Category Archives: Support

95th Percentile Methodology: What It Is, How It Works

A term pertaining to colocation bandwidth that you may have heard is the 95th Percentile Monitoring – also known as the 95% Method. So what does the term mean? To illustrate, we will look at a monthly graph of an Internet uplink port:

95thPercentileGraph

As you can see, this graph, has the data on the vertical axis, and the pass of time on the horizontal axis. About five weeks’ worth of data is shown here. Please notice that the sample rate has been consolidated to two-hour intervals in this graph – using smaller intervals does not make a statistically significant difference when graphing data over a larger time span.

So, how does a colocation service provider like us compute bandwidth usage for the month using this data? You might assume that it would be fair to add the Average In and Average Out values (Internet traffic travels in both directions) – a total of 36.3 Mbps in this case – and declare that to be the official usage for the month shown. In fact, many other data centers will do just that. However, there is another way: the 95th Percentile Methodology. Here is how it works:

  • A log of 30-days-worth of traffic samples at default settings (typically every 5 minutes) are accumulated;
  • The log is sorted in descending order, which places the highest traffic peaks at the top;
  • The top five percent of the log is discarded;
  • The value of the largest remaining peak becomes the effective bandwidth usage value for the month.

The advantage of the 95th Percentile billing method is that, over the course of a 30-day ‘month’ you can have up to 36 hours of peak traffic and that number is calculated only for the direction of greater flow, making the other direction free (as opposed to the average in + the average out method). In the example of the monthly graph above, the actual 95th Percentile traffic number for that data is 25.7 Mbps – some 10.6 Mbps lower than using the ‘sum of the averages’ method.

As you can see, the 95th Percentile Monitoring can be quite advantageous when acquiring bandwidth.

However, there is one exception to this. That would be in situations where there is normally very little bandwidth activity, but periodically large bursts of high traffic activity that occurs. The 95th Percentile could potentially work against you in the event that the cumulative bursts added up to more than 36 hours in the billing period.

In practice this situation is uncommon; the best way to address this is to try to know (or predict) your usage profile and order service accordingly.

Decree: Cloud, Analytics & Security Will Dominate 2015

2015

Well, it’s that time of year again, folks. No, I don’t mean the Holiday Season. And no, I don’t mean the Consumer Confidence Season. I mean the Trend List Season. Every year, experts stick out their necks from every hill and dell to let us know that the industry is changing. The lists are often a little redundant, both of the concurrent offerings and of all the trend lists written the year before.

However, these mini-reports on the industry are actually incredibly helpful. They at least encompass the major, developing points of focus for the industry. Because the lists are typically created by independent parties, the blogosphere and social media have generally objective fodder for conversation.

Forbes’ Louis Columbus just wrote a piece that was published Wednesday, summarizing the Computerworld 2015 predictions from its Forecast Study 2015. Let’s look at the key findings from that report.

What’s Ahead for the Cloud Computing World

Major areas of investment for business are a trio: cloud technology, big data analytics, and security. Other essential elements of the third platform, mobile tech and social media, will continue to grow rapidly as well – although the latter does not fall under the umbrella of this study.

Most CIOs and IT directors will stay at a similar expenditure level for most categories of technology, with a comprehensive budget rise of 4.3% industrywide. Specific areas of strong growth include the following:

  • Security – 46%
  • Cloud – 42%
  • Predictive big data modeling and other analytics – 38%
  • Storage – 36%
  • Mobile/wireless – 35%.

The only notable decline in spending is hardware, with a 24% expected drop.

Although security will be the king in terms of growth, more decision-makers listed cloud projects as the top priority than any other strategy (although it only represented 16% of the total responses). For some situations, cloud doesn’t make sense. However, business-wide IT leadership believes that the affordability and speed of cloud make it the most disruptive current technology, especially in the areas of customer service and development/DevOps.

The research, conducted by IDG Enterprise (the owner of CIO, Computerworld, and several other online publications), sought to pinpoint and outline the most critical IT trends for the upcoming year, in categories such as hardware and software; hiring and management; and budget expenditures. A total of over 190 people were surveyed, composed of the following populations

  • 55% IT leadership positions
  • 19% IT middle-management
  • 16% entry-level IT professionals
  • 7% general business administration.

A complete report on the data collected in the study and the methodology with which it was designed is available here.

