Tag Archives: virtualization

Remote Desktop Service for Cloud VPS Users – A Real World Scenario with RDP Tips

remote desktop humor

Often businesses that set up virtual private servers (VPSs) want to use remote desktop protocol (RDP) to access the server from a PC or other device. This tactic allows them to interact with the Windows operating system installed on the VPS. The speed and security with which remote connection can be accomplished are enhanced using a cloud service from a trusted provider. Continue reading

Is Windows Server VPS Right for You? A Look at a Cost-Effective Alternative to Dedicated Servers

cloud humor

Many businesses are too sophisticated and have reliability needs that go beyond shared hosting but want to cut the costs associated with a dedicated machine. For these organizations, a virtual private server (VPS) is the right choice. Many of these businesses also want a Windows environment, rather than Linux, for their back end. The best option to meet those needs is a VPS running on Windows Server 2012 R2.

VPS hosting: conventional vs. cloud

Virtual private servers can be structured on a conventional model or a cloud model. In a conventional setting, a VPS is essentially one section of a physical server. The machine is partitioned so that multiple organizations are using it at once, increasing cost-effectiveness. Unlike shared hosting, a VPS operates just like a regular machine does. You have your own operating system, storage space, RAM, CPU, and bandwidth. You only see your own server parameters in your control panel, and you can reboot as needed.

In a cloud setting, the VPS is taken to a second level of virtualization. Rather than the virtual private server residing on one physical machine, it is “in the cloud” – meaning that the VPS operates through many servers, connected and managed via cloud technology. The data for your website is distributed across a vast supply of machines. That means your performance is faster, your site and applications are more reliable, and scaling can be conducted instantaneously.

The cloud can be difficult to understand and trust. However, cloud computing is similar, in a sense, to the Internet. The Web as a whole involves many machines acting together to create one cohesive virtual environment. As Hongkiat puts it, “The Internet behaves as one macroscopic cloud system.”

Strengths of a VPS

Here are several benefits of a virtual private server that will help you understand why it’s such a popular choice for businesses, as indicated by Daily Host News:

  1. Affordability – Choosing a VPS allows a business to select the right amount of resources for their purposes, rather than having to commit to a dedicated machine with rigid specifications. Going with a VPS means that rather than underutilizing your environment, you are paying based on your needs. That is particularly the case in a cloud environment, in which you can increase or decrease your level of resources at the click of a button.
  2. Control – Just as with a dedicated server, you have control over the environment. With shared hosting, there are typically hundreds of other accounts on the server, and a problematic application from any one of them could temporarily stop service for your business. The “private” aspect of a VPS means that your virtual server environment is truly yours.
  3. Migration – One potential issue with dedicated servers is that it can be difficult to move from place to place. With VPS, though, if you decide you want to switch to a larger or smaller account type, VPS management software allows the host to move you simply and quickly. The hosting service has an icon of each server, similar to a PC desktop, that they can transfer to a different physical server’s drive (in a conventional setting). With cloud, no migration needs to occur because it’s simply changing your resource level. The infrastructure stays the same.
  4. Performance – Your performance and reliability are not impacted by other businesses that are on the hardware used for your VPS, whether it is cloud or conventional. Your CPU, RAM, bandwidth, and storage are isolated for your private use.
  5. Security – Security is not just a critical element for online communication. It’s paramount. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 20% of small businesses get hacked annually, and 3 out of 5 hacked businesses are bankrupt within half a year. VPS, whether cloud or conventional, keeps your files partitioned so that they are completely inaccessible to other accounts.

Specific advantages of Windows Server 2012

Some of the most notable advantages of a Windows Server 2012 VPS include the following, as outlined by InfoWorld:

  • Resiliency – Two features related to storage and files are Storage Spaces and the Resilient File System (ReFS). Storage Spaces is a cost-effective alternative to RAID (redundant array of independent disks) storage that creates virtual disks using JBOD (just a bunch of disks) technology. ReFS avoids corruption of your data by using two techniques: allocate-on-write and checksums.
  • State-of-the-art virtualization – Windows Server also includes the biggest competitor to VMware, Hyper-V. This virtualization platform delivers the technology that makes your full-featured VPS possible. Windows Server 2012 includes its latest release.
  • PowerShell – This high-powered tool allows you to automate any aspect of server administration. Server Manager is the interface through which you can manage your account, but PowerShell is the engine that drives all management activities.

