Filter: Data Center Technology

google apps

Rebranded G Suite (Google Apps) Ready For Work

If you are looking for a powerful, intuitive, and user-friendly web-based and collaborative Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that combines email, word processing, spreadsheets, file sharing, online cloud storage, video meetings, calendars, and more, then you need to look no further than G Suite (formerly known as “Google Apps”).  In the fall of 2016, the tech giant Google rebranded its decade-old “Google Apps for Work” services as “G Suite.” Under the more simplified name, Google still offers cloud computing tools with new services and features as an online office suite for businesses of all sizes, including large enterprises.

Formerly known as Google Apps, the tech giant has rebranded its services under the title of G Suite. Even more significant, Google officially announced that the Google for Work brand has been updated and will simply be called Google Cloud. The transformation is a move Google claims will allow them to target a wider audience by placing less of an emphasis on the work element, and paying more attention to the collection of apps that are incredibly useful in everyday life.

What Is G Suite?

Google Apps for Work under the title G Suite is more than a refresh of old services; with the new collection of cloud-based apps and user/enterprise management tools, designed to work seamlessly with a broad range of operating systems, devices, and browsers- Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Sites, Vault, Hangouts and more. Google addressed a range of productivity problems facing most companies with machine learning and AI to improve organizing files, event planning, and adding natural queries into search and spreadsheets in the new suite. All the apps are available on mobile phones and tablets (iOS or Android), and Windows, Mac, or Linux computers. Your G Suite account also gives you access to Gmail on your preferred domain and 30GB of Google Drive storage per user.

What Tools Can You Use In G Suite To Grow Your Business?

Google has enhanced the Apps Suite drastically from Google Apps for Work core offering, which included Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Site, Groups, and Chat.

Access Personalized Emails With Gmail

Lunarpages hosting packages include a suite of webmail platforms at no additional charge but many people prefer the familiarity and features of Gmail. With a G Suite account, you can send email from your own domain using Google’s Gmail platform. Simply put, your email address will be username@yourdomain.com instead of @gmail.com. G Suite also allows easy email address grouping into categories based on departments or operational roles such as Accounting, Marketing, Art, Staff, etc. to compartmentalize people who should be receiving the message. Seamless integration with other apps in the suite makes saving and attaching files with Google Drive, messaging and video conferencing through Hangouts, fast message search and sharing calendar invitations very simple and effective for employees.

Coordinate With Google Calendar

Google’s Calendar app, which is a part of G Suite, can make coordination with team members within the organization or those outside simpler. It is easy to create and share events, send invitations through email and track those who have accepted or rejected. Moreover the Calendar now uses AI to find available slots in multiple users’ schedules to recommend good meeting times. It integrates with third party apps (like CRM and project management solutions) which makes adding appointments and reminders a breeze. It also syncs with Gmail, Drive and Hangouts.

Create Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Docs, Sheets, and Slides serve all word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software needs within the organization, without needing any additional software (optional desktop add-ons can be downloaded for local, offline access). There are sufficient features available to easily create text files, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, and drawings. It is also possible to download a copy of the files in a variety of formats to your computer to edit them in a competitor’s software.

Improve Storage With Google Drive

With its rich and powerful productivity tools and an unlimited storage option available to G Suite users for a measly $10, Google Drive is an integral part of how Google enables collaboration. Besides backups of files on a local system, thanks to Google’s cloud platform users can share folders and files, even large videos or media-rich presentation decks with other team members and keep all their devices in sync. And its integrations with the other G Suite apps makes it easier to email files, share files in Hangout, add them to calendar invites, etc. Better still, if there is any specific functionality that is missing in Google Drive, you can always set up third party tools and add-ons.

Communicate With Hangouts

The all-new Google Hangouts offers a convenient online chat and stable video conferencing solution for easy communication within the G Suite ecosystem. It is possible to invite up to 25 people to join from anywhere, which is ideal for organizations with remote workers or offices in multiple locations. Screen sharing is easy even without an account, which is great for long distance presentations and even file sharing is simple with Google Drive integration.

So, what does G Suite cost?

For G Suite Basic, you pay $5 per user/ per month or $50 per user per year plus tax. G Suite Business is $10 per user per month or $120 per user per year plus tax, with the added incentive of unlimited storage, advanced Admin controls, Google Vault, and easy search & export to different formats. G Suite is extremely affordable and the plan is flexible.

Work Smarter With G Suite Basic & G Suite Business

The security, reliability and mainstream support that G Suite apps and tools provide can help grow your company and place it at an advantage above the rest. For more information on G Suite, including pricing and storage options, visit Google’s G Suite site.  You can manage all web based services and integrate G Suite control panel through Lunarpages.

Ease of use with Plesk control panel

Web hosting control panels were first developed to make it faster and easier for most users to set up and operate websites. The graphical user interface (GUI) allows users to perform tasks by pointing and clicking rather than typing highly specific instructions into the command line. Control panels are therefore generally easy to use, by their nature and by design.

Ease of use is a principle reason Plesk is one of the world’s leading control panels. Its interface is clean and intuitive, particularly for users with WordPress experience, to whom the left-side main menu and function windows look immediately familiar. Plesk divides functions into category pages, accessed by clicking on items in the main menu.

Customizable

Part of what makes Plesk so clean and simple is its approach, providing those tools which are necessary to get started, and those which all administrators need during the lifecycle of a website. In the latest release of Plesk, Onyx, the category pages make it easy to find the action you are looking for. Features that previously required the use of the command line, like system and panel updates, are applied from within Onyx.

Beyond those essential basics found in all Onyx installations, users customize Plesk with extensions which have their own category in the main menu. Once the user has clicked on “Extensions,” the most popular extensions are available on the main page, and others are found by selecting a specific category from the drop-down menu or the scroll-down list.

