Industry Buzz

6 Tips to Boost Your Twitter Conversations

Social Media Examiner -

Are you struggling to build an engaging Twitter community? Do you want to lead relevant conversations, but aren’t sure where to begin? Standard auto-tweets aren’t going to cut it. Your top priority should be creating helpful, authentic interactions. In this article I’ll tell you six ways you can start Twitter conversations and keep your followers’ [...]This post 6 Tips to Boost Your Twitter Conversations first appeared on Social Media Examiner. Social Media Examiner - Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

3 Ways to Use Humor to Keep Your Audience Coming Back

Social Media Examiner -

Is humor part of your brand’s personality? Do you wonder if it should be? When humor fits with your brand’s online identity, it can be a powerful social media tool. In this article I’ll show you examples of three ways you can use humor to grab attention. Define Your Online Tone Humor is an excellent [...]This post 3 Ways to Use Humor to Keep Your Audience Coming Back first appeared on Social Media Examiner. Social Media Examiner - Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Dharavi CAN – My Experience

HostGator India Blog -

  I am writing a blog piece for the first time, I just wish, i’m able to do justice to its cause. This is all about Project “Dharavi CAN”, but before I tell you about that, let me introduce you to  the place – Dharavi. If you simply type Dharavi in ‘Search’, the immediate answer you get is ‘Slum area’ and It’s true! It is probably Asia’s largest slum area in suburban, Mumbai – The commercial capital of India. But is it just a Slum? Well, you’ll get to know. ‘Dharavi CAN’ an initiative where Ulhaas foundation, a Mumbai based NGO and HostGator India, one of India’s largest web-solutions company, envisioned providing a basic website presence to those thousands of un-imagined and unnoticed but successfully thriving businesses in Dharavi. This attempt was to make them realize the promise and potential of web and what it can do to grow their business. I arrived Mumbai, on the evening of 25th April. A little apprehensive, little overwhelmed and overall naïve, about how Dharavi would welcome me. How the activity will go. Next morning , Prashanth, the Trustee of Ulhaas foundation picked me up and we started journeying towards Dharavi. Somehow I found the morning view of Mumbai – beautiful, yet a little too sunny. To my amazement, everything at the venue was planned beautifully. The place – Ganesh Vidya mandir welcomed us with huge banners as a backdrop and steering volunteers. I was excited to see over 60 volunteers all geared up to join our stride in making a dent in the universe. We addressed the team, spoke to them about the activity, why are we doing it and how would attempts like these augment the bigger goal of building a sustainable and thriving web ecosystem in India. After about 10 minutes of talk, the volunteers were clear on what all they had to do. Fully armed and excited, we started storming the streets of Dharavi. This was to start a journey that aimed to change perspective and brighten lives. All the volunteers were divided into 8 teams, 4 members in each. 1 member from each team was carrying camera to capture every approach, they also carried the giveaways for business owners; Books, Pens and Promotional pamphlet to complement our efforts. The first business we addressed was a leather products manufacturer. The owner of the business, Rahim almost agreed in no time to get a website for his own business. Fully aware about online shopping websites, he has always had a dream to have one of his own. Rahim even offered us cold drinks, gave all the required business details that we needed to take the business online. Having similar and varied experiences, we covered Dharavi over a period of two days. In this initiative we met some real interesting people like Mr Chandra who earns a six digit monthly income from his business, the most famous potter in Dharavi whose clay-work mostly adores the million dollar farmhouses of Mumbai. They all had one thing in common, their love for Dharavi. It felt as if their identity had somehow melted in to the ghettos and the by-lanes of Dharavi. Beyond this they could not see any hope. It was almost evening now and on the back seat of a two-wheeler I started my way back. With some most profound experiences and the contentment of having touched so many lives. As I raised my last view towards Dharavi I had a very satisfying view, which is hard to express here. All the businesses we were passing by had HostGator logo which daringly said ‘ NOW ONLINE’. This was the promise we made and somewhere fulfilled it. Now sitting and looking back at everything its hard to tell what all did we achieve. We touched over 1100 micro/small businesses, gave basic online presence to most of them. But what we truly achieved is not in numbers. We made some difference to lives, it was not just a website for these people, it was their sense of hope, it was a belief which would connect them to the Outside world, it was a bolstering confidence that ‘DHARAVI CAN’.  