Atlantic.Net believes strongly in the future of VPS for business, particularly cloud VPS. We’ve recently added Windows Server 2012 R2, a new formulation of Microsoft’s latest version, to our OS offerings. Sign up for an account, and you can have a Windows cloud VPS server up and running within 30 seconds.

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

Using VPS and Other Methods to Keep Your Local Computer and Data Away from Algorithms and the NSA

virtualization VPS server humor

Fast Company recently covered a story about a blogger named José Casanova who claimed that he had hacked Kayak to get cheaper plane tickets. It turns out the word “hacking” was used loosely by Casanova. What he really did was log on to a virtual private network (VPN) so that the online travel agency would be incapable of tracking him accurately.

Why did he do this? Casanova was interested in taking advantage of the low end of what’s called dynamic pricing. The Christian Science Monitor defines dynamic pricing as differences in the cost of a product or service based on numerous factors (including demand, rate adjustments at competitors, location of the user, time of purchase, type of PC or browser being used, and even weather patterns) built into sophisticated algorithms. Casanova wanted the algorithms to be on his side, so he accessed Kayak via VPN and saved himself $100.

Installing a VPN on your VPS

One way to avoid algorithm-based overcharging and simultaneously accomplish online privacy is to update your virtual private server (VPS) so that it can function as a VPN. One popular VPN is the open source solution OpenVPN. Installation is simple, as described on the informational repository yaui.me.

  1. Go into the control panel for your server and make sure that both PPP (point-to-point protocol) and TUN/TAP (an operating system kernel driver) are permitted.
  2. Adjust your root password and upgrade your packages using the following two commands — the first of which retrieves updates and the second of which installs them:
    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade
  3. Download and install OpenVPN Access Server per the instructions in the OpenVPN documentation (simple as well), but hold off on clicking the link once that’s complete.
  4. Again, don’t click the link when you see it, but you will know that installation has completed correctly when you see a link through which you can enter the VPN’s control panel.
    Now you need to adjust the password to the VPN. Enter the following command:
    passwd openvpn
    That password will allow you into the control panel in the future.
  5. Go ahead and click the link to enter the control panel. Agree to the terms. Now you have full access.

Other ways to protect your IP address and privacy

The Washington Post pointed out last June that efforts to make oneself untrackable online are not just about lowering your prices. You may also not like the idea of the National Security Agency (NSA) following your every move. Some of us are less concerned about government “spying,” but if it bothers you, you can use any of the below approaches as well to privatize web access on your PC or cell phone (with a special focus on the latter):

  • Anonymous browsingTor allows you to browse the Internet with your IP address and other details related to your personal device blocked. Tor operates via network distribution. Your request is routed through randomized proxy machines prior to heading to its intended recipient. The website you visit will assume that the visit is from the last node through which your request traveled.
  • Chat encryption – An OTR (off the record) application acts as an extension for chat programs and encrypts everything you transmit. That means you and whoever you are instant messaging can use a chat program from any of the major brands – such as Google or Microsoft – without the content being readable. Adium is an Apple OTR, while Pidgin works with Linux and Windows operating systems. Make sure the settings encrypt the messages from both sides.
  • Call encryption – Making phone calls through a major carrier should not be considered private, and even voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers such as Skype may allow government intrusion as well. Silent Circle, though, provides encryption in a similar manner to OTR. The ACLU’s technological expert, Chris Soghoian, has stated that the security of the open-source Silent Circle is third-party verified.
  • Call encryption alternative – Another option to enable private calling is Redphone, which was developed (ironically enough) through the Open Technology Fund. In other words, it is a federally financed project that protects you from federal monitoring. The idea behind this application was to allow people in totalitarian political climates to communicate without government interference. The result is third-party-verified open source software that anyone can use to prevent digital wiretapping. Be aware that neither of these technologies hides who you’re calling. It just hides the content.
  • Disable your phone – Some forms of tracking will occur no matter what applications you install. According to The Guardian, as part of the data it collects on phone data, the NSA logs locations of the cell phone tower nearest you – your current access point to the phone network. In other words, the NSA knows where you are when you make calls and possibly at all times (via the cell phone signal). The only way to combat this surveillance is to turn off your phone; to be extra safe, remove the battery or leave the phone in a safe place whenever you don’t want your movements to be monitored.

Choosing a secure solution that prevents intrusion and allows VPN

Atlantic.Net offers cloud-based VPS servers, which can be used to create your own VPN network for privacy. We are also SSAE 16 (SOC 1) TYPE II (Formerly SAS 70) certified, which not only means our auditing is sound but that are security is solid as well (double-verified by our HIPAA compliance and Safe Harbor certification).

