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Feb 21, 2018

The Importance of Redundancies in Your Infrastructure

INAP

In December 2017, an electrical fire knocked out power at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The outage forced the FAA to issue a ground stop for hours in Atlanta, canceling thousands of flights and stranding thousands of passengers at the world’s busiest airport. The power came back on after about 11 hours, but it took days for the airport to return to normal operations.

The outage created a financial ripple effect, impacting the airport, airlines and travelers. Delta Air Lines uses Atlanta as its major hub and reported the outage cost the company up to $50 million.

Just imagine if something like this happened in your data center or to your network.

Why Your Environment Needs Redundancies

This scenario illustrates why it’s so important to have built-in redundancies in your environment.

Redundancies work by placing multiple channels of power or communication within your infrastructure and network. Think of your redundancies as insurance against failures. If you have multiple paths of connection, the loss of a single path would be inconsequential because your connection would be switched to another source.

To be fair, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport did have a redundant power system in place. Unfortunately, the fire was so intense that it damaged the two substations providing power to the airport, including the backup system.

When you consider the financial, technical and PR damage caused by unplanned outages, it’s almost a no-brainer to include redundancies in your footprint.

Physical Redundancies

The first level of systems you need to consider is physical-level redundancies which back up your utilities, such as power and water. Adding these redundant systems will help eliminate single points of failure in your environment.

If there is an unplanned disruption or scheduled maintenance, these secondary components will automatically take control, keeping your servers and applications online. A setup like this is necessary for your critical applications. (Shameless plug: INAP’s Tier 3-type data centers include N+1 concurrently maintainable design.)

Network Redundancies

A network-level redundancy involves the use of both redundant links as well as network equipment, such as routers and switches. The concept is similar to a physical-level redundancy – should your main communication path go down, your servers can use your backup links to maintain availability and keep your business online.

In layman’s terms, consider your network redundancy like directions you’d get from your car’s GPS. If you are driving down the highway and there is an accident, your navigation system will divert you to a route that’s less crowded. It may not be the shortest route in distance, but it ends up being the quickest to your destination.

Of course, your network-level redundancy won’t have unlimited paths from which to choose like your car GPS. It will only work with paths that you’ve already established as your backups.

Facility Redundancies

Even with the best redundancy plans, there are always situations that are out of your control. Whether it be a man-made incident or natural disaster, there are certain instances in which an entire data center (or even city) could go offline. To keep your business up and running should the unthinkable happen, it’s important to consider facility redundancies.

Facility redundancies are very similar to disaster recovery solutions, but rather than having your backup site on standby for failover, you are normally running off servers in both locations. For instance, if you have a footprint in Atlanta and Dallas, you would set up your environment so it is equipped to handle your entire infrastructure should something happen in one of those sites. (Shameless plug #2: INAP has 51 data centers in 21 metropolitan markets around the world that you could utilize for your footprint.)

Implementing Your Redundancies

Implementing redundancies within a network or infrastructure is more than simply duplicating all your connections. Redundancies are necessary for maintaining availability, but when used in excess, they can be a drain on overall speed and performance.

It can be possible for a network to be overbuilt. When implementing redundancies, the key is to create backup paths built for efficiency, speed and availability. This means having a clear design that considers current failing paths and builds redundancies to fit exact pain points.

Remember, every IT network is unique. It’s important to be acquainted with your network’s strengths and weaknesses. Assess where your business’s connections terminate and where your resources are most available.

The best way to ensure you’re doing it right is leaving the strategy and setup to the experts. Our team has experience providing the best possible networking and infrastructure services for some of the most successful businesses in the world. INAP’s concurrently maintainable data centers are designed with built-in redundancies, so your network and servers will remain online even if there’s a disruption. Contact us today to learn about how we can provide a footprint for your infrastructure that’s always online, so you can focus on your core business.

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Feb 7, 2018

5 Reasons Your Website is Loading So Slowly

INAP

What’s Wrong with My Site?

One of the most frustrating internet experiences is a website failing to load promptly. The only thing worse is when that slow website is your own.

Kissmetrics reports that 40 percent of users will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. In addition, nearly half (47 percent) of users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.

When your site is loading slowly, it’s important to diagnose the right issue. You wouldn’t take random medicine without visiting the doctor in the hopes of getting better. Similarly, you’ll want to narrow down the exact issue affecting your site.

There are a variety of different issues that could be causing your site to load slowly. Here are five common reasons you may be experiencing a slowdown.

1. Unoptimized Images

The first common reason for a slow-loading website is unoptimized images. Every image or file on a website needs to be loaded bit by bit. When images are unnecessarily large, they can be a significant drain on your load speed.

Luckily, the solution for unoptimized images is fast and easily managed. This is especially true for what is referred to as lossless images. These are images that can be shrunk down without any perceived loss of picture quality. Bringing your image file sizes down can boost your site speed and performance.

2. Too Many Plugins

Our second offender for slowness can come from too many plugins or addons that you may use in the backend to build your page. Many sites rely on plugins to improve their functionality. Plugins have their place and can bring necessary features to your site. However, using them excessively can slow down your load times and create a poor experience for your users.

