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 Get rid of old, outdated infrastructure, and toss out hardware you no longer need.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.

Press Release: Liquid Web Appoints Former GoDaddy Executive Jeff King to Board of Directors

LANSING, Mich., June 14, 2017 — Liquid Web, LLC, (www.liquidweb.com), a $100-million managed hosting provider focused on web-reliant professionals, today announced the appointment of Jeff King to the company’s board of directors. King brings more than 25 years of technology leadership experience to his seat on the board.

“We admire what Jeff did with the GoDaddy Pro brand, and we look forward to his contributions to our business strategy and product development as we focus on fulfilling the hosting needs for small to medium businesses and the designers, developers, and agencies that create for them,” said Liquid Web CEO Jim Geiger. “Jeff’s appointment to our board signifies Liquid Web’s continued dedication to serving businesses that are born in and dependent on the cloud and web to deliver products and services to the masses.”

Most recently, King held the title of senior vice president and general manager of hosting and security at GoDaddy. In this position, King oversaw the hosting and security business unit. King is also an affiliate of the Webb Investment Network, which provides entrepreneurs with assistance across all areas of the startup lifecycle. The group’s dedication to investing in companies that use technology to improve the way the world operates, cements not only King’s passion for the industry, but also his belief that the right technology can make or break a business.

“I am excited to join Liquid Web and be part of a team with such a stellar reputation for customer service and is focused on helping web professionals that require managed hosting needs,” King said. “With its 20 years of industry experience, Liquid Web is a proven leader in managed web hosting. I look forward to helping expand its portfolio and showcasing the individuals that power their incredible customer service experience, which takes the hassle out of hosting and allows customers to focus on growing their businesses.”

Jeff’s vast experience in driving product teams has made him an invaluable resource to some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, and over the course of his career he has held leadership positions at eBay, Magento, Cybersource/Visa, and Sun Microsystems. He lives in California with his wife of 17 years and his two daughters. Outside the office, you can find Jeff traveling with his family or climbing the Santa Cruz mountains on his bike.

 

About Liquid Web

Liquid Web powers content, commerce and potential for SMB entrepreneurs and the designers, developers and digital agencies who create for them. The $100 million web hosting and cloud services provider known for its high- performance services and exceptional customer support delivers reliable, highly-available, secure and hassle-free hosting backed with a human touch. Liquid Web offers a broad portfolio designed so customers can choose a hosting solution that is hands-on or hands-off or a hybrid of the two. The company owns and manages its own data centers, providing a diverse range of offerings spanning from bare metal servers and fully managed hosting to managed WordPress and continues to evolve its service offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of its web-reliant, professional customers. With over 30,000 customers spanning 150 countries, the company has assembled a world-class team, global data centers and an expert group of 24/7/365 solution engineers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies for the last ten years. Liquid Web is part of the Madison Dearborn Partners family of companies. Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC (“MDP”) is a leading private equity investment firm based in Chicago. For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or read our blog posts at http://www.liquidweb.com/blog. Stay up to date with all Liquid Web events on Twitter and LinkedIn.

*2016 Net Promoter Score of 71

Media Contacts:
Liz Pandzich
Phone: 248-304-1444
Email: pandzich@airfoilgroup.com

Terry Trout
Email: ttrout@liquidweb.com

The Five Habits Of Highly Effective Sysadmins

Often, the best way to improve is to study people who’ve already got things figured out. So today, let’s do that – let’s take a look at what all the best sysadmins seem to have in common.

We can always be better, and we should always be looking to improve ourselves. One of the best ways to achieve that is by looking to our superiors – by looking at how some of the best people in our field conduct themselves. Because inevitably, they all have traits they share in common.

Sysadmins are no different. That is why today, we are going to go over some of the habits and practices that make the difference between a good administrator and a great one. How many of them do you follow?

1. They Are Cautious and Disciplined

Do you avoid using root privileges except when absolutely necessary? Do you bother to review what you have entered in the command line before executing it? Do you have a regimen of commands that you enter each time you login, and a set of statistics that you consistently examine each day?

The best sysadmins will answer ‘yes’ to all of the above.

2. They Are Masters Of Prioritization

As a sysadmin, you should eventually develop a sixth sense for whether or not a particular task is more urgent than what you are currently working on. But you should also learn to go beyond that. You should:

  • Automate all non-trivial processes and tasks, such as data backups.
  • Run as few processes and services as possible, disabling anything your systems do not use or need.
  • Develop effective workflow management techniques
  • Work in a way that allows them to immediately move from one task to a higher-priority one without losing progress.

