Canadian Web Hosting Blog and News
21Feb/120

5 Considerations Before Launching a QR Code Campaign

Have you seen or used any QR codes lately?

What a QR Code looks like

A QR Code stands for a Quick Response Code which is a matrix barcode or two-dimensional code like the image above. It was initially used in the automotive industry back in Japan. More recently, the system has become popular in all different types of industries among marketers and businesses of all sizes. They are a quick and useful platform to facilitate and add even more depth with your current or potential customer base to engage with your products or services. Various ways to use them include guiding consumers towards your landing page, providing deals or coupons, informing customers about product stats, entering contests or sending them to social media pages.

Here are five questions and points to consider before launching a QR code campaign:

  1. What is your main purpose? The answer will vary depending on your company. You may want the QR code to directly like your Facebook page, you could provide additional product or service information, the code could send consumers to a sweepstakes page to enter for giveaways, free coupons codes, even an entire e-book giveaway if you'd like.
  2. Does the majority of your audience operate on a daily basis with smartphones? If they don't use them, it would be pointless to use this platform if they don't have the right tools to take part in it.
  3. If you're sending the consumers to your site, is your site optimized for a mobile platform? Take the time to ensure that your site is well designed and it wouldn't hurt to test it out on different mobile devices and operating systems to be sure that everything shows up where you want them to.
  4. Where is your audience going to view your QR code in the real world? For example, if you plan on posting your code on a billboard, find out the ideal location where your customer base would most likely walk by in your city. Another consideration to keep in mind is to be sure that the area that you choose has good cell phone reception and good lighting in order for the scanning to work. If you're going to post it in a magazine, figure out what they're reading.
  5. Are you using a trackable URL? This is important in order to measure the success of your campaign which will provide stats on the number of QR code scans and even find out the devices that the consumers are using.

We continue to see the use of QR codes around us, and this provides yet another way for companies to enhance a buying experience and a different way to engage with our more technology savvy consumers as a whole. If you haven't tried yet, you should go to your smartphone app store, and download a QR code decoder, and next time you see one, you can quickly scan it to see where it'll lead you to. This code scanning concept has been around for at least two decades with a more prominent usage in Japan and Europe, however, with the sales of smarphones still on the rise, they might show up more.

To add more context to the success of QR codes, I even won a prize at the last HostingCon last year by scanning one. It led to me a site where I had to enter some of my contact information and next thing I knew, I had won a cool toy - AR Drone! Here's a recent, local QR code that I found while walking down the street.

A QR code on a local billboard


Felice Lam
Online Community Manager
Canadian Web Hosting
16Feb/120

Dynamic Resource Management with VMware

 

With the continuing deployment of our CA Cloud web hosting solutions, a topic that continues to come up is the use of “dynamic” resources or the ability to adjust resources on the fly when your virtual machine (VM) is maxed out.  One of the best ways to achieve this dynamic scaling, and more importantly, keep your server online us the use of VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS).

At its core, DRS helps manage the resources on a VMware cluster including the memory and CPU resources of each individual ESX host.  When combined created a global resource pool that all VMs on that cluster can use.  DRS then provides automatic resource optimization and “dynamic” movement of VMs through the use of VMotion. 

 

Resource Management

So how does it work?  Working with our web hosting customers, we would define the rules for allocation of physical resources among the virtual machines and ensures that when there is high I/O on the server, DRS can automatically manage and move the VM to ensure that is has the necessary resources to function properly.  Through this feature, we are able to protect our enterprise users from other customers on the server, but more importantly ensure that each server has sufficient resources available so that end-users see or experience no noticeable impact.  The DRS utility can be configured using the following automation features:

Manual: DRS makes recommendations, but will not move the VM during normal operations.

Partially Automated: DRS will automatically choose the VM when powered on.  However, DRS will not move the VM during normal operations.

Automatic: DRS chooses the host when powered on and will automatically migrate machines during normal operations to optimize resource usage.

The example above shows a cluster set to Partially Automated including total memory and resources in the cluster.   Resource pools can be easily changed and if desired, different resource pools can be isolated between a companies different business units.  In the event When workload on one or more virtual machines drastically changes, VMware DRS redistributes the virtual machines among the physical servers. If the overall workload decreases, some of the physical servers can be temporarily powered-down and the workload consolidated.

Affinity Rules

DRS keeps track of CPU and memory utilization percentages in the cluster and the percent of resources delivered.  When analyzed, DRS plays another significant role that helps ensure the resources are being used correctly by ensuring that numbers of hosts remains balanced and in the event of an unbalanced condition it will automatically balance the hosts to bring them back into balance.  If you look at the two graphs below you will see balanced vs. non-balanced.  The first image below represents a well balanced host and DRS does not need to move the hosts. 

The second image shows hosts that over utilizing memory and another that is under utilizing memory.  DRS will move these VMs to other hosts to try and get the resources closer together visually shown with a single bar.  In doing so, this increases the utilization on the single host and decreases usage on the other hosts. 

Within DRS, you can also control through designated affinity rules what VMs should run on which host.  This is an important factor for some of our CA Cloud server customers who require that their data stay within a defined segment and not have their data shared across different hosts. 

 

Real World Scenario Using DRS

Working with VMware HA, described below is a scenario of how DRS works when a business critical events occur like heavy workload spikes that can affect overall server and application performance and what DRS does to protect the end user and keep the server online. 