How to Stop Spam – (effective spam filtering service)

Pickaweb Blog -

What is Spam and what can we do about it? Spam is unsolicited bulk email. Spam makes up around 88–92% of all emails sent. Its a massive worldwide problem. How much is spam costing you? How much time do your employees waste deleting spam emails? Just 5 minutes a day over a year is a […]The post How to Stop Spam – (effective spam filtering service) appeared first on Small Business Marketing, Domain Names & Web Hosting Blog | Pickaweb.

Announcing: Retiring the Typepad Community on Get Satisfaction

Everything Typepad -

Over the years, the Typepad community on Get Satisfaction has been a great place to ask questions, get answers, and suggest features to us, but most of all, it's been a great place for you to talk with your fellow Typepad fans and help each other out. Over time, though, participation has shifted away from the forum to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and since we always want to be where the action is, the time has come to retire the Get Satisfaction community, effective May 6, 2014. We want to let you know that your input, assistance, and participation has been an integral part of our community's success over the years. We all appreciate your work as an extended part of the Typepad team. There are still many opportunities for you to participate in the Typepad community, from starting and contributing to conversations in the comments here on Everything Typepad, to tweeting about #Typepad and @ replying to other Typepad bloggers, to commenting on our Facebook Page. If you ever need help with anything, you can open a Help ticket in your Dashboard, email us at support@typepad.com, or tweet to us directly @Typepad. We hope you'll continue to be an active part of the Typepad community - or become one, if you haven't been in the past! Have questions? We want to hear from you, so let's start a discussion in the comments!

CloudU Sponsors Open BigCloud And Open Compute Project Workshop

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Is more better? Not always, but when it comes to more industry leaders contributing to the CloudU Big Data Massive Open Online Course (MOOC); more is definitely better. As CloudU continues to extend its reach beyond its online presence, the program will sponsor the first ever Open BigCloud and Open Compute Project (OCP) Workshop at The University of Texas in San Antonio (UTSA). The event will take place Wednesday, May 7 and Thursday, May 8 on the UTSA campus. This event will bring together the brightest minds in academia and industry to discuss the future of cloud computing and big data. It’s truly the best of both worlds. The list of speakers includes Rackspace, Facebook, MIT, AMD, Dell and Notre Dame. The two-day event is by invitation only, but CloudU has a front-row seat. If you’re a registered CloudU user, you’ll have a seat too because these sessions will be recorded and available with the launch of the CloudU Big Data MOOC in June 2014. It’s no coincidence that CloudU chose to sponsor this event. UTSA and Rackspace, CloudU’s sponsor, are both located in San Antonio. UTSA is also the home to the first Open Compute Certification and Solution Laboratory in North America. UTSA and the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Taiwan are the first designees in the world with an Open Compute Certification and Solution Laboratory. One of the highlights of the symposium for UTSA is the official grand opening of the laboratory. While we’re on campus, we’ll take a tour of this amazing facility and take a look at some of the exciting research taking place there. If you’re wondering if this tour will be available on CloudU, the answer is yes. The Big Data MOOC will have more videos, more industry insights and more contributors. In this case, more is better. See you on campus!

Seven Ways to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Content Marketing Strategy

