Yesterday I was interviewed by Bloomberg News about the effects of NSA surveillance on the Cloud. They wanted to know if we had lost any customers specifically because of the Edward Snowden leaks. This, of course, is a hot topic: how is mass surveillance affecting the cloud, and can we quantify the damage that is being done? Is it costing us jobs and economic growth in the cloud? The answer, of course, is “yes” — and ServInt isn’t scared of saying so.
I said that we had lost customers and even more potential customers — which is true. ServInt has been one of the few players willing to speak up and say this and as a result we have been quoted in places like The Hill and the New York Times. The cloud hosting field is a tough, competitive business and it is hard to talk about losses. But ServInt isn’t afraid of calling out the problem, because we have been leaders in directly addressing the issue since it arose a little over a year ago.
The cloud in the United States has been badly hurt by the actions of the NSA. These days anybody can relocate their digital business with just two or three clicks of a mouse. You don’t need to sign a long contract or tell anybody why you are making your choice, you just move. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have decided they want to move their business outside of the United States because they feel like the US doesn’t care about privacy. I’m quoted in the Bloomberg article about this being a “death by a thousand papercuts.” I was talking about the affect on the overall economy, not our business, which for the record has seen a 30 percent decline in foreign signups since the NSA leaks began, not a 30 percent decline in total foreign customers.
In fact, ServInt is actually weathering the Snowden storm very well, compared to many of our competitors. Why? Because our clients trust us. They understand the cardinal rule of security and data safety:
It’s not where you’re hosted, it’s how you’re hosted.
Your business needs to stay up, online and fast. It needs to stay stable and secure. And your data needs to be protected. You need experts at the helm to accomplish all of those things — experts you trust. And earning the trust of small to medium businesses is what ServInt has been doing for 19 years.
The NSA revelations are just another hurdle to overcome in ServInt’s ongoing pursuit of being the most trusted name in the Cloud. We’re doing so by requiring warrants for content, and by responsible handling of data. We’re doing so by being thought leaders in the fight against NSA surveillance in Washington, through our leadership within the i2Coalition. And we’re trying to curb the misinformation about NSA surveillance. Everybody tempted to move their content out of US datacenters needs to remember that the vast majority of all spying is done on foreign networks. “Move your site out of the U.S. to avoid spying” may be good marketing, but it doesn’t take into account the reality of how surveillance works.
We do all this because we want to win the day, and win it honorably, by doing the right thing We win the day when we make customer trust our number one goal. We win the day when our customers know we have their backs when it comes to protecting their data, and we win the day when we fight for privacy and NSA accountability.
There’s an interesting parallel between the way people buy web hosting and the way they buy sports cars. Frequently, the sports car purchaser who doesn’t actually compete in races will buy their vehicle based on theoretical maximum performance capability, examining numbers like top speed, maximum horsepower and so forth to see how fast their dream car might theoretically go.
Of course, people who actually race for a living understand a critically important maxim: top speeds don’t win races, high average speeds do. That means it’s just as important to be able to speed around accidents and slow traffic as it is to power down the straightaways as fast as possible.
It’s the same with hosting. The size of a CPU, the amount of RAM, the network uplink speed — these are all important metrics, but everybody’s working with similar engines these days. You can get your specs and never see reliable performance at other host because your server still can’t swerve around the accidents and slower traffic without getting bogged down. Why? Because of something called IOPS. Read more
If you’ve managed online applications or websites for any length of time, you’ve almost certainly dealt with hardware failures. VPS technology mitigates some of the more common types of failures, and Cloud has mitigated others. But the fact remains, hardware failures — failures of the machines housing and crunching your data — can still happen at any time.
There are many hardware and software solutions to limit the damage from hardware failures: RAID arrays, hot-swappable drives, dual power supplies, multi-core computers, and multi-stick RAM all work to introduce redundancy into the hardware; while backup solutions, load balancing and CDNs introduce redundancy into the data.
Most hosted content, however — whether it’s hosted on a dedicated server, VPS server or “in the Cloud” — still exists on one single physical computer. So if there is a catastrophic failure of that computer, your site goes away until the data can be recovered and rewritten to the drives on a new computer. Read more
There was a time in hosting’s distant past when virtualization and Cloud were foreign words. Back then, the idea that you could put multiple customers on a single host machine and give them all fully partitioned and secure “virtual environments” — environments that looked and acted exactly like a small dedicated server — was novel, if not literally unbelievable. Most people who wanted to host a website simply assumed they had to build or rent a physical server in a room somewhere.
Oh, how things have changed. Now, actual physical infrastructure has become conceptually divorced from the idea of a “web server.” Want to host a web site? These days, you buy amorphous cloudy things like “instances” and “environments,” which you scale up or down as your site requires, nearly instantaneously. Costs are down, speed-to-deployment is way up, and it’s all pretty miraculous. But our eagerness to forget what a pain in the neck it is to actually own and manage a real, live server has also made us forget what we sacrificed to get scalability, redundancy, flexibility, and all the other benefits of virtualization.