Popular extensions like Symantec SSL, Plesk Premium Email, powered by Koalab, and Plesk Multi Server can be added to your Plesk Onyx account with three clicks. Users not needing them do not have to pay for them, or navigate around them, keeping the interface clean and the category pages limited to functions that are useful to the administrator using it.

Recent Plesk releases, and particularly Onyx, have also increased its support for developers, with extensions including Git, Docker, Ruby, and Node.js.

The specific number of extensions available to the user depends on different factors, but there are over a dozen categories of extensions, in addition to “Feature Packs” which each include several extensions.

Compatible

Support for a wide range of operating systems, tools and platforms is one of the strengths of Plesk. This is the main reason Plesk is the control panel used with the vast majority of Windows Server installations – because cPanel, the other leading control panel, does not support Windows. Plesk is not restricted to Windows Server, however, but is practically OS-agnostic, supporting all of the leading Linux distributions.

Another strength of Plesk is the ability to work with other platforms and tools, either with out-of-the-box integrations, as with the WordPress extension, which is included with each edition of Onyx, or through extensions.

The developer extensions mentioned above make it easy to build web apps, deploy containers, and publish content using these tools, rather than compromise or devise complex work-arounds.

Other popular administrator tools with Plesk extensions available include ecommerce platform Magento, free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, CloudFlare CDN, and CMS patch manager Patchman.

Plesk’s compatibility with all leading operating systems, web apps, platforms and tools enables websites to be built and run the way the administrator thinks is best, rather than forcing them to choose between limited options. Allowing users to build capabilities they need into their control panel also keeps Plesk uncluttered, so it continues to be clean and easy to use even when all necessary extensions are added, because they are not competing for space with numerous unused features.

1-Click and Automated Management Tasks

Easy installation and automation are another major strength of Plesk Onyx, significantly reducing the amount of time and effort necessary for website administrators to perform upgrades and common day-to-day tasks.

Plesk itself is easily installed to Windows with an installer GUI, or to Linux with default configuration by running a single command, although for most Lunarpages customers this step is already done. Setting up a website with Onyx is performed from the “Domains” page by clicking on your domain and then choosing from the “Install WordPress,” “Install Apps,” or selecting “Files” or “Databases” to create a custom website. When using a CMS like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, it is possible to have a website built, secured, and launched just minutes later, by pointing and clicking to add features and content, without any coding. Many extensions, including Let’s Encrypt, can be added with one-click installation.

Server tasks can be automated by selecting “Scheduled Tasks” under “Tools & Resources” on the “Tools & Settings” page. From there, users can schedule a command or PHP script to run, or a URL to fetch. Tasks can also be scheduled for each domain from that domain’s main page.

Beyond the automations available with Onyx out-of-the-box, extensions like “Perfect Dashboard” enable even more. Perfect Dashboard includes 1-click CMS updating for all websites on the account, automated backup integrity verification, and a “Genuine Test Engine” which checks whether layout changes cause display errors or break social and SEO tags.

Plesk is designed for ease of use by administrators of all experience levels, with its clean graphical interface, basics-plus-extensions structure, and wide compatibility. The Onyx release applies this approach to cover even more capabilities, like multiserver, and tools, like Docker. While some administrators prefer to use the command line, and some grow attached to control panels they have always used, those looking for a full-feature control panel that makes their job easy should consider Plesk Onyx.

security tips

5 Website Security Tips To Put In Place

Hacking is a very real threat and every website is a target.  Websites are compromised more often than you think with the intention of stealing your data, bringing your site down or even to target your server as an email relay for spam. Cybercriminals can also exploit compromised machines and use your servers as part of a botnet to serve illegal files or to mine for Bitcoins. And if you are not willing to follow best practices to keep your site safe, be prepared to be hit by ransomware. Hackers generally use automated scripts written specifically to search the web in order to find and exploit commonly known website security flaws found in software. Since you have worked hard on building your website, you should also take the time to protect it by implementing some basic website security measures!

  1. Always Keep Platforms And Scripts Up To Date

It is of absolute importance to ensure that all software, any frameworks, CMS, third-party plugins, forums or libraries installed are always kept up to date in order to protect your website. Hackers are always on the lookout for any security holes or script weaknesses that may be found in your software to enable them to take control of your site. The code for software tools created as open-source software programs is easily available and can be abused by malicious hackers. But the developer community does work hard to discover bugs and security gaps in open source solutions so that they can be removed even faster. When using third party software on your website, always upgrade to the newer versions as soon as they are released, especially if they contain security patches. Most will have mailing list or RSS feed with details about current website security issues so that you are aware of them immediately upon logging in. There are automatic update plugins available for many CMS solutions. There is the easy update manager for WordPress or the SP Upgrade extension for Joomla, which can make it simpler to keep your systems up-to-date. But even these plugins and other add-ons must be periodically checked for updates.

  1. Beef up Your Passwords

Everyone is well aware of the importance of using complex passwords, but most of us do not follow through. Use strong, random passwords for your server and website admin area because they should never be easy to guess, and also focus on good password practices for your users to prevent their accounts from being hacked. You must enforce password requirements such as a minimum of around eight characters, including an uppercase letter, special character and number to protect your site in the long run. Passwords must be stored as encrypted values, using algorithms like SHA-2, so that only encrypted values are compared when authenticating users. For added website security you can also salt the passwords, to help limit damage in case of any unforeseen incident, like your passwords being stolen. When using salted passwords the process of decrypting them becomes slower as every guess has to be hashed separately for every salt + password, making it an expensive exercise for hackers. CMSs do provide user management out of the box, with website security features built in, although some configuration may be required to use salted passwords or to set the minimum password strength. You must also add limits to login attempts for certain times, including password resets that can easily be hacked.