Bluehost Blog -

Engaging customers through content marketing just makes sense. But doing so the right way is good business. Understanding the effectiveness of your efforts isn’t difficult, it simply takes a judicious application of knowledge, temperance, and context. In this post, we’re outlining seven ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. Ask Your Readers Ultimately, readership is where the rubber meets the road and since perception is the name of the game, gleaning customer insight is a key step in determining marketing effectiveness. The caveat is that soliciting feedback is likely to be the least voluminous analytical method, so methods of collection will need to be thorough and effective. Fortunately, the means by which feedback can be obtained are bountiful in the age of the Internet. Services like PollDaddy lay on the less formal end of the spectrum with quick responses and rapid litmus tests of reader sentiment. More robust solutions like SurveyMonkey offer extensive customization options including answer randomization and multiple responses. But the first step is simply to query your customers. Asking is essential when few customers are forthcoming outside of negative circumstances. Look at Links Content marketing is created with one thing in mind: currying of positive brand association through quality, shared pieces. What’s integral to this picture is the sharing aspect. Content that goes un-spread through cyberspace lives in an echo chamber. For this reason, paying attention to volumes of inbound links can help gage content effectiveness. The added bonus? Inbound linking improves search engine rankings, which increases visibility and penetration. Look for the Right Combination It could be argued that, “you know (good marketing) when you see it.” Good content combines a number of features that, in aggregate, create an “it” factor of sorts. Tim Riches at Futurebrand coined this confluence of aspects the “Golden Thread”. Involving a connection of business objective, consumer insight, marketing strategy, creativity, execution, and results, the combination speaks to an understanding of reader wishes and effective branding in a way that carries effectiveness. Leverage Analytics With the dawn of Big Data, analytics are reaching into business practices in new ways. Marketing, on the other hand, has made use of this kind of statistical intelligence for quite some time. The difference is that now, more robust metrics offer greater and more useful insights. Obtaining this data can come in many forms. Using Buffer to publish on social media collects records of interaction activity. Google Analytics has a suite of numbers, including click-through, bounce rate, average duration of visit, and goal conversion. In the process, however, avoid “vanity metrics” like Twitter followers and Facebook likes. These numbers may look rosy, but social media users are capable of astounding passivity in their “activity”. Remember Context It’s essential to remember the circumstances of your business. At any given time, your content, social media channels, products, and ROI are subject to forces beyond your control. When looking at your data, temper your excitement or disappointment with knowledge of your operating environment. Doing so can keep you from pushing content that happened to hit a fad until the wheels fall off and will save the baby from the bathwater when chucking “failed” efforts. Understand Responses Reactions to your content are likely to be varied, but understanding your goals and basing your expectations on that basis is essential to content creation efforts. When attempting to garner positive brand sentiment, Facebook likes and Instagram approval represent effective engagement. This is because content tailored toward this goal should espouse the values your organization wishes to be associated with, which means a little positive feedback is enough. For content designed to build customer perception, shares should be your goal. This is because users are more likely to share pieces that share their personal values. Gaging reaction is essential, but gaging reaction in the context of goals is paramount. Observe Your Timeline With newer business blogs or less developed brands, effective content marketing takes time to gain traction. Blogs in particular rely on organic traffic that is built on a combination of volume and inbound links. Each of these take time to build and expecting more than you should may misdirect your efforts. Simply observe the little victories and set reasonable standards for growth over time in order to effectively craft your marketing material. The “magic” of content marketing lies in its ability to engage customers in new and dynamic ways, but understanding the effectiveness of your efforts is simple sense. Query your readers and pay attention to community responses to tailor content. Use your analytics and keep those numbers in the context of your business circumstances. Understand reactions to your content, especially on social media, and keep reasonable expectations for growth over time. Doing these things will not only give meaning to the garbled picture of feedback, but also provide a rudder for uncharted waters. The post Seven Ways to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Message Attributes for the Amazon Simple Queue Service

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Way back in November of 2004 I wrote that "The Simple Queue Service offers a reliable, highly scalable hosted queue for buffering messages between distributed application components." In the intervening years, we have enhanced SQS with additional features, while keeping in mind that "Simple" is part of the product's name and appeal. Some of the most important additions include support for a dead letter queue, support for 256 KB payloads, Simple Notification Service integration, long polling, batch operations, a delay queue, and timers, and CloudWatch metrics. Today we are enhancing SQS once again, with support for message attributes. You can use these attributes to pass name/value pairs to your application in addition to the unstructured, uninterpreted content in the message body.

How Cloud Computing will Revolutionize the Mobile Internet

Web Hosting Industry Review (WHIR) / Web Hosting Talk -

Ericsson manages global, distributed network infrastructure on a scale few can imagine, and it is transitioning to 5G services that require new cloud architectures. To build this cloud platform, Ericsson chose a carrier-grade OpenStack distribution from Mirantis for virtualizing its network infrastructure in what is thought to be one of the largest OpenStack licensing deals yet.

