Three Small Steps You Can Take To Simplify Your Infrastructure Management Right Now

We live in an increasingly complex world. You need to do what you can to make your business more efficient. One of the best ways to do that is by evaluating your infrastructure management.

Infrastructure management is gaining an increased importance in the business world. Technology like cloud computing, mobility, and the Internet of Things all have the potential to change how we live and work for the better. Unfortunately, that’s only if we can use them effectively. Otherwise, they’re a veritable nightmare for your IT department, slamming them with a plethora of challenges.

How does one balance security with convenience? What can be done to keep critical data safe when it moves outside the firewall? How can one estimate bandwidth and management costs for devices that are rarely, if ever in the office?  How can a small IT department manage a massive network of endpoints, smartphones, tablets, and computers?

There’s no easy answer to any of those questions, which represent a mere sampling of the issues an IT professional faces in the modern business world. There are plenty of other roadblocks. And the more devices you bring online, the more solutions you use, the more complex and difficult those roadblocks become – because the various solutions you’ve got in place can and will overlap.

Three Steps to Simplify Infrastructure Management

“Complexity grows over time,” explains The Weather Company’s Chief Information and Technology Officer Brian Koehler. “Systems are built to do one thing, and then they’re modified, morphed, and bastardized to do things they were never meant to do.”

There’s one obvious solution to this problem – consolidate. Get rid of old, outdated infrastructure, and toss out hardware you no longer need. Unify your management tools, and transition from hardware infrastructure to stuff like cloud servers or virtual private servers where possible.

The problem is, none of the above is exactly easy to accomplish. Consolidation on any scale takes a lot of time, money, and effort. Old infrastructure needs to be transitioned out in such a way that operations aren’t interrupted. New platforms may require additional staff training. And everything needs to be brought together in such a way that it doesn’t compromise the security of your business.

Still, it’s something that’s well worth doing – and while you tackle the task of full consolidation, you can streamline things in a few subtler, simpler ways, too.

1. Automate Common, Repetitive Tasks

First thing’s first, look at how you manage your server. Chances are, there are a few tasks and processes that are repeated on a very regular basis – and they’re probably something of a timesink, to boot. Why not consider looking into automation?

By automating common tasks and operations, you can free up both time and resources, leaving you available to focus on more important stuff than day-to-day management.

2. Examine Your Workflow

Next up, take a look at how you (and your colleagues), work. Are you as organized as you can be? Do you understand the concept of agile software development? How skilled are you at prioritizing and re-prioritizing tasks?

It may be worth your while to incorporate a tool like Trello or Atlassian’s JIRA into your IT department’s workflow – because what a lot of people forget is that employees often do as much to contribute to complexity as technology.

3. Evaluate Your Metrics

Lastly, what metrics are you using to track your server’s performance – and what are you using to capture them? If you have no idea how to answer that question, you need to form one. Look into deploying a tool like Nagios or Icinga, and keep a close eye on metrics like error rates, requests per second, and peak response time.

While on the surface this may seem like you’re adding more work to take care of, monitoring your server gives you the ability to quickly react when something’s amiss – eliminating potential crashes and cutting out complexity in the long run.

Live Simply

Consolidation isn’t easy, and streamlining your business’s operations is a tough challenge – but it’s more than worth it in the long run. Liquid Web can help you with this. Backed by our Heroic Support, we’ll do everything we can to tackle the lion that is server complexity – whether you need backups, CDN-optimized hosting, or something else entirely.

Don’t Cry: How Liquid Web is Ensuring Your Security Against WannaCrypt And Other Ransomware

Recently, an unknown group equipped with a leaked CIA hacking tool launched one of the largest cyber attacks in history – here’s what we’re doing to ensure your security.

Several weeks ago, security experts across the world were left aghast at one of the largest ransomware attacks in history. A nasty piece of software called WannaCrypt (better known as WannaCry) surged across global networks, crippling 200,000 organizations in 150 countries.

“This attack was unique in that the ransomware was used in combination with a ‘worm functionality’ to spread the infection automatically,” said Europol Director Rob Wainwright on Peston on Sunday. “The global reach is unprecedented.”

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And it’s not just small businesses, either. Banks, government agencies, and even the British Healthcare Industry have all fallen victim to it. Here’s the problem, though – a lot of media outlets are focusing on the WannaCry worm, rather than the real threat.

WannaCry itself was not the issue. As ransomware goes, it’s fairly run of the mill (it can’t encrypt administrative shares, for example). No, what’s frightening is how it was delivered – EternalBlue, a leaked NSA cyberweapon.

EternalBlue uses a vulnerability present in the Server Message Block to gain access to a system. Once it’s done so, it installs a backdoor tool known as DoublePulsar, which then grants entry to the WannaCry worm. From there, you can probably guess how things proceed.

It gets worse. The agency responsible for leaking the weapon, The Shadow Brokers, has threatened to leak another set of hacking tools with similar capabilities. In other words, WannaCry is just the start.

There will be others.

