Over 15 years ago, our co-founders, Tony Chu and Kevin Liang, decided that they would make the leap into the scary, yet exciting startup world. Over the weekend, as the newly appointed online community manager who’s interested in this new “world,” I attended my first Startup Day (Twitter: @startupday) in Seattle, WA, where I had the opportunity to hear 16 amazing 20-minute talks from extremely bright entrepreneurs including the keynote speaker, Eric Ries (On Twitter: @ericries), author of the new entrepreneur book called The Lean Start Up: How Today’s Entrepreneur Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (2011). Eric is also known for his popular blog Startup Lessons Learned. He’s a great, charismatic guy and I even got my signed copy:
While I could spend my time going back through my own hashtag that day over at #startupday, I’d like to focus my article on a topic that’s always on top of mind here at Canadian Web Hosting Ltd.: community.
What made this event so interesting? In my opinion, it revolves around three main areas related to community:
The people are everything whether you’re looking internally within your company or externally to your peers or even competitors. This event gathered like-minded folks who either were thinking of starting their own startups or were already in business for themselves. There are already multiple commonalities that are left unsaid. Going into this event, you already know that these people are natural leaders. Let me explain: they’re extremely driven by a true passion for helping customers and solving every day problems. They don’t do it for money, they do it because they care about the end users. We care about you. Startups create and ship products every day with this hardcore mentality that the more you put in, the more rewards you’ll get it and the more your customers will appreciate it. You could feel the energy flying around the room; everyone there was so bright, sharp and intelligent – there was no doubt about that. The hundreds of attendees were restless to make a change, eager to come up with the next big idea, but also ready to help one another which brings us to our next point.
2) Peer Support
One of the benefits of attending this event as a startupper was: the advisor’s sessions. In these sessions, you could sign up for 20 quick minutes with a community leader to get more information concerning your current concerns with your already-created or soon-to-be startup. I had the chance to sit in with Berry Zimmerman, a true connector in the Pacific Northwest. He recommended a book called The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth and mentioned that if you weren’t ready for the leap, you must read this book to uncover that answer. This book is it! It was almost endearing to see how supportive each leader were to openly give advice the way they did. It’s remarkable!
3) Common Goals
In the end, no matter what each startup is trying to focus on. Their products are created to help our society. This common drive in the room was apparent , not only in the lobby but even on stage, the content among side conversations or being taught to us were invaluable in understanding the do’s and don’ts when creating or leverage a startup.
GeekWire, a famous tech blog in the Seattle area, ran some great interviews asking two very blunt questions as they put it in their recent article. “What’s the biggest hurdle you face as an entrepreneur?” And: "Why did you decide to take the startup plunge?" A few entrepreneurs shared their views on camera for 20 minutes each.
To show our support to this vibrant tech startup community, we are offering discounts to any of the Startup Day attendees. This offer ends at the end of September by reaching me directly at email@example.com.Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
First off, let me just answer the question here - Real 100% uptime? The answer is no. The first question you are probably asking is: why is that? “I see companies like Amazon offering nine 9’s of uptime” or other companies promising me 100% uptime.
Before I answer that question, let’s take a look at a couple of news making events that had a significant impact on the customers that they served.
“Milions of Hotmail users cut off by Microsoft cloud failure, millions of users of Hotmail and other Microsoft services worldwide were unable to access their online accounts this morning after the firms cloud suffered a major technical failover.” Source from Telegraph
“Google on Friday blamed a recent Google Docs outage on a real-time collaboration update that exposed a glitch in its system...Unfortunately this change exposed a memory management bug which was only evident under heavy usage.” Source from PC Mag
Most people consider Microsoft and Google to be the big players in the cloud war, and competition and service levels are fiercely coveted to ensure their uptime is better then the other. But what do these recent outages tell us? No matter how much planning there is, or the amazing skills of the people building these systems, you have to consider that for regular consumers who use services like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or other free cloud-based services--it's free. You get what you pay for. However, these services are integral to these companies’ brands and represent products that maintain a high stickiness factor with end-users. As an example, how many times have you looked at your free email account today? My answer is 36 times. If my mail goes down, it is annoying but honestly, it isn’t the end of the world.
But let’s change equation and ask what happens when you are a business that relies on paid products that utilize the cloud? Even further, what happens when you are a billion dollar business running on the cloud? Apple’s recent announcement that iCloud will run on Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services should make everyone excited and nervous at the same time. Because if there is an outage and you lose access to your files, or your music, you at least can feel better knowing that Apple is suffering along with you as this article describes.
Studies continue to show that cloud services routinely offer availability above 99%, which is higher than that usually provided by in-house IT departments, and for companies where a percentage point can make a difference of a million dollars, this is significant. Cloud providers today are continually working to eliminate all single points of failure and prevent outages, but there still needs to be a backup plan. As a hosting company, we are continually looking for redundancy across our entire service offering - redundant switches, redundant power, redundant bandwidth, redundant network cards, redundant servers - you get the idea. We are continually working to minimize single points of failover, particularly for our server and SaaS customers.
So what’s a good SLA (service level agreement)? The obvious answer is a number that matches your business requirements and does not negatively impact your business. There is a reason we offer our web hosting customers different service levels. For some organizations, 99.9% is more then satisfactory. For other clients of ours, they’ve asked for 99.999%+ uptime and know that any type of outages will have negative consequences that surpass the cost of hosting in that type of environment.
