Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How To Find The Best Web Hosting Service

The internet is one of the most important tools in the modern times. What started off as simply a mode of transfer of data is today used for a wide variety of purposes. Today, it plays a very important role in commerce and finance, all across the globe. These days, a large number of products are sold over the net. So, you will find products ranging from safety pins to cars and nails to large factories on sale on the internet. It is perhaps due to this ever growing popularity, that a large number of firms, enter the arena of internet marketing.

As a result of this, more and more websites are coming up each day. As a matter of fact, it does not seem to be a distant reality, that some day, every person would be having a separate website of his or her own. In order to cater to this growing demand for websites, web hosting services have come up as an effective tool.

Finding the best hosting service for your website can be complicated. There are almost endless options all clamoring to be the top hosts or the least expensive service, and this can make it almost impossible for webmasters to sort fact from fiction. The best way to select a quality web host is to take the selection process one step at a time:

Assess Your Needs:

The very first item to address in selecting the best hosting service for your needs is to actually identify what those needs are. What sorts of website are looking to host?

Rate:

Of course a low rate .... but high in quality!

Data Transfer and Disk Space:

Bandwidth requirements grow with your site. Web hosting companies pay for bandwidth, so you, the one using that bandwidth will be billed accordingly. It is far better to pay for the required amount of data transfer upfront rather than get a surprise bill in the mail for having gone considerably over your allotted amount. By the same token, be sure you have an appropriate amount of disk space reserved.

Reliability and Speed:

The best hosting services will offer uptime of over 99%. This should be a guarantee to motivate the company to keep all servers up all the time. Of course, visitors should also be able to access your site quickly.

Scripts and Special Features:

Different websites have different needs, and the best hosting service for you should accommodate those needs. Email addresses should be standard as well as the capacity for a variety of scripts. Be sure to see if other features like shopping carts and secure servers are available or standard.

Technical Support:

It is very important to be able to reach the hosting company if your website begins experiencing problems. The best hosting support one can hope for is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Most companies know this, so take their stated hours with a grain of salt. Always spot check the companies with email at random times to see if they really have someone available to help 24/7.

Load Balancing:

Once the resources are exhausted and the web-server is encountering heavy traffic, a problem would surely arise.

A problematic situation pertaining to difficulty in handling high volumes of incoming traffic can be solved either through installing more RAM on existing machines or replacing the CPU with a faster one. The use of faster or dedicated SCSI controllers and disks with shorter access time can also be done. Software can be tuned so that the operating system parameters and web server software can be adjusted to achieve better performance.

An alternative approach is to improve performance by increasing the number of web servers. This approach would attempt to distribute traffic unto a cluster of back-end web servers that need not be large-scale machines. Web server scalability is achieved when more servers are added to distribute the load among the group of servers or server cluster.
For a simple and easy to use online resource listing some of the best recommended web hosting options …. Including cost and feature comparisons … please go to: Best Web Hosting Services

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Advantages of Business Ethernet

Courtesy of my partner Jon Arnold of Business Ethernet

When it comes time to choose and make the tough choices for your business, there will undoubtedly be lots of different options available. This is especially true when talking about telecommunications, where the market is full of things that look good on the surface. You could go with T1, Ethernet, DSL, cable, or something else. With all of these things staring your business in the face, you have to consider the costs and the weigh the benefits of each choice. This choice is one that shouldn't really be a contest, though. Business Ethernet offers many advantages over the other choices out on the market.

There are quite a few reasons why Business Ethernet is the best choice for business telecommunications. First and foremost, it comes down to speed and reliability. These are the two things that you need to be looking for when you make this choice. When you are running a network, communicating with your customers via email, allowing your customers to download literature and specs from your server, and having a responsive and attractive online presence, you need for it to provide the type of speed and power that your customers and employees expect demand. The speed of your system will dictate how much work gets done and it will set the tone for your business. If you have anything less than the best, your business as a whole will suffer. Running a high speed network with Ethernet makes sure that you are putting your best foot forward. Remember, in the eyes of your customer, you only have one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it is a good one in the highly competitive marketplace.

