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Webinar Recap: Magento Optimized Hosting

We had a great time at Magento Imagine in April with customers, partners and peers. My colleague Frank Di Rocco gave a very interesting presentation about virtual Magento solutions and we had some fruitful conversations with other attendees on the show floor and at our networking event.

Throughout the week, as well as during Frank’s talk, we got a lot of the same questions from other attendees, particularly regarding our support for Magento solutions. So, after the event, we hosted a webinar to answer many of those questions and explain in specific detail how we work with Magento to support e-retailers.

The webinar included presentations from Frank and myself, as well as Kevin Schroeder, a technical consultant at Magento. Some of the questions we answered in the webinar include:

Q: How long have Peer 1 and Magento been partners?

A: In 2012, after many inquiries from customers and partners, we launched an optimized platform for Magento installations. This followed a lot of close work with Magento to adhere to their best practices. We also did some of our development to add value to those best practices and bring some additional functionality to our customers.

Q: Why work with a hosting provider? Can’t I just go straight to Magento?

A: Magento requires advanced technical expertise, which often surpasses the knowledge of a retailer’s system administrator. To be successful on the Magento platform, retailers really need to understand the development side and application support, and not many have that level of expertise in-house.

Magento has a suite of training classes in its Magento U program, which Kevin explained during the webinar, but many of our customers find huge value in working with our highly trained team of experts to support their Magento implementations. Our team works with Magento every day and truly lives in that technology, so they can provide phenomenal support for customers. They are also in a position to consult on best practices and strategy.

Q: Which Peer 1 solution works best with Magento?

A: Peer 1’s Magento Optimized Managed hosting is a turnkey solution that is optimized to meet the intense requirements of the Magento platform. It uses proven, optimized and scalable infrastructure to deliver optimal performance and reliability, and is backed by an experienced team of infrastructure experts at Peer 1.

 

You can watch a replay of the webinar here. Have more questions? Leave a comment below!

Welcome to hybrid cloud On Demand

A recent survey revealed that cutting IT costs and improving processes, as well as operational efficiencies are the top IT priorities within organisations. Hybrid cloud makes for a compelling proposition when looking to address these challenges – with adoption now outpacing that of public and private cloud.

With many providers offering ‘on demand’ solutions, adoption is often a complex process, with businesses locked in to long-term and expensive contracts. In the following video I explain our new On Demand Cloud platform which makes buying hybrid cloud as simple as flicking a switch, it also allows your to simply pay for what you use. 

 

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

 

 

 

What is cloud computing?

The phrase cloud computing is a bit of a marketing misnomer. It’s clearly not computing in some ethereal cloud that mystically manifests on your computer screen. Put simply, cloud computing is essentially a metaphor for internet-based computing where services  such as servers, storage and applications are delivered to an organization's computers and devices through the Internet.

You might say if that’s a simple definition you wouldn’t like a complex one with some justification. To put it another way think of a organisations IT infrastructure, such as banks of servers in a data centre, storage platforms, a raft of security technologies all of which has to be managed in-house. Now imagine the services that the infrastructure provides coming to you via the internet without the need for all that in-house hardware. And that’s cloud computing.

But of course this is IT and in the realm of technology there is very little that is so simple.  But at one level cloud computing is simple.  Cloud computing uses networks of large groups of servers with special connections to spread data-processing chores across them. The servers could be in one data centre or they might be spread across many different data centres which in turn could be scattered all around the world.

This shared IT infrastructure contains large pools of systems such as storage that are linked together. And virtualization techniques are used to maximize the power of cloud computing, to multiply the computing power and resource. Another way to think of it is rather than having locally-based servers or devices to handle applications you’re using shared resources, used by other people too.

In a way it’s similar to grid computing, where processing cycles of all computers in a network are used to solve problems too intensive for any stand-alone machine. A good example of this is the SETI project, the search for extra-terrestrial life. If you want to be involved you simply sign up and your computer is hooked up the network and its unused processing power is used in the project.

Cloud computing effectively does the same. It harnesses traditional supercomputing or high-performance computing power, to perform tens of trillions of computations per second. Except the end game isn’t to find ET but to provide applications, data storage and traditional IT services that you’d normally get from an in-house infrastructure.

What is True Native Hybrid Cloud?

IT decision makers now require flexible, scalable and cost effective hybrid cloud solutions – on demand. Combining best in breed hybrid technology, True Native Hybrid Cloud allows customers to provision both bare metal and virtual cloud servers from a single, web-based portal.

Putting the power back in the hands of our customers, in the video below I explain True Native Hybrid Cloud and what it really means for businesses.

 

 

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

Is your eCommerce hosting solution doing more harm than good?

