HIPAA Heroin Epidemic Problem & Healthcare Startup Private Hosting Platform Solution – 2 Real World Scenarios

HIPAA misunderstanding joke

As providers of HIPAA compliant hosting infrastructures, we publish as much information as we possibly can to help healthcare companies understand the law and find appropriate solutions, whether with us or another company. Along with describing this information generally on our site, we also publish Real World Scenario articles (such as this one) on our blog, allowing customers to see compliance in example real-life interactions between our representatives and customers.

However, there is also a compelling story in the news – as of NBC News yesterday – regarding problems related to patient privacy and developing strong plans of action to understand drug abuse. That cultural issue generally relates to the topic of HIPAA and its Privacy Rule, so we will explore it before transcribing a HIPAA private hosting case study.

Police complain about healthcare privacy laws

Police departments are having difficulty targeting drug abuse, particularly that of heroin, because they can’t access overdose data. The heroin epidemic has been escalating for the last ten years, according to police officers at a conference on illegal street drugs that convened on Wednesday, April 16, in the American capital.

The event was an inaugural effort by the Police Executive Research Forum to spread ideas and concerns related to drug abuse prevention. The message that was delivered repeatedly at the event was that OD information has become scarce in the US, with healthcare laws such as HIPAA to blame. One speaker, an active police professional, stated that the only way he could get access to autopsy information was through a subpoena.

The Chief of Police in Philadelphia noted that personal identity was not the concern. What was needed was the general data so that police officers could better understand local trends. Growing concern over drug deaths within the law enforcement community is not misplaced: Center for Disease Control (CDC) data reveals that fatalities related to ODs has more than doubled since the turn of the millennium, with a 102% rise between 1999 and 2010. Heroin and other opioid compounds – such as those in Oxycontin and Oxycodone – have been responsible for many of the deaths.

Representatives of the DC Medical Examiner and the NYPD argued that what was needed was a real-time system to provide health data to police officers nationwide. An application called Compstat, undoubtedly based on a cloud model for speed and affordability, provides data on related crimes to officers, so they can have relevant information immediately and perform investigations much more rapidly and effectively.

Although many officers feel that HIPAA and similar consumer protections are standing in the way of their ability to forecast crime patterns, some officials are adapting their approaches to get access to drug location information indirectly. The police in DC are using GPS technology in combination with naloxone (a common first-responder treatment intended to avoid an overdose) administration location data to determine central OD areas.

Private HIPAA Compliant Solution for Startup

Consultant: Welcome to Atlantic.Net. Please tell us about your hosting needs.

Client: We are working on a healthcare startup and would like to know how much your HIPAA compliant hosting solutions cost.

Consultant: We can build any size of HIPAA compliant platform, but the smallest HIPAA compliant package that we can offer is attached, in the form of a pricing proposal. We have also attached a copy of our Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for your review.

The hosting platform consists of the following components that are required in order to be HIPAA compliant:

  1. Private Hosting Platform (No shared resources)
  2. Fully Managed Hardware Firewall with encrypted VPN’s
  3. Fully Managed Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
  4. Fully Managed Daily Backup
  5. SSL Certificate.

Please contact us if you have any questions after you review our proposal (below).

PROPOSAL FOR Private HIPAA Hosting Platform

  • 12 Month / 24 Month
  • Fully Managed Hardware Firewall w/ 5 VPN’s
  • Intrusion Detection System / Log Management
  • Private Hosting Platform
  • Windows Standard 2008 R2 64 Bit
  • Core I3 – 3220 3.3 Ghz Dual Core w/HT 8
  • GB of RAM (expandable to 32 GB)
  • 2 X 500 GB SATA 3 Black RAID 1 – LSI 9240 RAID Card
  • Multi-Homed bandwidth
  • 10 TB of Monthly Data Transfer
  • 100 Mbps Port
  • Fully Managed Daily Backup
  • SSL Certificate
  • 8 IPs ( included)
  • 100% Uptime SLA
  • 24 X 7 X 365 Live Technical Support by Phone or Email.

 

Client: Great. Thanks for the information. I will share it with my partners and proceed accordingly.

Consultant: Thank you for contacting Atlantic.Net. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

Viable, cost-effective solutions

Those in the healthcare field may experience HIPAA frustrations, as do those in law enforcement. However, compliance does not have to be stressful or confusing. Work with a hosting provider that has the knowledge you need to assist you without any unforeseen difficulties: Atlantic.Net. With five years of healthcare regulatory experience and twenty years in business, we have the expertise any client demands so that their patients are protected, as is their bottom line.

By Brett Haines

VPS Hosting Without Borders

RAID humor

The United States is at the forefront of technological development, but nations around the world – even developing countries – are experiencing major shifts made possible by a wide range of computing breakthroughs. In fact, some nations that have never been fully connected with phone service have been able to jump over the landline era and go straight into wide usage of cell phones. Hosting bring similar technological possibilities to the entire world.

Specifically in terms of hosting, because of the security and stability in the United States, many companies abroad choose to use an American-based solution. Storing the infrastructure that runs one’s site and business technologically at a data center in “the states” allows businesses to have great safety and reliability, while gaining easier access (faster load times, better SEO) to customers throughout the US.

Globalization means that all areas of the world are, in a certain sense, becoming local to us. Whether you are in Brazil, India, Finland, or Japan, US-based VPS hosting runs 24/7. Even when you are sleeping, your business is working for you while people in other countries are awake. Globalization is a broad concept, but the implications specific to the cloud – and VPS servers in the cloud – are particularly intriguing.

Why is a VPS so often used? The virtual private server, or VPS (a server created using virtualization technology), has become a staple of the hosting industry because it’s a cost-effective way to get similar (in some cases nearly identical) power and control to dedicated servers, without having to pick out and maintain hardware. Let’s look at how VPS hosting, the cloud, and globalization are intertwined to understand how working with a US-based hosting service might be the right choice for a business located elsewhere.

The cloud and globalization of computing

It’s not an accident that cloud technology is becoming so widespread internationally. We all know how important scalability is, and some of us have experienced frustrations created by growing “too quickly” – as can frequently happen with server infrastructures.

Cloud computing and hosting offer the opportunity for a business to grow technologically in the smoothest and simplest possible way. You don’t hit a resource cap with the cloud – whether for storage room, bandwidth, or any potential limitation – because more devices are utilized. You are no longer “stuck” within one machine or set of machines, at the mercy of the parameters allowed by those servers. Cloud also optimizes speed and performance because the work load is distributed, so it’s unlikely that your infrastructure will experience strain.

Globalization is involved with the cloud because everything is available through the web. A company’s IT system can exist in another country from its headquarters, or in various countries. Author Thomas Friedman has described the globalization process as delivering an increased access worldwide to information and resources, which is exactly what is involved with cloud hosting and VPS servers in the cloud.

Server maintenance also does not have to be conducted at the same physical location, in many cases. Engineers employed to service cloud environments can be located in other countries as well, which is good and bad – that aspect reduces operating expenses but can mean job loss in the countries where the servers are located. Either way, you can see how the cloud has impacts not just for technology and businesses, but for people around the world as well.

Popularity of the United States for hosting & bigger possibilities

The United States is chosen by most American companies for web hosting, but also by many organizations worldwide. In fact, the performance monitoring company Pingdom conducted analysis in 2012, using Alexa and its own software, to determine locations of servers for the top 1 million websites. More than 2 out of every 5 sites in that group were hosted in the United States, upwards of 430,000 of them. Amazingly, the US was more than five times higher than any other nation; with Germany coming in second, followed by China and the UK.

Pingdom conducted the study via an analysis of big data, checking and statistically processing IP addresses for all of those sites. Notably, because big data offers such incredible possibilities for businesses to better understand user behavior, and interaction with and within their own systems, cloud hosting and VPS in the cloud are frequently used to conduct analyses such as this.

As our own Brett Haines described in a guest post for the Cloud Advisory Council, Dr. Michael Cunningham of Seattle was able to analyze data related to the childhood disease craniosynostosis, a study that would not have been possible prior to the advent of the cloud (because all the data was stored in the cloud, allowing the physician to take advantage of resources beyond the scope of his hospital’s physical infrastructure).

You can see why cloud and VPS in the cloud are extremely popular for hosting. The United States has firmly embraced these models due to increased efficiency and scalability, and web hosting services operating in the US offer high-level security and stability to ensure safe operation and strong performance. Atlantic.Net offers VPS in the cloud, via our SSAE 16 (SOC 1) TYPE II (Formerly SAS 70) certified datacenter in Orlando, Florida.

By Kent Roberts

Test IP Address to Gauge Cloud VPS Speed – A Real World Scenario

SSD speed joke

It’s sometimes difficult for customers of hosting services to determine which plans and companies will best meet their needs. This challenge has become more pronounced in the era of virtual private servers (VPS’s) and cloud computing. Although distributed virtualization has strongly positive attributes – speed, reliability, redundancy, cost-effectiveness, etc. – it also can be unclear exactly what you are getting.

We feel that one of the best ways to use a blog is to draw on customer questions and turn individual conversations into education for a broad audience. That way we are answering common concerns, while always respecting the privacy and sensitivity of any information stated during interaction. We call the series of articles that is derived from our specific user communications “Real World Scenarios” (RWS).

In this installment of RWS, we look at speed as a factor for customers. Why is speed important? How do you determine the speed of a hosting environment? Let’s look at the issue both broadly and then in the context of an actual interaction between our hosting consultant and a client.

Why speed is critical for websites

There are two basic reasons and one more complex reason why speed is crucial if you want to succeed with your site. Basic reasons:

  1. The data reason – Your prominence on the search engines is determined, in part, by how fast it loads.
  2. The human reason (Part A) – One of the top considerations of anyone who wants to optimize their site should be user experience (UX). Slow load times cause frustration, and that means poor UX and rapid flight from your site to one that won’t feel like it’s wasting the user’s time. Put another way, the people visiting your site like feeling control. Waiting for a site to load can make a person feel like they are stuck in the technological vortex.

Complex reason:

  1. The human reason (Part B) – Our attention spans and memories are shorter and less reliable than we like to think. When we wait, the data in our short-term memories starts to deteriorate, and we become less capable of meaningfully connecting what we are experiencing. That’s the essential argument offered by Jakob Nielsen, PhD, of the Nielsen Norman Group, and it makes sense.