  1. Use Command Parameters To Prevent SQL injection

SQL injection attacks are pervasive these days and have done real damage to businesses and organizations in the past year. SQL injections have targeted  Mossack Fonseca, Epic Games forum, Arizona voter database and the U.S. government in just the last year. When an attacker accesses your database by inserting rogue code through a web form field or URL parameter, it is known as SQL injection attacks. Such staged attacks send malicious SQL commands to database servers through web requests like input channels, query strings, cookies or files. SQL injections can also insert new user accounts, delete existing user accounts, display restricted records and information, change the contents of records or even compromise the server’s operating system.

It is necessary to always check the code of every page for places where you combine page contents, commands, strings, and more with sources from users. Vetting the source code for vulnerabilities and security holes can help protect your site better. SQL attacks are easily preventable by always using parameterized queries because most web languages have this feature and it is easy to implement. Command parameters get defined by adding placeholder names in SQL commands, which can then be replaced by user input. With the SQL code being defined first and the input only added to the SQL query during execution, the contents of a parameter is not parsed as part of the query code. This way the database knows anything stored inside the parameters is just input and therefore it cannot be tricked into reading it as code. ASP.NET has easy-to-use set of APIs for this purpose that can automatically evaluate user input for malicious content whereas, in PHP, the process is a bit more involved using prepared statements. There are scanning tools available such as sqlmap to crawl your site’s pages to detect potential SQL injection vulnerabilities.

  1. Follow Principle of Least Privileges

Ensure that all your web application only have the minimum permissions possible in order to be able to perform the required tasks. Never use the “root” or “sa” accounts to connect your web application to your database server. When an administrative account gets compromised, it can potentially give hackers access to the entire database system. Even non-administrative accounts with access to all databases within a server can be equally damaging, particularly in such cases where the database server is shared among different applications and databases. It is best to use an account that only has simple read-write permissions to the specific database behind your website, so even if there is an SQL injection attack, the scope of damage remains limited within the single database.

You can also use separate connections for code segments that read from or write to your database, with limited permissions and roles for each segment. For example, list pages that extensively use search parameters but do not make changes to the database can be coded to use a read-only connection to the database to prevent any code abuse. It is possible to improve security in MySQL by limiting access to the user account to specific IP address ranges to prevent accounts being accessed and compromised from remote locations.  If you are not going to be using the advanced features of SQL Server, do use the Windows Authentication model to set up and use a limited account instead of the high privilege “Local System” account, to help minimize damage in case of account compromise.

  1. Limit File Uploads

File uploads are a major security risk and allowing users the ability to upload files of any sort to your website can be damaging for your site. Any file uploaded can potentially carry a malicious script or bugs that sneaks into your system and opens your website up to hackers. It is absolutely vital to treat all files uploaded by users with great suspicion. Checking the file extension or mime type cannot be relied upon completely as a means of identification because they can easily be faked. Users should be prevented from getting direct access to uploaded files altogether and there should be restrictions regarding executing any files they upload. Even though by default, web servers will not attempt to execute large files that contain image extensions, it is possible to change the extension name while uploading to ensure correct file extension, or even change the file permissions. You must ensure all downloaded files are stored outside root directories or are stored in the database as a blob and scripts should be used to pull them up and deliver them to the browser when required.

Prepare For The Worst, Pick The Best

Are you aware that nearly 41% of websites are actually hacked because of security vulnerabilities in their hosting service? Your web host can be your biggest security weak spot. Therefore, to help protect your site, you must select the right host. Don’t be swayed by the cheapest rates, rather go with a reputable hosting service, having robust security features.

There are a number of different ways to protect a website but implementing some of these basic security measures right away and following a strong support and maintenance process can protect your site from cybercriminals. Toughen up your security and be very rigorous about your safety measures in order to keep your website safe from malicious hackers.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524

A Guide to Web Hosting- Top 5 Questions Answered

A professional website is a necessity for business today. Most people prefer using the Internet to carry out business and also to determine the legitimacy of a company. All websites need a home. A web hosting is that home and as service provider is crucial in creating and building your online presence, keeping your site accessible to visitors worldwide and in ensuring it is secure from cyber-attacks. There are many web hosting vendors, but to differentiate between the services of each, it is essential for businesses to understand basic aspects of web hosting. Here we answer the top 5 frequently asked questions on website hosting, as a guide for beginners.

1. What is Website Hosting?

Simply put, when you purchase web hosting, you are buying storage space for your website online. Web pages have text, images, audios, videos, PDF files and other content that must be stored on secured web servers owned and managed by the web hosting company, so that it is available to the public worldwide. The company registering the space has to establish a domain name and lease a block of space on a web server to upload and store their webpages for the website to become hosted and be seen by anyone with an internet connection.

A domain name is the server address that points to the hosting account on the rented server, in which the data for the website is stored. For example, www.Lunarpages.com is our domain name.  The server delegates files to the web browser making the request. Not all servers are the same and server features offered will vary depending on the web host provider.

2. What Services are provided by Web Hosting Companies?

Web hosting providers don’t just sell space on their servers.  There are other essential services needed for website building and hosting, also provided by these companies, such as domain name registration, email hosting services, content management system, SSL certificates, website builder with free templates, set ups for forums, guestbooks, social networking integration & ecommerce features, and choice of operating system including Windows, Linux and Java hosting.  Web server hosting can come with different infrastructures, such as dedicated and even cloud servers, for clients to choose from according to their specific needs. A good web hosting service will have advanced service packages available, with 24/7 technical support, database storage, email services, or scripting support.

