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Storms and hurricanes may be the least of your business continuity worries

Natural disasters make news headlines. Images that capture the random surprise of a sinkhole, the violence of a storm, distress of flooding, and panic of fire, lend themselves to an era where a picture tells a thousand words.

Of course all natural disasters need to be considered by a business such as ours when looking at data center location and provisioning. Our customers are typically businesses who offer technology as an integral part of their own offering. They are unable and unwilling to compromise on performance or services, which is why it is essential they partner with a hosting provider, that can guarantee availability and continuity.

Whilst a natural disaster may be the trigger that raises awareness of the importance of data backup and recovery, more common hazards include viruses, and human or mechanical error.

Equally, the degree to which data needs to be backed up and protected varies - not everything is business critical. Often a blended approach can be more efficient and effective. Getting this balance right and implementing it can take time, insight and service. Which is where we come in.

Part of Cogeco Peer 1’s service involves the development of a bespoke data backup plan. We recognize that businesses are unique and data is not all the same. Over provisioning data backup and recovery can incur extra costs and is not how we want to do business. We would rather you used your profits to grow your business.

We have a range of options which can be tailored and include:

·      Disk Backup

·      Bare-metal Servers

·      Operating Systems

·      Offsite Tape Archival

·      Database Recovery

·      Data Restoration

·      File Recovery

·      Virtual Machine Recovery

With over 21 data centers globally and our own high-speed network, we are able to provide our customers with peace of mind and the ability to focus on their core business.

So, whilst we brace ourselves for hurricane season, which is currently upon us, we are also preparing and protecting our client’s data from less dramatic, but potentially as catastrophic, hazards that can occur at any time of the year.

Watch our video to learn more about how to create a flexible backup and disaster recovery plan.

 

 

 

What we learnt from Hurricane Sandy

We made it through the rain. When Hurricane Sandy hit Manhattan in 2012, one of our data centers was hit hard. We kept everything online through the creation of the “Bucket Brigade”, which saw staff fuelling emergency generators during the power outage. At the time, the media was fascinated by our team’s refusal to let the storm get the better of us. At the time, perhaps, data wasn’t as widely recognised as being an essential service as it is today.

Roll forward to last week’s Storm Jonas and data centers across the East Coast were prepared. Most of us scheduled extra staff, backed up data centers in affected areas, ensured emergency fuel supplies were available and put broader contingency plans in place. Fortunately, our own network connects our data centers so we were able to offer customers that extra peace of mind.

Of course, natural disasters are just one of the hazards that data center operators and organizations need to consider when it comes to business continuity, but are no doubt top of mind at the moment considering it is currently hurricane season on the East Coast.

We learned a lot of things during Hurricane Sandy: The importance of being prepared, how dedicated our staff and partners are, and also the benefits of having our own network, which meant that we could move data from one center to another when needed.

Another lesson learned was that whilst natural disasters may be the most dramatic and galvanizing, they also lead to a greater level of awareness and concern about business continuity. One-size solutions do not fit all, which is why we have continued to innovate and offer a range of business continuity plans, which can be tailored to suit any business or organization.

Find out more about our flexible backup and disaster recovery plans. 

In the wake of Storm Jonas: Is your business continuity plan fit for purpose?

The full extent of the fall out from Storm Jonas, which slammed into the East Coast of the US, particularly Washington DC, is yet to be revealed. On the surface it doesn’t look too bad - turning a panda into a celebrity, giving kids the day off school and forcing people to work from home in their pyjamas, seems like a lot of fun.  

But the storm also has a dark side, with reports of car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks caused whilst shovelling snow. It’s at times like these that businesses, emergency services and homes rely on data most. Whether it is to call for help, keep updated, and provide services, or simply to enable employees to work remotely and keep the kids entertained, data centers provide an essential utility.

When preparing for a storm, it’s easy for a business, institution or home to stock up on fuel, food and water. Data and communication access is just as important but is less tangible and often an after thought.

In fact, studies have found that 93 per cent of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more filed for bankruptcy within one year. While, 50 per cent of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same period filed for bankruptcy immediately.

Part of the complexity of putting an IT disaster recovery plan in place, is knowing what to prepare for in the first place. Disasters can take many forms and organizations have multiple apps and data lakes which need prioritizing - one size and approach will not fit all.

As things settle back to normal, and memories of building igloos in the street fade, this is the time to look at your data backup and disaster recovery plans and make sure they are still up-to-date.