How to test a live site

There are numerous tools online to determine the speed of your site in its current setting. One of the most reliable ones is through Google. Go to Webmaster Tools > Other Resources > PageSpeed Insights. You’ll get a score from 1 to 100, along with notes on why your site is slower than it could be and recommendations to optimize it.

That’s for testing speed of a live site, though. Things get trickier when you want to test the speed of a hosting service before you sign on as a client. The below discussion details a customer that is concerned with speed, along with the tool we recommend to showcase the strong performance of our network.

Request to test a cloud VPS system

Client: Hi, do you guys accept Visa debit cards?

Consultant: Yes, we do.

Client: Okay. I think I want to rent the XSmall package. Before I do that, though, I need to test one of the sites currently running on this type of server.

Consultant: We do not provide free trials. You can create a server under the hourly rate. When you have finished your test, you can delete it. You will only be charged for the hours you have it online. We use 100% SSDs (solid state drives), which exhibit up to 100 times the speed of standard HDDs (hard disk drives).

Client: Can you please give me the URL of a website currently running on your $4.97 per month server?

Consultant: Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with information on any of the customers that use our data center. However, your response time should be comparable to this test link.

Client: Great. Just one second. Let me test it right now, if that’s OK.

Consultant: Sure, let me know when you are finished.

Client: OK, it looks good.

Consultant: Our smallest plan currently costs as low as $3.65 a month. I would recommend signing up for that plan (XXSmall Linux), due to the low cost associated with the service. That way you can test it while only incurring a small fee.

Client: I appreciate it. Actually, I’m going to go ahead with the XSmall. I know I’m going to need those extra resources, and the speed looks fine. Thank you!

Consultant: Thank you for using Atlantic.Net. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

SSD cloud VPS through Atlantic.Net

If you are interested in any of our cloud VPS packages, you can take advantage of our publicly available speed testing. If you choose us for your hosting needs, you will get access to live consultants 24/7, exhibiting the same expertise and courtesy experienced by the client above.

By Kent Roberts

HIPAA Web/Database Hosting Solution – A Real World Scenario

HIPAA humor PHI

Healthcare companies must be in full compliance with federal regulations in order to avoid fines. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains law applicable to the handling of protected health information (PHI) by healthcare plans, clearinghouses, and practices. Title II of the act includes a Privacy Rule and Security Rule, which are of special concern to covered entities when working with business associates – such as web hosting companies – on their IT architectures.

Along with the general information we provide elsewhere on our site related to the act, we have previously reviewed requests for legal healthcare solutions in our Real World Scenario series. This series shares common situations experienced by our customers: we provide dialogues based on actual interactions between our hosting consultants and clients. The below installment will explore an additional HIPAA request, to provide a further sense of the attainment of a 100% compliant system.

HIPAA hosting solution Q & A

Client: Hello, I need to obtain a price quote on a web/database platform that will be HIPAA compliant and support the following resources:

Web Server

  • Windows 2008 R2
  • 1 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • Drive 1 – minimum 60GB HD
  • Drive 2 – minimum 100GB HD
  • SSL Certificate.

Database Server

  • Windows 2008 R2
  • 1 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • Drive 1 – minimum 60GB HD
  • Drive 2 – minimum 100GB HD
  • SQL Server 2008 R2.

Disaster Recovery

  • Web/Database Server
  • Windows 2008 R2
  • 1 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • Drive 1 – minimum 60GB HD
  • Drive 2 – minimum 100GB HD
  • SSL Certificate
  • SQL Server 2008 R2.

Consultant: Thank you for contacting Atlantic.Net. The only questions we have are as follows:

  1. Will you be providing the SQL license?
  2. Will you be providing the SSL certificate?

Client: Yes, we have a license for the SQL Server. We do not have an active SSL certificate, though. Please include one in the plan you are recommending.

Consultant: Attached, you will find our formal proposal. Note that the SQL license is not included, but an SSL certificate is. We have also attached a document detailing our hardware firewall and intrusion detection system (IDS), along with a copy of our business associate agreement (BAA) for your review. Here are the highlights of our proposal:

  1. Windows Enterprise 2008 R2 Operating System – which will allow for the creation of up to (4) virtual machines, one more than you require
  2. Dual Core i3-3220 processor with Hyperthreading (which will provide you with 4 virtual cores to work with for the VM’s) / 32 GB of Ram / 1 TB of RAIDed Storage Space
  3. Fully Managed Hardware Firewall w/ 5 encrypted VPN’s
  4. Intrusion Detection System with Log Management
  5. Fully Managed Daily Backup – files / database / VM snapshots
  6. 3220 3.3 Ghz Dual Core w/HT 32 GB of RAM – 2 X 1TB
  7. SATA 3 Black RAID 1
  8. LSI 9240 RAID Card 1
  9. 10 TB of Monthly Data Transfer
  10. 100 Mbps Port Multi-Homed Bandwidth
  11. SSL Certificate
  12. 16 IP’s
  13. Private Hosting Platform
  14. Mail
  15. 24 X 7 X 365 Live Technical Support by Phone or Email
  16. 100 % uptime SLA on all of the services we are providing
  17. Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for HIPAA compliance (based on the inclusion of all the hosting components we have listed)
  18. 12- and 24-month term pricing.

Please let us know if anything needs clarified or you have any further questions.

Client: I’ve noticed that you have SSAE 16 (SOC 1) Type II certification listed as one of your HIPAA attributes. How is that relevant to healthcare computing?

Consultant: That certification is from the Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE), the protocols and parameters of which are designed and revised by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It’s a set of auditing guidelines that verifies the integrity of our infrastructure and the mechanisms in place to avoid breach and/or corruption. It generally validates our security.

Client: Okay, I’m also just curious what type of SSL certificate you will purchase and install on our behalf.

Consultant: We use GeoTrust. A 2010 Netcraft survey revealed that SSL certificates provided by GeoTrust are used more than any other brand among the Alexa 1 million (the 1 million sites that receive the most unique visits annually). GeoTrust QuickSSL Premium certificates are also backed by a $500,000 USD warranty.

Client: Thank you for the assistance. I have submitted the BAA to our lawyer and will reach out to you as I know more.

Affordable solutions for healthcare IT

The necessity of healthcare organizations to achieve HIPAA compliance requires specialized care from a hosting service. In business for two decades and serving medical organizations with their regulatory concerns for five years, Atlantic.Net has the experience to meet your needs so that your patients’ PHI data remain secure and private at all times.

By Kent Roberts; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

Bring My Chicken Kebab From the Cloud: A Real World Scenario

cloud food

Cloud computing represents a fundamental technological shift. By allowing businesses to cut costs while enhancing the speed of their systems, the distributed virtualization strategy is being put to use in manifold ways. In academic settings, large datasets are being calculated in short windows of time, allowing researchers to perform analyses that previously were financially unfeasible. In manufacturing, the Industrial Internet is underway, with thousands of sensors facilitating real-time monitoring in production plants. In medicine, misdiagnosis is becoming less common for cancer patients, with doctors cross-checking images of similar biopsies in moments.

These advancements have become possible in part due to optimized speed, which makes the technology compelling to all businesses. As described below, hospitality companies have started taking advantage of cloud-hosted applications to expedite ordering and payment processes.

Typically our “Real World Scenario” series explores interactions between clients and our hosting consultants: questions are answered regarding a company’s search for a new IT environment. However, this installment was inspired by a small restaurant we discovered that is taking advantage of distributed virtualization, enhancing the experience of every customer who walks through its door.

“Servers” in two different fields – a personal story

I recently visited Ahmed Indian Restaurant in Orlando, Florida. The chicken tikka masala and fried fish were outstanding, and I am looking forward to going back to explore the rest of their menu. However, since I am in the information technology field, I was also intrigued by the restaurant’s computing system.

I have been interested in restaurant IT because, in the past, I have found myself accidentally and humorously in competition with the food and beverage industry. In my company, we host servers (i.e., server computers). We have had to adjust pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns so that people searching for “restaurant server” and “restaurant host” information aren’t errantly delivered the ads for our site.

Similarly, we ran into difficulty when developing language for a billboard at one point. We were considering the simple message, “Server Hosting Since 1994.” That slogan was scrapped out of concern that we might come across as a restaurant or catering company.

Those two bits of marketing confusion I’ve experienced have helped me relate to restaurants in terms of online presence within the search engines. However, what I was noticing during this visit to the restaurant had to do with their use of distributed virtualization across a number of mobile devices.

Restaurant’s use of cloud app on mobile devices

Cloud computing has greatly expanded the number of mobile applications, allowing significant enhancements in performance so that feature-rich programs can operate quickly. To take advantage of this technology, Ahmed Indian Restaurant uses a point-of-sale (POS) software that syncs data across all devices, so that information is updated simultaneously.

I spoke with the owner of the restaurant about the benefits of the system they are using. The following dialogue is based off of that conversation.

Me: What’s the system you are using here?

Restaurant Owner: The cloud-based software we use is called POSLavu. It is a software, specifically designed for restaurants, that runs on Apple mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones. All of the devices, and all of the transmissions conducted by them, are synced within our Wi-Fi network.

Me: How does it benefit your business?

Restaurant Owner: For one thing, it makes payment easier. We have the option to charge customers at the table if they are paying with a credit card. They can sign the iPad on the spot and automatically be emailed a receipt. Plus, since we have a number of iPads, we can perform multiple customer checkouts at the same time, rather than having people wait for other checkouts to process.

Me: I assume it helps with ordering too.

Restaurant Owner: Yes, that process is also expedited. The order goes directly from the table to the kitchen, sent through the Wi-Fi by the software. Just like with paying, there is no waiting in line to punch in orders because all the servers have their own individual devices.

Me: Are there any other benefits you’ve seen with your customer interactions?

Restaurant Owner: Yes, we can customize the menu by uploading an image for each item. If a customer wants to see how a certain dish looks, we can show them the picture.

Me: What about administrative tools?

Restaurant Owner: We have back-end access, so we can look at reports for weekly and monthly sales – organized by item, server, and a number of other variables. It gives us a better sense of the popularity of our menu offerings and how well servers are doing over time.

Me: Is this system cost-effective?

