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Jun 5, 2013

Walkabout Singapore: Behind the scenes in Asia’s Silicon Valley

INAP

Since moving to Singapore in 2010, I quickly realized that this is “Asia’s Silicon Valley”. But despite tremendous growth over the years, the little red dot still has a long way to go. Events like Walkabout Singapore help create interaction, idea sharing and awareness across the city’s tech scene. As a testament of our commitment to startups, Internap joined in the fun of Walkabout Singapore 2013.

Behind the scenes in Asia’s Silicon Valley So what is Walkabout? Well, the idea is simple. Once a year, all the tech companies in a given city open their doors and let anyone and everyone come visit. Students, geeks, the tech-savvy, the not-so-tech savvy and the just-plain curious – all are welcome to check out their favorite tech companies and see what happens behind the scenes.

This year, a total of 77 companies opened up their doors – up from 31 last year! Our Internap office had a variety of visitors. Some were just curious about what we do every day, while others wanted to learn more about the tech industry and Singapore’s startup scene. We even met a few guys that needed help solving real-world hosting problems!

Behind the scenes in Asia’s Silicon Valley

Walkabout was started in New York City, and last year Internap helped bring it over to Singapore with our friends at Golden Gate Ventures. Unlike the Big Apple, Singapore’s offices can be quite far from each other. This made it impossible for people to meet everyone in a single day. To help with that, we slightly modified Walkabout Singapore to include a rockin’ after party so all of the participants and guests can mingle after hours.

I think it’s safe to say that after this year’s turnout, Walkabout is going to be a staple in Singapore’s tech community for many years to come. The official blog has an excellent breakdown of growth from last year. Not too shabby!

So if you’re just getting started and have tons of hosting questions, come chat with us. Behind the scenes in Asia’s Silicon ValleyWe focus on cost-effective hosting solutions that make it easy for you to scale, even on a tight budget. From advanced IP delivery to colocation, we’ve got businesses of all sizes covered around the world in over a dozen of our data centers.

While Internap’s services are synonymous with enterprise-grade solutions, the fledgling entrepreneurial startups are just as important as our bigger, more established customers. Best of all, we always give transparent advice with your best interests in mind, regardless of your company’s size.

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Apr 2, 2013

Six ways CDNs drive cloud adoption

Ansley Kilgore

AgileFILES Now Integrated with the AgileCLOUD PlatformTransitioning your IT Infrastructure to the cloud offers several benefits, including improved operational efficiency, reduced capital expenses and the ability to provision new servers quickly. As a result, companies can increase their competitive advantage and expand their infrastructure as needed without purchasing costly hardware. Leveraging the power of the cloud can increase agility and allow your business to respond quickly to changes in market demand.

But the cloud also presents new challenges that can disrupt your plans. For a successful cloud transition, consider including a Content Delivery Network (CDN) as part of your strategic IT planning. Without CDNs, the cloud would not be able to meet the performance expectations of today’s online users.

Below are six obstacles to cloud adoption that CDNs help address.

1. Security – A CDN can help ward off raw volume DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks that can leave your web servers inaccessible to users. CDNs essentially absorb the load and prevent the servers from becoming overwhelmed by abnormally high traffic volume. Without a CDN to act as a buffer, cloud servers would be vulnerable to attack, which is particularly important for ecommerce websites with servers that store personal data and account information.

2. Availability of service – By setting Time to Live (TTL), content providers can control how long a piece of static content will remain cached. CDN edge POPs (Points of Presence) will continue to deliver the cached content packet for this duration, and will check with the server after this time period expires to see if the content has changed. By setting TTL appropriately, core web servers can experience an outage without causing any interruption to content distribution via the edge POPs.

3. Data transfer bottlenecks – In addition, CDNs help prevent data transfer bottlenecks by efficiently delivering content through multiple egress points to distribute the load. By leveraging a CDN, businesses can scale the egress throughput, which allows the core infrastructure to use its bandwidth for the compute traffic.

4. Performance Assurance – With the growing use of tablets, smartphones and other devices, content providers must be able to deliver streaming media and large amounts of data with minimal latency, or risk losing customers to the competition. Once content is cached in a CDN POP, a repeatable process delivers content from one to many, resulting in lower latency for end users and better server performance.

5. Scalable Storage – CDN file storage devices offer flexibility options that scale as needed. In contrast, cloud storage is available in fixed amounts that can only be scaled up or down by contacting your cloud storage provider. CDN storage devices can scale up based on the size of the content packet to be distributed, resulting in increased operational agility for your business.