The big tradeoff — the “con” against which all the “pros” of cloud must be weighed — is the fact that, no matter how you slice it up and partition it, shared infrastructure is just that: shared, usually by many. Read more
Last week we talked about the dangers of generalizing about website and app requirements when picking a cloud service provider. Here’s the big question we’re going to try to answer this week:
Is it even possible to compare prices between cloud hosting options?
An increasing number of large cloud service providers have been trying to address the problem of explaining just what their services cost by producing cost calculators like Amazon’s. There are a few problems with these calculators. Read more
Last week, a good friend who works at Google sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal story on the price wars that seem to be heating up in the cloud computing and storage sectors. (Editor’s note: WSJ hyperlinks only work once. To read this article run a google search for “A Price War Erupts in Cloud Services”)
I found the article fascinating, but I thought it did a surprisingly poor job helping the reader understand how the Cloud might affect real-world hosting decisions.
At the center of the problem was the effort the author made to demystify the cost of cloud hosting. In order to provide a common storage and processing task against which all the major cloud service providers’ fees would be measured, the author chose the following:
“(Hosting) a medium-sized website with about 50 million page views a month…” Read more
In January, ServInt launched our cutting-edge SolidFire SSD VPS cloud storage platform. It is simply the fastest, most highly scalable, and most reliable turn-key hosting solution on the market today.
Almost since the day we launched the SolidFire SSD VPS, our customers have been asking when they’d be able to buy a dedicated server with SolidFire SSD cloud storage.
That day has arrived!
You can now order a Flex Dedicated server with either onboard SSD or SolidFire SSD cloud storage. Both options offer the speed of an all-SSD storage array, but our SolidFire SSD cloud storage gives you additional advantages, summarized below: Read more
For almost 19 years I’ve believed that trust should be the foundation of every action we take here at ServInt. I originally set out to share my belief with small businesses by creating a different kind of hosting company — one that strives to find ways for small businesses to succeed and for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. I wanted to let them focus on what they do, not on what we do.
Reliability, integrity, transparency, support, and expertise are cornerstones of building such a high level of trust, and these are values all of us at ServInt share. About a year ago I realized that I remained confident in why we do what we do, but despite all the breakthroughs in cloud technology I wasn’t confident in how we do it — not just as a company, but as an industry. Since that day ServInt has been working on a paradigm shift in web hosting, and today I’m proud to announce the result of our efforts.
We’re solving a problem that most people don’t even know exists. The most prolific example is someone with a new VPS or cloud service that complains of unreliable performance. They assume their provider sucks, or the industry sucks. It’s clearly not that customer’s fault and we all know it, but nobody knows what to do about it. Those types of situations make the whole industry look bad, and they should. This problem needed to be solved, and we are disrupting the industry by solving it. Nobody who cares about their business should buy a product they can’t trust, but there haven’t been cloud or VPS products they truly could trust without over-buying or over-engineering – until now. Read more
If you’re not careful about how you purchase hosting “in the cloud,” you can end up paying a heavy price for the freedom of a scalable solution. ServInt’s Jelastic Java and PHP cloud service is different. It autoscales, allowing you to only pay for what you use. It also allows you to purchase cloud resources in bulk, to achieve maximum savings — and it allows you to set scaling resource maximums, to make sure you never bust your budget during a traffic surge. Here’s a video to show you how it all works:
ServInt just rolled out a massive, free upgrade for all its Jelastic customers: version 1.9.2. This upgrade has a long list of new features that will make a great product even better, but here are just a few:
- Improved high availability of the Jelastic cloud. Jelastic has completely revamped its high availability/redundancy systems to make Jelastic more reliable than ever before.
- Firewalls for end users. Now, Jelastic automatically configures a firewall for each container you add to your Jelastic environment, defending your data against brute force or DDoS attacks, rootkits and botnets.
- A new Jelastic mobile app. Install the Jelastic Mobile App from the Apple Store and log in to your Jelastic account to trace and change the state of your environments and to keep track of your balance, right from your mobile device. Available for iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and iPad 2, 3, 4G.
- Ruby On Rails support. This product enhancement is currently in its beta test phase, so we are only activating it for customers who make a special request via the ServInt ticketing system. But if you’re a Ruby guy, we invite you to come in and kick the tires.
For more information on the new features of Jelastic 1.9.2, check out the press release.
If you’re a current Jelastic customer, you don’t have to do anything to enjoy these important enhancements. And if you’re not a Jelastic customer yet, click here to start your free two-week trial of Jelastic 1.9.2 today!