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

Why the Days of VMware Are Over: Multiple Benefits from Hyper-V Case Studies, and Free Alternatives (Comic)

comic on virtualization - VPS

VMware has been dominant in the world of virtualization for years. However, competitors have been gradually chipping away at its lead among hypervisors. Between 2008 and 2013, Vmware has lost 8% of its market share to Microsoft Hyper-V (dropping from 64% to 56%, while Hyper-V advanced from 20% to 28%).

Microsoft has been climbing a steep hill with its product. IT departments and hosting companies grew accustomed to VMware. Server administrators don’t want to have to learn the different organization and functionalities of a new system. Many admins also don’t want to go “all in” with the tech giant (regardless of the fact that VMware has become the “Goliath” in this particular segment).

Regardless of aversion to change and sentiments toward particular brands, reducing the licensing cost of virtualization is becoming compelling for many organizations. As one reviewer notes, “For a wide range of use cases, Hyper-V can be substantially cheaper than VMware.” Plus, KVM and Xen offer hypervisors free of charge.

Case studies of a branch of the University of Texas in the United States and a Toyota division in Africa represent different types of organizations and geographical locations. Both demonstrate the advantages of transitioning from VMware to a solution from one of the world’s strongest technology names: Microsoft Hyper-V. KVM and Xen deserve consideration as well.

Note that operating system manageability is an additional potential advantage of reworking your system. However, the below two summarized case studies are biased (although also compelling) in that regard because they are produced by Windows manufacturer Microsoft.

Case Study #1: University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) was using VMware for a full spectrum of academic and administrative operations: research, classroom and homework assignment tools, interaction with the local area, and community service efforts. The branch campus of the University of Texas wanted to lower its virtualization costs and better integrate its system for greater management efficiency.

UTSA started out with 30 physical machines running the VMware ESX platform and supporting a total of about 550 VPSs (virtual private servers). The VPSs use both major operating systems: Linux and Windows. They were responsible for over 100 diverse web environments, ranging from websites to applications for general business management. Because different operating systems (OSs) are handled in different ways, the IT department required knowledge of the tools to run the technologies for both OSs. They also had to use separate software to monitor and administer the complete infrastructure.

When UTSA migrated from VMware to Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V recently, it experienced the following benefits, according to its IT management and staff:

  • As with any organization, there are really to bottom lines with technology:  quality and cost. According to UTSA system administrator David Vargas, the school was able to continue to meet its institutional goal of “excellent service to our university community” while lowering its costs.
  • UTSA system engineer Steven Stewart noted the efficiency and simplicity of using a single system: it is now possible to monitor everything at once, providing “coordinated visibility” for all involved.

Case Study #2: Toyota Tsusho Africa

Toyota Tsusho Africa Ltd. is a logistics supplier of Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which in turn is one of the worldwide Toyota Group Companies. The company was using VMware vCenter, and its system was supported (like UTSA) by both Windows and Linux environments. It gained similar systemic and financial improvements to those experienced by the University.

What was somewhat different about the circumstances for Toyota Tsusho was that it was planning a major overhaul to its infrastructure. It needed to renew its security and virtualization licenses for Symantec and VMware while also upgrading its physical machines. Due to the broad scope of the IT project, seeking out affordable options was a necessity. Furthermore, the company had several other core concerns, including more streamlined administration and performance optimization. Finally, the transition need to be rapid-fire so that day-to-day business operations would not be unduly affected.

Toyota Tsusho Africa decided to make the switch to Microsoft Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V. The results were as follows:

  • According to Toyota Tsusho management, complete installment of new machines, deployment of virtualization, and configuration was conducted in just 22 days. The fast-paced migration had the added benefit of reduced labor costs.
  • By relying on one technology based on one operating system, the company will be able to scale both its IT department and the company as a whole painlessly, while also enabling a more productive workflow for employees.
  • The new solution puts less strain on the technological budget and will continue to keep costs manageable moving forward.
  • As noted in Forbes (in that case specifically with regards to the cloud), improvements in operational efficiency within an IT department allow businesses to shift more focus from infrastructural and operational costs into innovation. Toyota Tsusho is no exception.

Free Alternatives for Virtualization

If you want a free hypervisor alternative that is open source and Linux-based, KVM http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/Main_Page and XenServer http://www.xenserver.org/ are a couple of strong options.
Atlantic.Net offers virtualization of all three varieties: KVM, Xen, and Hyper-V.