Need to assess your data backup and recovery plan but don’t know where to start? Find out more here.

The age of support

There are some big players in cloud computing who, in the early days, carved out a name when the industry was still at an embryonic phase. But times have changed, the industry has developed, and ecommerce customers rightly expect more. But the big players haven’t changed and today they’re more like bête noires.

One etailer customer, who decided to go its own way after becoming disenchanted with one of these players, reportedly said: “Over the years, we’ve spent many small fortunes... It was killing our margins and adding to product instability. Adding insult to injury, we’ve found the service… lacking.” And that’s probably an understatement.

Cogeco Peer 1 and Magento etailer customers don’t have to deal with these costly distractions. They get far more than a hosted infrastructure. They benefit from a broad ecosystem of support that connects with their application developers, systems integrators, merchants and all other relevant partners.

Unlike some other web service and infrastructure providers, we understand that support is absolutely essential to our Magento users. Magento is a great product, which we have optimised to ensure that users gain guaranteed high performance. This is typically far more performance than they previously had, which in turn drives more ‘stickiness’ and greater revenue.

However, Magento is a complex platform. That’s why we believe it’s unthinkable not to offer support and why we have a ‘joined-up thinking’ approach to our customers’ Magento issues. In short, we provide everything they need to resolve problems.

And we have a large, technically expert team who deliver this support. This ranges from leadership Magento consultants, product managers, system administrators, technical account managers and support engineers to customer experience managers, account directors and solution engineers.

This unrivalled support spans market analysis of merchants and system integrator needs, and development teams who build optimisation code, automation processes and scalability plans to future-proof the platform. There’s a lot more too, including system architect resources and personal account management.

It’s probably fair to say that no one supports Magento like Cogeco Peer 1 does but this is no longer the age of corpulent big dogs. Rather it’s the age of the customer and mature hosting, delivering services that eCommerce operations truly need and supporting them in their endeavours to broaden and grow an industry that benefit millions and millions people around the world. 

Why compromise your eCommerce site?

They say that compromise is the art of a successful relationship. This may be true in other areas of life but certainly not in eCommerce. This is a market that is seriously heating up. In 2014, worldwide eCommerce sales rose by more than 20 per cent to almost $840 billion.

In 2018, this figure is expected to almost double, according to AT Kearny’s 2015 Global Retail Index. And it’s widely known that the Magento eCommerce platform consistently ranks top in the list of favored eCommerce platforms.

So why are e-tailers compromising their Magento eCommerce platforms by hosting them with providers who offer far less than they need? That is, hosting companies that don’t deliver the best performance, fall down on support and where an SLA is considered a strange acronym from another time and place.

The typical answer is that these hosting companies are low cost. But in a market that is getting bigger and bigger, where customers expect immediate responses, and the number of new entrants is growing exponentially, this cost-cutting is a form of slow suicide.

For instance, what happens when there’s a surge in traffic and the platform falls over? It’s not only a question of lost customers and failed transactions, but also a dangerous dent in the reputation of the brand and its online platform.

This is why we provide a unique Magento experience: a turnkey hosting platform optimized at every level from stack components to the operating system and infrastructure. This solution significantly reduces complexity for our eCommerce customers.

We also remove performance issues with our own, wholly owned, lightning-fast fibre network. We can also support your company globally, with 22 worldwide points of presence and over 1,200 peering relationships with other high-performance network providers.

But this is only the foundation. There’s a lot more, ranging from: unrivalled dedicated support based on years of technical expertise, to cutting-edge security, including an infrastructure and practises designed to meet PCI DSS mandates.

In short, our customers have a guaranteed high-performing, bullet-proof platform that delivers higher conversion rates, more revenue and ensures they are constantly at the forefront of the eCommerce revolution. So why risk the future by compromising with a second-rate hosting provider?  

What should you look for in a Magento-optimized hosting provider?

Read our eBook to discover what’s important in achieving incredible results for truly unstoppable eCommerce.

Putting others to shame

Some companies have such a large global brand presence that there’s an unquestioning assumption that the services they offer are top of the tree. In the cloud hosting space this dynamic is even more marked. But despite the familiarity of the cloud, it’s still an evolving market and one which in some areas is clearly characterised by immaturity.

