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Mar 28, 2018

It’s Time to Evaluate Your Company’s Backup Strategy

INAP

There are a few things you can always depend on at the end of March.

The weather gets a little warmer, a Cinderella team will bust your college basketball bracket (we see you, UMBC, and Loyola-Chicago!) and that one guy in your office pulls off an April Fool’s Day prank that isn’t as funny as he thinks.

But one event that happens every year in March is often overlooked. We’re talking about World Backup Day.

What is World Backup Day

Held every year on March 31, World Backup Day was created by a biology student at Youngstown State in 2011 to encourage users to back up their files, like cell phone photos, home videos, documents and emails.

Users are asked to take a pledge, declaring:

“I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31.”

Moving these personal files to the cloud or an external hard drive gives you insurance in case your phone is stolen or your computer gets a virus. Of course, smart IT people like you already know these risks and take precautions against personal data loss, but enough of the general public is unaware of the risks, so World Backup Day became a thing.

Your Corporate Backup Strategy

World Backup Day is also the perfect opportunity to review your company’s backup strategy.

You’ve probably seen the statistics highlighting the consequences of data loss. For instance, 60 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that lose data will shut down within six months. And perhaps more startling, nearly 60 percent of SMBs are not prepared for data loss.

So, what can you do to make sure your business isn’t just another statistic?

A few years ago, HorizonIQ published this list of essential tasks you need to consider when evaluating your corporate backup plan.

  • Determine what data is critical to your business
  • Evaluate backup solutions that meet your data’s security requirements
  • Select a backup solution provider
  • Implement your backup solution
  • Regularly test your backups to ensure everything is working as expected

Pay close attention to the third bullet on that list. Sure, you could go it alone and backup your files internally, but that doesn’t protect you from a catastrophic event that completely wipes your servers.

Your best bet is to work with a backup solution provider.

HorizonIQ’s Backup Solutions

Fortunately for you and your business, HorizonIQ is equipped to help with your backup needs. Our managed backup services give you the capability of replicating your important information in dedicated and shared environments – in both HorizonIQ or off-site servers.

If budget is a factor (and we know it always is), cloud backup provides an affordable alternative. Your server will be shared with other users, but you’ll receive the same level of encryption and security as you would a dedicated server, so your files and critical information will remain safe.

Regardless of the type of solution you require, our robust backup offerings will give you the flexibility and performance you desire to protect your important files from data loss.

Contact us today and speak with an HorizonIQ specialist about the backup services best suited for your business needs.

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Mar 19, 2018

Living on the Edge: The 411 on Edge Data Centers

INAP

Today’s users demand access to high-quality content at faster speeds and reliability than ever before. For businesses to continue to supply always on websites and applications, their physical infrastructure needs to adapt.

The vast majority of the internet’s computing power stems from only a handful of major markets. In the U.S., 60 percent of all colocation comes from the top 20 markets. Data storage is even more centralized with 70 percent of the market being sourced from six major markets.

This centralization is harder to maintain though, as the needs of mobile users grow both in raw numbers as well as geographic area. As demand for content grows outside of the major markets, the underlying infrastructure becomes strained as data is sent from major markets out to other computing centers.

What is an Edge Data Center

One response to changing online needs has been the rise of edge data centers.

Edge computing is a response to a fundamental law of data storage and delivery. Essentially, data is processed more efficiently when the computing power is closer to the thing or person generating it. Thus, as the need for internet services grow, the physical “edge” of the internet also needs to grow to match demand.

A few years ago, NetworkWorld published an article that still accurately lists seven criteria for defining edge data centers. Here are three points that stand out about edge data centers.

1. Location, Location, Location

One of the key qualities of edge data centers is that they should be located near the edge.

For instance, Phoenix-area businesses looking for an infrastructure provider close to home traditionally have relied heavily on Los Angeles for their computing needs. However, as the amount of content being shared online has grown, providers have spent resources to route data from centers in the largest cities to metro areas on the edge, such as Phoenix. (Shameless plug: INAP has data centers in Phoenix and other edge cities.)

2. Majority of Local Traffic

The point of building data centers in these edge cities is to bring your infrastructure closer to the eyes that will be viewing your content. Therefore, edge data centers need to be serving the markets in which they are located.