Top 10 Considerations for Selecting the Perfect WordPress Theme

1&1 Online Success Center -

Over 2,500 free themes are available in the WordPress library and thousands more premium themes can be purchased from various marketplaces. With this in mind, it can be quite time consuming and often overwhelming to choose just one. An easy way to narrow down the possibilities is to have a clear vision of what qualities and features are required for the project. Here are our top 10 recommendations to consider before embarking on your search for the perfect WordPress theme: Purpose of your project – The most important consideration for choosing a theme is what you hope to achieve with the site. Some of the most common WordPress creations are blogs, business websites, eCommerce sites, personal websites, landing pages, portfolios, and galleries. Keeping this in mind, you will find it easy to narrow down the possibilities of themes that ideally fit the purpose of your project. Features – The perfect features are, of course, also dependent on the purpose of your site. Whether it is text or images, certain themes will cater to specific content. Consider features such as the number of page templates, widget areas, post formats, custom headers and backgrounds before settling on a theme. Design & Layout – Choosing a theme that is attractive and optimally displays your content in a logical way is important to the success of your website. Some questions to ask yourself: How many columns should appear on the site? How are images featured? Colors – Not all themes are available in every color. For businesses and organizations, the color palate is an integral component of successful branding. By coordinating with the image style of existing logos and marketing material, your Web presence will exude professionalism. Site Navigation – A logical navigation will help your website visitors find their way around your site. The complexity of the navigation should reflect the type and amount of content and enable visitors to easily discover what they are looking for. Anticipate what is most important for your visitors and choose a theme that features appropriate navigation options. Budget – Depending on your needs, a theme created by an independent developer might be the best option. Premium themes are available for a fee. In addition to having more possibilities for customization, a great benefit to using a premium theme is the ability to get support from the developer regarding any issues or questions you may have. Technical Skills – Can you edit the theme by yourself and will you need to edit it? Many themes have built-in configuration options for the most common settings. Others, however, require coding to make adjustments. Experience in HTML, CSS or PHP coding could be necessary for customization. Browser Compatibility – Your website visitors’ browser preference will affect how the site appears and functions, which is why it is important to be aware and prepared to accommodate these users. The most popular browsers are Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. Choosing a theme that is compatible with all major browsers will ensure a consistent user experience. Responsive & Mobile Friendly – Ideally, your website will adjust to various different screen sizes and resolutions. It is estimated that 68% of the American population will be using smartphones by 2017. A theme that displays favorably when viewed on mobile devices is essential for online success. Recent Updates – Choose a theme that was recently released or updated. This ensures compatibility with the most recent version of WordPress and thus improves the security and functionality of your site. Occasionally, themes are abandoned by their developers. To reduce this risk, choose a theme that is less than three years old and ensure that it has been updated within the last year. With all of this information in-hand, you will be prepared to find an ideal theme. Furthermore, the amount of time needed to dedicate to this endeavor is significantly reduced. Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/inbj

Curb election spending with a .DEMOCRAT

Name.com Blog -

The easy sell here is that with $7 billion spent during the 2012 Presidential election, then what’s $34.99 for a .DEMOCRAT domain name?  But the truth is that only a very small percentage of candidates have even a thousand bucks—let alone a BILLION—to spend on their campaigns, so before you drop a single dime, make sure you’ve got the right domain and the right website. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again (without even wincing): a good domain name is the best marketing tool money can buy. That makes a bad domain quite the opposite. You’ve probably seen it before: the expensive ad that leads up to a totally non-remarkable and not-a-all memorable website “scottmohoganyforcongress.com.” Thank goodness for widescreen TVs. Now you can get the domain name you really want AND let people know who you are. Get your campaign started the right way today with a .DEMOCRAT from name.com. Oh, you can pre-register your .REPUBLICAN now, too. More on how to leverage that coming soon.