More than anything else, this situation highlights the importance of continued diligence and why it’s essential that we follow security standards in all aspects of our work. At Liquid Web, we’ve done just that. Our security signatures have been updated to defend against the malware, so our office network is fully protected. Beyond this, our security team is constantly researching and updating to protect against new threats.

Additionally, we restrict remote access to our core infrastructure that would allow it to be impacted by ransomware. The Windows team has also verified our WSUS servers and have patched all supporting operating systems on our networks. We’ve pushed that patch to customers using our update policy who have automatic updates enabled as well.

We have confirmed that our managed antivirus solution has definitions specifically for WannaCry and have posted a notice to all Windows customers on an at-risk OS informing them of the ransomware – but also highlighting that as long as they’re using our default policy on updated servers, we’ve got their back. Customers on an EOL operating system can contact us immediately to install a manual patch.  

Attacks like WannaCry are only going to grow more common as time goes on. You need to do everything you can to protect yourself from them, including choosing a host that takes your security seriously. Liquid Web is (and will continue to be) that host – we’ve got your back, no matter what kind of threat your business faces.

Contact us today and we can discuss what we’re doing to protect our customers against existing and future security threats.

Modern Enterprise Networks Are Larger Than Ever – Here’s How You Can Keep Yours Secure

Modern Enterprise Networks Are Larger Than Ever - Here's How You Can Keep Yours Secure
In the past, it was very clear what you meant when talking about a business’s corporate network. A few servers and PCs, a laptop or two, maybe a VOIP solution, all protected by a firewall. Remote work, where it existed, was relatively rare, and subject to heavy authentication.

Then the smartphone was born. Continue reading “Modern Enterprise Networks Are Larger Than Ever – Here’s How You Can Keep Yours Secure”

Three New Attack Vectors That Will Be Born Out Of IoT

Three New Attack Vectors That Will Be Born Out Of IoT
Everything from your first cup of coffee & your commute to the office, to your afternoon snack & evening walk with your dog can now be connected and tracked. This is the kind of world we will soon live in – a world where every device or appliance we use in our day-to-day is connected to the Internet. Because of how widespread it has the potential to become, the Internet of Things could easily transform how we live, work, and play. The possibilities are limitless. … Unfortunately, so are the security risks. Continue reading “Three New Attack Vectors That Will Be Born Out Of IoT”

Your Employees Are Working Remotely. Is Your Business Protected?

Your Employees Are Working Remotely. Is Your Business Protected?According to International Data Corporation (IDC), just three years from now mobile workers will make up almost 75% of the U.S. workforce. To anyone who has been paying attention, this should come as no surprise. It is increasingly rare to see anyone without a smartphone in this day and age – and just as rare to meet someone who has not used that device for working remotely on at least one occasion.

You have doubtless heard all the rhetoric by now. Mobile devices are to remote productivity what the automobile was to transportation. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, the time an employee spends on the train or in line at lunch is no longer wasted. Now, it can be spent dialing in to meetings, connecting with colleagues over corporate instant messaging, or replying to emails. With the right applications, it can even be spent editing documents.

It sounds incredible, right? There’s just one catch: security. While the fact that employees can connect from anywhere is a great strength of mobility, it is also its greatest weakness from a security standpoint. Continue reading “Your Employees Are Working Remotely. Is Your Business Protected?”

Welcome WiredTree Customers to Liquid Web

By: Carrie Wheeler, Chief Operations Officer, Liquid Web

Over the past year, Liquid Web has been hard at work laying the foundation for our strategy of being the leader in Managed Hosting for the mission-critical websites and applications of Small and Midsize businesses.

This morning, we reached another key milestone as we announced the acquisition of WiredTree, a Chicago-based web hosting company. Liquid Web is welcoming these new customers who will gain an even stronger web hosting offering, including upgraded services and a team of dedicated migration specialists to assist each user with a seamless and hassle-free transition. Continue reading “Welcome WiredTree Customers to Liquid Web”

Five Red Flags to Look for When Choosing a Hosting Company


5 Red Flags to Look For When Choosing a Hosting Company
Imagine you’re planning to open a physical storefront, and you are looking at a few different malls:

  • Your first choice is a location that’s well-maintained, with an owner who’s well put-together and polite. The mall is clean, well-lit, and with excellent security. The trade-off is that the rent is a little high — nothing you can not afford, but enough to put a dent in your budget. That said, the lease is month-to-month.
  • Your second choice looks as well-maintained as the first, but there’s something a bit off about your landlord. They are dodgy when you ask questions about specifics such as security and maintenance, and seem interested in little save rushing you along to sign the lease.
  • Your last choice is not especially impressive — it is dirty and poorly maintained, and located in a bad neighborhood. The owner seems nice enough. It is also quite cheap.

Given the choice, most of you would probably go with option one, right? It is better-maintained, the owner is reputable, and there are not likely to be any nasty surprises waiting for you after you sign the lease, which does not require a huge commitment. The same logic can be applied to searching for a hosting company. Continue reading “Five Red Flags to Look for When Choosing a Hosting Company”