Restaurant Owner: The system itself is reasonably priced, and it’s also reduced our credit card processing fees.
***
The IT approach at Ahmed Indian Restaurant is now more customer-friendly, and administrative capabilities have been strengthened as well. Applications such as POSLavu often reside on high-speed servers such as our cloud VPS environments. Atlantic.Net has optimized mobile app hosting solutions for any size business and any situation. Both independent restaurants and chains are taking advantage of our hosting solutions for increased efficiency.

By Moazzam Adnan; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

Why Use FreeBSD for Your SSD Cloud VPS Hosting? 10 Reasons

married to a VPS

When people consider operating systems for their hosting environments, the two most common choices are Windows and Linux. However, another OS has been steadily gaining traction since its initial development in 1993.

FreeBSD, like Linux, is a spinoff of the UNIX® operating system. The benefits of the former OS are similar to those of the latter one. Both have proven popular because they are free and open source. Because there are no licensing fees with either one, they are cost-effective. Because they are open source, they are built optimized for freedom and flexibility. Also, their popularity – in conjunction with their backing by the open source community – has generated vast networks of support on forums and elsewhere.

The lesser-known operating system, though, offers particular benefits that have prompted some users to prefer it over the various Linux distributions.

What is FreeBSD?

It is an OS that is primarily concerned with three elements of computing: stability, performance, and functionality. It is a variation of BSD, which was developed at the University of California – Berkeley and distributed by the institution’s Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) from 1977 to 1995. The operating system, like Linux, is developed on a community basis, by a broad pool of users.

10 Benefits of FreeBSD

Specific advantages of the operating system – garnered by comments from its users – include the following:

1. Community

This OS is centered, first and foremost, on its community. Although corporations use the operating system and, at times, assist with its development, the integrity of the community approach is maintained at all times. Interaction occurs between veteran and rookie users on forums and through Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Advice is dispersed through email newsletters as well. A Core Team is elected by the community for monitoring and management, but it mostly resolves conflicts between developers rather than steering the direction of the OS.

2. Stability

When people talk about stability in an operating system, they often simply mean that it is unlikely to crash. This OS goes beyond that expectation. When you upgrade the software, you don’t have to do the same for users. The appearance is never changed for aesthetic purposes; instead, it is adapted when there is a strong argument for making changes. Any new version of the OS is capable of running code from previous versions as well. All aspects of the system and kernel are developed as one package to avoid upgrading difficulties.

3. Collaboration

FreeBSD was one of the first operating systems to adopt the LLVM infrastructure. A number of developers within the community also contribute to LLVM, making both projects stronger and more integrated. Outgrowths of the OS, including the desktop offering PC-BSD and the firewall pfSense, are created in collaboration with the most recent operating system version as well.

4. Ease-of-use

Every service contains a script that activates and deactivates it. The OS includes a file with simple commands for initiation and configuration of various primary services. You can immediately know what services are enabled as the OS starts to run. The system understands the relationship between various services and will run them simultaneously or independently, as best fits the situation.

5. Ports

You have full access to a library of independent applications. If the community is in disagreement about the latest versions of certain programs, you are able to choose which version you want. Unlike some competitive operating systems, there is a set folder for independently developed applications, making it simple to clean a server of any and all installations as desired.

6. Security

Several of the security components of this operating system include the following:

  • Jails are components of the OS that allow you to run an application without affecting anything else on your system.
  • Mandatory Access Control makes it possible to determine limitations of control for all resources.
  • Capsicum allows you to isolate privileges so that potential negative effects of maliciously altered script are minimized.

7. ZFS

This volume manager makes it significantly easier to perform a wide variety of tasks – from the creation of clones to deduplication to compression – without having to know the size of the relevant partitions. You can experiment with ZFS without fear of the end results: just generate a snapshot: If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome, it’s plain and simple to undo your efforts.

8. GEOM

This tool enables robust storage within FreeBSD. With GEOM, you can use two servers for redundancy and reliability, adjusting your RAID configuration as desired.

9. Sound

You can mix sound quickly and accurately, with volume that can be adjusted within any program you run.

10. Options

This OS is open and completely prepared for extensions, such as KDE or GNOME. You can run it through a serial port, with full configuration capabilities. You can install whatever desktop you want as well.

***

FreeBSD offers an operating system, through a community-driven model, that serves as a strong alternative to Linux. Also free and open source, the OS is known for its stability, ease-of-use, security, and collaboration with various third-party applications. Contact us now to get started with your FreeBSD hosting environment today.

By Kent Roberts; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

How Good Can an Article Be if It Cannot Be Seen? Make Your Site Faster

0 to 60 server speed test

Everyone knows how critical high-quality content has become to building and maintaining a strong Google presence. However, optimizing your site for the search engines is not just about the words or images you use. It’s also about user experience, particularly speed. Obviously improving the performance of your site will have the added benefit of increasing engagement and conversions.

A number of simple tactics can be implemented to make your site faster. With a faster site, your content can realize its true value. You won’t risk alienating your users with slow load times. Ideally the traffic that experiences your content can also be impressed with how rapidly it is delivered. Although many individuals won’t understand the technology, the end result is a sense that you respect the time of your visitors.

Tip #1 – Test Your Site’s Speed

First, it’s good to know the current speed of your site so you have a sense of the work that lies ahead. Here are a couple Google tools you can use to do so:

  • Site Speed – Using this feature within Analytics (under the Content section), you can determine how quickly your site performs based on geographical location, browser, and page; and
  • PageSpeed Insights – This tool ranks the speed of your site on a scale of 1 to 100, as well as providing ideas to enhance its performance broken into various levels of priority.

Tip #2 – Implement Caching

By using caching, you can vastly improve your site’s performance by decreasing the frequency with which a user’s device needs to access the server. Web developer Steven Lee uses the analogy of a refrigerator to explain caching. If you go to the refrigerator and don’t see any food, you have to go out to the store to get some. A refrigerator can store food in the same way that a browser can store data. Just as storing food in your fridge makes meal preparation more efficient, storing content in browser caches makes Internet usage more efficient.

You want to make sure that your hosting environment has caching enabled. Once it is set up, you then want to be certain that all aspects of your site expire after certain timespans. By determining an expiration point, you make sure that a cache does not retain the same data in perpetuity. The expiration will relate to the time that each user originally accesses the content. For resources that update frequently, set the cache lower than for content that you expect will generally remain static.

Tip #3 – Optimize Java

According to the independent resource site JavaWorld, there are four primary forms of JavaScript optimization. These techniques can be critical to speeding up your site, because Java can sometimes cause latency issues for users. The basic ways to improve your JavaScript for a faster website include the following:

  • Strength reduction – Revision of the code that replaces any slow operations with speedier ones;
  • Common sub expression elimination – Removal of any computation redundancies;
  • Code motion – Change in the position of any code if its result only changes under certain conditions, so that it won’t execute unless it’s possible that the result will be different.
  • Unrolling loops – Reducing the number of times executions must occur by revising loops to include multiple operations.

Tip #4 – Using a Parallel Server

You can also speed up your site by running a second server in parallel to your main server. The addition of a parallel server is similar to a strategy called parallel processing, and it can help incredibly with delivering visual content to your users at a fast pace. While parallel processing breaks complex sets of data into component parts that it then processes at the same time, a parallel server can specifically be used for videos and images so that your main server is not strained with that content.

Tip #5 – Optimize Images

Images, especially if you have more than one per page, can be a major factor affecting your site’s speed. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple ways to optimize them so that they load more quickly:

  • You want them all to be in one of three formats – GIF (for small, basic images with a maximum of 256 colors), PNG (for uncomplicated images that contain over 256 hues), or JPEG (for complicated, professional-quality images).
  • Make your images smaller using Microsoft Paint or Microsoft Office Picture Manager, rather than adjusting size within WordPress. If you adjust once the image is already loaded into your CMS (content management system), the server will load the image at full-size before loading it at the reduced size, actually slowing down your site.
  • Use an image compression tool.
  • Remove unnecessary bytes from images via Smush.it.

We know how fundamentally important speed is to success online – not just for happy users but for happy search engines as well. We want you to do everything you can to speed up your site, but we can help you on our end as well. Speed-test us now to experience our commitment to delivering your website rapidly worldwide.

By Moazzam Adnan; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

Securing PHI for Behavioral Healthcare Organizations – A Real World Scenario

government compliance joke

Our site shares a large amount of information with medical companies about finding viable HIPAA hosting and infrastructural solutions. We’ve found that the general information we provide meets the needs of many businesses. However, it also assists many professionals to be able to get a feel for the process through specific situations.

Our Real World Scenario series serves this function. Through this series, we show actual discussions between our hosting consultants and clients as they get their questions answered about our services. In this installment, a web developer works with our representative to determine the best solution for securing protected health information (PHI) of behavioral healthcare firms within a HIPAA-compliant environment.

The basics: HIPAA, PHI, and behavioral healthcare

Before we look at an individual interaction related to these issues, it will help to establish an understanding of the basic terms we are using.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 safeguards the medical records of patients, with a special focus on electronic medical records (EMR). The three basic categories of organizations that must meet the specifications of the law include healthcare practitioners, plans, and clearinghouses.

All data that must meet the HIPAA requirements is referred to as protected health information (PHI). PHI includes demographics, medical history, tests, insurance details, and all other data that healthcare companies compile from patient documents, equipment, and practitioner observation.

HIPAA places guidelines on the scope of protected health information that medical organizations can acquire, the extent to which it can be shared, and its usability for marketing purposes. PHI has to be fully accessible to the patient, who also has the right to correct any errors in the data. It cannot be sold except in situations which involve government projects or the sale of an entire healthcare organization.

Behavioral healthcare is a multidisciplinary area of medicine that focuses on the mental and emotional state of the individual. Many people use it synonymously with the terms psychological healthcare or mental healthcare. Practitioners in this field understand the behaviors of a patient – called biobehavioral interactions within the specialty – as indications of the health of a patient’s mind.

HIPAA Compliant Behavioral Healthcare Solution

The following is the interaction between our hosting consultant and a client in need of an IT environment for their PHI.

Consultant: Tell us about your hosting needs.

Client: I need an architecture for a Windows Forms SQL app for use by a behavioral healthcare company. I have a client with four locations that wants to go this route over the traditional MPLS or hardware VPN combined with a local server.

Consultant: One of our hosting specialties is HIPAA compliance and the protection of PHI. The only way we can create a network of this type is to host the SQL server in our data center. Each location would then be connected to the SQL server through an Encrypted VPN. The hosting platform would be HIPAA compliant, and we would issue a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for the hosting services.