3. What Features Should a Basic Web Hosting Plan Provide?

Look for these fundamental features in website hosting plans:

Disk Space
Disk space is essentially the storage space provided by your web hosting provider to store your web files including text, images, animations, files, video, audio, etc. Few websites actually need more than 100-500 megabytes but good web host providers will have packages with varying amounts of space to satisfy the needs of all sizes of sites; from smaller personal websites to larger company websites. Web hosts now offer numbers like 1GB to 2GB, though you may rarely need it. If error and access logs are provided by your web host, these too shall be hosted on your web space. As your site grows and the number of visitors increases, you can upgrade to more storage space as needed.

Bandwidth
Bandwidth refers to the total data that a website can transfer over a period of time. It determines the amount of traffic allowed on your site during a period of time and the speed of your website. More bandwidth equates to more speed. The less bandwidth your site has, the slower the load time. There are web hosts that provide unlimited bandwidth whereas some others charge different prices based upon the amount you use per month. A high traffic website with heavier pages containing many images, videos etc. will need higher storage and greater bandwidth. Generally, 25-50 GB is sufficient for any average new website.

Uptime
Uptime refers to the percentage of time that a hosting server stays up and running. It is absolutely essential for businesses, especially for those operating an e-commerce site or those transacting through their site, to have a 24×7 web host operating on a powerful server and robust network connections, in order to avoid losses from any downtime.   Having 99.99% uptime will ensure that your website goes down only for about 8 hours per year and anything less is unacceptable.

Site Backup
There may be times when a site crashes either because of hacker activity or from severe hard disk failure. Your web host should have facilities for regular site backups so that your site can be restored easily and quickly. Make sure you set up automated backups when you set up your hosting plan to avoid any costly losses.

Programming Services
You should be able to create web pages with programming languages including HTML, ASP as well as databases. The best web hosts also provide PHP language and mySQL database.

Customer Service
All businesses looking for webhosting services should pay special attention to the customer support options provided by a web hosting provider because it can be your server’s lifeline. We recommend that you look for 24/7 technical support. Customer support through live chat, phone and email etc. prove to be extremely useful in the event of any urgent technical or other website related problems. Your web hosting company should also have comprehensive documentation for problem solving by oneself, if necessary. Reaching out to web hosts should be easy, with quick resolution for any type of problem you may have.

4. What are the Types of Web Server Hosting?

A good web hosting company offers different types of web hosting options catering to different business needs. As your company and site grows, you can migrate to a different hosting plan.

Shared Server Hosting
For many smaller businesses a reliable web presence is essential but they often do not have the budget for expensive server systems and infrastructure, so it works better to share resources. Shared hosting comes at the cheapest price and it merely means you share a single webserver with several webmasters.  In shared hosting services, an individual server caters to different hosting accounts, each with an allocated amount of storage and bandwidth. This type of hosting plan may be suitable for plain static websites with limited interactive features, small ecommerce sites, or a personal website, all of which require cost effective hosting solutions. Because of the shared resources in a shared hosting system, any misuse by individual users can affect everybody else on the same server. There is less risk to your hosting account if the pool of resources is larger and there are more redundancies in place to mitigate such risk.

Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated hosting allows individuals and business to lease a wholly dedicated server and connectivity for your website from a web host, instead of sharing a virtual server.  Unlike shared server hosting you will remain unaffected by other websites.  You can select your operating system, customize software, and personalize settings for all your multimedia and e-commerce requirements. With dedicated server hosting, you can get advanced server control, without needing to make huge up front investments in purchasing equipment and space to house your own server. Dedicated servers are more popular with high traffic websites, e-commerce sites or ones streaming video content on their site.

Cloud Server Hosting
With advances in cloud computing technologies, cloud hosting has emerged as a cost effective web hosting solution. Unlike shared or dedicated server hosting, cloud hosting is done through multiple servers that act as a single system by inter connecting with each other.  Cloud server hosting is more stable because of load balancing, higher security features of multiple servers, non-reliance on a single server as a point of failure, and also the facility to increase or decrease server resources according to your needs.  Cloud hosting services are charged on the basis of usage and it is easy to scale your resources up or down, according to your traffic needs.

5. What is the Difference between Linux and Windows Web Hosting?

With every web hosting plan, you have to choose the operating system on which the server will run. End users should be aware of the features of both Windows and Linux systems for web hosting, to pick the one best suited for your site.  Windows and Linux both allow FTP access to your files but only Linux Hosting permits telnet or ssh access, which enables opening a window on the web server to edit them.  A dynamic website will need a database too. Access and MySQL are generally the preferred database choices. Linux servers generally offer mySQL; however, it can run on both Linux and Windows servers. Access, though, is only for Windows operating systems. Security is a key issue for any website and the general perception among webmasters is that Linux is more secure than Windows web server. Good web hosts will ensure your server remains secure whatever the OS may be.

You can select Linux or Windows web hosting according to your specific needs. Linux web hosting has advanced features for better web designing. Linux hosting is the optimal platform for PHP, Perl or Python scripting and for applications like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and other popular CMSs. Linux web hosting suits more interactive sites with inquiry forms, online purchasing and e-commerce features. Windows Hosting is a must if you want to develop your site using Microsoft’s ASP or ASP.NET, and also if you want to implement a MSSQL database.  Interestingly, Microsoft has just announced that users will get the choice of porting its windows based SQL server to a server running Linux. If you would rather experiment with both Linux and Windows hosting, you can opt for Java Hosting, where the same underlying code works for both Windows as well as Linux servers. There are no portability issues and it can be used by anyone of any skill level, from beginners to technical experts.

Web Hosting Made Easy
This covers just a few of the most important and basic questions regarding web hosting, but there are many more questions that still remain unanswered.  Our team at Lunarpages would be happy to help you with any questions you may have via Live Chat. Discover the different Web Hosting Plans we have to offer.

What Is A SSL Certificate?