Other Key Findings of the Computerworld Forecast

1. Third platform growth especially in bigger companies

There is substantial disparity in terms of IT investment between enterprises with more than 1000 employees and those with less than that. As noted above, cloud, analytics, and storage are three of the primary growth areas. Here is how they compare at large enterprises versus smaller organizations:

  • Cloud – 52% of companies with 1000+ employees, 35% of those with fewer than 1000
  • Analytics (big data, etc.) – 46% with 1000+, 26% with under 1000
  • Storage – 46% with 1000+, 29% with under 1000.

2. General growth in IT budgets

A specific poll of the IT decision-makers found that generally speaking, budgets are going up:

  • 43% expect larger budgets next year
  • 45% expect an equivalent budget
  • 12% expect smaller budgets in 2015.

In terms of actual dollar amount, the typical firm is experiencing a 4.3% increase, on average, next year.

3. Emergent areas of technology

When asked for a new category of spending that was emerging at their business during the next 12 months, the top three responses were:

  • Internet of Things (32%)
  • High Performance Computing (22%)
  • Sustainability and efficiency solutions (16%), to reduce the overall carbon footprint.

4. Top business priorities of IT

Senior executives and line-of-business managers agreed and disagreed on the major business concerns of IT. Goals such as revenue enhancement, profit orientation, improvement of competitive edge, and strong customer interaction were all considered priorities, although to greater and lesser degree (suggesting communication breakdowns between leadership levels):

  • Making the most out of current technology – 48% senior/46% middle-management
  • Cutting costs – 47% senior/58% middle-management
  • Refining and automating tasks – 43% senior/46% middle-management
  • Revenue generation – 40% senior/29% middle-management.

5. Why certain technologies are used

To come at the issue of priorities from another angle, IDG asked respondents for the need that their top IT projects were intended to meet. The top priorities within the main projects in individual categories were as follows:

  • Revenue generation – top goal of cloud computing, business analytics, and software development
  • Better service – top goal of on-site software, virtualization environments, and as an overall concern.

The biggest projects for companies were most commonly in the following categories:

  • Cloud – 16%
  • Legacy upgrades/optimization – 12%
  • On-site software – 9%.

Cloud Not Created the Same

Since cloud is obviously one of the major points of focus for businesses, and since it is really broader than distributed virtualization as a component of the third platform, businesses must carefully choose their partners in this area of technology. Superb Internet offers a 100% uptime SLA, guaranteeing both our resources and our performance. Chat with an expert to get the cloud hosting you need today.

“I use 3 other hosting companies, and none of them are as efficient as Superb.Net.” – Howard Barr

By Kent Roberts

 

Chief Information Officer: One Day, I Will Collect Information

As mentioned previously in this blog, cloud portfolio management company RightScale has now completed its third run of the State of the Cloud Report. In the spring, the firm questioned 1068 computing executives throughout a spectrum of industries. Amazingly, a total of 94% of the organizations represented by respondents were using a cloud: 29% public, 7% private, and 58% a combination of both. (Since large companies often behave differently from smaller ones related to technology, it’s noteworthy that only 24% of survey participants were with firms that have a workforce in excess of a thousand people.)

As the cloud grows, the general IT landscape rapidly evolves. One basic fact of the evolution is that the job responsibilities of many professionals are changing, so the skillsets that are most needed are under revision as well.

Family Dollar CIO Josh Jewett notes that enterprises no longer need individuals who excel at putting together hardware. Instead, they need computing professionals who have a knack for monitoring a third-party company that is in charge of the hardware. Jewett said that the process is basically the same but performed by another party: “You go from managing outcomes yourselves to managing outcomes through others.”

Ann Bednarz of CIO interviewed 16 enterprise technology heads about the transition from traditional computing to the cloud, resulting in a series of articles on the same general theme. (For example, one article was related to challenges of the technology, while another discussed simple and straightforward strategies.) One installment of the batch of reports, published October 14, specifically focused on how the expectations and practices of recruitment and knowledge development are adjusting to the emergence of cloud hosting.

Everything is changing. One CIO who spoke with Bednarz said that someday soon, people would start asking information-technology departments to bring them information.

Don’t Virtualize Everything, Sonny

Randy Spratt, who is the chief information and technology officer for the healthcare company McKesson, mentions that everything has been tweaked by the rise of distributed virtualization: not only have the professional skills needed for a strong tech team been altered, but vendor interaction has become more critical now that the deployment is so often performed as a service rather than on-site.