In order to provide you with a proposal, we require the following information:

  1. How much Total Storage Space do you require for the data?
  2. What version of MSSQL do you require?

Client: We would need a minimum of 20GB of storage, and the MSSQL could be 2008 or above.
Consultant: The smallest HIPAA compliant hosting platform that we have available includes 500 GB of Storage Space. I have attached the formal proposal along with a copy of the Business Associate Agreement for your review. Please submit the SQL license, and we can then load it for you. We are not allowed by Microsoft to resell their licenses; it is also less expensive for you to purchase it outright than to lease it from us. Below are the highlights of the proposal:

1.) Windows Standard 2008 R2 64 Bit Operating System

2.) Dual Core I3-3220 Processor w/HT / 8 GB of Ram / 500 GB of RAID Storage

  • Core I3
  • 3220 3.3 GHz Dual Core w/HT
  • 8 GB of RAM (expandable to 32 GB)
  • 2 X 500 GB SATA 3 Black Raid 1
  • LSI 9240 RAID Card – 10 TB  of Monthly Data Transfer, 100 Mbps Port

3 ) Fully Managed Hardware Firewall with ( 5 ) managed VPN’s

4 ) Intrusion Detection System with Log Monitoring and Management

5 ) Fully Managed Daily Backup

6 ) 100% Uptime SLA

7 ) 24 X 7 X 365 Live Technical Support by phone / email

8 ) SSAE 16 SOC II Data Center

9 ) Anti-Virus Protection

10 ) SSL Certificate.

Client: Excellent. I will get the Business Associate Agreement to my client immediately and be in touch once I hear back from them. Thank you for the assistance.

Consultant: Let us know if you have any additional questions. Have a great day.

As indicated by the above interaction, Atlantic.Net is well prepared for those in need of HIPAA compliant server hosting. We have been in business for two decades, with a five-year track record helping companies fulfill the parameters of healthcare regulations.

By Brett Haines; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

20 Steps to Make Your Content Rank Higher on Search Engines & Increase Conversions – Part 3

monkeys creating content

<< PREVIOUS

The below is the final segment of our tripartite exploration of general website optimization. Specifically, this series is interested in strong search engine rankings to drive traffic, as well as conversion optimization once visitors arrive on your site. Here are the final elements of our 20 tips to build and maintain your prominence online:

#15. Develop more sophisticated tactics for user relevance.

An active business has huge amounts of data related to what its users want to know. It’s just a matter of taking the questions that customers have and using that information to build your content.

Integrate your content creation process with user requests. Work closely with your customer service team. Develop a list of top questions that are asked of your representatives, related to both sales and support. Address any common questions and concerns on your blog or elsewhere on your site. For example, we utilize frequent customer situations in our Real World Scenario series.

#16. Create mini-webs.

Remember that great content should not just be isolated to your blog. In fact, organizing your site in meaningful ways can be tremendously helpful to site visitors. Generate “mini-webs” specific to each part of your site or aspect of your business.

Websites are in a sense all about organization that can be accessed from many different points of entry. In order for your site to be helpful for every user, you need to make sure no one feels like they are reading the last chapter of a book without grounding in the overarching plot.

You really want your site to be set up in the same manner as an outline for easy use. If you have four distinct service offerings, divide them into four separate themes. One of those themes should be dominant, the most central and representative of your brand.

An example – to use the book idea in another context – is if you are selling books. You have four main categories: fiction, adventure, drama, and history. Your URLs should be established as follows:

  • www.yourwebsite.com/fiction
  • www.yourwebsite.com/adventure
  • www.yourwebsite.com/drama
  • www.yourwebsite.com/history

These aspects of your business, represented by sections of your site, can then be used to create subpages within each section or mini-web, as follows:

  • www.yourwebsite.com/fiction/title-of-fiction-book
  • www.yourwebsite.com/adventure/title-of-adventure-book
  • www.yourwebsite.com/drama/title-of-drama-book
  • www.yourwebsite.com/history/title-of-history-book

#17. Use a look that is self-tested.

Of course you want to place your focus primarily on the customer. However, you are also a web user, and your perspective can be incredibly valuable when shaping your site. Use a design and layout that is attractive and simple to understand to you, that optimizes your own sense of engagement. It should be easy to interact with your site and visually appealing (both in terms of usability and general aesthetics).

Specifically, consider larger fonts. Mashable recently used this tactic, generally increasing its font sizes to enhance readability.

#18. Broaden your options.

You may feel that you have a niche site or are up against heavy-hitter competition that disallows you from accessing large groups of people. That isn’t the case if you think strategically. Open up your possibilities for greater streams of traffic by seeking keywords that have significant volume. Don’t focus your efforts only on keywords that are in the thousands. Target ones that receive millions of searches as well.

#19. Narrow your options.

Obviously you can’t just go after the keywords that are the most popular, unless you are the dominant force in your industry. Amazon has the market on the “books” keyword well-cornered, for instance. Perform competitive research, and pick battles that you have a solid chance of winning.

#20. Share.

Of course writing and publishing content is only one side of success with it. In order to make sure it’s read by as many people as possible, share it through various channels. It’s of no use if no one is reading it.

Social – Spread the word through your social media accounts. You can use Facebook Ads as a cost-effective approach, with targeting specific to gender, geography, interests, and other parameters. Twitter now has a retargeting service called Tailored Audiences; Google+ both integrates search with social and offers +Post ads. Don’t forget LinkedIn; and add your badges and images to Pinterest as well. Be ready to answer any questions from potential customers.

Email – Email newsletters have always been popular. Your fresh content is a great way to engage your user base so they can Like pieces and provide social signals for your business.

Pay-per-click – PPC campaigns via Google, Yahoo!, and Bing – if they are well researched and coordinated, resulting in an effective creative advertising mien – can deliver huge amounts of traffic.

Syndication – Yahoo! has developed a content syndication network, on a pay-per-click model, where your content appears on the main Yahoo! page.

Conclusion

Content marketing has become a major piece of success in online business. However, you first have to drive the traffic to your site through the search engines and other available methods. Using the tactics in this series, you can engage users both off and on your site to optimize conversions and build your business.

This piece serves as a part of our own user engagement: with 20 years in business, Atlantic.Net is the trusted choice for thousands of companies to host their IT environments, featuring innovative and secure SSD cloud VPS plans.

By Moazzam Adnan; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

HIPAA Compliant Hosting for a Web Application – A Real World Scenario (Continued)

Comic: comparison of PHI to phi (the golden ratio)

<<< PREVIOUS

This interaction between a hosting consultant and client, a two-part installment of our “Real World Scenario” series, continues from the previous post. The client is getting answers to questions regarding a HIPAA compliant application environment.

Client: Our maximum number of users initially will not exceed 200 – we expect there to be very few users at the outset.

Consultant: This system will be able to handle 200 users with no problem and most likely twice that amount, depending how much total Storage Space you will require in the future. It is simple to add more Storage Space when you need it.

Client: Per our limited understanding of HIPAA, we expect that separate servers for the data (SQL) and the web server will be necessary (but correct us if that is not the case).

Consultant: You will have separate servers, but they will be set up as Virtual Machines on one physical server.

Client: We also understand that an SSL certificate is required on the web server for the web service and web application to encrypt data at the transport layer.

Consultant: That’s correct. We have included pricing for the SSL certificate. The certificate is $150.00. $125.00 of it is the annual fee for the certificate, and $25.00 is a setup fee. We use GeoTrust to provide the SSL certificate, but if you want to use someone else and can find better pricing, you are welcome to provide your own SSL. Either way, we will install the SSL certificate for you.

Client: Do we need to use Transparent Data Encryption on the database? Or do you believe that the server on which our SQL Server database resides will already be sufficiently protected with regard to HIPAA?

Consultant: We are unable to answer this question, because we are unaware of what security protocols your company has in place for their applications, databases, and systems. The majority of our clients do not use TDE on their DBs.

Client: What kind of connections/transactions should we track for the purposes of HIPAA? How much tracking can be done through the host’s provided system, and how much should be done through our own application code?

Consultant: We provide logs that are necessary for the devices within our HIPAA compliant systems.  However, we are unable to answer the question completely, because we do not have complete knowledge of your specific application. Please supply us with more information on your systems, and we will provide specific information that fits your needs.

These are the highlights of our proposal, and what we have proposed is the least expensive solution we can provide that will meet your requirements. HIPAA requires all of below components in order to host in a HIPAA compliant environment:

  1. Fully Managed Hardware Firewall with Intrusion Detection and Log Management / Log Monitoring. Also ( 5 ) encrypted managed VPN’s
  2. Fully Managed Daily Backup for all files and databases
  3. Private Server Hardware with 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB of Storage, configured in a mirrored RAID 10 configuration
  4. 10 TB of Monthly data transfer with a 100 Mbps Port
  5. 24 X 7 X 365 Technical Support by Phone or email
  6. 100% Uptime SLA (Service Level Agreement)
  7. Business Associate Agreement
  8. This Private HIPAA hosting platform will be in an SSAE 16 SOC II audited data center
  9. SSL certificate
  10. Kapersky Anti-Virus.

I have also attached the document that details our Fully Managed Hardware Firewall, Intrusion Detection System, and Fully Managed Daily Backup.

Client: How can you guarantee 100% uptime? Aren’t there situations in which the system will inevitably go down?

Consultant: Our 100% uptime SLA expresses two commitments:

  • Belief in our environments: We believe so strongly in our core infrastructure and the solutions we design for our clients – the levels of redundancy in our networks – that we know downtime will be an extremely rare occurrence.
  • Belief that any downtime is unacceptable: For any of our dedicated hosting solutions, if it takes us more than a short window of time to resolve any issue once a trouble ticket is opened, we will start refunding your monthly fee. Full details are available in our SLA.

Client: Thank you for answering all my questions. I will have the Business Associate Agreement to you later today. Take care.

Consultant: Thank you for using Atlantic.Net for your hosting needs. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

***

If you are looking for a HIPAA compliant hosting solution, Atlantic.Net has the expertise and conscientiousness to guide you through the process. We have 5 years of experience with healthcare compliance and a business track-record spanning two decades. Our solutions are characterized by  peace-of-mind, based on our extensive knowledge of IT hosting and 24/7 live support.