1&1 Launches Fully Managed MyWebsite Service

1&1 Online Success Center -

Small business owners lacking the resources to maintain a professional Web presence can now take advantage of a new product extension from 1&1 Internet. 1&1 MyWebsite Maintained-by-Experts is a managed website service where knowledgeable and experienced Web professionals from 1&1 can help businesses manage their website. With this service, the experts at 1&1 perform all of the necessary site setups and design changes on a daily basis for small business owners. They also provide customer support and expert advice on managing an online presence. This allows for business owners to properly manage their busy schedules, knowing that the website will be taken care of and managed by Web experts at an affordable cost. The Maintained-by-Experts service provides business owners with an attractively designed website that is specific to their industry. By having a robust website created for them, owners can focus on more important areas of their businesses while trusting that their customers are benefitting from a professional and results-driven website. The 1&1 MyWebsite Maintained-by-Experts service starts at just $49.99/month for the Basic package, (with a one-time set-up fee of $49.99). This package delivers all essential website and service elements to bolster an impressive Web presence.  The Plus package, at $69.99/month, does not include a set-up fee. In addition to the benefits of the Basic, the Plus package adds in email configuration and search engine optimization (SEO) success reports. Finally, the Pro package, at $99.99/month (no set-up fee), includes the benefits listed before with additional advanced elements such as ListLocal set-up, consultations for newsletter distribution, set-up for an Online Store, and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The Web Experts at 1&1 Internet have many years of experience, and the resources of a complete suite of eBusiness solutions to help businesses increase visibility, build traffic, encourage interaction, manage prospects and sell goods. To find out more about this new service, visit http://website.1and1.com/mywebsite-by-experts.

Top 10 Considerations for Selecting the Perfect WordPress Theme

1&1 Online Success Center -

Over 2,500 free themes are available in the WordPress library and thousands more premium themes can be purchased from various marketplaces. With this in mind, it can be quite time consuming and often overwhelming to choose just one. An easy way to narrow down the possibilities is to have a clear vision of what qualities and features are required for the project. Here are our top 10 recommendations to consider before embarking on your search for the perfect WordPress theme: Purpose of your project – The most important consideration for choosing a theme is what you hope to achieve with the site. Some of the most common WordPress creations are blogs, business websites, eCommerce sites, personal websites, landing pages, portfolios, and galleries. Keeping this in mind, you will find it easy to narrow down the possibilities of themes that ideally fit the purpose of your project. Features – The perfect features are, of course, also dependent on the purpose of your site. Whether it is text or images, certain themes will cater to specific content. Consider features such as the number of page templates, widget areas, post formats, custom headers and backgrounds before settling on a theme. Design & Layout – Choosing a theme that is attractive and optimally displays your content in a logical way is important to the success of your website. Some questions to ask yourself: How many columns should appear on the site? How are images featured? Colors – Not all themes are available in every color. For businesses and organizations, the color palate is an integral component of successful branding. By coordinating with the image style of existing logos and marketing material, your Web presence will exude professionalism. Site Navigation – A logical navigation will help your website visitors find their way around your site. The complexity of the navigation should reflect the type and amount of content and enable visitors to easily discover what they are looking for. Anticipate what is most important for your visitors and choose a theme that features appropriate navigation options. Budget – Depending on your needs, a theme created by an independent developer might be the best option. Premium themes are available for a fee. In addition to having more possibilities for customization, a great benefit to using a premium theme is the ability to get support from the developer regarding any issues or questions you may have. Technical Skills – Can you edit the theme by yourself and will you need to edit it? Many themes have built-in configuration options for the most common settings. Others, however, require coding to make adjustments. Experience in HTML, CSS or PHP coding could be necessary for customization. Browser Compatibility – Your website visitors’ browser preference will affect how the site appears and functions, which is why it is important to be aware and prepared to accommodate these users. The most popular browsers are Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. Choosing a theme that is compatible with all major browsers will ensure a consistent user experience. Responsive & Mobile Friendly – Ideally, your website will adjust to various different screen sizes and resolutions. It is estimated that 68% of the American population will be using smartphones by 2017. A theme that displays favorably when viewed on mobile devices is essential for online success. Recent Updates – Choose a theme that was recently released or updated. This ensures compatibility with the most recent version of WordPress and thus improves the security and functionality of your site. Occasionally, themes are abandoned by their developers. To reduce this risk, choose a theme that is less than three years old and ensure that it has been updated within the last year. With all of this information in-hand, you will be prepared to find an ideal theme. Furthermore, the amount of time needed to dedicate to this endeavor is significantly reduced.