The biggest reason why Business Ethernet is better than DSL and cable is because of the reliability factor. With DSL and cable, you have no uptime guarantee and no bandwidth availability guarantee, because you are sharing DSL and cable with 50-100 other businesses and residences. Yes this is also true with “business class” DSL or cable service. But Ethernet comes with an uptime guarantee and bandwidth availability guarantee and is faster than the same speeds advertised on DSL or cable. When running a tethered system of this nature, you don't have to worry about many of the common disconnect problems that go along with running a cable or DSL system. Simply put, this Ethernet is more efficient when it comes to being online and providing a business with the power that it needs. It stands out in this way above the other options.

Some people might make compelling arguments that bonded T1 is a better choice for business telecommunications than Ethernet. When dealing with the same amount of bandwidth, you are almost certainly going to get more bang for your buck by going with Ethernet, if it is available in your location. It is a much more cost effective way to power your business's most important functions, and that is important for business owners who are looking to control the bottom line. Simply put, you won't be paying as much and you will be getting the same amount of capability and bandwidth when you go with Ethernet, with the added benefit of the inherent advantages and written guarantees that DSL and cable cannot provide.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

DS3 Bandwidth..... Perfect For A New Data Network

DS3 Bandwidth delivers the extra capacity and worry free reliability any company requires to support critical business functions. It'll make every IT specialist breathe a sigh of relief once implemented ... and when made the center piece of your pitch to management should give you confidence that you network proposal will be accepted without a hitch.

If your company finds itself in a situation where you are designing a new..... or even replacement or expansion of an existing high capacity/high load data network.... the most logical decision is to consider DS3 bandwidth for your network backbone.

However, to be confident in that decision I recommend first doing the math for the files you project to move..... and then pick the technology that will work. Even though you need a lot of bandwidth, do you need it continuously or in bursts? It may be that you can transfer files over time instead of all at once so you won't have to get such large pipes. Also, it may be that you need massive files "right now" so you will have to go for the bigger line connections. By bigger I mean DS3 bandwidth or possibly OC3 bandwidth.... instead of say a full or fractional T1 line.

In other words do your homework so you're confident you can answer any question asked.

Now ...... approach this network analysis with an equation like:

Let's say you have 50 1GB files that need to be transferred every day from point A to B. That's 50 GB in a 24-hour period.

50GB = 400Gb = 400,000,000,000 bits

1 day = 86400 seconds

400,000,000,000/86400 = ~4700000 bits/sec = ~ 5 Mb/sec

Of course, that would be going full bore 24 hours a day with no protocol overhead, so you are realistically looking at doubling that number. Then, you could put in some additional QOS (Quality of Service) mechanisms to make sure that bandwidth was available for other applications.

DS3 based bandwidth solutions are often used for corporate-hosted application servers, real time video transport (such as video conferencing), high resolution images (think medical imagery), large engineering files (such as 3D modeling or CAD) and data backups to remote data centers. You can get this level of bandwidth through either fiber optic delivery or over copper coaxial lines (also called T3 lines). Remember too that DS3 isn’t just for data. A DS-3 can be channelized to deliver voice as well as data.

For comparison purposes …. the capacity or speed of a DS3 is the equivalent of twenty-eight (28) T1 lines. To be more specific ….. a typical DS3 network is capable of transmitting 44.7 million bits per second upstream and downstream. Normally, a DS3 dedicated broadband line has about 672 voice and data channels. Each channel has a 64 kpbs capacity with each parallel network connection improving the link speed beyond any single cable or port. Applying DS3 transport over a point to point network (or MPLS – Multi-Protocol Label Switching) makes it possible for your business to include bandwidth intensive applications like those mentioned above for transmission across a busy network.

Here’s a tip …. in Wide Area Networking (WAN) systems bandwidth and application optimization make for better efficiency and performance. For example, utilizing the new 3G Wireless WAN interface in conjunction with DS3 technology will impact the Trunk Line 3 services positively. With this configuration It is possible for you to have hassle free, secure, unlimited internet connectivity for transmission of large amounts of data even more quickly and efficiently.

If you are in a local metro area where providers can service your building(s) with Ethernet service to all your offices ..... that may be cheaper than getting a TDM circuit such as a DS-3 line. Notice I said .... maybe. If they cannot serve all your locations with "on-net" Ethernet service then perhaps you can look for a burstable DS-3 or tiered pricing plan to save costs ..... and only pay for the bandwidth you will be using on average.