Many of you may have noticed that some website URLs begin with https prefix, display a padlock to the left of the URL, have a trust seal and sometimes show a green address bar. These are all visual signs of the trusted SSL certificate.  SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer, which is a global standard security technology for encrypting communications between a website and the visitor’s browser. A Digital Certificate, also called an SSL certificate, is installed on the web server to create a secure connection which ensures that all data passed between the two intended parties remain private and secure. In essence, SSL encryption serves a dual purpose:

  1. It authenticates the identity of the website as trustworthy, which assures visitors that they’re on a legitimate site that has not been tampered with by hackers or identity thieves.
  2. It encrypts the data that is being transmitted, to prevent hackers from stealing or tampering with private information such as credit card numbers, passwords, names, addresses and emails.

Do I Need an SSL Certificate?
An individual or business will need an SSL certificate, if they use a website to:

  • Sell products or services,
  • Accept credit card payments online through a merchant account, or
  • Collect confidential information such as logins and passwords, personal data (e.g., name, address, social security number, birth dates), medical records & proprietary information, etc.

Credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover Network, American Express, and Diners Club International made it mandatory for a website to be payment card industry (PCI) compliant in order to accept credit card payments. It is therefore essential to have an SSL certificate if you receive, transmit and process credit card information.

Customers are becoming much savvier and prefer not to conduct business online or give away their credit card information unless they are assured of the legitimacy of a business.  Visitors look for the reliable symbol of an SSL Certificate to see if it is safe to complete secure transactions on the website.

Types of SSL Certificates

There are different levels of SSL certificates.  SSL certificates can be issued based on:

  1. The number of domain names or subdomains owned, including:
    • Single – The certificate enables SSL encryption on one fully-qualified domain name or subdomain name
    • Wildcard – A Wildcard SSL certificate secures one domain name and unlimited subdomains (subdomains should have the exact same second level domain name) using a single certificate.
    • Multi-Domain –One multi domain certificate can secure up to 210 domains, with a mix of different second level domains like domain.com, www.domain.com, domain.net etc.
  2. The level of validation needed:
    • Domain Validation – provides private SSL certificates with basic encryption and verification of the ownership of the domain name registration. A domain validation certificate ties in with your unique domain name and it helps customers feel comfortable transacting with you online.
    • Organization Validation – certifies your company’s identity in addition to basic encryption and verification of ownership of the domain name registration. This requires documentation and details of the owner (e.g., name and address) for authentication. This SSL validation certificate displays your site in a browser differently to show your business legitimacy.
    • Extended Validation (EV) – EV certificates provide the highest degree of secure connections because the certificate is issued after checks and verification of ownership of the domain name registration, business authentication, and also the physical and operational existence of the business. This type of certificate is the highest standard of assurance for visitors to prevent fraud and the green HTTPS address bar is exclusive to EV SSL certificates.

SSL Certificate Providers

The most essential aspect of an SSL certificate is where it comes from, specifically the Certificate Authorities (CAs) issuing it. CAs are organizations that verify and authenticate the identity and legitimacy of the purchasing company requesting a certificate. The CA authenticates the applicant credentials using WHOIS database, Dun & Bradstreet data, photo ID’s issued by government organization or other credible sources to issue certificates and retain status information on them. Choosing the right SSL provider is of utmost importance because web browsers normally store a cached list of trusted CAs on file. The browser generally warns the user that the website may not be trustworthy when the digital certificate is signed by somebody not featured on the ‘approved’ list. When evaluating SSL Certificate providers, you also need to consider the data encryption level, web browser compatibility, and price.
You can purchase digital certificates from a domain name registrar or website hosting provider. If your site is hosted on a VPS or Dedicated Server, then it requires a dedicated IP address for each private SSL.

Getting Started

Lunarpages provides two types of SSL certificates.  A shared and a personal certificate. 

The Shared Certificate is included with all Basic and Business plans. Shared SSL works only with html, and cgi/perl based documents/scripts/carts because of security restrictions on the servers. Lunarpages do not offer a Shared SSL Certificate with the Windows plans.

If you require SSL for PHP, ASP, JSP pages you will need to purchase a personal certificate and dedicated IP. With a personal certificate your link would appear as https://yourdomain.com.
Alternatively you can also purchase your certificate from another Certificate Authority and have Lunarpages install it.

Choose your SSL Certificate according to your website security needs and the volume of online transactions your website handles. In the end make sure your SSL Certificate is compatible with almost all browsers worldwide.

Bursting Some Popular Cloud Myths

The word “Cloud” still causes a lot of confusion among people, many of whom are left wondering what it actually is. When opting for cloud hosting, businesses are renting virtual server space rather than renting or purchasing physical servers. When virtual server space is rented, it is often paid for by the hour, depending on the capacity required at any particular time. These virtualized dedicated cloud servers have gained in popularity globally, because of their enormous shared computing power.  Even core products from Microsoft to Adobe such as Office 365 and Creative Cloud use data that’s stored on remote servers. There are, however, many myths about cloud hosting that seem to worry customers’ minds when considering a cloud-hosting provider. Let’s burst some myths to get to the truth about cloud server hosting.

Myths and Truths About Cloud Server Hosting

Myth #1: Cloud Hosting is Not Secure
Fact: Cloud hosting providers are continuously improving on their best practices and compliance levels for securing critical data and applications. Nonetheless, it comes down to choosing a leading cloud hosting company with good credentials and service level agreements. The company you choose should also offer the highest levels of security with fully managed firewall protection. Cloud hosting environments ensure 100% uptime with an SOC2/SSAE16 data center, high availability server architecture with multiple servers, 256-bit encryption, automatic off site backups, firewalls, routers, uninterrupted power supply, load balancers, switches mirror disks, RAID implementation, and 24/7 onsite monitoring. Additionally, software updates, including security patches, are applied to all customers simultaneously in the multitenant system. Most hosts treat cloud security very seriously and implement the latest technology and resources to protect the cloud environment, because if the cloud were to be proven unsafe then cloud companies would lose millions in sales.  Security in the cloud, even in large cloud environments, has so far been stellar. There have been very few security breaches in the public cloud, as compared to on-premises data center environments.

