Filter: Disaster Recovery

flash storage

Advocating The Use Of Flash Storage

You are likely to have used flash storage at some point in your life, if you have browsed the web on a laptop, listened to music on an MP3 player or even texted someone on your smartphone.  In fact any device with flash chips that can serve as a storage repository is loosely termed as flash storage. It can be anything from a USB device to an all-flash storage array. Flash storage was initially only used to augment traditional media or hard disk drives as a caching complement. But since then flash technology has become faster and more reliable. Solid state drives (SSD) with fully integrated circuit board, containing multiple flash chips are now being designed to replace the spinning media for hosting data sets for key applications. With enterprise data storage needs continuing to rise, it may be time to revisit the flash versus disk-based storage systems debate. Let us take a serious look at the benefits of having an all-flash infrastructure for data centers.

What Is Flash Memory?

A traditional hard drive utilizes rotating platters and heads to read data from a magnetic device, whereas flash storage uses a type of non-volatile semiconductor flash memory technology to store data. helps to eliminate any rotational delay in spinning disk and seek time functions to improve performance. Toshiba and Intel first produced flash memory devices way back in the 1980s that were based on electrically erasing programmable read only memory technology, which allowed data to be written and deleted electronically in a flash.

Flash uses a trapped charge on non-volatile memory chips to store data and therefore the data is retained, even when power is removed. The primary technologies used for flash storage are single level cell, dual level cell, triple level cell, 3D Flash and variants on each of them. The flash memory capacity has doubled every year since it came about and according to estimates the cost per bit for flash has reduced by a factor of 200,000, which is why enterprises are now looking at flash as a complete replacement for hard drive arrays.

Choosing An All-Flash Array

An all-flash array is a storage system wholly built around solid-state drives or flash memory with very high I/O capability, instead of traditional hard disk drives (HDD). Flash provides fast, reliable and consistent performance with low latency and fast data transfer rates. Flash storage devices are now available with capabilities of 500,000 up to one million input/output operations per second in a single footprint and latency figures of one millisecond or less. They can stand up to the demands of high-performance applications for instant access and low latency.

Adding SSDs into existing hardware platforms may provide a better solution than a hard drive-based array but it certainly does not best utilize flash storage capabilities. Traditional storage arrays help in optimizing the performance of the hard drive through the use of caching and intelligent algorithms to complement the physics of accessing spinning media. Whereas all-flash arrays are designed from the ground up to work with the unique characteristics of flash media by providing enough back-end bandwidth capacity to cope with solid-state media. There is also planning for wear leveling across all devices and preparation for multi-layer redundancy in case of failure.

Operational Advantages Of All-Flash Storage For The Enterprise

All-flash arrays may not be less expensive than hybrid arrays or traditional hard disk arrays, on a dollar-per-gigabyte basis ($/GB) but a better cost comparison model would be on a dollar-per number of input output operations per second basis ($/IOP). The total cost of ownership and acquisition cost for all-flash solutions can be significantly lowered by intelligently using storage optimization technologies, such as data de-duplication, thin provisioning, and compression. According to a study by Wikibon, the total cost of ownership for flash is expected to continue to fall through 2020 and the cost per terabyte will reduce from roughly $151 in 2016 to $9 by 2020. All-flash disk arrays can provide ultra-high speed performance, enterprise-class availability, reliability and storage efficiencies with built-in preventive maintenance for cost savings.

All-flash solutions are better for high performance applications, such as transactional databases or virtual infrastructures, including server and desktop infrastructures that can often cause a bottleneck. SSD arrays are more suited to an environment where low latency and consistently high throughput are required because it can deliver millions of IOPS and sub-millisecond latency in a tiny space. Flash memory can speed up complex database operations and provide consistent robust performance capabilities with built in redundancies, while being scalable and reliable.

Flash storage can allow a company to do things that were simply not possible to do with traditional storage, like speed up its business analytics process and to potentially create new business opportunities. SSD’s remove bottlenecks in the environment by speeding up existing processes and providing quick access to stored data so that businesses can do more in the same amount of time. A move to flash storage can considerably reduce the backup window and decision-making time, while increasing work productivity and revenue growth.