By Brett Haines; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

HIPAA Heroin Epidemic Problem & Healthcare Startup Private Hosting Platform Solution – 2 Real World Scenarios

HIPAA misunderstanding joke

As providers of HIPAA compliant hosting infrastructures, we publish as much information as we possibly can to help healthcare companies understand the law and find appropriate solutions, whether with us or another company. Along with describing this information generally on our site, we also publish Real World Scenario articles (such as this one) on our blog, allowing customers to see compliance in example real-life interactions between our representatives and customers.

However, there is also a compelling story in the news – as of NBC News yesterday – regarding problems related to patient privacy and developing strong plans of action to understand drug abuse. That cultural issue generally relates to the topic of HIPAA and its Privacy Rule, so we will explore it before transcribing a HIPAA private hosting case study.

Police complain about healthcare privacy laws

Police departments are having difficulty targeting drug abuse, particularly that of heroin, because they can’t access overdose data. The heroin epidemic has been escalating for the last ten years, according to police officers at a conference on illegal street drugs that convened on Wednesday, April 16, in the American capital.

The event was an inaugural effort by the Police Executive Research Forum to spread ideas and concerns related to drug abuse prevention. The message that was delivered repeatedly at the event was that OD information has become scarce in the US, with healthcare laws such as HIPAA to blame. One speaker, an active police professional, stated that the only way he could get access to autopsy information was through a subpoena.

The Chief of Police in Philadelphia noted that personal identity was not the concern. What was needed was the general data so that police officers could better understand local trends. Growing concern over drug deaths within the law enforcement community is not misplaced: Center for Disease Control (CDC) data reveals that fatalities related to ODs has more than doubled since the turn of the millennium, with a 102% rise between 1999 and 2010. Heroin and other opioid compounds – such as those in Oxycontin and Oxycodone – have been responsible for many of the deaths.

Representatives of the DC Medical Examiner and the NYPD argued that what was needed was a real-time system to provide health data to police officers nationwide. An application called Compstat, undoubtedly based on a cloud model for speed and affordability, provides data on related crimes to officers, so they can have relevant information immediately and perform investigations much more rapidly and effectively.

Although many officers feel that HIPAA and similar consumer protections are standing in the way of their ability to forecast crime patterns, some officials are adapting their approaches to get access to drug location information indirectly. The police in DC are using GPS technology in combination with naloxone (a common first-responder treatment intended to avoid an overdose) administration location data to determine central OD areas.

Private HIPAA Compliant Solution for Startup

Consultant: Welcome to Atlantic.Net. Please tell us about your hosting needs.

Client: We are working on a healthcare startup and would like to know how much your HIPAA compliant hosting solutions cost.

Consultant: We can build any size of HIPAA compliant platform, but the smallest HIPAA compliant package that we can offer is attached, in the form of a pricing proposal. We have also attached a copy of our Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for your review.

The hosting platform consists of the following components that are required in order to be HIPAA compliant:

  1. Private Hosting Platform (No shared resources)
  2. Fully Managed Hardware Firewall with encrypted VPN’s
  3. Fully Managed Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
  4. Fully Managed Daily Backup
  5. SSL Certificate.

Please contact us if you have any questions after you review our proposal (below).

PROPOSAL FOR Private HIPAA Hosting Platform

  • 12 Month / 24 Month
  • Fully Managed Hardware Firewall w/ 5 VPN’s
  • Intrusion Detection System / Log Management
  • Private Hosting Platform
  • Windows Standard 2008 R2 64 Bit
  • Core I3 – 3220 3.3 Ghz Dual Core w/HT 8
  • GB of RAM (expandable to 32 GB)
  • 2 X 500 GB SATA 3 Black RAID 1 – LSI 9240 RAID Card
  • Multi-Homed bandwidth
  • 10 TB of Monthly Data Transfer
  • 100 Mbps Port
  • Fully Managed Daily Backup
  • SSL Certificate
  • 8 IPs ( included)
  • 100% Uptime SLA
  • 24 X 7 X 365 Live Technical Support by Phone or Email.

 

Client: Great. Thanks for the information. I will share it with my partners and proceed accordingly.

Consultant: Thank you for contacting Atlantic.Net. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

Viable, cost-effective solutions

Those in the healthcare field may experience HIPAA frustrations, as do those in law enforcement. However, compliance does not have to be stressful or confusing. Work with a hosting provider that has the knowledge you need to assist you without any unforeseen difficulties: Atlantic.Net. With five years of healthcare regulatory experience and twenty years in business, we have the expertise any client demands so that their patients are protected, as is their bottom line.

By Brett Haines

VPS Hosting Without Borders

RAID humor

The United States is at the forefront of technological development, but nations around the world – even developing countries – are experiencing major shifts made possible by a wide range of computing breakthroughs. In fact, some nations that have never been fully connected with phone service have been able to jump over the landline era and go straight into wide usage of cell phones. Hosting bring similar technological possibilities to the entire world.

Specifically in terms of hosting, because of the security and stability in the United States, many companies abroad choose to use an American-based solution. Storing the infrastructure that runs one’s site and business technologically at a data center in “the states” allows businesses to have great safety and reliability, while gaining easier access (faster load times, better SEO) to customers throughout the US.

Globalization means that all areas of the world are, in a certain sense, becoming local to us. Whether you are in Brazil, India, Finland, or Japan, US-based VPS hosting runs 24/7. Even when you are sleeping, your business is working for you while people in other countries are awake. Globalization is a broad concept, but the implications specific to the cloud – and VPS servers in the cloud – are particularly intriguing.

Why is a VPS so often used? The virtual private server, or VPS (a server created using virtualization technology), has become a staple of the hosting industry because it’s a cost-effective way to get similar (in some cases nearly identical) power and control to dedicated servers, without having to pick out and maintain hardware. Let’s look at how VPS hosting, the cloud, and globalization are intertwined to understand how working with a US-based hosting service might be the right choice for a business located elsewhere.

The cloud and globalization of computing

It’s not an accident that cloud technology is becoming so widespread internationally. We all know how important scalability is, and some of us have experienced frustrations created by growing “too quickly” – as can frequently happen with server infrastructures.

Cloud computing and hosting offer the opportunity for a business to grow technologically in the smoothest and simplest possible way. You don’t hit a resource cap with the cloud – whether for storage room, bandwidth, or any potential limitation – because more devices are utilized. You are no longer “stuck” within one machine or set of machines, at the mercy of the parameters allowed by those servers. Cloud also optimizes speed and performance because the work load is distributed, so it’s unlikely that your infrastructure will experience strain.

Globalization is involved with the cloud because everything is available through the web. A company’s IT system can exist in another country from its headquarters, or in various countries. Author Thomas Friedman has described the globalization process as delivering an increased access worldwide to information and resources, which is exactly what is involved with cloud hosting and VPS servers in the cloud.

Server maintenance also does not have to be conducted at the same physical location, in many cases. Engineers employed to service cloud environments can be located in other countries as well, which is good and bad – that aspect reduces operating expenses but can mean job loss in the countries where the servers are located. Either way, you can see how the cloud has impacts not just for technology and businesses, but for people around the world as well.

Popularity of the United States for hosting & bigger possibilities

The United States is chosen by most American companies for web hosting, but also by many organizations worldwide. In fact, the performance monitoring company Pingdom conducted analysis in 2012, using Alexa and its own software, to determine locations of servers for the top 1 million websites. More than 2 out of every 5 sites in that group were hosted in the United States, upwards of 430,000 of them. Amazingly, the US was more than five times higher than any other nation; with Germany coming in second, followed by China and the UK.

Pingdom conducted the study via an analysis of big data, checking and statistically processing IP addresses for all of those sites. Notably, because big data offers such incredible possibilities for businesses to better understand user behavior, and interaction with and within their own systems, cloud hosting and VPS in the cloud are frequently used to conduct analyses such as this.

As our own Brett Haines described in a guest post for the Cloud Advisory Council, Dr. Michael Cunningham of Seattle was able to analyze data related to the childhood disease craniosynostosis, a study that would not have been possible prior to the advent of the cloud (because all the data was stored in the cloud, allowing the physician to take advantage of resources beyond the scope of his hospital’s physical infrastructure).

You can see why cloud and VPS in the cloud are extremely popular for hosting. The United States has firmly embraced these models due to increased efficiency and scalability, and web hosting services operating in the US offer high-level security and stability to ensure safe operation and strong performance. Atlantic.Net offers VPS in the cloud, via our SSAE 16 (SOC 1) TYPE II (Formerly SAS 70) certified datacenter in Orlando, Florida.

By Kent Roberts

Test IP Address to Gauge Cloud VPS Speed – A Real World Scenario

SSD speed joke

It’s sometimes difficult for customers of hosting services to determine which plans and companies will best meet their needs. This challenge has become more pronounced in the era of virtual private servers (VPS’s) and cloud computing. Although distributed virtualization has strongly positive attributes – speed, reliability, redundancy, cost-effectiveness, etc. – it also can be unclear exactly what you are getting.

We feel that one of the best ways to use a blog is to draw on customer questions and turn individual conversations into education for a broad audience. That way we are answering common concerns, while always respecting the privacy and sensitivity of any information stated during interaction. We call the series of articles that is derived from our specific user communications “Real World Scenarios” (RWS).

In this installment of RWS, we look at speed as a factor for customers. Why is speed important? How do you determine the speed of a hosting environment? Let’s look at the issue both broadly and then in the context of an actual interaction between our hosting consultant and a client.

Why speed is critical for websites

There are two basic reasons and one more complex reason why speed is crucial if you want to succeed with your site. Basic reasons:

  1. The data reason – Your prominence on the search engines is determined, in part, by how fast it loads.
  2. The human reason (Part A) – One of the top considerations of anyone who wants to optimize their site should be user experience (UX). Slow load times cause frustration, and that means poor UX and rapid flight from your site to one that won’t feel like it’s wasting the user’s time. Put another way, the people visiting your site like feeling control. Waiting for a site to load can make a person feel like they are stuck in the technological vortex.

Complex reason:

  1. The human reason (Part B) – Our attention spans and memories are shorter and less reliable than we like to think. When we wait, the data in our short-term memories starts to deteriorate, and we become less capable of meaningfully connecting what we are experiencing. That’s the essential argument offered by Jakob Nielsen, PhD, of the Nielsen Norman Group, and it makes sense.