Recently, I wrote a piece for Retail Online Integration about how some e-retailers struggle to pinpoint the cause of performance problems on their websites. In the article, I outlined a few signs that eCommerce businesses need to switch their hosting solutions to prevent unwanted headaches for shoppers. Below, I’ve shared the top three signs. You can also read the original seven, here.

 

#1 My Site Keeps Crashing

In 2014, electronics giant BestBuy suffered a website crash on Cyber Monday. What was meant to be one of the most lucrative online shopping days for the retailer ended up costing it significant sales and customer goodwill. The impact was intensified by many other retailers with similar products competing for shoppers’ attention on the same day, with much more responsive and faster websites.

This scenario is not a new one – and it’s not only an issue on the busiest online shopping days of the year. Whether a website crashes at 2 a.m. or at 2 p.m., in December or in March, customers will look to shop elsewhere when they can’t shop with their first choice. And, their expectations remain the same throughout the shopping experience – from browsing, to editing their shopping cart, to checking out. With annual U.S. e-retail figures at an all-time high, e-retailers cannot afford to lose customers’ interest at any step.

 

#2 I’m Always Fixing Things

A poor site doesn’t always disrupt shoppers, though. Sometimes the only symptom is high maintenance costs. That threatens e-retailers’ profits, but it also indicates that there may be an underlying infrastructure issue that needs to be addressed.

E-retailers shouldn’t wait for their solution to fall apart, as Walmart did when a glitch published incorrect prices on its online store. The glitch was not only fiscally expensive for Walmart, which later had to reimburse shoppers, but also cost the trust of some loyal shoppers. To avoid issues like this, retailers must look to a hosting provider that will stay ahead of infrastructure issues and prevent their websites from delivering a poor customer experience.

 

#3 Scaling Is a Nightmare

All online retailers are investing in ways to bring new visitors to their sites and grow online traffic, including pop-up coupons, free shipping deals and customer surveys. However, if a website keeps crashing under the weight of the traffic resulting from sales and marketing promotions, the return on these investments is hugely diminished.

Take, for instance, the much-anticipated launch of the Lilly Pulitzer collection at Target. While heavy demand in the store cleaned out shelves, even greater demand online crashed the site. Target’s website was unable to scale quickly enough to meet the demand of its eager shoppers, and ultimately failed to deliver the experience they expected.

Every millisecond matters for an eCommerce business. Poor website performance, high maintenance costs and the inability to scale to an influx of traffic can derail the sites of even the most beloved retailers. Make sure your hosting provider doesn’t let that happen to your site.

What is cloud security?

Despite its growing popularity the cloud is still very much a new frontier. As such there is very little in the way of specific standards for security or data privacy. In terms of legislation there is nothing that is specifically built for cloud computing, which isn’t unusual as law often lags behind technology developments.
That said there are control-based technologies and policies used for cloud computing. Standards are important as they govern the security of data in the cloud. When it comes to securing data in the cloud five areas need to be considered:
 
Secure data transfer: data travelling between your network and the service you use travels across the internet.  For security this should always travel on a secure channel and data should be encrypted and authenticated using industry standard protocols.

Secure stored data: data should be securely encrypted when it’s on the cloud provider’s servers and while it’s in use by the cloud service. Cloud hosting companies need to secure data not only when it’s in transit but also when it’s on their servers and accessed by the cloud-based applications.

User access control: data stored on a cloud provider’s server can potentially be accessed by an employee of that company. There needs to be safeguards in place restricting access and spelling out who manages it.

Secure software interfaces: software interfaces, or APIs, are used to interact with cloud services. It’s important that cloud providers integrate security throughout their service, from authentication and access control techniques to activity monitoring policies.

Data separation: cloud-based service shares resources, chiefly space on the provider’s servers and other parts of the provider’s infrastructure. Hypervisor software is used to create virtual containers on the provider’s hardware for each of its customers. These virtual containers need to be secured.
Get these things right and a rigorous and secure cloud environment is in place.
 

Rediscover your business vision with SQL Server 2014

The volume of data that organizations have to manage is skyrocketing. In fact, the percentage of companies that regularly process only 1 - 9 terabytes of data per month is dropping by 7 percent each year, while more and more organizations process upwards of 10 terabytes in the same time period. This acceleration of data is enabling companies to gain timely and detailed insights into consumer behaviors, and to optimize core business practices – but only if it’s properly managed.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition helps enterprises unlock the value of their data, applying its built-in memory to speed up data transactions by 30 percent, as compared to previous SQL editions. In turn, enterprises can transform critical, fast data into more timely, actionable insights to support their core business goals, operations and vision.

SQL Server 2014 also alleviates the need to invest in dedicated big data applications and hardware because it is based on scalable virtualized infrastructure. That means companies can focus their resources on projects that further their business visions, rather than on infrastructure management.

Finally, the latest SQL offering integrates corporate and cloud data, providing real-time insights to enhance business intelligence, security and scalability.