Using the example above, if the majority of end users for these Phoenix-area businesses are located in Arizona, it makes more sense for these companies to have their servers closer to their customers.

Sure, those end users will likely receive the same quality of content regardless of where the servers are physically located. However, depending on the type of information that’s being sent, that latency might be noticeable. Edge data centers allow businesses to put servers and information closer to the people who will be accessing it – both digitally and physically.

3. All the Bells and Whistles

Just because these sites aren’t necessarily built in the most populated and largest markets doesn’t mean they shouldn’t include the same features and updates as the facilities in the world’s largest metropolitan areas.

The data centers in edge cities should be Tier 3-designed and built with the same power, reliability and redundancy requirements as similar facilities in the world’s largest markets. (Another shameless plug: All of INAP’s data centers are Tier 3-type regardless of market.)

How to Get Your Infrastructure in an Edge Data Center

If you’re looking to increase your content delivery to regions outside of major computing markets, INAP has you covered. We operate in 56 data centers around the world in established and growing technology hubs.

Our facilities are equipped with top-of-the-line technology and solutions to improve your infrastructure, including colocation, managed hosting, cloud and network services. Contact us today and a data center specialist will help you determine the best services and location for your business to ensure your servers and environment are placed close to your end users.

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Mar 8, 2018

CentOS vs Ubuntu: Choosing the Right Linux Distribution for Your Server

Paul Painter, Director, Solutions Engineering

CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, RHEL, OpenSUSE, FreeBSD, Manjaro—the list of Linux distributions goes on and on. In fact, there are literally hundreds of distributions (a.k.a. distros) a Linux fanatic can choose from, and while not all stay active forever, 791 have existed since 2001, according to the DistroWatch database.1

Despite the multitude of options, there are two distributions we see customers requesting most often for their dedicated servers: CentOS and Ubuntu. This post delves into the similarities, differences, and general IT user sentiment for these popular distros.

Let’s start with a quick look at how these two stack up in terms of known website usage, as reported by w3techs.com:2

centos and ubuntu market position

As you can see, it’s a close race. Ubuntu is used by slightly more sites, as well as by more high traffic sites, with CentOS close behind. We’ll unpack some of the reasons why that might be, but first, here’s an overview of each respective distribution.

Ubuntu Overview

Based on the Debian architecture, Ubuntu was used early on for personal computers but has since become a household name in server-class computing and cloud environments. Ubuntu runs on the most popular architectures, including Intel, AMD, and ARM-based machines.

Oh, and a fun fact: it’s named after the South African philosophy of ubuntu, which translates to “human-ness,” “humanity to others,” or “I am what I am because of who we all are.”3

Ubuntu is known for its frequent update release cycles, which occurs publicly every six months with free support for a particular release for nine months following. Additionally, starting with Ubuntu 6.06, there’s a major release every two years that receives long-term support (LTS) for five years. These releases support hardware and integration for all updates in that series (i.e., 6.0X).

Relative to other popular Linux distributions, Ubuntu is incredibly feature rich and friendly to developers looking to stay on the cutting edge. That said, it takes more support to stay up to date with the release cycle than some of the other distros, CentOS included. This can sometimes be seen as a con to going all-in on Ubuntu. More features and more releases can mean more complexity.

Ubuntu utilizes the Advanced Package Tool (APT) using DEB packages for software management.

Suggested Ubuntu-based alternatives: Linux Mint (desktop), elementary OS (desktop), Zorin OS (desktop), Pinguy OS (desktop), Trisquel GNU/Linux (free software), Bodhi Linux (desktop with Enlightenment) 

CentOS Overview

A free variant of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS is known for its stability and support from its far-reaching community of enthusiasts. This Linux distribution falls in line with enterprise class needs and provides IT users with a reliable way to deliver their applications and services. With a less frequent release cycle than Ubuntu and others, CentOS typically requires less support and development expertise. Major release cycles happen every 2-3 years, which follows the RHEL release cycle.

CentOS also comes with 7-10 years of free security updates. There’s an attractiveness to the fact that every version can serve for up to 10 years in that you don’t have to worry about major changes that could impact your applications, security, and user experience.