How to test a live site

There are numerous tools online to determine the speed of your site in its current setting. One of the most reliable ones is through Google. Go to Webmaster Tools > Other Resources > PageSpeed Insights. You’ll get a score from 1 to 100, along with notes on why your site is slower than it could be and recommendations to optimize it.

That’s for testing speed of a live site, though. Things get trickier when you want to test the speed of a hosting service before you sign on as a client. The below discussion details a customer that is concerned with speed, along with the tool we recommend to showcase the strong performance of our network.

Request to test a cloud VPS system

Client: Hi, do you guys accept Visa debit cards?

Consultant: Yes, we do.

Client: Okay. I think I want to rent the XSmall package. Before I do that, though, I need to test one of the sites currently running on this type of server.

Consultant: We do not provide free trials. You can create a server under the hourly rate. When you have finished your test, you can delete it. You will only be charged for the hours you have it online. We use 100% SSDs (solid state drives), which exhibit up to 100 times the speed of standard HDDs (hard disk drives).

Client: Can you please give me the URL of a website currently running on your $4.97 per month server?

Consultant: Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with information on any of the customers that use our data center. However, your response time should be comparable to this test link.

Client: Great. Just one second. Let me test it right now, if that’s OK.

Consultant: Sure, let me know when you are finished.

Client: OK, it looks good.

Consultant: Our smallest plan currently costs as low as $3.65 a month. I would recommend signing up for that plan (XXSmall Linux), due to the low cost associated with the service. That way you can test it while only incurring a small fee.

Client: I appreciate it. Actually, I’m going to go ahead with the XSmall. I know I’m going to need those extra resources, and the speed looks fine. Thank you!

Consultant: Thank you for using Atlantic.Net. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

SSD cloud VPS through Atlantic.Net

If you are interested in any of our cloud VPS packages, you can take advantage of our publicly available speed testing. If you choose us for your hosting needs, you will get access to live consultants 24/7, exhibiting the same expertise and courtesy experienced by the client above.

By Kent Roberts

HIPAA Web/Database Hosting Solution – A Real World Scenario

HIPAA humor PHI

Healthcare companies must be in full compliance with federal regulations in order to avoid fines. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains law applicable to the handling of protected health information (PHI) by healthcare plans, clearinghouses, and practices. Title II of the act includes a Privacy Rule and Security Rule, which are of special concern to covered entities when working with business associates – such as web hosting companies – on their IT architectures.

Along with the general information we provide elsewhere on our site related to the act, we have previously reviewed requests for legal healthcare solutions in our Real World Scenario series. This series shares common situations experienced by our customers: we provide dialogues based on actual interactions between our hosting consultants and clients. The below installment will explore an additional HIPAA request, to provide a further sense of the attainment of a 100% compliant system.

HIPAA hosting solution Q & A

Client: Hello, I need to obtain a price quote on a web/database platform that will be HIPAA compliant and support the following resources:

Web Server

  • Windows 2008 R2
  • 1 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • Drive 1 – minimum 60GB HD
  • Drive 2 – minimum 100GB HD
  • SSL Certificate.

Database Server

  • Windows 2008 R2
  • 1 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • Drive 1 – minimum 60GB HD
  • Drive 2 – minimum 100GB HD
  • SQL Server 2008 R2.

Disaster Recovery

  • Web/Database Server
  • Windows 2008 R2
  • 1 CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • Drive 1 – minimum 60GB HD
  • Drive 2 – minimum 100GB HD
  • SSL Certificate
  • SQL Server 2008 R2.

Consultant: Thank you for contacting Atlantic.Net. The only questions we have are as follows:

  1. Will you be providing the SQL license?
  2. Will you be providing the SSL certificate?

Client: Yes, we have a license for the SQL Server. We do not have an active SSL certificate, though. Please include one in the plan you are recommending.

Consultant: Attached, you will find our formal proposal. Note that the SQL license is not included, but an SSL certificate is. We have also attached a document detailing our hardware firewall and intrusion detection system (IDS), along with a copy of our business associate agreement (BAA) for your review. Here are the highlights of our proposal:

  1. Windows Enterprise 2008 R2 Operating System – which will allow for the creation of up to (4) virtual machines, one more than you require
  2. Dual Core i3-3220 processor with Hyperthreading (which will provide you with 4 virtual cores to work with for the VM’s) / 32 GB of Ram / 1 TB of RAIDed Storage Space
  3. Fully Managed Hardware Firewall w/ 5 encrypted VPN’s
  4. Intrusion Detection System with Log Management
  5. Fully Managed Daily Backup – files / database / VM snapshots
  6. 3220 3.3 Ghz Dual Core w/HT 32 GB of RAM – 2 X 1TB
  7. SATA 3 Black RAID 1
  8. LSI 9240 RAID Card 1
  9. 10 TB of Monthly Data Transfer
  10. 100 Mbps Port Multi-Homed Bandwidth
  11. SSL Certificate
  12. 16 IP’s
  13. Private Hosting Platform
  14. Mail
  15. 24 X 7 X 365 Live Technical Support by Phone or Email
  16. 100 % uptime SLA on all of the services we are providing
  17. Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for HIPAA compliance (based on the inclusion of all the hosting components we have listed)
  18. 12- and 24-month term pricing.

Please let us know if anything needs clarified or you have any further questions.

Client: I’ve noticed that you have SSAE 16 (SOC 1) Type II certification listed as one of your HIPAA attributes. How is that relevant to healthcare computing?

Consultant: That certification is from the Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE), the protocols and parameters of which are designed and revised by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It’s a set of auditing guidelines that verifies the integrity of our infrastructure and the mechanisms in place to avoid breach and/or corruption. It generally validates our security.

Client: Okay, I’m also just curious what type of SSL certificate you will purchase and install on our behalf.

Consultant: We use GeoTrust. A 2010 Netcraft survey revealed that SSL certificates provided by GeoTrust are used more than any other brand among the Alexa 1 million (the 1 million sites that receive the most unique visits annually). GeoTrust QuickSSL Premium certificates are also backed by a $500,000 USD warranty.

Client: Thank you for the assistance. I have submitted the BAA to our lawyer and will reach out to you as I know more.

Affordable solutions for healthcare IT

The necessity of healthcare organizations to achieve HIPAA compliance requires specialized care from a hosting service. In business for two decades and serving medical organizations with their regulatory concerns for five years, Atlantic.Net has the experience to meet your needs so that your patients’ PHI data remain secure and private at all times.

By Kent Roberts; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

Bring My Chicken Kebab From the Cloud: A Real World Scenario

cloud food

Cloud computing represents a fundamental technological shift. By allowing businesses to cut costs while enhancing the speed of their systems, the distributed virtualization strategy is being put to use in manifold ways. In academic settings, large datasets are being calculated in short windows of time, allowing researchers to perform analyses that previously were financially unfeasible. In manufacturing, the Industrial Internet is underway, with thousands of sensors facilitating real-time monitoring in production plants. In medicine, misdiagnosis is becoming less common for cancer patients, with doctors cross-checking images of similar biopsies in moments.

These advancements have become possible in part due to optimized speed, which makes the technology compelling to all businesses. As described below, hospitality companies have started taking advantage of cloud-hosted applications to expedite ordering and payment processes.

Typically our “Real World Scenario” series explores interactions between clients and our hosting consultants: questions are answered regarding a company’s search for a new IT environment. However, this installment was inspired by a small restaurant we discovered that is taking advantage of distributed virtualization, enhancing the experience of every customer who walks through its door.

“Servers” in two different fields – a personal story

I recently visited Ahmed Indian Restaurant in Orlando, Florida. The chicken tikka masala and fried fish were outstanding, and I am looking forward to going back to explore the rest of their menu. However, since I am in the information technology field, I was also intrigued by the restaurant’s computing system.

I have been interested in restaurant IT because, in the past, I have found myself accidentally and humorously in competition with the food and beverage industry. In my company, we host servers (i.e., server computers). We have had to adjust pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns so that people searching for “restaurant server” and “restaurant host” information aren’t errantly delivered the ads for our site.

Similarly, we ran into difficulty when developing language for a billboard at one point. We were considering the simple message, “Server Hosting Since 1994.” That slogan was scrapped out of concern that we might come across as a restaurant or catering company.

Those two bits of marketing confusion I’ve experienced have helped me relate to restaurants in terms of online presence within the search engines. However, what I was noticing during this visit to the restaurant had to do with their use of distributed virtualization across a number of mobile devices.

Restaurant’s use of cloud app on mobile devices

Cloud computing has greatly expanded the number of mobile applications, allowing significant enhancements in performance so that feature-rich programs can operate quickly. To take advantage of this technology, Ahmed Indian Restaurant uses a point-of-sale (POS) software that syncs data across all devices, so that information is updated simultaneously.

I spoke with the owner of the restaurant about the benefits of the system they are using. The following dialogue is based off of that conversation.

Me: What’s the system you are using here?

Restaurant Owner: The cloud-based software we use is called POSLavu. It is a software, specifically designed for restaurants, that runs on Apple mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones. All of the devices, and all of the transmissions conducted by them, are synced within our Wi-Fi network.

Me: How does it benefit your business?

Restaurant Owner: For one thing, it makes payment easier. We have the option to charge customers at the table if they are paying with a credit card. They can sign the iPad on the spot and automatically be emailed a receipt. Plus, since we have a number of iPads, we can perform multiple customer checkouts at the same time, rather than having people wait for other checkouts to process.

Me: I assume it helps with ordering too.

Restaurant Owner: Yes, that process is also expedited. The order goes directly from the table to the kitchen, sent through the Wi-Fi by the software. Just like with paying, there is no waiting in line to punch in orders because all the servers have their own individual devices.

Me: Are there any other benefits you’ve seen with your customer interactions?

Restaurant Owner: Yes, we can customize the menu by uploading an image for each item. If a customer wants to see how a certain dish looks, we can show them the picture.

Me: What about administrative tools?

Restaurant Owner: We have back-end access, so we can look at reports for weekly and monthly sales – organized by item, server, and a number of other variables. It gives us a better sense of the popularity of our menu offerings and how well servers are doing over time.

Me: Is this system cost-effective?

Restaurant Owner: The system itself is reasonably priced, and it’s also reduced our credit card processing fees.
***
The IT approach at Ahmed Indian Restaurant is now more customer-friendly, and administrative capabilities have been strengthened as well. Applications such as POSLavu often reside on high-speed servers such as our cloud VPS environments. Atlantic.Net has optimized mobile app hosting solutions for any size business and any situation. Both independent restaurants and chains are taking advantage of our hosting solutions for increased efficiency.