6. Scaling – The ability to offload rich media to the CDN allows the compute platform to run more efficiently, and by shouldering the load, the CDN reduces the risk of web servers becoming overwhelmed. As a multi-tenant application, CDN provides more extra capacity than most individual businesses can afford to build. While the cloud provides an interactive computing platform, the ability to scale offers end-users the ability to efficiently consume and share content.

If your company is evaluating cloud hosting solutions, be sure to include CDNs as part of your strategy. Using CDN and cloud together can address these challenges and create the right IT Infrastructure for an optimal online user experience.

To learn more about the relationship between CDNs and the cloud, read our white paper, CDN: A Cloud Accelerant.

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Jan 31, 2013

Community Notes

Ansley Kilgore

Community NotesIn 2012, Internap embraced social media as a way to engage with the community of customers and buyers of IT Infrastructure. As part of the next step in our evolution, Internap is working to be more engaged with the local user groups and development communities. As part of my new role as Internap’s Hosting Evangelist, I’ll be attending events to talk with the people who are using the types of infrastructure we provide to build awesome applications and generally do cool stuff.

While our Enterprise Sales teams are selling to CIOs, VPs, Directors and other “business” titles, it’s usually the IT Manager, the Developer, or the Operations teams that are actually using our services, whether it’s Colocation, IP, Content Delivery Network (CDN), and especially Hosting.

To this end, I’ll be writing up a periodic highlight of some local communities and events. I’ll start with the various user groups in the greater Atlanta area and highlight some of their activities and interests. If you are a customer of Internap and use any of the software or programming languages highlighted here, I encourage you to visit these groups or similar groups in your local area.

Python User Group – Jan 10, 2013
During a previous job, I worked as a sysadmin supporting Python developers. So I picked up just enough Python to install and validate the functionality of Python and various requested modules.

The PyATL User Group is a group of developers (and enthusiasts) who use the Python programming language, so the presentations are focused around developer themes. During this month’s meetup, presenters talked about Tox, which is a tool to help create and manage virtualenv environments to isolate code for testing, and Sphinx, which is a documentation engine using reStructuredText (a simple markup language).

There is also a PyLadies group that is open to women-only and a Jam Session meetup where coders can get together more informally and work on projects, ask questions, and share tips and tricks.

MongoDB User Group – Jan 11, 2013
10Gen, the company that develops and supports MongoDB, held its monthly “office hours” meeting at the Roam Atlanta coworking space. Since I don’t have much hands-on experience with MongoDB (yet), I attended to ask questions about the type of hosting infrastructure typically used in a MongoDB cluster, and what kind of hardware resources – or lackthereof – usually present bottlenecks and scaling challenges. Other attendees were developers who had specific questions around some of their projects, as well as socializing with a little bit of shop talk.

OpenStack User Group – Jan 17, 2013
Internap deployed an OpenStack-based cloud in 2011, so this was definitely one group I wanted to attend. The Atlanta OpenStack user group has a smaller attendance than some groups, so they conduct it a little more informally than larger user groups. The organizer, Doug Hellman, gave a presentation on Ceilometer, which is a usage collection service that presents usage data into a centralized data store for billing systems to retrieve and use for invoicing. This represents one of the challenges companies face when deploying public clouds. Collecting usage data for on-demand services that are calculated in hours (rather than flat monthly fees) requires considerable development work. This project aims to reduce that level of effort and present the usage data in a way that can be integrated with a billing and invoicing system.

Drupal Coffee Club – Jan 22, 2013
This is probably one of my personal favorites. I’ve been using Drupal for various small projects for a while, and while I rarely make it to the monthly Atlanta Drupal User Group meetups, I try to attend the Drupal Coffee Club as much as possible. Like the PyATL Jam Sessions, this is where Drupal users (novices and experts and anywhere in between) can get together and talk about their projects, ask for assistance, and socialize over some yummy coffee and baked goods.

WordPress User Group – Jan 23, 2013
Finally, Russell Fair presented at the WordPress User Group on the topic of Photoblogging. For those running WordPress as a website/content management system and are looking to post galleries of photos online (but without using third-party photo-hosting services), this was a great introduction to the various plugins and themes that support this activity.

If you currently work with, or are interested in any of these (or similar) technologies, Atlanta has a large number of user groups that are wonderful opportunities to learn new software, techniques, and to meet other people in the community. Next month, I plan to visit these groups and a few new ones, such as the Web Performance Meetup Group.

Do you have a user group that you recommend I visit? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet your recommendation to @andrewboring.