1&1 Launches Fully Managed Service with MyWebsite Maintained by Experts

1&1 Online Success Center -

Small business owners lacking the resources to maintain a professional Web presence can now take advantage of a new product extension from 1&1 Internet. 1&1 MyWebsite Maintained-by-Experts is a managed website service where knowledgeable and experienced Web professionals from 1&1 can help businesses manage their website. With this service, the experts at 1&1 perform all of the necessary site setups and design changes on a daily basis for small business owners. They also provide customer support and expert advice on managing an online presence. This allows for business owners to properly manage their busy schedules, knowing that the website will be taken care of and managed by Web experts at an affordable cost. The Maintained-by-Experts service provides business owners with an attractively designed website that is specific to their industry. By having a robust website created for them, owners can focus on more important areas of their businesses while trusting that their customers are benefitting from a professional and results-driven website. The 1&1 MyWebsite Maintained-by-Experts service starts at just $49.99/month for the Basic package, (with a one-time set-up fee of $49.99). This package delivers all essential website and service elements to bolster an impressive Web presence.  The Plus package, at $69.99/month, does not include a set-up fee. In addition to the benefits of the Basic, the Plus package adds in email configuration and search engine optimization (SEO) success reports. Finally, the Pro package, at $99.99/month (no set-up fee), includes the benefits listed before with additional advanced elements such as ListLocal set-up, consultations for newsletter distribution, set-up for an Online Store, and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The Web Experts at 1&1 Internet have many years of experience, and the resources of a complete suite of eBusiness solutions to help businesses increase visibility, build traffic, encourage interaction, manage prospects and sell goods. To find out more about this new service, visit http://website.1and1.com/mywebsite-by-experts.

Building A Disaster Recovery Solution Using Site Recovery Manager Part 1: Planning