Nowhere is this more obvious than among those providers who offer hosting but don’t provide service and even have questionable product stability. In other areas of technology provision this would be almost unthinkable and it would be a brave vendor that goes to market with a service that isn’t supported. This can be sometimes offset by low pricing but at what cost?

In e-commerce for instance companies that are serious about their online business simply can’t afford to offer their products or services from websites that are not supported. And here’s why.  In 2013 $1.2 trillion of online sales where generated by approximately one billion customers from all over the globe. The online market is huge and growing rapidly year-on-year.

Online businesses that have slow and unsupported websites are to put it bluntly going to pay the price. In 1994 an average webpage consisted of 14.1kb of information and 2.5 objects. In 2012 and average webpage consisted of 684kb of information and 83 objects.  More recently, the HTTP Archive report showed that in 2014, average sites had grown to being juts under 2Mb. These things are not getting any smaller. Hold these figures in mind when you consider that 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in two seconds while 79% are less likely to buy from the same website again if performance is poor. All of this means that 68% of shopping carts are abandoned because of poor website performance.

Poor performance can be attributed to several causes such as a shared infrastructure and lots of network hops as data travels from a server to the customer’s device. Unfortunately, at many cloud service providers, especially some of the large ones this is seen as acceptable.

At Cogeco Peer 1 we know this is not acceptable. That’s why we have a deep partnership with Magento, the e-commerce platform of choice for many online businesses, and a dedicated high-speed fibre network for our customers’ exclusive use.

Our optimized Magento hosting enables truly unstoppable e-commerce which translates into better performance, more traffic and conversion growth which means increased revenues and higher profit – and these are facts.  And critically, our service is supported by unrivalled, personal service with 100% guaranteed uptime SLAs, which is exactly how hosting for e-tailers should be.

What should you look for in a Magento-optimized hosting provider?

Read our eBook to discover what’s important in achieving incredible results for truly unstoppable eCommerce.

New data center opens in Montreal

 

Last month, we officially opened a new Cogeco Data Services and Peer 1 Hosting data center in Montreal. This was a landmark development for our company, done largely in response to growing market-demand for non-stop IT services.

The new 100,000-square-foot facility is an important move for our organization and customers alike. It will play a significant role in helping our customers transform their IT infrastructure – providing them with true agility to respond to change, while concurrently enabling them to drive innovation within their businesses.

Ultimately, our customers will be able to tap into the speed and flexibility of the public cloud, but also have peace-of-mind that their most mission-critical applications are hosted securely in one reliable facility.

But what exactly will the data center offer? In essence, the facility will host a single-point suite of services – from Cloud and Colocation, to Backup and Connectivity – supporting customers’ core, legacy and emerging applications.

Having all of these services in one place will enable us to take the complexity of IT off the hands of our customers, to let them concentrate on their core business.

Some other facts about the new data center include

The facility was built to exceed Tier 3 standards, and is the 21st  location in our organization’s collective data center fleet.

The data center represents a commitment in the order of more than $100 million over time.

As a state-of-the-art cloud and colocation facility, the center is the first of its kind in Montreal.

The facility is the first in Canada to offer consumption-based power billing.

The center was designed for a capacity of up to 16.5 Mega Watts, allowing customers to grow without constraint, while maximizing efficiency.

The facility is highly secure, offering 100 per cent uptime guarantee, around-the-clock monitoring and video surveillance.

Designed for reliability and scalability, the center offers 24/7 year-round tech-to-tech support
 and, is equipped with state-of-the-art chillers, N+1 power, cooling and network redundancy, high-density cabinets and hot aisle containment.

To find out how secure hosting services take a load off your mind, download our Uncompromising infographic.  

About the Author

Duncan McGregor
VP of Managed IT Services and Engineering

With more than 15 years’ experience in managing network, security, infrastructure, and cloud operations in enterprise high tech, Duncan oversees Network Engineering and Managed IT at Cogeco Data Services and Peer 1. This includes strategy, design and delivery of network and security services, infrastructure services and cloud services. Duncan also oversees the corporate IT team, managing all of the critical back office and business support systems.

Bimodal IT and the hybrid cloud

In an increasingly competitive business world, a growing number of digital innovations are springing from within the enterprise. Employees in marketing, sales, logistics and other departments are pushing beyond their traditional job specs to create new digital products and services. This is driving business growth, competitive advantage and improvements in the customer experience.