Myth #2: Cloud Services Are Complicated
Fact: Cloud hosting may seem confusing with its many variations of public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud and even community cloud, but cloud servers are no more complex than dedicated servers or VPS. Cloud hosting actually simplifies the job of an IT manager or CTO because of its easy setup, instant provisioning through an online control panel, utilization on-demand and customization. The online control panel in cloud storage handles all the tough work; making cloud storage as easy as dragging a file to an icon.

Myth #3:  Cloud Hosting Is Expensive
Fact: Cloud hosting helps businesses save considerable financial resources and offers flexibility and adaptability for both the short and long term. It is a much cheaper alternative to shared or dedicated servers, though cost comparison may prove to be tricky. With cloud hosting you only have to pay for data storage resources you use, so it works out much cheaper than other hosting services. The cost for what you use on the cloud depends on a few factors.  These include the number of users, data size, customized backups, applications used and exchange services.  Cloud computing replaces the need for installing local servers, network equipment, power conditioning, software and antivirus software, backup solutions, dedicated server rooms, along with reducing the cost of IT staff, user support and maintenance.

Myth #4 – Cloud Performance Is Not Reliable 
Fact: In the early days of cloud computing, there may have been some performance issues. However, these problems have been attended to by the leading cloud service providers who offer unique and work-specific solutions for high powered & high speed storage with guaranteed IOPS, along with other improvements. Cloud providers have made their systems resilient to avoid outages. No system is perfect and the cloud can fail too, but the fact is that those failures are fewer and far between as compared to other alternatives. The cloud environment can be engineered to adapt to strenuous workloads and high availability requirements that avoid any performance or failure issues.

Myth #5 – There Is Only One Cloud
Fact: There are hosting providers offering cloud services from the small business to the enterprise level and there is actually more than one type of cloud—a Public Cloud, a Private Cloud and a Hybrid Cloud. A Public Cloud shares network infrastructure which is accessible from an off-site Internet source. While it is easier to share files on a Public Cloud, a Private Cloud has advanced security features and guaranteed high quality maintenance on software and infrastructure. The third type of cloud is a Hybrid Cloud, which combines aspects of a Private and a Public Cloud. For example, businesses can keep their data and applications for QuickBooks or financial software hosting on a Private Cloud and less sensitive documents can be stored on a Public Cloud.

The Bottom Line
When considering cloud hosting, it all comes down to finding a hosting provider with a proven track record.  Try looking up comparison charts to find hosts with the most resources, an appropriate array of hosting products and excellent customer support to win your business. Cloud services have moved from being a second thought to being top of mind for businesses of all sizes. Amazon and Salesforce are just a couple of companies that are shining examples of the utility of Saas platforms in the cloud revolution. But cloud computing is not just for large enterprises, it offers greater IT efficiency and capabilities for all businesses from small to medium-sized.  Smart businesses should be ready to switch to the cloud in the future to leverage cloud technology or risk being left behind by their competitors who are already taking advantage of the value and benefits of cloud computing.

MySQL vs. NoSQL Databases: To Relate or Not to Relate?

When it comes to databases, you really only have two choices: relational databases or nonrelational databases.

For years, relational databases, such as SQL, have ruled the data airwaves, but nonrelational databases, such as NoSQL, have recently started to gain popularity.

These two types of databases are very distinct. Choosing the right one for your data-driven projects or applications requires careful consideration of resources and business objectives.

Relational databases use something called SQL (Structured Query Language) to extract value and results from the stored data. The data is contained within tables, and each table contains rows of data that fit a predefined format. Some of the most popular SQL databases include Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Postgres and MySQL.

Recently, nonrelational databases, which don’t use the query language or the structure found in SQL databases, have emerged and use the appropriate moniker of NoSQL (i.e., “not SQL”). These databases don’t use tables, and they have a much looser structure than traditional SQL databases. Popular NoSQL databases include MongoDB, CouchDB, BigTable, RavenDB and Cassandra.

The challenge most business IT leaders face is deciding which database type best suits their organizations or applications.

Why MySQL Might Make Sense

MySQL was introduced in 1995 as an open-source relational database. It continues to be one of the most popular database choices and is used by numerous companies and web applications, including Zappos, MTV Networks and Facebook.

MySQL is extremely good for structured data. Each table has a primary key, which allows for relationships to be made between tables. Using SQL, the database’s query language, data can easily be searched, added and deleted with a variety of well-documented commands. MySQL is good for fast inserts of data and complex joins between different data sets and can return search results in a structured manner.

MySQL is best used within heavy-duty transactional applications because it is quite stable and maintains a better integrity of data. SQL databases follow the computer-science database ACID model: atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability.

The biggest advantage of MySQL is its robust support community. This is similar to WordPress, which has gained dominance in large part because it, too, is open-sourced and backed by a large support community.

Why NoSQL Might Make Sense

NoSQL is relatively new to the database market. It is designed for scalability and performance. There is no set size for the data that NoSQL databases contain, unlike MySQL, which has predefined field sizes. Given that it is flatter in structure, NoSQL is also much more elastic and can quickly grow in size.

Instead of the traditional “joins” used by relational databases, NoSQL follows a key-value structure, which means that queries can be used to find linked data. NoSQL databases are nonrelational and often document-oriented databases. They also use key-value pairs and have wide-column stores (versus the table-based structure of SQL databases).