Relative to Ubuntu, CentOS comes with fewer features, but this also makes it lightweight and consumes less of your compute resources. So if your applications are heavy, this operating system is one less resource-hungry area to worry about and factor into your growth model.

CentOS utilizes the YUM graphical and command line utility using RPM packages for software management.

Other RHEL clones and CentOS-based distributions: Scientific Linux, Springdale Linux, SME Server, Rocks Cluster Distribution, Oracle Enterprise Linux (according to distrowatch.com)

Pros and Cons of Ubuntu and CentOS

In some cases, a choice to go with Ubuntu over CentOS or vice versa comes down to personal preference. However, there are real pros and cons of each.

CentOS

Pros: Highly reliable and stable for enterprise workloads, a free variant of the well-trusted Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), each major version serves or up to 10 years with free security updates for 7-10 years, less support required, lightweight.

Cons: Less frequent updates, lacks feature richness compared to other operating systems.

Ubuntu

Pros: Frequent updates, feature rich, leading edge, developer friendly, stable, support for five years for major releases.

Cons: Higher resource consumption, less secure out of the box, requires more support to stay up to date.

For a quick comparison, reference this side-by-side look from our friends at best-web-hosting.org:4

Centos and Ubuntu features

Take the Next Step

As a managed infrastructure and cloud hosting provider, we’re fans of all things Linux (and Windows), and hope you found this article helpful. If you’d like to learn more about these Linux distributions, how you can use them on our platform, or just want to talk shop, get in touch or schedule a free consultation with one of our server OS experts.

 Links, References, Further Reading:

  1. DistroWatch.com: https://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major
  2. Web Technology Surveys: https://w3techs.com/technologies/comparison/os-centos,os-ubuntu
  3. TedBlog: https://blog.ted.com/further-reading-on-ubuntu/
  4. Best-Web-Hosting:https://best-web-hosting.org/centos-vs-ubuntu-2018/

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Director, Solutions Engineering

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Mar 7, 2018

Cloud Gaming: A Revolutionary New Streaming Option

Charles Parry

Over the last decade, we’ve seen how cloud has reshaped the gaming community. Some might remember LAN parties or internet cafes that have now been replaced by high powered servers capable of hosting hundreds of players.

Recently, cloud gaming made its next big step, Gaming as a Service.

What is Cloud Gaming

Not unlike media streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, Gaming as a Service allows users to “stream” programs directly to their PCs.

This is groundbreaking given that the majority of gamers have always been limited by hardware constraints. Only those able to afford higher priced components could enjoy playing their games in full 60fps bliss and beyond. With the introduction of 4k gaming as well, this list has only grown smaller. Cloud gaming, of course, changes this.

Who Uses Cloud Gaming

While Gaming as a Service may go by several names at its early stage, such as gaming on demand or GaaS, the basic idea is the same. The service allows gamers to essentially use their PC as the gateway to a high-end server. The games are then run off the server and streamed directly to the user’s desktop. The only requirements are a high-speed dependable internet connection and a basic desktop setup.

While this is not an entirely new concept to the community, it’s still revolutionary to the PC gaming industry in particular. Next generation consoles have been using a similar model for many of their games. In this case, a portion of the software would be downloaded to the user’s device before allowing them to play.

Another good example of this would be mobile gaming platforms such as Crowdstar that use bare-metal cloud servers to support their application. In both cases, however, cloud is used to provide a highly scalable service whereby, through big data analysis, large amounts of data are stored and streamed directly to an end user.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Cloud Gaming

Unless you’re an avid gamer, it’s unlikely that much of this will excite you. While still in very early (and even alpha) stages, companies won’t be releasing their final products for some time. However, there are a few businesses who are standing out in this field.

For one, Nvidia is currently developing a game streaming service, GEFORCE NOW, for its device called the GRID. Small startups, such as Snoost or Vortex, are also trying to get in on the action.

The flexibility that cloud gaming creates will certainly rattle the industry, and many see this as a conceivably new industry frontier. No more updating hardware, complicated installation or configurations, game installations or software patches. This will all be done and managed by cloud gaming providers allowing gamers to just enjoy games.