Also .... you may want to look into using MPLS VPN service instead of a dedicated point to point. It is typically a more cost effective solution to establish IP connectivity between "x" number of offices. You can of course run DS3 through a MPLS network.

Since you likely will have large files to move such as 3D modeling, CAD, or medical imagery ..... if the data transmission is TCP based, then I also suggest to look into some WAN acceleration appliances such as Riverbed, Cisco WAAS, or Juniper WX. This will allow you to take advantage of the pipe (bandwidth) size you have. It will also allow you to cache commonly transmitted bits to save bandwidth costs and utilize your WAN circuits efficiently..... while improving end-user application performance over the WAN. Since those appliances simulate LAN performance with the built-in algorithms.

If all that explanation is making your head spin.... there's a way you can make the entire process much simpler. To accomplish this I recommend taking advantage of the free consultative services available to you through ……

DS3 Bandwidth

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Is The Best Cell Phone Deal, Best Cell Phone, Best Service Plan, Etc. Right Now?

There really is no simple cut and dried answer to this question. The best and most honest answer is .... "it depends".

What may be best in one place may not be in another. What may be best one day will change even overnight. That's just the nature of the cell phone industry today.

"A" may be the best phone in Kansas .... but "D" is the best phone in Maine. "X" may have the best plan in California .... but "Y" has the best plan in Georgia.

It also depends on whether the cell phone is primarily for personal use or business use. Does a simple cell phone (with or without camera, internet, music, etc.) meet the intended use ..... or is a Blackberry, Palm, iPhone, or other advanced application filled device more suitable?

Plus ... who's the primary user? Young single professional .... teenager ..... college student .... active older business person .... family?

There's lots of variables that must be considered to decide on a "best" of anything .... for that specific user.

So there really is no consistentcy for an answer. The only constant is ... it varies.

That said you're most likely to see Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile mentioned the most (at least in the US) for cellular providers. But even that isn't a gimme.

To help though .... there is an aggregrate comparison website available to help the individual make just such a complicated decision. They don't take a position of who or what is best. They simply share the results of a visitor initaiated "search and compare" ..... based on whatever specific parameters you enter as your "most important".

The results of this "search and compare" will list different providers available at a given location you enter ... and include prices and available plans. One aspect I like is that they include unadvertized special pricing deals you wouldn't otherwise know about. Nice little feature .... updated weekly I believe.

For more information go to: Best Cell Phone

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Managing Remote And Offsite Employee Secure Online Communications

The latest trend is no longer allowing employees in general to login onto the corporate online environment from untrusted devices.

We see this trend not just in the Industry but also in (semi)government.

They want to make sure that only their trusted corporate devices are used. It results in a smile on the faces of the compliance auditors, but most importantly ensures that the used device has the latest updates when it comes to combating malware etc.

Especially with remote and offsite employees it does not suffice to just make use of regular strong authentication s combined with for example IP-number and Mac address. Most tokens entries can be intercepted using Man in the Middle, and mac and IP numbers can be spoofed.

Identifying a user's trusted corporate device is frequently done using a machine certificate. This really works well.... until the employee loses his device and certificates need to be revoked, and the new machine needs to be made trusted, not just by installing the right images but also a new machine certificate. This causes pain and in many cases a nightmare for both user and the IT manager.

In the last few years some companies such as www.TrustAlert.com have made solutions available which leverage any form of existing authentication, most common user/pwd and tokens, by allowing them only to be used from a single or a group of trusted corporate devices.

Generally the solutions allows for the mapping of trusted devices, provided they are online or network connected, at a speed of 64.000 machines per hour. Revoking a lost machine and issuing a new trust to a single new device takes around 5 seconds and can be automated depending on other forms of authentication (SMS, visual, phone etc).

An added benefit for the user is that no matter what form of (strong)authentication is used by the user, SSO is also enabled to for example VPN's and online applications, making the experience of the user a lot more positive as well.

Setting up such a solution takes 1-5 days.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) …. The Basics

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) …. The Basics

MPLS is the protocol technology used by businesses and organizations to build Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are provided by telecommunications/service provider companies …. e.g. Verizon, AT&T and BT. MPLS enables organizations to use a shared (virtual) data communications network rather than building its own private point-to-point data communications network using carriers relatively expensive leased line services.