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

VMware® vCenter™ Site Recovery Manager™ is used to orchestrate the failover of a group of virtual machines (VMs) from one location to another. It’s a really useful tool to have in your arsenal to tackle the daunting task of disaster recovery (DR), especially if you take a little time to plan for how and when it will be used. What apps should you recover? Starting to plan for DR is hard because it’s difficult to know where to begin. Best practices recommend starting with a list of all applications and their integrations. I say list every application you have—from large-footprint, heavy hitters to those quietly running on a single server in the corner. You may rediscover some you forgot because they run in the background. Once you have a complete list, decide which are essential apps for your DR plan. Don’t be afraid to leave some apps that you consider essential during normal business operations off the list. Why? Because in a real disaster, you probably won’t need to bring up an app used to inventory new office equipment. Where and how should you recover apps? When you have an idea of what apps you want to recover, you need to know where you’re going to recover them. If you have a second data center, you could use that as your DR location. If you don’t operate two data centers, you’ll need to lease colocation (CoLo) space or engage with a service provider like Rackspace. How do you decide? Your biggest consideration in choosing CoLo or a service provider is whether you want to run Active/Active. You may want to run everything this way, but it can be cost prohibitive. At a minimum, you’ll need to run your vCenter and Site Recovery Manager servers, as well as their supporting services such as single sign-on or SQL as Active/Active. In a perfect world, you would have enough resources on-premises and off-premises to run 100 percent of everything, leaving 50 percent idle hardware during normal operations. But if cost is an issue, choosing a service provider and using Site Recovery Manager is a better option than CoLo because you can establish an Active/Passive setup where the target data center is a scaled down version of your production environment. A service provider can save you hardware, power and cooling costs, and in a disaster, you can operate at 75 percent of normal capacity. You can also use idle hardware for development or quality-control work because Site Recovery Manager is smart enough to suspend VMs in the DR environment during a disaster. VMs are suspended, not shut down, making it easy for your developers to get back to work when the VMs are restored. I purchased Site Recovery Manager. Now what? Site Recovery Manager is a great orchestration tool. Planning to use it from the start is smart because Site Recovery Manager really helps you determine what’s in scope and what’s out of scope, and it’s good at what it does. Site Recovery Manager can handle bringing up lots of VMs, in a specific order, with specific dependencies. It can even go as far as booting VMware hosts from standby and suspending non-critical VMs at the recovery site. That being said, some vendors don’t officially support running workloads on Site Recovery Manager. We know it’s no different than power cycling a running physical server, but you don’t want to end up in a situation where your software vendor won’t support you. Why don’t some apps support Site Recovery Manager? Even if you have Site Recovery Manager, some of your apps may not be completely covered in the event of a disaster. This can be frustrating, but until apps are fully tested, vendors aren’t sure how they will behave. If an application has its own native replication (e.g., Microsoft Active Directory, SQL, Exchange, etc.), you’re better off using it than placing these apps on Site Recovery Manager. Native replication is tested and supported. Active Directory requires lots of thought, especially around proper testing. Microsoft says not to use Site Recovery Manager for a Domain Controller, but says to clone into your test network for testing. Sound odd? I know, Microsoft almost never says clone a data center, but this is one situation where it’s recommended, as long as you destroy the clone when you are done. How should I run Site Recovery Manager? The best thing to do is have a separate management VMware cluster at both locations where your vCenter and SRM servers will reside. This cluster would house all integrations, too, like the database server, VMware’s SSO, VMware Update Manager, etc. You need your vCenter and SRM server to run in an Active/Active configuration so they’re both online 24/7/365 (except in a disaster, of courseJ). You’ll also want to make sure you’ve enabled both High Availability (HA) and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) on the vSphere cluster so you can tolerate a host failure. A disaster can come in many forms, even bad RAM in your host running your vCenter server. If you can’t do dedicated management clusters for your vCenter and SRM servers and their corresponding services, you can put them in any vSphere HA/DRS cluster, just make sure they have dedicated resources. This can be done through individual VM shares or reservations, or by creating a Resource Pool. Both ways work, and it is up to you how you want to tackle that one, but the last thing you want is your vCenter and SRM server to not have enough physical resources during a DR failover. You’ll also want to make sure they’re not on an SRM-protected datastore, that’d be additional replication traffic you don’t need. Once your primary site comes back online, the vCenter managing that site will come back online, too. How does Site Recovery Manager handle networking? A huge hurdle when running Site Recovery Manager recovery plans is networking. Ideally, you’ll want to span your VLANs so you can failover the VMs without any network configuration changes. If you can’t have your VLANs span data centers, you can designate fail-to port groups in vCenter Server backed by the same IP subnets as the source site. This is the hard part because if you run Active/Active, that DR site’s router won’t want to forward traffic. Of course, you can do policy NATs or remove the interfaces from the router so the DR site network forwards to the correct site. You can also use Site Recovery Manager to change the in-guest IP during failover. It has some GUI functionality on a per-VM basis. However, dr-ip-customizer.exe, a nifty tool with Site Recovery Manager, can manage all of your VMs in Site Recovery Manager. A CSV file is required for mass import, but the tool can export your list of VMs so all you have to do is change the IP and reimport. Testing your Site Recovery Manager recovery plans can be tricky. In the recovery plan, you can designate different destination networks for test versus recovery. The default testing action is to create what some call a “bubble network” for test VMs. Site Recovery Manager automatically creates a VMware vNetwork Standard Switch (vSS) with generic port groups on each host to validate replication is working and the VMs can power on. This is okay if you want to simply validate that portion and completely isolate the test VMs. Communication between VMs across different hosts will be blocked though as the vSS and associated port groups won’t have any physical NICs backing them. I recommend taking your testing further and either have the test mode use your production networks or have designated test networks place the VMs. This way you can test actual integrations. There are lots of things to consider with testing, which I’ll cover in a future post. What about storage? Sizing your storage appropriately with Site Recovery Manager can also be challenging. You’ll want a 1:1 storage footprint—it’s not something you can scale down. If you have 100TB of protected VM data, then you’ll need 100TB of usable storage at the DR site. However, with EMC RecoverPoint there is additional overhead required for the journal LUN. EMC recommends 20 percent, but you need to understand how the journal LUN is used during testing because a journal LUN that’s too small can cause your test VMs to fail or replication to stop, forcing a rescan. You’ll also need to tweak the settings to meet your recovery point objective requirements. NetApp SnapMirror works well, too, but if you set an inadequate frequency, it may not be able to keep up. How often should you test your recovery plans? You’ll want to test recovery plans regularly. This is where properly sized journal LUNs and network design are crucial. You don’t want the journal to fill up nor do you want a test Windows server talking to Active Directory and inadvertently changing its machine password on a production data center. That would cause your current production Windows server to be out of sync and not authenticate, which wouldn’t be good. What about documentation? Now that you’ve examined everything, you should document every application. By document, I mean put together descriptions with full application diagrams showing all integrations; communication paths and ports; sizing and number of servers; storage—EVERYTHING. Document it in detail! You probably had some idea of dependencies or which apps you wanted up and running first, but this may cause you to reevaluate priority to make sure certain services start first. That’s okay, it’s a good thing to find out now before a disaster occurs, and you may need to be a little flexible. In diagraming, Tier 0 may be your authentication services, the base of everything. Tier 1 could be data providers or application backends required by the majority of your Tier 2 apps. Tier 3 could simply be reporting or patching services not needed immediately following a disaster. If you use Visio, maybe have page one showing actual deployment, then a second page showing the proposed DR solution and a third page showing future growth, or even the test, development or quality-control environments. A DR review board may be useful as auditors of all of your applications. I spent a year doing these reviews and can vouch for their value. Reviews will help you in the long run as an architect because you’ll have a clear picture of integrations and how to deploy new applications. You’ll quickly become versed in all aspects of your business so it can be invaluable. Some of this is non-linear because you won’t have a 100 percent clear picture of storage and networking requirements until you have all of your application diagrams reviewed. Have a plan for storage and networking, but quickly refine the details as you learn more about your environment. It’s important to understand this exercise might take months to complete, maybe even a year, but it’s worth it. Not only that, because your environment is constantly changing, your information and recovery plans need to change with it. Having good information is key, junk in is junk out. You can’t architect the proper solution if you don’t have a clear picture of your entire environment. You’ve got everything you need. Now what? Your next step is to architect the proper Site Recovery Manager solution. If you have good data, this part should be easy. The next post in this Site Recovery Manager series will focus on architecting a solid DR solution. Before I forget!! You can catch me at the following VMUG User Conferences: May 15, 2014: Philadelphia – Event Details and Registration June 24, 2014: Boston – Event Details and Registration September 16, 2014: Dallas/Fort Worth – Event Details September 24, 2014:   Southern California – watch VMUG.com for upcoming details Ongoing in the San Antonio area: Keep an eye on our VMUG Workspace for any upcoming VMUG meetings!