Just as the service is groundbreaking, so too should be the infrastructure supporting it. Cloud technology has reached the point where this is now possible. To effectively support this growing trend, providers should be able to offer high-performance scalable cloud backed by low latency IP. INAP can provide this exact type of solution made to custom fit your specific business needs.

Hi-Rez Studios, which is highly engaged in both mobile and MMO gaming communities, fully understand this need. The studio utilizes our Cloud, Colocation and Performance IP. We provide many of our gaming customers with this type of support enabling them to push past industry limits to achieve new heights and even revolutionize their industry.

If you would like to learn more, please let us know and one of our product experts will be in touch.

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Mar 2, 2018

Reasons to be Excited About INAP’s Purchase of SingleHop

INAP

We Couldn’t be *Hoppier*

INAP recently announced we have finalized our purchase of SingleHop – a cloud infrastructure and managed hosting provider.

And to be frank, we’re pretty excited about it.

SingleHop has been a leader for years in the cloud hosting space, offering an elite set of services and products that we can’t wait to introduce into the INAP portfolio.

In addition, we will be welcoming with open arms 150 talented and enthusiastic SingleHop employees to the INAP team. We look forward to the new ideas and experiences they will bring to help our corporate culture grow and move our company into the future.

Bottom line: this acquisition will only make INAP stronger and more robust, improving our data center services, infrastructure solutions, corporate growth and financial outlook.

How Your Business Will Benefit from INAP’s Acquisition of SingleHop

It has always been INAP’s goal to expand and improve its portfolio of services.

During INAP’s third quarter 2017 earnings conference, CEO Pete Aquino highlighted this objective, saying this growth will come both organically and through acquisitions. The SingleHop acquisition is a perfect example of how we are committed to accelerating our business growth and financial standing.

By bringing in new talent, products and ideas, we will also be helping your company grow by providing state-of-the-art infrastructure and additional solutions to help power your business.

Here are three ways your business will benefit from INAP’s acquisition of SingleHop.

1. Additional Product Offerings

Thanks to this strategic move, you will soon have access to SingleHop’s portfolio of private cloud, managed hosting, and business continuity services.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Chicago-based company, SingleHop has continuously pioneered cutting-edge ways to automate infrastructure deployment and management since its founding in 2006. Its platform enables world-class uptime and service reliability, which allowed the company to develop the industry’s first self-monitoring service level agreement (dubbed the “Best SLA Ever” by ReadWrite).

Whether you currently are running your infrastructure in a colocation or managed environment or the cloud (public, private or multi-platform), you will be able to find an INAP solution that meets your business needs thanks to our soon-to-be-expanded services.

Rather than spending time and resources to build these advanced capabilities, this deal allows for quick integration into INAP’s product set. The end result? You will be able to utilize these SingleHop services as part of your INAP footprint with the assistance of experts who understand the products and your business’s unique needs.

2. More Data Center Locations

In addition to the new product sets, INAP will also be bringing SingleHop’s five data centers into its global footprint. Those new facilities will be located in the Chicago, Phoenix, New York and Amsterdam markets. This means you’ll now have 56 Tier 3-type data centers in 21 metropolitan markets worldwide to choose from for your colocation, managed hosting, cloud and network services.

This growth allows businesses more flexibility and solutions in some of our most popular markets. With connections via fiber line and INAP’s reliable backbone to POPs in the market and worldwide, your infrastructure and applications are always available.

3. Continued World-Class Service

By adding SingleHop’s 150 employees to the INAP team, you’ll have access to additional experienced and qualified specialists helping you find and manage the right services for your unique business needs.

SingleHop co-founder and CEO (and currently onboarding as INAP CMO) Zak Boca perfectly summed it up, promising an unparalleled service experience that will remain front and center for both INAP and SingleHop customers.

What Happens Next

The next few weeks and months will be exciting for customers, partners, investors and employees as we prepare to add SingleHop’s capabilities and talent into our already robust product portfolio and corporate culture. We look forward to an integration that results in innovative and industry-leading solutions and services.

We can’t wait!

Contact us today to speak with an INAP specialist about how this deal will improve your data center needs and infrastructure services.

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