Solid-state drives are more durable because they don’t rely on any moving parts whereas hard drives depend on spinning disks. There is no cause for concern about damage to the storage units or loss of data should any disaster happen to the flash storage. This is an amazing attribute where data security is concerned. Due to the lack of moving parts in flash storage, SSD’s use fewer resources than traditional storage solutions, thus saving substantial money in reduced energy costs.

Transition To Flash

Your organization should first evaluate its data set, application behavior and workload to best determine whether it would benefit from an all-flash storage system in its data center.  Storage management of massive disk arrays can be challenging but more enterprises are transitioning to all-flash data storage for time-sensitive and key performance applications. Falling SSD prices and the availability of more quantifiable reports from organizations about the strategic business advantages of adopting an all-flash storage solution will definitely result in an uptick for all-flash rollouts.

Avoid Disasters With Cloud Backup

Most organizations are unprepared for the negative data impact from unforeseen natural or human disasters. Every year businesses continue to lose millions of dollars in revenue from loss of sensitive information due to natural disasters and cyber security threats. Studies have revealed that small businesses affected by more than ten days of data loss generally had filed for bankruptcy immediately or within a year of the disaster. More than half of the small-to-medium businesses that manage their own networks are unaware of the breach when their network is compromised by a hacker. When you are dealing with technology and data, it is important for organizations to be prepared for unforeseen situations by taking advantage of backup solutions for business continuity. Such situations include theft, loss, corruption, fire, flood, hurricane, or malware.

Legacy Backup Storage Solutions

When choosing the right backup strategy, businesses have to take into consideration the constantly changing technology for backup, storage, encryption and recovery, as well as the type and amount of internal and external data in the organization. Data backup should align with the security and data management policies of the business. Two of the historically valuable types of backup are Direct Attach and Virtualized Network.

Direct-Attach Backup Storage is the most commonly used backup solution for individuals and small businesses, and it is comprised of external hard drives and portable storage devices with a few terabytes of data. Businesses requiring minimal backup may find this a cost-effective and simple backup solution. That said, there are potential risks associated with this solution regarding scalability, repetitive backup processes, and vulnerability to on-site disasters, including malware infections, loss and theft.

Virtualized Network Backup allows computers to share the resources of network- connected storage devices as a single storage unit. This system can manage, back up, secure and recover data with dedicated internal resources and minimum user involvement. However, organizations need to invest in setting up virtualized networks, sophisticated security solutions, and on-site support for operations. The physical storage resources should be spread across different geographical locations to secure and minimize the impact of natural disasters.

The New Entrant: Cloud Backup

Cloud Backup is also generally referred to as Online Backup or Remote Backup, wherein the data, including files, folders, or the entire contents of a hard drive, are regularly backed up to a remote storage server or facility that is accessible from the internet. Smart organizations of all sizes and industries, all over the globe, are implementing cloud backup strategies suited to their needs. Cloud backup solutions offer businesses the security of storing their data off-site in data centers managed by third-party vendors, while paying just a subscription fee based on capacity and bandwidth. Initially created for consumer desktops, cloud backup has now evolved to enterprise endpoint data protection on servers, desktop, laptops, and smartphones. It has also extended to protect physical and virtual servers. Cloud backup technology is more impervious to the risk of loss from fire, theft, hacking, or natural disasters and it can run in the background, without manual intervention.

There are many types of cloud vendors for organizations to choose from. There are native cloud providers, where the cloud is the focal point of the data protection process, and legacy vendors, offering the cloud as an add-on backup option for the purpose of data protection. Some service providers are software developers that use generic cloud services like Amazon, Azure or Google for cloud storage, while others have purpose-built cloud data centers with their own software and hardware to securely store customer data. In addition, there are managed service providers that are facilities specialists who generally use an off-the-shelf third-party software product to provide data protection for their customers.

Cloud Backup Strategies

Businesses turning to the cloud for data protection can opt for pure cloud backup or hybrid cloud backup strategies. Instead of traditional local backup, the data is copied and sent off-site to a cloud provider. With pure cloud backup, the data is copied directly to the service provider’s cloud and in hybrid cloud backup, the backup data resides both on your premises and the cloud, which smoothes out transport to the cloud and enables quicker restores when needed.