As discussed above, the strength of DRS is the ability to move VMs around the cluster in response to real-time changes in workload.  Here is a real world example created by Dell that demonstrates spikes in internet activity to an online retailer during the holiday season.  A second example was created and shows end of month processing or payroll processing at financial firms.  In each case, specific servers are suddenly much more heavily loaded than under normal conditions.  When all of these systems are running as VMs as part of a VMware cluster the DRS function has the ability to use VMotion to automatically rebalance the cluster so that performance is optimized.

The Dell team setup a third scenario to test the dynamic movement of VMs in response to changes in workload.  The test was setup to simulate online web orders to 3 VMs in the cluster.  The VMs were named wina1, wina2, and wina3.  Wina1 and wina2 are hosted by the first blade in the cluster.  Wina3 is hosted by the second blade in the cluster, and the third blade in the cluster has no VMs. Workload was started on wina1 and wina2 which maximizes CPU utilization of the first blade to almost 100%.  A workload was then started on wina3 which generated about 50% CPU utilization to that blade.  The third blade in the cluster had no workload and therefore very low CPU utilization.  DRS recognized that the heavy workload on blade 1 should be spread out across the cluster. In combination with VMotion , DRS migrated the wina1 VM to Blade 3.  After the DRS migration, each host in the cluster had a workload that was generating approximately 50% CPU utilization.

Matt McKinney

google.com/+canadianwebhosting

9Feb/120

What To Expect and Do at the Bunker Project Podcasting Event

Do you follow any podcasts? Have you ever heard of the Bunker Project Podcast? In short, here is what it's all about:

The Bunker Project is a Social Media Meetup in Vancouver, BC. Every second Wednesday, Andrew McGivern and Bob Garlick host the Meetup and record two podcast episodes at the Bunker Bar under the historic Barclay Hotel on Robson Street.

We thought it was an original ideal, doing a Meetup in a bar and recording a podcast so people who couldn’t make the Meetup or those who don’t live in Vancouver can listen take part in the show.

If you're not familiar with podcasting, the Wikipedia definition states that "a podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of files (either audio or video) subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication. The word is a neologism derived from "broadcast" and "pod" from the success of the iPod, as podcasts are often listened to on portable media players." Whether you're new to podcasting or already familiar with it, the Bunker Project is worth checking out for the the experience and also the fun connections that you will make.

What Should You Expect?
You'll arrive at the Barclay Hotel on Robson Street and you'll most likely find a few folks gathered around the bar socializing first. Or at least, that was the case during the last Social Media Club Pub Night last month. If you plan on participating but are nervous, you might want to grab a cold one to calm your nerves down a bit. You'll then move your way towards the back of the room behind thick, white curtains. The back room will be set up with long tables around in a V-shape with the two main leaders (Andrew & Bob) in the corner. Around the long tables, you'll find several chairs and a few tables tucked in the corners and along the wall. There were also several microphones set up around the room for the participants. When Social Media Club attended, they had their record attendance around 25-30 people or so. The little back room was packed, so you should expect a few less people in general.

What Should You Do?
Before attending, you might want to connect with them and try to figure out what the topics will be but typically, the topics will be surrounding social media, internet marketing, new media and podcasting. If you're more on the shy side, you can sit back and simply listen in while they record the podcasting exchanging ideas and thoughts back and forth between themselves and the attendees. On the other hand, if you feel like you have something to say or add to a certain thought, this is your chance to express yourself and exchange your ideas not only to the people in the room but far wide into the online space as each podcast gets broadcasted shortly after they are recorded. Overall, relax and enjoy the show too!

In conclusion, you should definitely check out The Bunker Project if you're looking for interesting conversations surrounding social media in a very casual, welcoming atmosphere with various folks from different industries and you live around the Vancouver area. You can check out more information and listen to the latest podcast when Social Media Club Vancouver teamed up with them. If you aren't around our area, you can always follow them on Twitter as well. Andrew McGivern is over at @podcasthero and Bob Garlick is over at @BobGarlick.


Felice Lam
Online Community Manager
Canadian Web Hosting
1Feb/120

Canadian Web Hosting Sponsors Ayogo Games: The Great Gamification Debate

Over the last Social Media Week, I had the pleasure and honour to get acquainted with the current social media manager from Ayogo Games, Shehani Kay, during the mobile session over on Granville Island and since then, we’ve had numerous conversations related to the technology industry, social media and her space, social gaming and health. We’re excited to announce that this Thursday evening, Canadian Web Hosting is sponsoring “The Great Gamification Debate” between Michael Fergusson, from Ayogo Games, and Steve Bocska, from Pug Pharm Productions, including moderator Joe Nickolls from Microsoft/Big Park – an event that you don’t want to miss if you live here in Vancouver. The invitation link provides the full details of this sold out event - they have a waiting list!

Recently, they came out with really informative videos to bring more awareness about what they do and how social gamification works. Below are a few videos that they created to share what they know with the community:


Ayogo Q&A: How do you keep people engaged with gamification?


Ayogo Q&A: What is the difference between a game and gamification?

If you’d like more information, you can also follow them at @ayogogames or check them out on Facebook too. We hope to see you there tomorrow and if you come, we’ll be bringing some cool USB sticks for you.

 

Free swag! Canadian Web Hosting USB Sticks

 


Felice Lam
Online Community Manager
Canadian Web Hosting