MPLS is arguably one of the best standards to come out of the IETF. Small to large organizations around the globe have deployed MPLS in their networks because of the cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and scalability inherent in it. When you consider the challenge, risk and cost of serving more users in remote locations or branch offices, with an increasing number of devices for connectivity, and the expectation of delivering business-class voice as an application, MPLS is the answer. It's often thought of as the super smart traffic engineer controlling at the packet level.

This matrix compares MPLS VPN to traditional frame relay and IPSec VPN in an easily digestible way:

Comparing MPLS To VPN To Frame Relay

The cost of an MPLS-based VPN is based on three factors ….

1. Data network port speed i.e. how fast the data enters/exits the service providers network

2. Access type i.e. technology and speed between the customer site and service providers network (POP)

3. Relative priority and criticality of the business application using the network

Importantly, an MPLS network avoids having to connect every site to every other site …. E.g. N x N connections. Instead every site connects to the service provider’s network at Points-of-Presence (Pops) …. making a solution more cost efficient and more reliable.

The factors that decide the suitability include ….

• Number of sites
• Site locations; e.g. local area, in-country, worldwide
• Bandwidth required; e.g. sub-2Mbps, 2Mbps, 10Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps
• Data Centre location(s)
• Minimum Performance requirements; e.g. end-to-end delay, packet loss
• Availability (reliability) of service defined by Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
• Application types and requirements; e.g. SAP, Siebel, email, intranet, telephony (see below)
• Cost; access, speed, customer-edge (CE) routers

Un-avoidably some sites will require dedicated point-to-point connects e.g. high-speed connections between data-centres. Also, where a local telecommunications company has a high-speed service it can often make sense to connect local sites together to form a MAN (Metropolitan Area Network). Therefore a solution often consists of MPLS and various point-to-point services.

Telephony over MPLS-based VPNs …. Most multinational companies will place significant numbers of telephone calls between their own offices. Each and every telephone call will incur a local, national or international call charge normally based on distance, duration and time-of-day. Accumulated, these telephone calls are often a significant cost to the business but essential to doing business. Conversely an MPLS-based VPN has a fixed cost however much the network is used and the distance between users. Global Voice Networking provides a Voice VPN service to exploit the MPLS model without incurring large upfront voice platform upgrade costs.

Now that you have the basics ….. for help deciding the best MPLS configuration and most cost effective provider of that solution ..… I strongly recommend the free assistance available from MPLS Network Solution

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Definition Of MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching)

The simplest definition for MPLS is .... it's "Frame Relay 2.0".

MPLS is a good bet if you want a more predictable performance than you can get with internet-based VPN, but can't financially justify point-to-point connections. All the major carriers have fairly mature MPLS-like products out now.

Virtually any distributed organization with a need for location-to-location communications is a good fit for MPLS. However, don’t forget to look at things that might be potential disqualifiers …..

* Make sure the carrier you choose has coverage in most/all locations you may want served.

* If there are existing MPLS/frame networks in place, see if someone can mesh them into a new network.

* Consider the total cost of the network, including both the start-up and wrap-up costs. Often you can ask the carrier to make your contracts sync up with expiration dates, but it's something you need to do at the beginning.

* Think about the implementation and support requirements, and physical deployment. I've had good results with carriers doing the legwork, but it's a tradeoff on speed of deployment.

The factors to decide your choice for adoption of MPLS should be relatively simpler. Apart from the inherent cost benefits on hardware involved ….. it makes better sense to deploy a network (on MPLS). Especially considering the scaling up that may happen in the days to come because businesses are growing fast and furious. One of the obvious choices for MPLS deployments is an organization which has multiple sites that need to communicate privately to each other. On the flip side, I would not suggest MPLS for businesses whose network (size) is small and limited.

MPLS deployments worldwide, nowadays, are strongly related to VoIP deployments. Organizations planning to deploy applications like VoIP are also planning to configure QoS policies. MPLS lends a ready-made fabric in doing so.