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

Healthcare IT – A Decision Maker’s Guide to Cloud Computing and Managed Server Hosting

Doctors Examining X-ray Image

This document explains the difference between dedicated, virtual, public cloud, and private cloud hosting environments; along with essential information that healthcare professionals may require.

We introduce the concept of virtualization, its many benefits, and the reasons why it effectively contends with dedicated hosting services. Virtualization has created new possibilities and opportunities for the healthcare segment of technology. Healthcare IT professionals specializing in virtualization technologies have recently found more attractive and lucrative opportunities, especially with the new Healthcare Reform and healthcare IT initiatives introduced during the Obama administration.

Virtualization is the technology behind cloud computing, and it makes a vast pool of network resources a genuine possibility.

Continue reading

Dedicated Servers versus Virtual Private Servers

Choosing VPS vs. dedicated: different methods for your global reach.

Choosing VPS vs. dedicated: different methods for your global reach.

Dedicated servers and virtual private servers (VPSs) are two common hosting options for those companies too large or complex for shared hosting. Hosting clients typically wonder about the limitations of a VPS and whether it is worth the reduced cost to choose server virtualization over a dedicated server. Let’s briefly review exactly what makes a server virtual or dedicated before surveying a few basic differences.

Dedicated Server & VPS: definitions & hosting usage

You may have a general idea of what dedicated servers and virtual private servers are. However, a quick overview of these two terms will ensure it’s clear exactly how these two types of servers differ.

A dedicated server is a server that is charged with one particular task; hence the term dedicated. A dedicated server might be used to host your site, for instance, or an individual application. A server might also be dedicated specifically for email, for DNS purposes, or for gaming. Of course, you might choose to use a server for a number of different functions. The bottom line as a hosting customer, regardless of the technical definition of a dedicated server, is that the machine is fully available for your use.

When you use a dedicated server for hosting, you’re renting an entire server – the actual piece of hardware – from a hosting service. As long as you follow the guidelines within your hosting contract, you are able to customize the server any way you like. Other than limited access by the hosting staff for routine maintenance and to assist you as desired, you’re the only one using the server; it’s unavailable to other customers.

A virtual private server, as you can imagine, gets a bit more complicated. A VPS is a virtual machine (VM) that functions as its own server within a hosting environment. A virtual private server runs on its own instance of the operating system. On that OS, applications can run specifically within that section of the physical hardware. Virtualizing servers allows more than one operating system to be active simultaneously on the same server. Applications are also allowed full independence.

In a hosting environment, your VPS exists on the same physical machine as other companies/accounts; it has this feature in common with shared hosting. However, like shared hosting, VPS involves much stricter lines of demarcation. Operating with your own OS through virtualization means that your security is enhanced and you have much greater freedom to meet your needs by modifying the parameters of the VPS.

Dedicated versus VPS – Cost

VPS hosting is significantly less expensive than dedicated hosting is, simply because you do not need the full physical hardware with a VPS. The primary reason a VPS is selected for hosting is because it is a more budget-conscious choice.

Keep in mind, because a VPS only has access to a portion of the resources of the server, many customers prefer dedicated servers for their power. However, when VPS servers utilize a cloud hosting model (as ours do), they are optimized for scalability. In other words, with the advent of cloud technology, a virtual server is much better prepared for peak loads and rapid growth.

Dedicated versus VPS – storage & speed

Choosing a virtual private server, regardless of whether it uses a cloud model or not, is not standardly prepared for the same amounts of storage space and traffic as a dedicated server is. Clearly dedicated servers make sense for those who want to specify a particular type of machine with certain components and attributes they can preestablish. With a dedicated server, parameters are hard and fast, and you can add additional dedicated servers as needed.

VPS servers involve multiple accounts running on individual hard drives simultaneously. Naturally, access by a number of different hosting customers can decrease the speed and reliability of a site. You will also run out of room more quickly on a VPS server.

However, it’s again worth noting how virtual private servers that use cloud hosting differ from typical VPS offerings. In the past, a VPS was like a piece of the whole pie that was the physical server (which is still the case in non-cloud VPS environments, although features such as bursting and swap space allow some leeway). In that way, although a non-cloud VPS was not a physical server, its capabilities were physically limited.

With access to the cloud, though, a VPS can now scale easily, on demand, to meet the needs of a growing business. Adding additional storage and power is as simple as clicking a button in your administrative panel. Granted, VPSs are not for everyone. Because a VPS does not constitute a physical server, those in need of certain customization capabilities will want to choose dedicated hosting.