  1. Pure cloud backup – Following the initial installation of agents on machines, pure cloud backup services seamlessly integrate with the cloud in the background for automatic backups without administrative intervention. This solution can be implemented easily; it allows organizations the ability to easily scale with growth. And organizations don’t need any in-house IT department skills. However, there are bandwidth restrictions with pure cloud, so it may not be the right fit for large organizations with complex backup requirements. The rule of thumb is that if you need to restore large files that may take a long time to download, pure cloud is not the right solution for you.
  2. Hybrid cloud backup — Cloud vendors can provide a hybrid cloud backup solution for large organizations that deal with a huge amount of data and have the need for easily accessible restore operations. The cloud backup consists of an on-site network attached storage (NAS) appliance that receives backups from the data center’s servers and then synchronizes that data to the external cloud provider’s facility. If a restore is required, the data can be accessed from the on-site NAS appliance for rapid recovery of servers and the replicated cloud copy can be recalled on demand in case of a disaster.

Businesses can conveniently use cloud-based recovery for single-file restore jobs, while having the security of local backup for more rigorous recovery tasks such as full system recoveries. Do not overlook the importance of having a cloud backup strategy in your data protection arsenal, as cloud service providers have resilient infrastructure and durable services to keep your business up and running, despite any data center outage or disaster.

Know Your Benefits

There are many reasons organizations prefer using cloud services for data backup and storage:

  1. Safety–Data in the Cloud is secure and recoverable from the offsite backup location because it is not subject to the typical threats of fire, earthquake, flood or theft which can affect local servers. Vendors operate multiple state-of-the-art facilities with encrypted server systems and redundantly backup data using server clustering technologies, to minimize risk to your data in case of primary server failure. Cloud-based servers are constantly monitored behind the latest firewalls, protected with anti-virus software, where even logins are tracked. The data is encrypted during transmission and also stored in an encrypted format.
  2. Easy Recoverability–Online backup is accessible from anywhere, offering ease of data recovery. The encrypted data on the cloud can be decoded and recovered easily with a click of a button. Even if data is lost or deleted, through accidental user error, backups are available due to multiple levels of redundancy, with many copies of your data stored in different locations.
  3. Affordability–Cloud storage is built around the software application of a business so there are no capital expenditures for hardware, real estate, or dedicated IT staff to manage backup systems. Organizations only pay for the resources they consume. The costs are transparent and service providers offer inexpensive and affordable packages, sometimes with even recovery and disaster management.

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Off-site data protection is a must because corporate data is always at risk from loss, malicious threats, accidents, or natural disasters and securing it off-site in the cloud can provide an additional layer of protection. Cloud backup providers tailor options for all kinds of businesses but before you jump in. consider factors such as security, operations to be moved to the cloud, total Cost of Ownership, datacenter distribution, and nature of Service Level Agreements. Just ensure that your cloud backup service fits your needs.

Global Failover: The Safety Net Your Company Needs Today

Can you imagine losing $66,240 per minute? That’s what Amazon.com lost when its site was down for 30 minutes in September 2013, according to an estimate by Forbes. Outages can cripple or ruin organizations, and while some outages are unpreventable, contingency plans can be put into place to minimize downtime.

Companies often strive to architect for success when, in fact, more companies need to architect for failure. Being the IT pessimist is much more relevant than being the IT optimist. If something in IT could fail, companies should operate with the mindset that it most likely will.

Build with Failure in Mind

When building website architecture and topology, you need to design for every possible failure. Any line that you draw within the network diagram should have a dotted line signifying a backup path to accompany it. Any box representing a server or a piece of hardware must have a corresponding box as a hot-swappable, redundant failover.

If you are the individual tasked with being the IT pessimist — the one who is the fall guy if the infrastructure fails — you have probably developed a nervous twitch that makes itself known whenever talk of modifying your infrastructure comes up.

Any misstep that renders your website inaccessible to your customers is the equivalent of putting a “closed” sign on your brick-and-mortar store. Actually, it’s worse. It’s like having a wrecking ball crash through that storefront while your customers are lining up to buy things. It ruins their customer experience and potentially drives them away for good.