Today, when you talk to businesses about their planned MPLS deployments, many of them point to VoIP deployment as one of the prime reasons for deploying MPLS. This is indeed right if you consider the fact voice traffic follows an any-to-any pattern ….. and MPLS offers the any-to-any connectivity required. What’s more, MPLS enables you to provide that desired (rather highest!) level of prioritized, network level performance to carry Voice.

Quiet a few businesses have asked me, “Is MPLS ready for prime time?”. The fact is that today’s service providers are increasingly replacing their ATM services with that of MPLS. Mobile Carriers are on a fast track mode to have an MPLS backbone to carry large volumes of voice. The choice is right, considering that MPLS provides all the benefits that you to tend to have from ATM and much more. MPLS provides increased control, simplicity and manageability. These will translate into better service quality for end users.

Keep this in mind too. MPLS does not do away with your legacy deployments – ATM, IP, TDM etc.

MPLS will typically be more costly than Internet-based VPN solutions, but you get guaranteed end-to-end performance. If you have ever priced out a frame relay network, you can expect the pricing to be similar. (In many cases FR is part of the underlying edge transport)

Finally, I'd make sure user expectations of QoS are reasonable. It does work well if you understand the limitations and use it sparingly - i.e. prioritizing traffic that is a small percentage of total bandwidth. Remember that MPLS doesn't actually change the capacity of a circuit (a T1 with full-motion videoconferencing is still doing to get clobbered the second someone opens iTunes in the office)

If you need help deciding the best MPLS configuration for your business …. and the most cost effective provider of that solution ..… I strongly recommend the free assistance available from MPLS Network Solution

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Service Level Agreement (SLA) For Dedicated Internet Access ….

Just what is a SLA (Service Level Agreement) for dedicated bandwidth contracts?

Easy answer ….. Penalty clause. What the provider promises if they "mess up".

However, in my honest opinion SLA's are 100% over rated and are usually meaningless. What if your ISP absolutely guaranteed you 100% availability and uptime? What if they guaranteed you 1hr mean time to repair? Then they miss those.....

Check your penalty.

These are typical …..

1) they will reimburse you for time lost.

Ok assume $3000/month (large cap circuit) and down 3 days = 10% = $300 penalty. I think they would pay that.

2) they will let you out of the agreement if not resolved within 30 days.

Great … you are out of business up to 30 days? Doesn't help you much does it? Then you need to provision a secondary carrier.

Bottom line. SLA's don't mean anything. Track record means everything.

Get 3 large carrier customers. Speak to their CIO. Ask the carrier if they publish track record stats. Ask the carrier what redundancy or H/A is built in; then ask to see it in person. Regardless of what a carrier guarantees, the penalties for missing their guarantee are not sufficient for them to matter much. If these are business critical get a secondary carrier for backup.

To really protect yourself insist on a SLA which creates enough pain for the provider to force them to take their promises seriously …. And sweat bullets at their expense not yours if they don’t live up to those promises.

For help negotiating to get the best SLA for YOU when shopping for dedicated bandwidth (e.g. T1, DS3, Ethernet) ... use the free services available through DS3 Bandwidth Solutions

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Are You Bundling Your Communications Services ….. Cable TV, Phone, And Internet?

Although not necessarily a new concept … it seems that many either don’t know about bundling as an option or don’t understand it enough to make a decision one way or another.

Basically you’d be looking for a service provider who can bundle all communications services ….... cable TV/ internet/ phone/ fax/ wireless internet/ cell phone services for example.

The benefit … or at least the pitch used to market bundled services ….. is that your communications needs/desires are met by a more cost-effective solution with integrated services.

More often than not ... the only bundling packages you'll see will include just Cable TV, high speed internet, and land line phone (usually done as a broadband phone). Rarely ….. unless the local provider has the capability ….. or partners with another provider ….. will you also see fax and cell as potential add-ons. Fax may be easier to link with your landline phone. Cellular ... not so easy and usually will have to be separate from other services.

There's an online search tool which allows you to find bundled package options comparing available providers by location. It uses zip code or phone number to identify the location to search ... and presents the findings online in a few seconds. It will usually identify any special offers if they apply too. That’s a nice feature since you can’t often get a straight answer from talking to a salesperson personally …. on the phone or in person. They’re liable to tell you anything.

To try out this search and compare tool for yourself go to: Bundled Communications Services

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