 2014, the federated marketplace will be open to private beta and we are excited to give you, the technically savvy users, the opportunity to sign up to the Beta newsletter.

Registration for the beta newsletter will put you into the pool of users, from which we will select those to help us test the marketplace and control panel.

So if you’re interested in being part of our Beta testing phase for the new cloud marketplace, please register your interest here http://cloud.net/signup-beta/. It only takes a few seconds and you will be helping us to build the next generation of cloud.

A sneak peek at Jager

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Because the cloud.net control panel will allow users to hunt for cloud resources with the prices, locations and features they need… our Vision team has nicknamed the project “Jager” during its skunkworks phase.

“Jager” is the German word for “Hunter”, a strong and bold name that perfectly suits what we’re doing at cloud.net. We’re creating one control panel that gives you access to the upcoming OnApp compute federation, delivering unprecedented reach, scale and price options for cloud at the click of a mouse.

We can’t wait to show you Jager in action, so here’s your first chance to take a sneak peek! It’s in no way finished, but this is a taster of what’s to come…

When you log in, the first thing you see is the Dashboard, which shows an overview of the cloud resources you have purchased, and how they are distributed:

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And how about this server creation view, showing the global resources available that match the features you need:

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And because good things come in threes, here is the work-in-progress VM management view:

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Yes, the images are quite small – that’s on purpose ;) But you don’t have to wait too much longer for the beta, to try out the full scale experience.

We’re currently setting up the system to register interest for the beta, starting in just a few weeks – follow @cloud and keep watching this space for more news, so you don’t miss out!

Carlos

Welcome, pardon our dust – we’re building the future of cloud!

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For more than three years, the folks at OnApp have been hard at work building the world’s largest federated cloud… but before we dive into the detail, let’s first talk about what federation means from a network/computing perspective. According to Wikipedia:

A Federation is multiple computing and/or network providers agreeing upon standards of operation in a collective fashion.

Quite a mouthful, but what it boils down to is a networked computing environment in which different participants use a common protocol, so that everyone can use each other’s resources. The OnApp federation brings this to the world of cloud hosting, and that’s an amazing thing for cloud providers and for their customers.

Why? Let’s start with the providers.

Cloud anywhere, through one control panel
By federating with other clouds, a provider can bring remote resources to their clients through a single control panel. So you might be a provider with a single cloud, say in New York: by joining the federation you can give your customers access to capacity in any cloud that’s part of the federation, without having to spend a fortune building your own remote datacenters and hiring the teams to manage them. The federation becomes like an extension of your New York datacenter, and your clients just see it as one big pool of capacity.

Federation in action
The first example of this model in action was the OnApp CDN federation. This allowed clouds worldwide to be used as a caching stations for web pages, videos, files and apps. Anyone could build a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service by tapping into those federated resources, and their clients could distribute their content from the same interface they used to managed their virtual machines.

It proved to be a winning recipe, and providers and their clients loved having access to this enormous pool of resources for content distribution.

In 2013, OnApp then set out to change the landscape of the CDN market with CDN.NET, which gave end users instant access to over 100 points of presence for their content – democratising a CDN market that was previously open only to companies with very deep pockets.

From content to compute
Content was just the tip of the iceberg. The next challenge was to do the same for customer VMs, for the compute resources they use to host applications.

That’s what we’ve been working on at OnApp for the past few years, allowing cloud providers to federate their infrastructure so they can give clients the ability to deploy VMs remotely, in any location available through the federation. OnApp will be launching this capability to the world of providers in the near future… and cloud.net will be the marketplace for end users to take advantage of it.

We’ve talked about the benefit for providers. So how it will work for end users?

Cloud everywhere, through one marketplace
Cloud.net will be a global cloud marketplace that gives users instant access to dozens of locations and providers, on demand. You’ll be able to choose any location and any provider you like to host your VMs, at the best prices on the market. But it isn’t just about price – as an end user, cloud.net will bring many other benefits:

  • No need to shop around: instead of trawling through countless websites to find the best price and location for your VM, you’ll have one place to go to see all the options available: just tell us where you need cloud resources, and we’ll tell you what’s available, what datacenter it’s in and how much it’ll cost. When you find the right service on cloud.net, we fulfil the order and deliver you the VM. We’re also your single point of contact for the service, regardless of how many providers are involved in fulfilling your needs – we support you and manage the service for you.
  • No lock in: you don’t become locked in to a single provider. If you want to move your VM to a provider with better performance, or lower pricing, or to a different region, no problem: you can move your VM at will, all from the same interface.
  • Massive scale: the marketplace gives you instant access to an enormous pool of compute resources, more than any single provider could ever deploy. If your application requires sudden massive scale, you can spread it over as many datacenters and locations as you need to – and scale it back again, on demand.
  • Unified hourly billing: while hourly billing isn’t new, the ability to have unified billing for resources spread over multiple locations and providers, is… you can deploy anywhere and everywhere, and have it all unified in a single invoice.

We’re pretty excited by these possibilities, and as we get closer to launch, we can’t wait to bring all this power and functionality to you through cloud.net. We’re on target to start a private beta test towards the end of April.

Registration for the beta will open here soon… watch this space, and follow @cloud on Twitter for more news!

Carlos

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