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
Google recently launched their new website based on the same Street View technology for mapping streets. But instead of streets, they mapped several museums around the world. You can virtually walk around the museums and see high resolutions images of famous artwork.
I read that each artwork took 4-8 hours to take using high resolution cameras.
CTO / SEO Guru
Canadian Web Hosting
I have been hearing reports of a cold winter coming to Vancouver since summer but I didn't expect it to be this cold!!
"Coldest November high of -3.2 C breaking 1985's -1.9c on Nov. 23rd" - The Weatherman
Numbers don't mean much if you are not here to experience it, but for us Vancouverites, this is damn cold.. and its only November! I just bought All Season tires for my car in August and thought to myself, "I don't think I need snow tires this year." Well, that plan changed pretty quick when the snow started falling a few days ago.
Snow tires on, I've digging in for a long cold winter!
There is a misconception people have that the saved password feature is pretty safe to use. After all, you can't see where passwords are saved("It is being put in a safe place by the computer."), then no one else can either.. and you are the only one that have a login, "So its for your eyes only", right? WRONG!
Just the other day, I caught one of my best friend using a saved password for one of his logins, so I jumped on him
"I bet you $5 bucks I can see all your saved password just by using your browser.. without hacking into the registry or anything of that nature " He was pretty confident that I can't and that I need to load some special software and do some low level hacks, so the bet was on! It took me about 30 seconds to show him all the saved passwords in a formatted table, in alphabetical order, just by using his favorite browser, Firefox!
"Well you work at a web hosting company so you can do this kind of stuff.", he rebuffed. Here is the interesting thing, you don't need to be a computer wiz to pull this off. It can be done with your browser and a handy add-on.
It really is simple, unlike the olden days where you need a floppy to get that kind of info. Here is how I did it:
Install it and restart your Firefox. In the Tools menu you will see a new link, "Saved passwords..." Click it and voila!
Don't freak out yet.. There is a simple step you can take to protect yourself from these type of add-on/programs. In Firefox, there is a setting called "Master Password". It is under preferences >> Security >> "Use a Master Password". When setting this make sure you do not forget it. Otherwise you will have to do a full reset and will lose all your saved passwords... it might be a good thing . This will encrypt your passwords and you need to enter the Master password every time to show or use the saved passwords. It is not 100% and can be brute forced with programs like Firemaster but better than being naked.
You can also opt to use password programs that store your password in encrypted form. For Windows, Roboform is a popular choice. For Mac, I personally use 1password. These are still not 100% but it does offer you another layer of security.
Canadian Web Hosting
Heat Map according to Wikipedia is "is a graphical representation of data where the values taken by a variable in a two-dimensional map are represented as colors". The heap map I'm talking about this week is different areas of a web page most frequently scanned by visitors. Wouldn't it be to your advantage as a website owner to find out which areas of the web page your visitors are looking at and most likely to click thru? You can use Google Analytics to find out where your traffic is coming from, where they are clicking throughout your website and where they are dropping off. It would be better also to find out where they are looking on the web page and optimize it to increase your conversions. There are several services online that can help you by searching "heatmaps" on Google. These heat map software programs use computer algorithms to simulate where people will look. They can also be used to track the effectiveness of your landing pages.
They can do the following:
Pinpoint exactly where your links and advertisements should go.
Get more visitors to complete their purchase.
Predict how your visitors will interact with your site in the future.
Get more visitors to fill out your forms.
Make Web usability testing easy to implement.
This technology combines eye gazing statistics and predicted attention to give you a visual picture of where visitors are interacting with your site.
As you can see from this image of a sample Google search results page, the popular areas are on the top left. This shows the density of user clicks in a series of colours from red to green. Red indicates that more people are spending more time at that location.
Crazy Egg offers a visually-based program that allows you to see your landing page's effectiveness at a glance. Check it out and leave any comments which would be helpful to our other readers.
CTO / SEO Guru
Canadian Web Hosting