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Jan 24, 2013

Intelligent appliances call for advanced hosting strategies

Ansley Kilgore

Intelligent appliances call for advanced hosting strategiesThe Consumer Electronics show has passed and left plenty of us salivating over new gadgets that could be coming soon. Of course, this year’s CES made one thing clear – gadgets aren’t what we always thought they were. Where we once looked at gadgets as handy little technological items, we now can call a refrigerator a gadget because intelligent appliances have gained so much prominence.

This trend was especially clear at the CES, where appliance manufacturers showed off a variety of intelligent appliances that can do everything from provide better control over how much energy they use to integrate with your smartphone. All of this is made possible, of course, by pervasive web connectivity that can turn almost anything into an intelligent device.

However, this trend also presents businesses with a unique problem – supporting these devices. Suddenly, an appliance company that had to host a basic website, perhaps with retail functionality, has to also host applications and web systems within their consumer devices. This represents a major hurdle that needs to be jumped, and soon.

The hosting challenge for appliance manufacturers
With so many appliances depending on web platforms, manufacturers have to consider their hosting capabilities as a key element of their customer service platform. If a server goes down and an application isn’t available for an hour, how will that impact an intelligent oven’s functionality? Generally speaking, there are plenty of controls and embedded software systems in place to prevent disasters from happening, but the exciting thing about intelligent appliances is not always their ability to provide their core function better, it is often the capacity to offer added benefits. For example, an intelligent refrigerator that can automatically adjust the internal temperature based on the density of items inside is nice, but a smart fridge that surfs the web to find recipes can make people giddy.

If the web hosting capabilities that support these advanced functions go down, an appliance manufacturer needs to brace for some customer backlash.

Solving the hosting problem
Cloud hosting solutions can be a major asset in this area because they offer resiliency that can be difficult to match. By attaching a powerful web hosting plan to a cloud cluster, a system can automatically abstract the virtual server from the hardware and move it to new physical machines in the event of an outage. As a result, cloud hosting provides invaluable reliability that can support intelligent appliance functionality.

To learn more about how hosting services can benefit your business, read our Managed Hosting Buyer’s Guide.

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Oct 11, 2012

Design matters. Usability matters.

inap admin


This is our conference room in the NYC office.

You’re late to join a meeting in progress. As you approach, your brain hunts for context clues on how to open the door. The handles are identical on both sides; it’s not immediately clear whether you push or pull. You take a chance and pull, only to have the door clang loudly — someone walks over and slides the door horizontally as everyone in the room laughs.

I’ve personally watched that happen more times than I can count and every time the person thinks it’s their fault. That’s untrue — they didn’t blow it, the designers did.

Design matters. Usability matters.

Seemingly small interactions constantly impact our productivity and our mood, they impact your impression of a company. Design and usability are meaningful concepts, and with the addition of a newly formed team, it’s becoming a meaningful part of Internap.

In May of this year, the User Experience team was created here with the sole edict of improving the look, feel and experience of our customer-facing tools and interactions. We went on a hiring spree to bring in some of the best design & developer talent we could find and started thinking hard about what exactly user experience meant in our industry.

For a long time, it was acceptable that business software was complicated. Generally speaking, it was sold on raw functionality and the learning curve was expected to be high. Enterprise training agreements and healthy annual support contracts were the norm and all was right with the world.

Then people started using software in their everyday lives. All kinds of people. Your grandmother is on Facebook, my father has an android phone. Table stakes have been raised.

Nobody should have to use business software that is bad. The expectations of software have elevated dramatically over the last couple years and there are no more valid excuses to not have a functional, usable, beautiful application.

The hit list

First, we’ve set our sights on a ground up redesign of the customer portal. This is where you’ll go to manage your infrastructure, pay your invoices and open support tickets.

Initially, we will be supporting our Agile Hosting infrastructure and account management, and then expand functionality across the entire product set of Managed Hosting, Colocation, CDN and IP over the next several months. Our first public release is being built to function seamlessly across desktop, tablet and mobile platforms, using responsive design best practices to step down gracefully.

Along the way, we’ll be publishing a short series of posts to give you an idea of how we have approached the new portal. We’ll be talking about our foundational ideas, user personas, mistakes we made and share some screenshots that didn’t make the cut.

What is success?

Ultimately, the industry and our customers will collectively decide if we hit the mark. If it’s really great, you’ll hear about it. If you don’t, it’s because we missed the mark and produced something average.

Our goal is both external and internal. We want our staff to be impressed with our tools and excitedly show their friends. We want to attract the best employees to come work for us. We want the best customers to seek us out because they feel we’re a technology partner, not just their infrastructure provider.

A tall order? Probably. But when you feel like what you do really matters, you do your best.

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