By Moazzam Adnan; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

Why Use FreeBSD for Your SSD Cloud VPS Hosting? 10 Reasons

married to a VPS

When people consider operating systems for their hosting environments, the two most common choices are Windows and Linux. However, another OS has been steadily gaining traction since its initial development in 1993.

FreeBSD, like Linux, is a spinoff of the UNIX® operating system. The benefits of the former OS are similar to those of the latter one. Both have proven popular because they are free and open source. Because there are no licensing fees with either one, they are cost-effective. Because they are open source, they are built optimized for freedom and flexibility. Also, their popularity – in conjunction with their backing by the open source community – has generated vast networks of support on forums and elsewhere.

The lesser-known operating system, though, offers particular benefits that have prompted some users to prefer it over the various Linux distributions.

What is FreeBSD?

It is an OS that is primarily concerned with three elements of computing: stability, performance, and functionality. It is a variation of BSD, which was developed at the University of California – Berkeley and distributed by the institution’s Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) from 1977 to 1995. The operating system, like Linux, is developed on a community basis, by a broad pool of users.

10 Benefits of FreeBSD

Specific advantages of the operating system – garnered by comments from its users – include the following:

1. Community

This OS is centered, first and foremost, on its community. Although corporations use the operating system and, at times, assist with its development, the integrity of the community approach is maintained at all times. Interaction occurs between veteran and rookie users on forums and through Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Advice is dispersed through email newsletters as well. A Core Team is elected by the community for monitoring and management, but it mostly resolves conflicts between developers rather than steering the direction of the OS.

2. Stability

When people talk about stability in an operating system, they often simply mean that it is unlikely to crash. This OS goes beyond that expectation. When you upgrade the software, you don’t have to do the same for users. The appearance is never changed for aesthetic purposes; instead, it is adapted when there is a strong argument for making changes. Any new version of the OS is capable of running code from previous versions as well. All aspects of the system and kernel are developed as one package to avoid upgrading difficulties.

3. Collaboration

FreeBSD was one of the first operating systems to adopt the LLVM infrastructure. A number of developers within the community also contribute to LLVM, making both projects stronger and more integrated. Outgrowths of the OS, including the desktop offering PC-BSD and the firewall pfSense, are created in collaboration with the most recent operating system version as well.

4. Ease-of-use

Every service contains a script that activates and deactivates it. The OS includes a file with simple commands for initiation and configuration of various primary services. You can immediately know what services are enabled as the OS starts to run. The system understands the relationship between various services and will run them simultaneously or independently, as best fits the situation.

5. Ports

You have full access to a library of independent applications. If the community is in disagreement about the latest versions of certain programs, you are able to choose which version you want. Unlike some competitive operating systems, there is a set folder for independently developed applications, making it simple to clean a server of any and all installations as desired.

6. Security

Several of the security components of this operating system include the following:

  • Jails are components of the OS that allow you to run an application without affecting anything else on your system.
  • Mandatory Access Control makes it possible to determine limitations of control for all resources.
  • Capsicum allows you to isolate privileges so that potential negative effects of maliciously altered script are minimized.

7. ZFS

This volume manager makes it significantly easier to perform a wide variety of tasks – from the creation of clones to deduplication to compression – without having to know the size of the relevant partitions. You can experiment with ZFS without fear of the end results: just generate a snapshot: If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome, it’s plain and simple to undo your efforts.

8. GEOM

This tool enables robust storage within FreeBSD. With GEOM, you can use two servers for redundancy and reliability, adjusting your RAID configuration as desired.

9. Sound

You can mix sound quickly and accurately, with volume that can be adjusted within any program you run.

10. Options

This OS is open and completely prepared for extensions, such as KDE or GNOME. You can run it through a serial port, with full configuration capabilities. You can install whatever desktop you want as well.

***

FreeBSD offers an operating system, through a community-driven model, that serves as a strong alternative to Linux. Also free and open source, the OS is known for its stability, ease-of-use, security, and collaboration with various third-party applications. Contact us now to get started with your FreeBSD hosting environment today.

By Kent Roberts; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

How Good Can an Article Be if It Cannot Be Seen? Make Your Site Faster

0 to 60 server speed test

Everyone knows how critical high-quality content has become to building and maintaining a strong Google presence. However, optimizing your site for the search engines is not just about the words or images you use. It’s also about user experience, particularly speed. Obviously improving the performance of your site will have the added benefit of increasing engagement and conversions.

A number of simple tactics can be implemented to make your site faster. With a faster site, your content can realize its true value. You won’t risk alienating your users with slow load times. Ideally the traffic that experiences your content can also be impressed with how rapidly it is delivered. Although many individuals won’t understand the technology, the end result is a sense that you respect the time of your visitors.

Tip #1 – Test Your Site’s Speed

First, it’s good to know the current speed of your site so you have a sense of the work that lies ahead. Here are a couple Google tools you can use to do so:

  • Site Speed – Using this feature within Analytics (under the Content section), you can determine how quickly your site performs based on geographical location, browser, and page; and
  • PageSpeed Insights – This tool ranks the speed of your site on a scale of 1 to 100, as well as providing ideas to enhance its performance broken into various levels of priority.

Tip #2 – Implement Caching

By using caching, you can vastly improve your site’s performance by decreasing the frequency with which a user’s device needs to access the server. Web developer Steven Lee uses the analogy of a refrigerator to explain caching. If you go to the refrigerator and don’t see any food, you have to go out to the store to get some. A refrigerator can store food in the same way that a browser can store data. Just as storing food in your fridge makes meal preparation more efficient, storing content in browser caches makes Internet usage more efficient.

You want to make sure that your hosting environment has caching enabled. Once it is set up, you then want to be certain that all aspects of your site expire after certain timespans. By determining an expiration point, you make sure that a cache does not retain the same data in perpetuity. The expiration will relate to the time that each user originally accesses the content. For resources that update frequently, set the cache lower than for content that you expect will generally remain static.

Tip #3 – Optimize Java

According to the independent resource site JavaWorld, there are four primary forms of JavaScript optimization. These techniques can be critical to speeding up your site, because Java can sometimes cause latency issues for users. The basic ways to improve your JavaScript for a faster website include the following:

  • Strength reduction – Revision of the code that replaces any slow operations with speedier ones;
  • Common sub expression elimination – Removal of any computation redundancies;
  • Code motion – Change in the position of any code if its result only changes under certain conditions, so that it won’t execute unless it’s possible that the result will be different.
  • Unrolling loops – Reducing the number of times executions must occur by revising loops to include multiple operations.

Tip #4 – Using a Parallel Server

You can also speed up your site by running a second server in parallel to your main server. The addition of a parallel server is similar to a strategy called parallel processing, and it can help incredibly with delivering visual content to your users at a fast pace. While parallel processing breaks complex sets of data into component parts that it then processes at the same time, a parallel server can specifically be used for videos and images so that your main server is not strained with that content.

Tip #5 – Optimize Images

Images, especially if you have more than one per page, can be a major factor affecting your site’s speed. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple ways to optimize them so that they load more quickly:

  • You want them all to be in one of three formats – GIF (for small, basic images with a maximum of 256 colors), PNG (for uncomplicated images that contain over 256 hues), or JPEG (for complicated, professional-quality images).
  • Make your images smaller using Microsoft Paint or Microsoft Office Picture Manager, rather than adjusting size within WordPress. If you adjust once the image is already loaded into your CMS (content management system), the server will load the image at full-size before loading it at the reduced size, actually slowing down your site.
  • Use an image compression tool.
  • Remove unnecessary bytes from images via Smush.it.

We know how fundamentally important speed is to success online – not just for happy users but for happy search engines as well. We want you to do everything you can to speed up your site, but we can help you on our end as well. Speed-test us now to experience our commitment to delivering your website rapidly worldwide.

By Moazzam Adnan; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

Securing PHI for Behavioral Healthcare Organizations – A Real World Scenario

government compliance joke

Our site shares a large amount of information with medical companies about finding viable HIPAA hosting and infrastructural solutions. We’ve found that the general information we provide meets the needs of many businesses. However, it also assists many professionals to be able to get a feel for the process through specific situations.

Our Real World Scenario series serves this function. Through this series, we show actual discussions between our hosting consultants and clients as they get their questions answered about our services. In this installment, a web developer works with our representative to determine the best solution for securing protected health information (PHI) of behavioral healthcare firms within a HIPAA-compliant environment.

The basics: HIPAA, PHI, and behavioral healthcare

Before we look at an individual interaction related to these issues, it will help to establish an understanding of the basic terms we are using.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 safeguards the medical records of patients, with a special focus on electronic medical records (EMR). The three basic categories of organizations that must meet the specifications of the law include healthcare practitioners, plans, and clearinghouses.

All data that must meet the HIPAA requirements is referred to as protected health information (PHI). PHI includes demographics, medical history, tests, insurance details, and all other data that healthcare companies compile from patient documents, equipment, and practitioner observation.

HIPAA places guidelines on the scope of protected health information that medical organizations can acquire, the extent to which it can be shared, and its usability for marketing purposes. PHI has to be fully accessible to the patient, who also has the right to correct any errors in the data. It cannot be sold except in situations which involve government projects or the sale of an entire healthcare organization.

Behavioral healthcare is a multidisciplinary area of medicine that focuses on the mental and emotional state of the individual. Many people use it synonymously with the terms psychological healthcare or mental healthcare. Practitioners in this field understand the behaviors of a patient – called biobehavioral interactions within the specialty – as indications of the health of a patient’s mind.

HIPAA Compliant Behavioral Healthcare Solution

The following is the interaction between our hosting consultant and a client in need of an IT environment for their PHI.

Consultant: Tell us about your hosting needs.

Client: I need an architecture for a Windows Forms SQL app for use by a behavioral healthcare company. I have a client with four locations that wants to go this route over the traditional MPLS or hardware VPN combined with a local server.

Consultant: One of our hosting specialties is HIPAA compliance and the protection of PHI. The only way we can create a network of this type is to host the SQL server in our data center. Each location would then be connected to the SQL server through an Encrypted VPN. The hosting platform would be HIPAA compliant, and we would issue a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for the hosting services.