If you suspect your plugins are slowing down your site, remove anything non-essential. Curating your site of unnecessary plugins and addons can bring increased speed and performance. Remember, even the most functional site will be ignored if users can’t load it in time!

3. Code Density

Another issue that could be slowing down your site is overly complicated or dense code. If the underlying developmental infrastructure of your site is dense, the harder it is for browsers to process and load. Thus, the heavier your code, the longer it will take for your users to load.

The solution to dense code may involve a little more expertise but is still manageable. Reducing the HTML markup of your site can bring major improvements and can be accomplished by using HTML tags sparingly and only when necessary.

A few simple fixes include removing HTML comments in scripts and any CDATA blocks in script elements. Another suggestion is to remove or collapse any white space within the code.

4. Shared Servers

If you’re on a shared server, your performance may be impacted by other users on your server. No matter how fast the rest of your site is, being in a queue with other users might drag down your speed.

Solving a server issue is simple and straightforward. If you’re on a shared server, you’ll experience immediate improvements in performance by moving to a dedicated server, which means you’re the only user running off that space (Shameless plug: HorizonIQ offers managed services and bare metal solutions on dedicated servers).

Finding the right service for your needs might take some research on your part, but will bring immediate results in terms of performance and speed.

5. High Traffic

Hold the phone.

Don’t websites want to receive high traffic?

The short answer is “Yes,” but sometimes overwhelming site visits can be too much of a good thing. In this instance, the traffic might be more than your server can handle, causing your site to crash.

When this happens, you may need to look at increasing your bandwidth and improving your underlying infrastructure. If it’s simply a case of outgrowing your previous site build up, you’re going to need to move to a hosting service better suited to the number of visitors that you’re receiving.

A Quick Fix for Your Slow Site

A slow site will drain your users and reduce subscribers. Luckily, a few quick fixes can go a long way towards getting you back up to speed.

HorizonIQ’s data center services can help address the infrastructure problems you might be suffering from crowded servers or bandwidth issues. Our unique solutions allow you the flexibility and scalability to keep your website running at top speed, giving your end users an optimal online experience.

Contact us today to speak with an HorizonIQ representative about how we can help your website move as fast as your business.

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Jan 30, 2018

Two of the Biggest Data Center and Colocation Myths Debunked

INAP

Data Centers Are Here to Stay.

Data centers play an essential role in the storage and management of a company’s data and digital information.

Large corporations may opt to store their digital information within their own data centers on site. However, many organizations rely on other companies to run the data center and will pay for the power and space – this service is known as colocation.

Colocation provides safe, reliable and affordable options that are essential to the growth and operation of many organizations and businesses. But due to the integral role they play, colocation and data centers are often also subjected to industry myths and misconceptions.

Here are two of the most common misunderstandings about data centers and their services.

Myth 1: The Growth of Cloud Computing Will Render Colocation Obsolete

One of the most popular data center myths is that the rapid expansion of cloud computing and services will eventually eliminate the need for data centers and colocation services.

It is true that the cloud has grown astonishingly in the last several years and this growth is sure to continue to rise; however, fear of the cloud’s size and strength is misguided. The cloud has not replaced onsite servers, so it’s unlikely it will replace data centers and the need for colocation.

Many businesses make use of cloud services to facilitate and improve their businesses processes, but very few businesses move all their data to the cloud. In most cases, living completely out of the cloud simply isn’t feasible. Some organizations just feel more comfortable storing sensitive data on-site or in dedicated data centers. While cloud computing is certainly growing, it is not growing monolithically. And as a result, blended infrastructure, with both cloud and colocation environments, are among the most popular setups for businesses.

For example, a business may choose to outsource repeatable business practices, such as emails or internal documents to the cloud, but that same business would choose to keep sensitive information and data housed within a personal server within a data center.

The growth of blended infrastructure solutions means that both colocation and cloud services will continue to have a role in handling the IT infrastructure needs of the future.

Myth 2: Data Centers Can’t Handle New Workloads

A second myth is that current legacy data centers lack the capabilities necessary to handle new IT workloads.

These infrastructure doomsday scenarios generally focus on the assertion that data centers lack the physical space and necessary power to properly handle our modern IT needs.

But once again, the reality is far less dramatic than critics suggest. New technologies and innovations in cooling and power usage allow data centers to be radically more efficient. So, while the amount of data being processed may increase, the amount of power being used stays relatively constant.

It is true that data centers need to adapt to a changing IT landscape; however, this change can be both sustainable and gradual. Rather than focusing on the dramatic, data centers can improve upon existing equipment. Data centers can continue to train and retain good employees, thus keeping performance and efficiency running at an optimal level. While new problems and situations may arise, data centers can still thrive in the current IT environment.

How Can Data Centers Support My Needs?

Data centers continue to play a valuable role in handling IT needs for organizations and businesses. Finding the right data center for your business is often about finding the provider who can give you the services and products you’ll need to keep your business applications running smoothly.

INAP’s data center specialists can assess your organization’s needs and find the right plan that fits your scale, scope and budget. Contact us today to learn more about INAP’s data centers and colocation services.

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