Are you scared yet? You should be.

Global Failover to the Rescue

Fortunately, some service providers, like Lunarpages, offer global redundancy and failover, which is specifically designed to mitigate and thwart outages. With this solution, companies set up mirrored environments within unique data centers. So, if disaster strikes one data center, the other is available to accept rerouted traffic.

If you set up a global load-balancing and failover solution for your business, you are actually helping your customers in two ways:

1) If there is an outage at one data center, the other one will provide business/website continuity.

2) Customers coming from diverse geographic locations will notice speed and performance improvements when there isn’t an outage and all data centers are up and running.

Depending on how the business has set up its routing rules, web users access different data centers based on proximity to that data center. That means East Coast users will typically hit an East Coast data center, and West Coast users will access a West Coast data center. This translates to reduced latency and fewer hops by the user to access the infrastructure, which translates to faster response times.

Be sure to look carefully at these different global load-balancing solutions, because they’re not always the same. Typically, you need to have the following:

  • Health monitors: Be sure that you can configure more than one monitor, because you need to ensure that there are checks and double-checks prior to a global load balancer marking an entire data center out-of-service because it detected a single anomaly.
  • Groups: Ensure that you can group logical or similar health monitors as well as infrastructure components into groups. If a database server goes down in one data center, the global load balancer should know not to send traffic to the associated web servers that depend on the offline database server.
  • Isolation of routing: Be sure that your global failover solution is not dependent on hardware/software located in or tied to a particular data center within that solution. By using global DNS, for example, routing will still occur even if an entire data center is offline.

While global failover is not always an inexpensive solution, when you weigh it against the revenue lost per minute, you quickly realize that your customers probably will not forgive you very easily if you don’t have a recovery solution in place.

[image credit: alphaspirit/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

Bulletproofing Your WordPress Site Against A Brute Force Attack

A brute force attack involves trying any and all combinations of commonly used passwords to gain access to an account or access to the administration section of your WordPress site. WordPress is one of the most commonly used frameworks for building websites today. Therefore, it should be no surprise that it is also one of the most commonly hacked as well. We believe that this threat warrants a list of tips, that when used, can thwart any attempts to gain access to your website.

How can you protect yourself against these type of attacks on WordPress?

  1. DELETE THE ‘ADMIN’ USER FOR YOUR WP SITE
    Once you have installed WP on your account, you will want to log into it by visiting http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-login.php. Here you will be asked for your username and password to access the administration section. Navigate to the ‘Add New’ User section found at http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/user-new.php. Although the WordPress minimum requirement is only 7 characters, Lunarpages recommends passwords of at least 12 characters. You will also want to be sure to select Administrator as the role for this new user from the dropdown menu at the bottom.

    Once you have created this new user, navigate to http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/users.php, hover over the original Admin user and select ‘Delete’. If you have posts that were created by the ‘Admin’ user, you will be asked what you want to do with them when you are deleting this user. These posts are commonly re-assigned to the new user you just created.
  2. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS REGULARLY
    You will want to update your new user’s password every 90 days. Be sure to keep a record of passwords used, and do not repeat them. Always create new passwords when updating. We list deleting the admin user and updating passwords regularly as the most important factors since these are the main focus of a brute force attack. Do not use passwords like: admin, admin123, administrator, pass, password, password1, passwd, root, qwerty, q1w2e3, 000000, 123456, 987654321. If you are having trouble creating a strong password, consider a service such as those found at http://www.random.org/passwords and http://strongpasswordgenerator.com. Additionally, if you have multiple users on your website, either set up a schedule for all to see that requires regular updates to passwords or let them know that you will be making the updates and will provide them with new ones regularly.
  3. INSTALL SECURITY PLUGINS ON YOUR WP SITE
    There are a number of quality plugins that you can take advantage of for free from WordPress.org. Here is a short list to get you started:

  4. PASSWORD PROTECT YOUR WP-LOGIN PAGE
    Found in all control panels available through Lunarpages, password protecting your login page is another secondary effort that you can make. Look for the following icons in your control panel.
  5. MANAGED HOSTING
    We realize that building a website can be difficult. For those that need to focus on running their business, or simply do not have the time needed to stay on top of updates, we offer our Managed Hosting services to all levels of hosting plans. For more information how Managed Hosting can help your site and free up valuable time for you, please visit https://www.lpwebhosting.com/managed/overview.