NoSQL proponents say the databases are easier to set up because they don’t require time-intensive and detailed data models. Also, NoSQL has become the database of choice for Big Data implementations. When used with MapReduce, NoSQL becomes more powerful as well as cost effective, because large data sets can be processed and analyzed across clusters of computers or nodes.

However, because NoSQL is new, it doesn’t have the community support that MySQL does. Similarly, there aren’t as many reporting tools available, which can add additional costs to a NoSQL implementation, since organizations will have to purchase reporting solutions separately. There’s also a resource problem due to a scarcity of database administrators who are familiar with NoSQL.

The Question of Scalability

One of the biggest differences between MySQL and NoSQL is how data scales in each environment. Scalability is important because data sets tend to grow tremendously over time. And more companies are capturing different types of data and even pulling in legacy data stores. As more processing requirements grow, you need to have infrastructure that can handle volumes of data and increased processing demands.

With MySQL databases, scalability is vertical. That means if you want to give your MySQL database more oomph, you need to give it more power in the form of more RAM or CPUs. This can be costly, and there is a limit to the amount of RAM and CPUs you can add.

Conversely, with NoSQL databases, you scale horizontally. Instead of building more powerful boxes, you simply add more servers to the data cluster. With Big Data and MapReduce, building up the number of nodes adds to the processing power. One of the key advantages of a NoSQL environment is that servers can be added using less expensive hardware.

So Which Database Should You Choose?

If you work with lots of structured data and need to have ample support for your data implementations, then MySQL is the obvious choice. You will find a vast community available to help you, as well as a plethora of tools at your disposal.

If, however, you have largely unstructured data, which tends to grow exponentially, and most of your data transactions are mainly retrieval or “append” operations, you may want to consider a NoSQL approach. NoSQL is good for write-once (static) and read-many (transaction) data implementations.

Before you make any decision, be sure you talk with your application developers so you fully understand whether you need structured or unstructured data sets. Research the cost implications, and hire a consultant, partner or database analyst that understands your requirements. Do not simply make a blind decision on the type of database to use, because converting from one type to another can be a gargantuan task.

[image: Anatoliy Babiy/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

Off to the Races: Big Data and the Need for Speed

Time is money, especially if you’re a Lucas Oil Off Road racer: First place could mean $2,100. But standing in the winner’s circle doesn’t come easy—it takes guts and grit, backed by sophisticated timing systems able to sort out even the closest race. When one hundredth of a second means the difference between victory and defeat, mistakes can’t happen; timing data must be both precise and delivered on demand.

Enterprises share a similar concern when it comes to big data. Accurate and timely analysis gives companies an edge over their competition, helping them understand when it’s time to stomp on the gas and when they need to take it slow. Bottom line? You can’t afford to lose this race.

Race Day Analytics

It’s easy to write off data analytics tools as hype; the costs of cloud computing, as-a-service deployments and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) adoption make it tempting to avoid a clear-cut data strategy. Many industries—notably healthcare—actively resist the pull of big data.

The problem? Using legacy systems is like timing a Formula 1 race with a stopwatch and human sight— there’s a better way, and it’s paying dividends. Inis Motorsport, for example, supplies the live timing technology used in all Lucas Oil Off Road races and is able to push results in real time across PCs, mobile devices and via Web browsers.

The system uses a series of transponders, which monitor each car as it crosses the finish line providing lap, best and gap time data instantly. For enterprises? Sophisticated data analytics tools now on the market are able to churn through vast amounts of structured and unstructured information, uncovering patterns and trends as they go. And according to a recent Forbes article, cutting-edge solutions work in real time.

V for Victory?

Beyond intelligent systems, companies need skill. Data to mine isn’t enough on its own—businesses need to use the right data sets, ask the right questions and be prepared to act on results immediately. But the move away from gut feelings and corporate experience to hard data can be daunting. As described by IBM, however, it’s possible to evaluate the strength of your data using what Big Blue calls the “4Vs”: Volume, velocity, variety and veracity.

Sound complicated? Consider the example of a race track with hundreds of cars zooming past the finish line. This is the enterprise server; the cars are bits of collected data. To offer value, there must be a certain volume of cars on the track: One or two don’t make a race. It must also be possible to analyze data with a certain velocity—as each car crosses the line, times must be posted instantly.

In addition, data needs veracity, which refers to the logical consistency both of data sets and results. Sets must exhibit at least some commonalty; if the race is made up of two funny cars, three monster trucks and a vintage sedan, the results won’t be usable. Finally, results reporting must be reliable—if widely different lap times are reported for similar vehicles, something isn’t right.

The Final Data Lap

Variety is where many enterprises get bogged down. Instead of a closed track, the flow of big data is like continually adding new cars to the course until the ground is fairly littered with wreckage.

Consumer data, internal data, Web analytics data—all are part of a larger whole, but can make the total amount of information available to a company seem impossibly huge. Your best bet? Start small. Find a web host that supports popular analysis tools. When it’s time to go bigger, consider an SaaS deployment with a narrow focus, followed by a custom-built or in house solution.

Don’t get left behind; real-time analytics can help make sure you never miss the checkered flag.

Meet the Industrial Internet Consortium

Five major corporations — AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel — have banded together to form a not-for-profit technology ecosystem known as the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC).

According to a recent Cisco press release, the IIC is an “open membership group focused on breaking down the barriers of technology silos to support better access to big data with improved integration of the physical and digital worlds.”

In other words, this joint effort hopes to pave the way for better connections between virtual resources and physical devices. But what does that really mean for enterprise IT and the Internet at large?

The Foundation of the Internet of Everything

You can call it Machine-to-Machine technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Industrial Internet — they amount to the same thing: physical devices networked through embedded technology that both detects internal states and interacts with the external environment. Chris Neiger of The Motley Fool simplifies the process: “Think of the Internet of Things as a way for everyday objects to talk to each other, and to talk to you.”