To learn more about the newest features of Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition, join us for a 45-minute webinar on June 3rd at 12:00pm CT. Register today!

Meet us at etailcore live!

Empowered by eCommerce, many retailers are now expanding their operations online, with 57% growth expected between 2014 and 2018 among U.S. retailers. That growth offers huge opportunities for retailers who want to reach new buyers and grow revenue streams, but it also points to new challenges, specifically the need to deliver to a higher standard of online performance, as most international customers will find an alternative place to shop online when faced with a slow-performing site.

Rene Negron, VP of Client Development at SILK Software, a Peer 1 Hosting partner, will address this issue in a workshop next week at etailcore live, taking place May 14-15 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. His session, “Overcoming the Online Commerce Challenges of Global Expansion,” will cover the opportunities for e-retailers to expand globally, and what they need to consider when implement a strategy.

Rene will also walk attendees through the questions they need to address when expanding sales to a new country or region. For instance:

  • How should I deal with deliveries and returns for customers abroad?
  • What are the tax requirements for the country I am expanding into?
  • Are there cultural requirements I need to be aware of?
  • How will I translate my products and deals with customer service?
  • What are the legal restrictions in the region I would like to expand to?

 

Finally, Rene will present some lessons learned by SILK Software and Peer 1 in our work to help customers expand their commerce businesses across international borders.

If you’ll be at the event, join Rene on May 14th from 12:15-12:55 p.m. at the event. See you there!

What is a cloud server?

We’ve touched on cloud servers in a previous blog, but only just. In simple terms cloud servers actually mean virtual servers which run on a cloud computing environment. When somebody uses cloud hosting they are actually renting virtual server space rather than renting or buying physical servers.

To spell out the advantages of cloud servers it’s necessary to understand two different types of hosting, shared and dedicated. Shared hosting is a lower cost option because servers are shared with other customers. For instance, several different websites can be run on a shared server. The problem with this is that if all the websites on the same server are experiencing high volumes of traffic the shared server can’t cope.

Dedicated hosting means customers have their own dedicated physical servers. It has clear advantages but the required capacity needs to be predicted, with enough resource and processing power to cope with expected traffic levels. If this is underestimated then it can lead to a lack of resource during busy periods, while overestimating it will mean paying for unnecessary capacity.

Part the curtains and enter cloud servers which deliver the best of both worlds of shared and dedicated server. Server resource can be scaled up or scaled down according to need and demand. This makes cloud servers more flexible and cost-effective. When there is more demand placed on the servers, capacity can be automatically increased. It’s a bit like an electricity bill, you use what you need and pay for what you have used later.

Cloud servers can also be run on something called a hypervisor. Hypervisors or virtual machine monitors as they are sometimes known essentially create and run virtual machines and control capacity. In practice what it actually means is that computing resource can be allocated to different customers as and when needed. For instance, when there is a spike in website traffic, additional capacity can be temporarily accessed until it is no longer required. Cloud servers are also more failsafe; if one server fails others simply take its place. It’s like magic. 

Webinar: Optimize Your Magento Platform for Better eCommerce Performance

In the global commerce market, the bar for online eCommerce websites is skyrocketing. Today’s savvy online shoppers demand faster, more interactive and more intuitive sites. Nearly half of all consumers will abandon a site – and their online shopping carts – if it takes more than two seconds to load. And, if an e-retailer’s site can’t keep up with escalating user demands, it risks missing out on revenue and customer loyalty. 

In order to protect revenue streams, strengthen the online customer experience and meet increasing user expectations, e-retailers are investing in new technology to optimize the speed and performance of their websites. Magento, one of the most widely adopted eCommerce platforms, provides a trusted technology to help retailers get their sites off the ground. But, in order to grow their businesses even further on this platform, e-retailers need a scalable hosting solution to support their eCommerce experience.

Join experts from Magento and Peer 1 Hosting at 12:00 p.m. CT on May 20th for an interactive webinar addressing these issues.

Magento’s Technical Consultant Kevin Schroeder, Peer 1 Hosting’s Head of eCommerce Russell Simmonds and Peer 1 Hosting’s Magento Product Manager Frank DiRocco will discuss the tools and support necessary to optimize a Magento website so that retailers can scale and grow their businesses online.

In this webinar, participants will also learn about:

·       Ways in which Magento Optimized Hosting offers e-retailers an enterprise-caliber approach to deliver unsurpassed performance.

·       How system administrators can tap into Magento-U Training to learn new techniques to better optimize their businesses’ systems.

·       How Peer 1 Magento Optimization provides e-retailers with competitive advantages, load testing capabilities and benchmark results of their solutions.

·       Magento and Peer 1’s dedicated support for all Magento solution scenarios and integrations.

 

To register for the webinar, click here.

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