Dedicated versus VPS – selecting a host

Trying to decide between a dedicated server and a virtual private server can be tough. We hope that picking out a quality web host does not need to be nearly as difficult. At Atlantic.Net, we’ve been in business since 1994. With almost 2 decades of experience, we know you’ll be satisfied with whichever of our solutions you choose.

By Kent Roberts

Virtual Networks and Cloud Server Hosting

Virtualization, the process of making applications available on virtual storage, is a technology that is growing at an incredible rate within the IT industry, and has taken a step towards merging with cloud computing to improve upon the already established reliability of cloud networks.  This merge represents a very important development within the cloud hosting industry, but its benefits may not be readily apparent.

With virtualization, your cloud server can be accessed not only by two individuals on opposite sides of town, but also to those on opposite sides of the country or even the world.  This is perfect for large corporations that have headquarters around the globe, and thus are on different work schedules.

While the initial impression of cloud server hosting may lead to a little wariness due to the belief that it is an unsecure environment, a virtual network actually helps to isolate the systems running through the provider’s data centers, thus filtering out unwanted and potentially dangerous traffic.

Perhaps the most critical benefits of a virtual network are its increased performance and maximized resilience.  When a system is virtualized, it has a specific amount of resources dedicated towards it.  Without virtualization, applications will be left to battle one another for available resources.  Additionally, ensuring that resources are used proportionately helps to improve the overall performance of the infrastructure.

Even though it is a fairly new technology, virtualization provides numerous benefits that simply cannot be ignored. Atlantic.Net offers affordable dedicated virtualization hosting solutions that are custom‐built to your individual needs.  To see what our engineers can do for you, call an advisor today at 1‐800‐521-5881.

Hosting Your Web Application in the Cloud

A web application is a program that can be accessed by users over the Internet.  These applications are coded in a browser-supported programming language such as Ruby on Rails and can be accessed through browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer.  Web applications come in a multitude of varieties with an even wider range of purposes, from WordPress to e-commerce software.

Companies are increasingly hosting their applications on cloud servers.  Because physical servers are very difficult to scale and have significant upfront and long-term running costs, the cloud is a perfect solution.  Cloud servers are virtualized, meaning that they are abstracted from underlying physical hardware, and are hosted in data centers that are cost‐effective, shockingly fast and incredibly secure.

It is clear why physical servers are becoming a thing of the past for application hosting; cloud servers can be created, cloned, backed‐up, moved, upgraded or even destroyed in just minutes.  Additionally, cloud servers are incredibly scalable, meaning users can purchase more or less server space as they wish.

An Atlantic.Net cloud platform allows users to build, test, and deploy cloud servers in just seconds, and with live technical support available 24/7/365, you can rest assured that your application will run securely and reliably at a price perfect for your budget.  To learn more, contact us today at 1‐800‐521-5881.

Microsoft Hyper-V or VMWare?

When choosing the right hypervisor for your enterprise environment, it is essential for IT managers to know which features are most important, the pros and cons of each of the technologies, and the appropriate implementation methods.  Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware should be examined thoroughly and rated on factors such as performance, scalability, and ease of integration with the company’s existing system.

One of the main differences between Hyper-V and VMWare is that Microsoft wants virtualization, cloud, and datacenter management to be an extension or expansion of the current infrastructure, while VMware wants the vCloud Suite to be completely separated and isolated infrastructure.  VMware is looking to create a completely isolated ecosystem that consists of a collection of machines with different capabilities working independently, making up the features within the infrastructure.

Lately, Microsoft’s Hyper-V has become a formidable competitor to VMware, especially with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.  A few years ago virtualization was seen as the final destination, but now it is clear that this technology is a building block to the more agile, responsive world of cloud computing.  IT leaders care about deploying a platform that is reliable, stable, cost-effective and easily adaptable to changing business needs, which is what Microsoft Hyper-V delivers.

Atlantic.Net understands that each business is different and needs a specific virtualization hosting solution to fit their needs.  Both Hyper-V and VMWare are rather effective visors, and are two of the most popular platforms in the server virtualization market.  Atlantic.Net’s dedicated Hyper-V virtualization hosting puts a thin layer of software between the dedicated server hardware and the operating system (OS) that allows multiple instances of an OS to run, unmodified, on a single physical dedicated server at the same time.  Atlantic.Net also builds and deploys affordable, custom dedicated VMWare virtualization hosting solutions to ensure enterprise-level performance with ease of use, convenience, flexibility and security.  Call 1-800-521-5881 to speak with an Atlantic.Net advisor today about the virtualization hosting solution for your business!