In order to provide you with a proposal, we require the following information:

  1. How much Total Storage Space do you require for the data?
  2. What version of MSSQL do you require?

Client: We would need a minimum of 20GB of storage, and the MSSQL could be 2008 or above.
Consultant: The smallest HIPAA compliant hosting platform that we have available includes 500 GB of Storage Space. I have attached the formal proposal along with a copy of the Business Associate Agreement for your review. Please submit the SQL license, and we can then load it for you. We are not allowed by Microsoft to resell their licenses; it is also less expensive for you to purchase it outright than to lease it from us. Below are the highlights of the proposal:

1.) Windows Standard 2008 R2 64 Bit Operating System

2.) Dual Core I3-3220 Processor w/HT / 8 GB of Ram / 500 GB of RAID Storage

  • Core I3
  • 3220 3.3 GHz Dual Core w/HT
  • 8 GB of RAM (expandable to 32 GB)
  • 2 X 500 GB SATA 3 Black Raid 1
  • LSI 9240 RAID Card – 10 TB  of Monthly Data Transfer, 100 Mbps Port

3 ) Fully Managed Hardware Firewall with ( 5 ) managed VPN’s

4 ) Intrusion Detection System with Log Monitoring and Management

5 ) Fully Managed Daily Backup

6 ) 100% Uptime SLA

7 ) 24 X 7 X 365 Live Technical Support by phone / email

8 ) SSAE 16 SOC II Data Center

9 ) Anti-Virus Protection

10 ) SSL Certificate.

Client: Excellent. I will get the Business Associate Agreement to my client immediately and be in touch once I hear back from them. Thank you for the assistance.

Consultant: Let us know if you have any additional questions. Have a great day.

As indicated by the above interaction, Atlantic.Net is well prepared for those in need of HIPAA compliant server hosting. We have been in business for two decades, with a five-year track record helping companies fulfill the parameters of healthcare regulations.

By Brett Haines; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

20 Steps to Make Your Content Rank Higher on Search Engines & Increase Conversions – Part 3

monkeys creating content

<< PREVIOUS

The below is the final segment of our tripartite exploration of general website optimization. Specifically, this series is interested in strong search engine rankings to drive traffic, as well as conversion optimization once visitors arrive on your site. Here are the final elements of our 20 tips to build and maintain your prominence online:

#15. Develop more sophisticated tactics for user relevance.

An active business has huge amounts of data related to what its users want to know. It’s just a matter of taking the questions that customers have and using that information to build your content.

Integrate your content creation process with user requests. Work closely with your customer service team. Develop a list of top questions that are asked of your representatives, related to both sales and support. Address any common questions and concerns on your blog or elsewhere on your site. For example, we utilize frequent customer situations in our Real World Scenario series.

#16. Create mini-webs.

Remember that great content should not just be isolated to your blog. In fact, organizing your site in meaningful ways can be tremendously helpful to site visitors. Generate “mini-webs” specific to each part of your site or aspect of your business.

Websites are in a sense all about organization that can be accessed from many different points of entry. In order for your site to be helpful for every user, you need to make sure no one feels like they are reading the last chapter of a book without grounding in the overarching plot.

You really want your site to be set up in the same manner as an outline for easy use. If you have four distinct service offerings, divide them into four separate themes. One of those themes should be dominant, the most central and representative of your brand.

An example – to use the book idea in another context – is if you are selling books. You have four main categories: fiction, adventure, drama, and history. Your URLs should be established as follows:

  • www.yourwebsite.com/fiction
  • www.yourwebsite.com/adventure
  • www.yourwebsite.com/drama
  • www.yourwebsite.com/history

These aspects of your business, represented by sections of your site, can then be used to create subpages within each section or mini-web, as follows:

  • www.yourwebsite.com/fiction/title-of-fiction-book
  • www.yourwebsite.com/adventure/title-of-adventure-book
  • www.yourwebsite.com/drama/title-of-drama-book
  • www.yourwebsite.com/history/title-of-history-book

#17. Use a look that is self-tested.

Of course you want to place your focus primarily on the customer. However, you are also a web user, and your perspective can be incredibly valuable when shaping your site. Use a design and layout that is attractive and simple to understand to you, that optimizes your own sense of engagement. It should be easy to interact with your site and visually appealing (both in terms of usability and general aesthetics).

Specifically, consider larger fonts. Mashable recently used this tactic, generally increasing its font sizes to enhance readability.

#18. Broaden your options.

You may feel that you have a niche site or are up against heavy-hitter competition that disallows you from accessing large groups of people. That isn’t the case if you think strategically. Open up your possibilities for greater streams of traffic by seeking keywords that have significant volume. Don’t focus your efforts only on keywords that are in the thousands. Target ones that receive millions of searches as well.

#19. Narrow your options.

Obviously you can’t just go after the keywords that are the most popular, unless you are the dominant force in your industry. Amazon has the market on the “books” keyword well-cornered, for instance. Perform competitive research, and pick battles that you have a solid chance of winning.

#20. Share.

Of course writing and publishing content is only one side of success with it. In order to make sure it’s read by as many people as possible, share it through various channels. It’s of no use if no one is reading it.

Social – Spread the word through your social media accounts. You can use Facebook Ads as a cost-effective approach, with targeting specific to gender, geography, interests, and other parameters. Twitter now has a retargeting service called Tailored Audiences; Google+ both integrates search with social and offers +Post ads. Don’t forget LinkedIn; and add your badges and images to Pinterest as well. Be ready to answer any questions from potential customers.

Email – Email newsletters have always been popular. Your fresh content is a great way to engage your user base so they can Like pieces and provide social signals for your business.

Pay-per-click – PPC campaigns via Google, Yahoo!, and Bing – if they are well researched and coordinated, resulting in an effective creative advertising mien – can deliver huge amounts of traffic.

Syndication – Yahoo! has developed a content syndication network, on a pay-per-click model, where your content appears on the main Yahoo! page.

Conclusion

Content marketing has become a major piece of success in online business. However, you first have to drive the traffic to your site through the search engines and other available methods. Using the tactics in this series, you can engage users both off and on your site to optimize conversions and build your business.

This piece serves as a part of our own user engagement: with 20 years in business, Atlantic.Net is the trusted choice for thousands of companies to host their IT environments, featuring innovative and secure SSD cloud VPS plans.

By Moazzam Adnan; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.

HIPAA Compliant Hosting for a Web Application – A Real World Scenario (Continued)

Comic: comparison of PHI to phi (the golden ratio)

<<< PREVIOUS

This interaction between a hosting consultant and client, a two-part installment of our “Real World Scenario” series, continues from the previous post. The client is getting answers to questions regarding a HIPAA compliant application environment.

Client: Our maximum number of users initially will not exceed 200 – we expect there to be very few users at the outset.

Consultant: This system will be able to handle 200 users with no problem and most likely twice that amount, depending how much total Storage Space you will require in the future. It is simple to add more Storage Space when you need it.

Client: Per our limited understanding of HIPAA, we expect that separate servers for the data (SQL) and the web server will be necessary (but correct us if that is not the case).

Consultant: You will have separate servers, but they will be set up as Virtual Machines on one physical server.

Client: We also understand that an SSL certificate is required on the web server for the web service and web application to encrypt data at the transport layer.

Consultant: That’s correct. We have included pricing for the SSL certificate. The certificate is $150.00. $125.00 of it is the annual fee for the certificate, and $25.00 is a setup fee. We use GeoTrust to provide the SSL certificate, but if you want to use someone else and can find better pricing, you are welcome to provide your own SSL. Either way, we will install the SSL certificate for you.

Client: Do we need to use Transparent Data Encryption on the database? Or do you believe that the server on which our SQL Server database resides will already be sufficiently protected with regard to HIPAA?

Consultant: We are unable to answer this question, because we are unaware of what security protocols your company has in place for their applications, databases, and systems. The majority of our clients do not use TDE on their DBs.

Client: What kind of connections/transactions should we track for the purposes of HIPAA? How much tracking can be done through the host’s provided system, and how much should be done through our own application code?

Consultant: We provide logs that are necessary for the devices within our HIPAA compliant systems.  However, we are unable to answer the question completely, because we do not have complete knowledge of your specific application. Please supply us with more information on your systems, and we will provide specific information that fits your needs.

These are the highlights of our proposal, and what we have proposed is the least expensive solution we can provide that will meet your requirements. HIPAA requires all of below components in order to host in a HIPAA compliant environment:

  1. Fully Managed Hardware Firewall with Intrusion Detection and Log Management / Log Monitoring. Also ( 5 ) encrypted managed VPN’s
  2. Fully Managed Daily Backup for all files and databases
  3. Private Server Hardware with 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB of Storage, configured in a mirrored RAID 10 configuration
  4. 10 TB of Monthly data transfer with a 100 Mbps Port
  5. 24 X 7 X 365 Technical Support by Phone or email
  6. 100% Uptime SLA (Service Level Agreement)
  7. Business Associate Agreement
  8. This Private HIPAA hosting platform will be in an SSAE 16 SOC II audited data center
  9. SSL certificate
  10. Kapersky Anti-Virus.

I have also attached the document that details our Fully Managed Hardware Firewall, Intrusion Detection System, and Fully Managed Daily Backup.

Client: How can you guarantee 100% uptime? Aren’t there situations in which the system will inevitably go down?

Consultant: Our 100% uptime SLA expresses two commitments:

  • Belief in our environments: We believe so strongly in our core infrastructure and the solutions we design for our clients – the levels of redundancy in our networks – that we know downtime will be an extremely rare occurrence.
  • Belief that any downtime is unacceptable: For any of our dedicated hosting solutions, if it takes us more than a short window of time to resolve any issue once a trouble ticket is opened, we will start refunding your monthly fee. Full details are available in our SLA.

Client: Thank you for answering all my questions. I will have the Business Associate Agreement to you later today. Take care.

Consultant: Thank you for using Atlantic.Net for your hosting needs. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

***

If you are looking for a HIPAA compliant hosting solution, Atlantic.Net has the expertise and conscientiousness to guide you through the process. We have 5 years of experience with healthcare compliance and a business track-record spanning two decades. Our solutions are characterized by  peace-of-mind, based on our extensive knowledge of IT hosting and 24/7 live support.

By Brett Haines; comic words by Kent Roberts & art by Leena Cruz.