It’s been two weeks since the launch of Project Squared and the Cisco Collaboration Cloud. We’ve received fantastic feedback and great uptake. And we’re really happy that so many people are using Project Squared – and liking the experience.

I’d like to take you on a little behind-the-scenes tour and shed some light on the Cisco Collaboration Cloud and how it works. Here is a 10,000 foot view of the architecture:

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The core architecture is built on OpenStack. We use it for compute, networking, and storage services. OpenStack supports both the functional components of the architecture as well as the operational services, such as: logging, metrics, events, health and even VPN services (for inter-DC messaging and replication).

Much of the functional code is deployed on Cloud Foundry, which we use as our PaaS (Platform as a Service Layer). This functional code is built as a set of microservices, which are coarse-grained elements that provide independent and loosely coupled functions. These functions are consumed by the client and include the room service, which handles room creation, synchronization, and posting of activities.

Other services include document previewing, conference control, media orchestration, avatar management, admin portal services, and notifications. These services are all accessed via REST (aka Web2.0) APIs over HTTPS. We’re an HTTPS-only shop – no unencrypted access.

We use the Cloud Foundry HTTP reverse proxy to distribute inbound requests to the right microservice. Each of these services is stateless: They do not retain any kind of state between HTTP transactions. Any data requiring persistence is placed into one of our data services, which allows our services to achieve horizontal scale and reliability. It also greatly eases software upgrades.

For data storage, we use several different storage technologies: We use a fair amount of noSQL tech, including Cassandra, Riak, Redis, Elasticsearch, and RabbitMQ. We also have more traditional database technologies that support our user identity service, for example. Microservices exchange data through their REST interface alone, and not through shared data services.

Several of our functional components require tight real-time performance and direct, non-proxied network access and thus run natively on OpenStack, and not on Cloud Foundry. This includes our software that does the real-time voice and video-conferencing functions.

And that’s a high level snapshot of what we’ve built. Stay tuned for more deep dives!