Disaster Recovery

Could Your Business Withstand A Disaster?

Global Failures happen unexpectedly and if you don’t have a solid backup and recovery plan, your business could be in real jeopardy. What would happen to your business in the event of a disaster?

Think fires, floods and tornadoes – how long would it take your business to get back online in the event of a total loss?

That’s the question that every business owner should be asking but unfortunately, few rarely do. According to a 2009 survey by Hughes Marketing Group, 90% of small businesses spend less than 8 hours per month developing a Global Failover plan.

The reason, of course, is a false sense of security. Business owners are lulled into the mistaken belief that “it won’t happen to me” or more precisely, “it isn’t likely to happen to me” and as a result, they employ only the most basic safeguarding measures, if any at all.

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”85″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”273″,”style”:”width: 439px; height: 273px; float: left; margin: 8px;”,”width”:”439″}}]]But the truth presents a much harsher reality.

Over 30% of PC users have lost all of their data due to events beyond their control, and we’re not just talking about natural disasters. Research shows that approximately 140,000 hard drives crash every week in the United States and according to a 2008 Symantec study, the top cause of data loss isn’t the fires, floods and tornadoes we mentioned earlier; it’s malware.

More importantly, 93% of companies that suffered a total loss of data for more than 10 days filed for bankruptcy within a year; 50% of those companies filed immediately.

Which brings us back to the question at hand: what would happen to your business in the event of a disaster?

A Global Failover Plan is integral to any Business Continuity Plan.

Operating under the premise that the worst can and will happen, a Business Continuity Plan provides safeguards and procedures to restart your business as quickly as possible, by answering three key questions:

  1. What do we need to restart our business in the event of a disaster? One of the biggest mistakes that business owners often make is creating a disaster recovery plan that doesn’t address all the necessities. After all, backing up your files won’t do you any good if you can’t immediately load them on an operational server. And having that server won’t help if your employees, vendors and clients can’t access your systems. Who will notify your employees and vendors? How will you keep your customers informed and connected during the transition? Think about what you’d need to run your business effectively and use your Global Failover plan to address them.
  2. Does our plan comply with all relevant regulations? Just because you’re no longer working from your primary location doesn’t mean you don’t still have to meet the normal requirements and regulations imposed on your particular industry. If your goal is to get your business up and running quickly, ensuring it stays in compliance is part of that process.
  3. Is our plan up to date? A plan you created several years ago may no longer be adequate and unless you test that plan on a regular basis, you won’t know it’s out of date until it’s too late. To avoid this problem, incorporate a regular testing schedule into the plan itself.

This simple yet effective approach allows your company to prepare for unforeseeable events and restore normal business activities as quickly as possible by reducing and managing your risk.

At Lunarpages, our Global Failover program provides you with an out-of-the-box system for not only ensuring your data remains safe and secure, but also providing you with a seamless way to reroute online traffic in the unfortunate event that your primary data center goes down.

Our goal is to not only protect your data, but also give you the means to continue doing business, even if your primary physical location isn’t accessible.

Our Global Failover Features include:

Application Availability

In the event that your primary location is offline, our Global Failover system will enable you to serve your site and all its applications from secondary locations.

Automated Deployment

Based on rules and health checks setup for both primary and secondary locations, failover and failback processes can be completely automated.

Multi-Site SOA Configuration

Even in the event of a total data center failure, the global DNS will still function based on multi-site SOA (State of Authority) nameservers.

Application Testing

We utilize a multiple monitor system that continuously verifies the health of each application. This results in improved reliability, reduced downtime and a better user experience.

The effects of a Global Failure after it occurs will cost a lot more in time and money than it would to implement a solid fail safe plan today. To learn more about developing a Disaster Recovery Plan that’s right for your business, contact Lunarpages today. We have trained professionals ready to evaluate your business needs, no matter how big or small and we offer competitive plans tailored to your business. Adding the right Global Failover Plan will give you peace of mind knowing no matter what happens, your valuable information is safe and secure and your business will be up and running again in a fraction of the time.