These types of innovations often move quickly, with limited planning and IT involvement. In such cases, IT decision-makers can be left scrambling to implement safety and accuracy measures, while also needing to keep pace with tight product development and release deadlines.

So how can businesses ensure that their IT infrastructure strikes the right balance? It seems that ‘bimodal IT’ could be a viable approach.  

What is bimodal IT?

Since Gartner’s Lydia Leong coined the term in 2014, ‘bimodal IT’ has become somewhat of a buzzword. Garner defines bimodal IT as  “the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility.

Mode 1 refers to sequential and traditional IT delivery, which places priority on safety and accuracy over speed. Mode 1 generally encompasses back-office applications on which enterprises are built, like databases, for example.

Mode 2 service delivery is nonlinear and exploratory, centering on agility and speed. Mode 2 is suited to environments where objectives are less established and more experimental. For example, businesses that launch lots of new products or outward-facing, front-end applications. These types of applications require faster IT turnaround times to get products to market quickly, as well as adequate safety and testing measures to mitigate potential risks.Gartner found that 45 per cent of CIOs have already begun implementing bimodal service delivery, with this number estimated to reach 75 per cent by 2017.

How can the cloud support bimodal IT?

There are cloud products on the market that can help businesses deliver ‘Mode 2’, or edge applications, to support a bimodal IT service delivery strategy.

Take our True Native Hybrid Cloud™ solution, for example. This platform gives customers the ability to instantly build, provision and scale physical and virtual infrastructure through a self-service, web-based portal on a utility billing basis.

Via this service, customers can achieve the scalability and cost-efficiencies that come with off-premise public cloud, while keeping core applications and traditional components on private, bare-metal infrastructure.

For businesses, this can result in speedier, cheaper and more flexible performance during peak demand periods. Take, for instance, a start-up or marketing company launching a new product. Without a hosting provider in the middle facilitating operations, they could more quickly and easily manage their business’ scalability. Leading into the launch, they could ramp up their capacity – and post-launch, they could decommission servers.

For ‘Mode 1’, or core IT applications, other methods may be more suited. Many businesses host these applications themselves. Hosting platforms like hosted private clouds, based on virtualization technologies such as VMWare, or managed hosting environments can fit more traditional client server architecture and applications – for example, clustered databases, hosted Microsoft Exchange servers, and the like.

The future of bimodal IT

Bimodal IT marks a shift away from trying to solve all IT problems with a single solution. Instead, the model emphasizes a more flexible way of dealing with two distinct sets of needs.

For businesses wanting to employ a bimodal IT service model now or in the future, the pool of potential vendors will narrow to include service providers that can manage platforms for core IT and customer edge applications.

Bimodal IT will increase in importance for start-ups and SMBs as they grow, as well as larger enterprises looking to innovate further.

The success of bimodal IT within an organization depends very much on an agile cloud solution, paired with a rock solid, reliable platform for traditional apps. The right blend can propel the rapid creation of new products and services, as well as provide stable and solid management of traditional legacy application – without necessitating a “lift and shift” of every app to the cloud.

For more information on our True Native Hybrid Cloud solutions, visit the On Demand portal today: peer1.com/on-demand.

In addition, check out our dedicated Private Cloud and Managed Hosting solutions.

The benefits of a utility billing, self-service hybrid cloud model

Self-service IT models have long been associated with complexity. Taking insight from the industry as well as the challenges being faced by professionals, we developed the On Demand Cloud Platform – putting the power where it belongs, back in the hands of the customer.

Whether it’s a developer trying out new code, or a marketing agency requiring a new environment for a short-term campaign, On Demand provides complete transparency on a utility billing basis. Simply like paying your household bills, customers only need pay for what they use and can switch off at any time.

Want to find out more about Peer 1’s True Native Hybrid Cloud solution? Check out our On Demand Cloud platform: www.peer1.com/on-demand

Hybrid cloud and marketing agencies

Marketing agencies are a great example of flexible hybrid cloud solutions in action. Often working on campaigns or on short-term projects, marketing professionals demand the ability to scale and switch on IT solutions at short notice.

Once a campaign is live, traffic can be unpredictable depending on its success.  True Native Hybrid Cloud allows marketers to seamlessly scale up their environment as campaigns and workloads progress – available in just minutes. 

Want to find out more about Peer 1’s True Native Hybrid Cloud solution? Check out our On Demand Cloud platform: www.peer1.com/on-demand

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