Hackers Use Basic Skills in Advanced Persistent Threat Attacks

Web Hosting Industry Review (WHIR) / Web Hosting Talk -

Despite the perception that attacks require advanced knowledge and skill, a new report by Imperva finds that at least some techniques attributed to Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) really only require basic skills. Attacks examined utilized weaknesses of the Microsoft NTLM protocol, Windows skills and readily available software. Imperva released its…

New Themes Are Here! Introducing Journey and Clean Lines

The Weebly Blog -

Today we are pleased to introduce Journey and Clean Lines, the first in a series of exciting new themes scheduled for release over the next few weeks. We hope these new themes will inspire you to do even more with your website, blog or online store. The themes themselves represent several different trends in modern web design – but they all share one goal – to showcase and celebrate your unique voice.  Journey A light and fresh theme that lets your content take center stage, Journey’s full width header image keeps visitors immersed in your message. The subtle navy and light blue color palette ensures that your content appears crisp and professional. You can give Journey a spin right now by switching themes. Clean Lines This universal theme is designed to support your content with elegant and subtle visual elements. With three separate sets of black and white palettes you can leverage Clean Lines’ minimalism and mold this theme into your own individual style. Clean Lines is available in your Site Editor under Design > Change Theme.Did You Try One? You Could Win a Prize!If you update your site with either Journey or Clean Lines you’re immediately eligible to enter our next Before & After Contest. All you have to do is fill out the form located in this blog post!Just like the first Before & After contest, which featured some amazing winners, the rules are simple: Use the form below to upload a screenshot of your site before and a screenshot of your site after an update with Journey or Clean Lines. Don’t forget to include your site URL! The winner will receive a free year of Weebly Pro, limited-edition Weebly schwag, and a dedicated blog post showcasing their work. Before and After Contest: Journey and Clean Lines Name * First Last Before Image * Max file size: 20MB After Image * Max file size: 20MB Site URL * Submit We hope these new themes give you the inspiration to update your site, or even start something completely new. Look for more releases over the next few weeks and don’t forget to share your feedback on the new themes with us in the comments.

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