For consumers, this could take the form of an Internet-enabled coffeepot or toaster oven. But how can enterprise benefit?

A recent Forbes article took a look at the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, which contains 67 IoT-enabled wind turbines. Covered in tiny sensors, these turbines relay myriad data points to a cloud-based network every second, allowing engineers to make subtle speed or pitch adjustments for maximum efficiency. New technologies allow the turbines to “speak” to one another — if a turbine’s anemometer (used to measure wind speed) fails, it can communicate with nearby turbines to make up the sudden gap in knowledge.

Getting Organized Around the Internet of Things

According to Cisco Canada CTO Jim Seifert, the Internet of Things will drive $14.4 trillion worth of economic activity over the next 10 years. But it’s not all smooth sailing. Guido Jouret, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Internet of Things business group, says “ninety-nine percent of everything is still unconnected.”

There’s also the issue of Big Data: Every physical device generates massive amounts of data, which must be collected and verified and then properly interpreted.

The goal of the IIC, therefore, is to organize and standardize the way companies collect and share IoT data. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, it’s telling that the IIC included the word “industrial” in its name, since this indicates a focus on markets such as manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, healthcare and transportation. Why? Because these areas often have hardware and software products that work well together but don’t play nicely with products from other companies.

A recent Silicon Angle article offers a real-world take on this problem, arguing that if the IIC had started its work five years ago and developed a set of internationally recognized standards, missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 could have been easily located.

Contributing to the Standardization Efforts

Mike Troiano, vice president of advanced mobility solutions for AT&T, says the IIC builds on his company’s vision of “enabling people to operate anything remotely, anytime and virtually anywhere.” But don’t expect this kind of revolution overnight, since the consortium wants to standardize everything from Internet protocols to data storage to power level metrics. Membership is also open to any company with an interest in IoT, meaning standards will ultimately be reflective of broad industry trends but will take time to hammer out.

In the meantime, it’s possible for enterprise to benefit from the Internet of Everything. Intel advises companies to identify the top business problem they want to solve and then determine what kinds of connections provide the best results. In many cases, the addition of remote data-collection tools can provide a significant boost to real-time and predictive analytics, along with providing room for future system scalability.

The IIC is worth watching because it aims to provide a framework for industrial IoT applications along with open discussion. If successful, the joint effort should produce a set of unified, transparent standards within the next few years.

[image: slavemotion/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

Why Dedicated Hosting Is Still Essential to the Enterprise

Is dedicated hosting at the end of its life cycle? With public clouds on the rise and “as a service” versions of everything from storage to networking to disaster recovery now available, it’s tempting for companies to phase out dedicated servers in favor of cloudcentric alternatives.

But according to a Microsoft study, dedicated servers account for 48 percent of hosted infrastructure spending and will continue to top 40 percent over the next two years; in other words, dedicated hosting is still essential to the enterprise. Here’s why.

Are Dedicated Servers Heading Toward a Dead End?

The argument for cloud over dedicated services typically centers on the concepts of flexibility and scalability. A recent Tech Radar piece makes this argument: Since dedicated servers can’t scale on the fly, and data loads can’t be moved from server to server without significant downtime, cloud options may be the better choice for enterprise.

What’s more, reliability is often improved because, in the event of a power outage or a disaster, company data can be automatically migrated to a new server. Cost also makes its way into the dedicated-versus-cloud discussion: Because cloud resources spin up on demand, enterprises only pay for what they actually use.

Big companies like Microsoft are willing to take a chance on the cloud; Data Center Knowledge reports that the Redmond giant’s Azure cloud forms the infrastructure of Titanfall, the new, massively popular Xbox One and PC-exclusive video game from Electronic Arts. So what’s not to like about the cloud?

Whose Data Is It?

What’s the fundamental difference between dedicated hosting and the cloud? In the public cloud, sharing is a prerequisite — to lower the cost of compute resources, providers rely on large servers and shared tenancy. Dedicated options, meanwhile, give companies free run of an entire server, meaning the actions of other tenants won’t affect bandwidth or availability.

It’s also worth noting that despite increased uptime guarantees, cloud providers periodically experience outages. As a recent CIO Insight article notes, enterprises relying on services from Google, Microsoft and Amazon have suffered through downtime, and in some cases lost data. And as discussed by Gigaom, moving to the cloud isn’t always cheaper. Using average costs for a server with 30 gigabytes (GB) of RAM and approximately 300 GB of storage, author David Mytton found that moving to the cloud cost 250 to 500 percent more than using a dedicated hosting provider.

Security and transparency are also good reasons to go dedicated. Using a cloud server means relying on the security offered by your provider, while dedicated hosts let you choose whatever security and access controls best suit your needs.

Transparency, meanwhile, is especially critical during an outage. Cloud providers are typically unwilling to specify the exact cause of downtime or the steps taken to fix the issue, so enterprises are flying blind in the event of an outage. With a dedicated server, internal IT can go hands-on and prevent issues from reoccurring.

The Best of Both Cloud Worlds

It’s safe to say, then, that dedicated hosting isn’t dead in the enterprise space, but it’s also worth considering potential evolutions of this idea. One option is a local private cloud, which combines the scalability of cloud resources with the single tenancy of dedicated hosting.

A March 27 IT Web Business article notes that private cloud deployments are predicted to increase through 2014 as companies look for ways to balance compute power with local control. Colocation hosting is another option — here, enterprises supply their own server for use in a provider’s data center. All server maintenance, security and access is handled by local IT, and providers take care of power, network infrastructure and support.

Dedicated hosting still has a place in the enterprise IT landscape, from “traditional” deployments to options like colocation and private clouds. The trend to public alternatives continues — as augmentation, not replacement — for the dedicated enterprise server.

[image: welcomia/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos ]