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The ServInt Source

Maximizing Site Speed with ServInt’s New Resource Graphing Tools

all graph simpleSite speed is all about page load times. But what causes one site (or one page) to load faster than another?

The short answer is that it depends on the site and the server. Each combination is unique, but there’s a lot you can do to find your bottleneck.

Even to experienced developers, the traditional VPS or cloud server sold by most hosting companies can be something of a black box. There are specs listed on the company’s site; there may even be a control panel that reminds you of the power of your server. But in the end, you make a purchase and hope that the hardware is fast enough for your application.

But how much of your allotted resources are you actually using, and how much do you have in reserve for growth? Read more

VPS or Cloud: What’s in a Name?

ml01blogIn the context of hosting, “Cloud” originally referred to a “next generation” of technology abstraction, something better than basic virtualization. Vendors proposed many conflicting definitions that included a mix of vertical scaling, horizontal scaling, automatic scaling, API driven provisioning, etc. Usually, whatever a particular vendor was offering was that vendor’s definition of Cloud.

There was never full agreement on what constituted Cloud, and then, over time various traditional, non-Cloud hosting platforms began growing Cloud features. So, did those platforms become Cloud platforms, and if so, when? That’s a question that’s open for debate. Read more

The Future of VPS Cloud Hosting is Clear — Transparent, Even

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 3.22.54 PMToday, ServInt continues the ongoing rollout of customer-facing and back-end improvements to our VPS hosting platform. Here’s a status report on our platform enhancements, as of Sep. 1:

- Downtime-free OS kernel updates – Available now
– Redesigned network core to increase resiliency to attack and hardware failure – Available now
– Enhanced, third-party network status update resources – Available now
– New privacy policies and procedures – Available now
– New SLA and SolidFire Site Performance Guarantee  – Available now
– New, customer-accessible, to-the-minute analytics on server resources – Available now
– Reliable, customer-controlled backups, powered by R1Soft, heavily customized by ServInt – Coming soon
– New bandwidth providers and increased capacity – Coming soon
– Improved DDoS mitigation – Coming soon

You’ll see that there are two or three items on the list that are “coming soon.” When I say “soon,” I do mean “soon.” As always, we need to balance our desire to bring you platform improvements as quickly as possible with the need to make sure those enhancements are stable and customer-ready.  We’re almost there, and I appreciate your patience.

We’re very proud of these enhancements, about which you’ll be hearing more over the next few weeks. We believe they will result in a VPS hosting solution that radically outstrips anything offered by our competitors — and there’s more to come.  But I want to spend a little time reminding people about something we rolled out a week ago, in our first installment of these VPS platform enhancements, that may be the most significant addition we’ve introduced:

On August 21, all of ServInt’s SolidFire-powered hosting accounts started being covered by a new SLA that guarantees our SolidFire customers’ sites will never slow down because of a shortcoming in RAM, CPU, Disk or disk read/write operations per second (IOPS) on the server that hosts them. To keep us honest about that, we put a completely new, precedent-shattering set of system resource utilization graphs in our customer portal so clients can see exactly how their resources are being provisioned and consumed. What’s more, if those graphs show that a running server fails to deliver the proper amount of RAM, CPU, Disk, or IOPS for more than five minutes, we’re going to give our SolidFire customers an entire month of hosting for free.

Nobody else in the hosting industry offers anything like ServInt’s SolidFire Site Performance Guarantee, because nobody else can.  With this radically transparent approach to server resource reporting, we’re literally redefining VPS and the cloud.  You want to know how many cores you get with any of our VPS solutions?  ServInt will tell you — and then guarantee, and then prove to you that you’re getting every fraction of every core you were promised.  The same goes for RAM, disk, and even IOPS.  That’s what we mean when we say: if you’re a ServInt SolidFire hosting customer, we guarantee that your site will never slow down because of your server. And we’ll prove it.

ServInt may not be the only web host to tell you how much RAM, CPU, disk and IOPS you’ll be getting when you sign up — but we are most certainly the only web host willing and able to prove to you, on a near real-time basis, that you’re getting what you were promised… and that’s huge.

At ServInt, we have never been a simple infrastructure provider. We’re a solutions provider — and our goal is to provide the best solutions for our customers by not simply following, but establishing best practices in hosting technology design and customer care. Providing this performance, while offering premium levels of security, privacy and transparency has always been the foundation of the trust we’ve earned from our customers over the years. Simply put, we’re not willing to leave our customers’ livelihoods to chance. These upgrades are the right thing to do for you, and that’s the only reason we’re doing them.

So welcome to the transparent, honest, worry-free, high-performance future of VPS cloud hosting.  You’re going to like it here.

Your Site Will Never Slow Down Because of Your Server.
We Stand Behind it and We Prove it.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 3.22.54 PMIf you’re a ServInt SolidFire customer, your site will never slow down because of your server. Ever.

Did you know that? Have we done a good job explaining that to you? I wonder sometimes.

In past blog posts, we’ve examined IOPS, resource contention, disaster recovery, and lots of other very good reasons why you should choose our SolidFire-powered VPS and dedicated servers. But when you boil it all down, the main reason is this:

If you’re a ServInt SolidFire customer, your site will never slow down because of your server.

That’s revolutionary — and it’s a genuine first for the business-focused hosting industry. No other hosting company can make this promise.

Now, as of today, we’re backing our promise up with a revolutionary new guarantee — ServInt’s SolidFire Site Performance Guarantee — that says this: if your site slows down because your server doesn’t deliver 100% of the CPU, RAM, disk and IOPS you were promised, for more than five minutes… you get your entire month of hosting absolutely free.

How will you know whether you’re getting all the server resources you deserve? By using our new, completely transparent system resource graphs — another ServInt exclusive. From this day forward, if you’re a SolidFire customer, we’re not just going to tell you exactly how much RAM, CPU, disk and IOPS you’ll get with each hosting package. We’re going to put tools into your hands to keep us honest — tools that will give you real, verifiable proof that your server is delivering what you paid for — and we’re going to back it all up with the most radical system resource guarantee in the hosting industry.

Here’s the punchline: ninety-nine-point-whatever percent server “uptime” guarantees are a thing of the past. As of today, ServInt is guaranteeing server performance — i.e., guaranteeing that your site is not only up and online, but also that your site or app performance is never compromised by any server resource shortcoming. Ever. We’ll prove it to you.

How ServInt is Beating the NSA

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 10.37.33 AMYesterday 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.

Over the course of the last few months we’ve launched our most trustworthy product ever — the SolidFire VPS — which offers an industry-wide exclusive performance guarantee on all critical server resources. We’re working on major updates to our privacy policy, and other major enhancements are around the corner that will further augment our offerings, across all platforms and price ranges, to give you tighter control over your data than ever before.

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.

In Web Hosting as in Auto Racing, Top Speeds Mean Nothing

12353294385_33b8c9ad3e_kThere’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

Are Hardware Failures a Thing of the Past?

3163954667_a4d136671b_zIf 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

What is Not Guaranteed on a VPS

noisy IOThere 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

Web Hosting for Non-Technical People: Pricing Cloud Services

Author, marketing VP and notorious luddite

Author, marketing VP and notorious luddite

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

Web Hosting for Non-Technical People: A “Medium-Sized” Website?

wsj blog post imageLast 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

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