It is important to understand that with each nine you add to your service level, you are significantly increasing your costs to minimize outages for your customers and most studies have shown that five nines is the tipping point for increased costs. At that point, you are adding new layers of redundancy to your service offering. As an example, in building our new VMware cloud hosting service, we made the business decision to target five nines as the desired service level for our customers and build our solution with enterprise grade hardware from Dell and the leading virtualization platform from VMware. We built redundant fault tolerant server clusters that gives our customers better availability and failover in the event of an outage, as well as decreased downtime and smaller time to recovery. However, in doing so we had to invest more than 3x’s as much money into the service offering to guarantee that amount of uptime. Consider this, five nines is about five minutes of unscheduled downtime a year.
To give you an idea, there are 525,600 minutes in a year and 4 minutes a year represents .00000076 of that total.
So is the cloud reliable and safe? Yes. Is it more reliable then classic hosting? In a lot of cases, yes. Similar to what we always tell our customers, you do need to be prepared. Having a plan B always makes sense, and no matter how much preparation goes into it you can never cover all of the contingencies.
“Lightning Causes Amazon, Microsoft Cloud Outages....we understand at this point that a lightning strike hit a transform from a utility provider to one of our Availability Zones in Dublin, sparking an explosion and fire. Normally, upon dropping the utility power provides by the transfomer, electrical load would be picked up by backup generators. The transient electric deviation...disabled the backup generator plan.“ Source from CRN News
Today, many companies are integrating mobile devices into their company and putting more emphasis on remote access and capabilities because their employees simply need to be connected all the time. The reason for this is that the BYOD (bring your own device) revolution has changed how companies and their employees are interacting with their infrastructure. Mobile access to their systems is no longer a nice to have, it is now a must have that ensures real-time monitoring and access to their business infrastructure including their servers and websites. Because of that, we here at Canadian Web Hosting Ltd., we often get asked questions on how our clients can best manage their servers including facilitating common administrative tasks by simply using their mobile device. Some of these task can include administration, file transfer and server monitoring but one caveat is not all of these tools work for both Windows and Linux, so be sure to check the requirements of each application.
This tool gives you real time status on your website or server including basic trouble shooting capabilities and simple security auditing. By simply entering the IP address of your site you can do pings, GeoIP lookups, TCP/IP port scans, as well as provide IP address information. A nice feature is that you also have the ability to save the remote address locally in the application for quick access.
VMWare vSphere Client for iPad
With the recent deployment of our own VMWare cloud hosting solution, we’ve gotten very in-depth with this tool and have to say that it performs wonderfully. This companion tool gives the end user the ability to monitor the performance and manage your virtual machines. By simply connecting with your iPad, you can stop, start and suspend your virtual machines in real time. In the event that an issue has occurred, you can enable maintenance mode and use the built-in ping and traceroute tools. Note, that this tool is only compatible with vSphere and vCenter Server 4 or higher.
Linux Command Reference
For those of us who are not experts in Linux Command line or occasionally forget a command, Linux Command Reference provides two versions of their simple and easy to use Linux Command-line reference guide. With the free version, you can view various commands in categories like file permissions, installations, commands and network. Once you select your category you then see a list of the corresponding commands. With the $.99 paid version, you are going to get a few more bells and whistles. For example, you get a more robust search function that allows you to just enter in a few letters and you will get the corresponding commands.
Something that everybody needs is a solid tool to monitor their server. With Server Monitor, you can get simple server or workstation monitoring and can connect with either Linux or Mac OS X machines. Simply access your machine with SSH and you can get information on your server including load averages, memory status and uptime.
If you decided to jailbreak your iPhone then you are aware that there are some great applications available to you that can give you some enhanced capabilities. With OpenSSH, you are able to transfer files using Wi-Fi by utilizing SSH command-line. You can achieve this several ways including using a client like Putty or through my preferred method of drag-and-drop using another client like WinSCP.
For a lot of our Microsoft Windows hosting customers, we recommend two different tools - iTap RDP and iRdesktop. For the purposes of our article, we will focus on iRdesktop since it is a free tool whereas iTap is $11.99 in the iTunes store. With iRdesktop, it gives you the ability to view and control your Windows machine using a device and includes features like mouse emulation, iPhone keyboard entry, unlimited connection entries and the ability to access your machine through Wi-Fi.
iCacti Server Monitor
This app was designed specifically to help Windows admins monitor their Windows servers. The app connects to the Cacti tool and downloads the activity data directly to your device. If you want to use this app, make sure to let your web hosting company know that you need console and graph-level permissions access.
Consistently listed as one of the top business applications, PocketCloud delivers an enhanced GUI with VNC Support for both Mac and Windows connections. One of our favourite features is the auto discovery capability that makes connecting easier. One other key feature of PocketCloud is that it is VMWare View certified and support Microsoft Terminal Services and Virtualization.
The Richmond area is known to have great and cheap Hong Kong style cafes and we recently paid Alleluia Cafe a visit over lunch a few days ago. For us, one of the great things about this place is that it’s nearby our offices and walking distance. When you’re having a busy day, you want to be able to get to a place and get seated right away and that’s exactly what happened. Our team arrived and we were seated within minutes – minimal wait time is ideal for the busy professional; now, to think of it, we might have just missed their lunch rush.
Here are some of the items that we ordered. Note: you can click on each individual picture to see the close up.
This restaurant is a great little cafe to grab a quick, tasty and cheap lunch when you’re on the go and it's also quite spacious. The service is fairly fast and you will leave full as they serve generous portions. One potential downside is that if you’re driving, you’ll have to look for street parking and from reading other reviews, it might sometimes take you a little while to find parking. Be cautious to read the signs in the nearby parking lots or else, you find end up with a parking fine. Overall, we enjoyed this place very much and we'll definitely be back here again.
You can find Alleluia Cafe at:
8131 Westminster Highway (East of No. 3 Road)
9:00am - 2:00am (7 days a week)
CTO / SEO Guru