A smooth transition to the cloud is best achieved by an individual who is good at rallying people behind a cause. It requires someone who can explain and convince regarding the nature of systems, rather than simply a strong engineer. “You need to educate businesses about what they have,” he notes. “It’s like an internal sales job.”

Many businesses want to consider what they will virtualize and what they won’t – such as businesses wanting to continue to utilize dedicated hardware that they already own in conjunction with cloud hosting. In those cases – says computing support firm SAIC’s technology chief, Bob Fecteau – the skill needed by staff is an understanding of the systems most suited for virtualization.

Fecteau believes that the technical skills of computing professionals, such as coding or managing a network, will become less essential than information exchange. He envisions a future in which technologists are asked, “‘How can you get me the info we need to make key business decisions?’”

You can’t just give someone another title, shifting someone from data center specialist to cloud specialist: that’s the primary message of top Dow Chemical information executive Paula Tolliver. She notes that integration is a critical approach with the cloud, the ability to fuse together various cloud infrastructural and software components (potentially from more than one provider) and any internal systems.

Dow has recruited new computing professionals with virtualization focuses, as well as trained continuing staff in the technology so that experience and business continuity is maintained.

What’s Your Provider Done for You Lately?

One CIO likes to look for the strongest option available at a competitive price point, after which he works out a combination hosting and consulting package with the provider, so that his organization can test services, get help deploying them, and have access to expertise.

That executive, Brian LeClaire of Humana, says that the insurance company deploys more than one pilot of various platform options at one time. Once all the tests are active, the cloud provider directly trains his team. He also has recruited individuals that are strong at certain cloud elements, aware that specific knowledge is often the only avenue for success: “The tool is no good if you don’t understand the applications the tool is meant to help.”

Hitting the Books

Willingness to adapt to developing technologies is fundamental, according to The Vanguard Group technology head John Marcante. He says that his computing staff is able to adjust rapidly to different expectations, especially since many more tasks are now being assigned to the machines: “Cloud allows for a lot more automation and less sophistication and deep knowledge.”

Adaptation has been fundamental for us at Superb Internet since our founding in 1996. Nothing epitomizes adaptation and flexibility like our Flex Cloud offering. It gives you access to optimal performance On Demand, and you only pay based on use. In fact, you can create your own Flex Cloud VM now for free.

By Kent Roberts

Free Use Image via Wikipedia

Are Computers Only Human? Cloud Successes and Failures

A Microsoft Azure outage in August proved incredibly frustrating to businesses running their applications in the cloud. A report by David Ramel in the Virtualization Review’s Schwartz Cloud Report argues that computing failures are sometimes going to happen and that users should “deal with it.” Well, sure, it’s unreasonable not to “expect the unexpected” with large IT systems. Unscheduled downtime sucks and should be extraordinarily rare, but no infrastructure is devoid of the potential for errors.

To look at the cloud in terms of a damning, widespread denial of service as occurred with Azure is of course a delusional perspective. The statistics on outages of cloud versus alternatives, in fact, heavily favors the cloud, as described below.

Putting outages aside, although the cloud often seems to be primarily an annoyingly trendy topic (to believe the mainstream press, it is the end-all and be-all of web hosting terminology), it would not be growing so astronomically if it weren’t fulfilling basic business needs: high performance and premium reliability at an affordable cost.

How fast is the cloud growing? 451 Research conducted in-depth interviews with 100 IT professionals in 2013 to gauge cloud adoption in enterprise settings. After months of research, the company compiled its findings to better understand cloud within the global business landscape, publishing the InfoPro Wave 5 Cloud Computing Study. Key findings include the following, as outlined by Forbes:

  • “Let’s get more” – Enterprises that have tried the cloud can’t get enough, with 7 out of 10 organizations that have specific cloud computing budgets upping their spending in that category both in 2013 and 2014.
  • Tech heard ‘round the world – On a worldwide scale, the cloud will expand at a 36% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the next two years, by the end of which it will have hit $20 billion.
  • Open those purse strings – Enterprises spend a median amount of $675,000 on the cloud out of an overall IT budget of $8.2 million. Needless to say, some enterprises have much more sophisticated and far-reaching computing infrastructures. The cloud budget for one firm involved in the study was $125 million.

Is the cloud defined by outages? No, and far from it. A report recently released by Evolve IP revealed that half of organizations that have deployed cloud solutions believe it has served as a preventative mechanism against disasters, acting as a disaster recovery system that underpins business continuity.