Data Backup Options

Could you imagine losing all of your digital pictures, files, folders, emails all in the blink of an eye? Well, if you drop your lap top, spill coffee on it, it gets stolen or the dreaded blue screen of death appears, this could be your reality! Some corporations offer their employees data backup solutions, however most do not. And if you’re like most home office or small business owners you don’t have an IT Department to keep your data safe and secure. Therefore, you need to choose a backup solution that is best for your personal and professional needs. Two of the most popular backup solutions are either through purchasing an external hard drive or using a monthly subscription service over the internet. Let’s review a few options from both.

Backup solutions over the Internet

The most appealing feature of backup solutions over the Internet is you always have access to your files, pictures, videos, etc., wherever you are. Your data is stored offsite in secure datacenters, and with some services you can even share your files and folders with others.

Dropbox lets you bring all your photos, docs and videos anywhere and share them easily. Anything you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones, and even the Dropbox website. It is easy to share your data with others and your first 2GB of Dropbox is free, with subscriptions up to 100GB available for $19.99 per month. Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

CX.com is a cloud-based syncing and storage back-up solution, similar to Dropbox or Sugar Sync in many ways, but with collaborating features, too. When you sign up for the 2GB service you get free online storage and the ability to access your files from anywhere. You can give other people access to your files so they can collaborate on them as well. CX.com uses a “stream” approach to organization; as you and your collaborators work on a file, you can comment on it and have a conversations that appears as a “stream” related to the file.

Carbonite is one of the larger online backup providers offering easy-to-use, affordable, unlimited and secure online backup solutions with anytime, anywhere access. Carbonite does not offer a monthly plan, their annual plans start at $59/year, averaging less than $4.60/month and offer unlimited backup for home and home office customers. Carbonite does not have all the share and collaboration features as Dropbox and CX.com and not all of their solutions offered are available to Apple users. If you are looking for a simple, easy to use online backup solution this should work just fine for you.

External Hard Drive Backup solutions:

If you have a lifetime of digital pictures, videos and documents, a spacious external hard drive is a must. With hard drive capacities growing and prices dropping, it’s time for you to switch to a 1TB or larger external hard drive. For buyers looking for the best in storage, there are three factors to consider: Storage capacity, speed and connection options, and size.

 

Desktop External Drives have large capacities to handle your desktop files.

Portable External Drives are compact and easy to carry, very ideal for laptops.

Mac-Formatted External Drives are compatible with your Mac and most laptops or desktops.

Buffalo Technology DriveStation USB 3.0 hard drive combines the highest capacity available with the latest iteration of USB by packaging the two into a sleek enclosure. , 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB models are also available and can be found for $95, $130 and $174, respectively. Though designed for desktop use, and not “pocketable” by any means, at 9.5 by 3.3 by 8.7-inches (HWD), the DriveStation USB 3.0 is still a sleek, trim drive that is compact enough to easily transport from one place to another.

Apple Time Capsule 3TB External Wireless Network Hard Drive is a wireless hard drive that allows you to back up data and media stored on your networked computers and features dual-band 802.11n wireless technology for enhanced range and optimal performance. WPA/WPA2 security helps keep your information safe and it is compatible with Apple computers, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, along with most PCs and most 802.11a/b/g/n wireless devices for use with a variety of peripherals. This hard drive is definitely on the more expensive side costing almost $500.

Seagate – GoFlex 1TB External USB 3.0/2.0 Portable Hard Drive is perfect for business travelers or people who are constantly on the go with their laptop. With 1TB of space it provides spacious storage for documents, photos, music, videos and the USB 3.0 interface ensures fast data transfer. (No worries, it is backward compatible with USB 2.0 for wide-ranging use.) It also provides encryption software ensuring your information is safe and secure. Included is a NTFS driver that allows the drive to be used interchangeably with a PC or Mac. You can usually find this hard drive for around $160.

Whether you prefer to have your data on a local external drive or online, everyone should back up their treasured memories and important files and folders. We’d love to hear your thoughts! What backup method do you prefer and why?

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]