3. They Monitor, Measure, Record, and Document

As a sysadmin, you should always have an ear to the ground where your business’s systems are concerned. Monitor everything, and maintain by-the-minute records of your data – though you should also prioritize the information that is most relevant to you, like disk space or CPU usage. I would highly recommend investing in a graphing tool that will allow you to visualize the data you are recording.

Additionally, document every task you perform, and read your logfiles.

effective sysadmins

4. They Ask “What If?”

A skilled sysadmin knows that their job is never done. They know that even if everything seems to be working as intended, that is often simply the calm before the storm. Software will crash. Their business will suffer a cyberattack. Hardware will fail.

Alright, perhaps I am exaggerating. At the same time, good sysadmins have a plan in mind for every worst-case scenario.

They know exactly how to respond if their organization suffers a DDoS attack, and exactly what to do if one of their servers fails. They have installed security protections that include malware detection and a strong firewall.

And they are always considering – and planning for – new troubles their business’s infrastructure might encounter.

5. They Communicate

The days when the IT department stood as an island from the rest of their organization are long behind us. As an administrator, it is your job to manage your business’s people as much as its systems. You need to be able to work with the people around you, and the best way to do that is by learning how to effectively communicate.

 

Be Effective

So, were you already familiar with the best practices outlined here? If so, great – you are well on your way to becoming an incredible sysadmin. And if not, now you know what you need to do to improve.

Because at the end of the day, everyone should strive to be better at what they do.

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.”

ransomware-2320793_1920

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.

Press Release: Liquid Web Outperforms Competition Across Web Hosting and Cloud Service Platforms Delivering Faster, Better User Experiences

Liquid Web’s Server-Side Performance Tops Amazon, Rackspace and DigitalOcean

LANSING, Mich. – May 17, 2017 – A study by performance analyst firm Cloud Spectator finds that Liquid Web LLC, a $100 million managed hosting provider, beats rivals Amazon, Rackspace and DigitalOcean when it comes to website and cloud application performance. Liquid Web’s virtual machines (VMs) exhibit faster processing and disk speeds, while performing more transactions and sustaining more requests per second.
Continue reading “Press Release: Liquid Web Outperforms Competition Across Web Hosting and Cloud Service Platforms Delivering Faster, Better User Experiences”

CEO Jim Geiger on the Impact of Web Hosting on Small Businesses

No matter the size of your business, having a strong web presence is necessary. That sentiment was repeated by nearly 80% of small and medium business owners in our recent study – and that makes choosing your web host even more critical. Liquid Web’s CEO, Jim Geiger, recently wrote an article for SmallBizTechnology.com that discussed the most important factors small and medium-sized businesses should take into account when choosing a web host.

“With an increasing number of businesses betting their success on their web presence and cloud reliant technologies, it is troubling to see the percentage that make this critical business decision based on price alone,” Geiger explained. “It can be a costly mistake, especially for businesses that can’t afford downtime, slow site performance or security breaches.”

Continue reading “CEO Jim Geiger on the Impact of Web Hosting on Small Businesses”

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”

Press Release: ‘We’re Not Done Yet’: Liquid Web Brings Innovation Back to Managed WordPress Hosting

New visual comparison tool and automatic SSL address customer needs and pain points

LANSING, Mich. – April 18, 2017 – Liquid Web, a $100 million managed hosting provider focused on web-dependent professionals, brings innovation back to the world of managed WordPress hosting with the addition of a new visual comparison tool, automatic SSL and other capabilities expected to benefit customers. Continue reading “Press Release: ‘We’re Not Done Yet’: Liquid Web Brings Innovation Back to Managed WordPress Hosting”

Three Ways DDoS Attacks Are Evolving In 2017

Three Ways DDoS Attacks Are Evolving in 2017
The distributed denial of service attack is one of the oldest criminal activities on the web, a distinction it shares with ransomware. In spite of its age, however, DDoS attacks have weathered the years surprisingly well .The reason for that is quite simple – even though at its core, every DDoS attack does the same thing (overwhelms a target with fraudulent requests), DDoS attacks as a whole have evolved significantly over the past decades.

And 2017 saw some of the most significant evolutions yet. Continue reading “Three Ways DDoS Attacks Are Evolving In 2017”