Use of the Cloud for Disaster Prevention

Taken out of context, the August report that the lights had gone out unexpectedly at Microsoft Azure probably led some to believe that cloud services can’t be trusted. That’s the opposite of the results of this study, which questioned just under 1300 IT professionals on their company’s cloud deployments. Here is the skinny, as indicated by separate Ramel coverage in Virtualization Review:

  • As with the increased budget findings from the InfoPro study, an overwhelming majority of 7 out of 10 companies consider disaster recovery (DR) as the top advantage of cloud hosting. Amazingly, 50% of companies with active cloud systems said that they had already reaped the rewards of cloud DR. The second and third best traits of the cloud, per the survey, were adaptability and scalability.
  • Philosophically, the cloud looks good: 90% of survey respondents believe that it represents the future of computing. In actual use, 8 out of 10 have one or more cloud environments enabled, and the average firm is running three (3) cloud services.
  • It’s one thing to ask about where tech is headed and another to gauge personal opinion of the technology. At an upper management level, the survey found that 7 out of 10 business leaders had converted to “belief” in the cloud. A somewhat smaller number of middle and low-level managers – 58% – said that they were sold on the cloud, but that number is 5% higher than a survey of the same category of individuals completed in 2013.

A Hard Look at Failure – Statistics Favor the Cloud

In his article on the Azure outage, Ramel referenced data from an IDC study that specifically looks at downtime and its likelihood in cloud and non-cloud settings:

  • Unscheduled downtime is 76% less likely with a cloud service.
  • When outages do occur, response time is twice as long with on-staff IT as it is with a third-party cloud provider.
  • Downtime drops 13 hours per year with a cloud service.

A similar study by Nucleus Research found that “customers can gain significant benefits in availability and reliability” when they choose cloud solutions.

At Superb, we do not accept the idea that unreliability and unpredictability are a natural part of computing environments. While we understand that Ramel was partially joshing with his “deal with it” comment, we know our customers should not have to put up with any nonsense. That’s why all our cloud solutions offer Guaranteed Resources and Guaranteed Performance. Chat now to learn more.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: The New York Times

 

Choosing Colocation vs. Leasing Dedicated Servers & Landlord Appreciation – Part 3

 

Virtual Private Network site to site and from ...

As we learned in the first two parts of this miniseries comparing colocation to dedicated server leasing, the difference between the two is owning versus renting. You can’t always lease or rent a product. For instance, ice cream cones can only be rented in Arkansas, South Dakota, and Hawaii. Larger items such as cars or homes can be rented worldwide, though; the same is true of dedicated servers (colocation versus leasing).

We are assessing ideas pertaining to the debate between the two options from several advice sites, primarily Webhostingfreaks.net, ITworld, and About Colocation. We started with a general rundown of the differences between the two, then moved into stronger arguments. Both of the arguments, from the latter two sources above, side with colocation – which notably gives you more control but has additional upfront expense.

Our main concern is with web servers, but we also wanted to provide pluses and minuses related to home ownership and rental. Let’s explore the subject of pets with regards to housing. Pet owners love renting especially because it is an opportunity to prove to themselves how much they love their animals. If you can find the right landlord, you may be able to pay upwards of $1000 for security deposits for your two Irish setter-bloodhound-chihuahua-St. Bernard mutts. Your dogs don’t understand money, but that doesn’t mean they won’t chew through one of the walls or attack your appliances.
Continue reading Choosing Colocation vs. Leasing Dedicated Servers & Landlord Appreciation – Part 3

Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain

 

Wow! If you run a forum you need Cloudflare - ...
Wow! If you run a forum you need Cloudflare - it cut my webserver CPU usage in half!

Speed: it’s crucial online. The rate at which a page loads is important both to keep customers happy and to keep them from leaving your site. However, your site’s speed is not just about UX (user experience) but about search engine rankings. That latter factor is becoming more and more important as the Google algorithm weighs it more heavily. Tumblr’s servers, for example, do not meet Google’s standards for speed.

Obviously the speed at which your site populates content depends on a mixture of diverse factors. For example, how many images do you have on your page? Are they compressed? What type of hardware are using (server, etc.)? Are there a lot of WordPress plugins on your site? Simple sites running off of great equipment load very quickly, and complex sites on clunky equipment don’t. However, there is a cheat.

CloudFlare is that cheat. It’s free. It makes your site faster. It makes it more difficult for spammers to harass you. It strengthens the security of your site. I know… It sounds implausible. In this three-part series, we will look at CloudFlare from a variety of different angles.
Continue reading Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain