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Monthly Archives: February 2011

22
Feb
2011

High Availability – Is it For You?

by Administrator

A question we get on a regular basis is “How can I assure that my site will never go down no matter what?”  The answer is always the same “There are a number of options available to you depending on your budget and your application”.   I have provided a few options below.  As always, there are a number of ways to accomplish a task. The list below is by no means complete but will give you some ideas on what can be done to ensure that your site is less vulnerable to hardware and/or networking issues.

 

In every case, setting up high availability is going to require duplicating some hardware and may require changing the basic architecture of your site.

1. Round-Robin DNS (RRDNS)

RRNDS is a method where you assign 2 or more IP addresses in DNS to a single domain name.  If DNS sees that there is more than 1 IP address associated with the domain, it will divide the traffic between the IP addresses.  If there are two IP addresses associated with the domain, as requests come in they will be sent in an alternate fashion.  In other words, request number 1 goes to IP number 1.  Request number 2 goes to the second IP…request number 3 goes to the first IP –  well, you get the picture. To set this up, you would mirror your site on two different servers, using one IP on the first server and the second IP on the second server.  You are not limited to just 2 IP addresses per site with this method but each IP must be on a dedicated server.  In other words, if you assigned 4 IP addresses to the site, you would have to set up 4 servers with an identical copy of the site on all four servers.

 

The Advantage: RRDNS is that is a free solution and only requires the additional servers and nothing more – no expensive load balancer or difficult software configurations.

The Disadvantage: is that RRDNS does not know anything regarding the health of the server so if one server goes down, RRDNS will still attempt to send requests to that server, which means that ½ of the requests are going to a dead server.  Some surfers will hit the server that is up and see the site while the other half will hit the dead server and see nothing.  Another disadvantage is that it may require some site structure redesign.  For instance, if you use a CMS to manage your site, you must ensure that the CMS can handle having the site on more than one server.

 

2. Load Balancing

Load balancing is a hardware/software solution that works much like RRDNS except that the site only has one IP address associated with it as opposed to the multiple IP addresses used with RRDNS.  It still requires 2 or more servers with identical copies of the site residing on each server.  The IP address of the site resides on the hardware load balancer.  When a request for the site comes in, the request goes directly to the load balancer.  The load balancer then forwards the request to the least busy server and the server fulfills the request by sending the site content back to the surfer.

 

The Advantage: A load balancer knows about the health of the servers. If a server goes down or is not responding to requests, the load balancer immediately and automatically removes it from the pool and discontinues sending requests to it.  Once the server comes back up, the load balancer automatically puts it back into the pool and starts sending requests to it.

The Disadvantages: Load balancing is an additional cost (we can reduce these costs by putting you on a shared load balancer).  As well, the load balancer now becomes a single point of failure so in order to have true redundancy it requires a secondary load balancer in case the primary fails, thus doubling your cost.  Also, like RRDNS, you must ensure that your site and applications are capable of running on more than one server.

 

3. Disaster Recovery Site (DRS)

DRS is where you mirror your entire infrastructure (servers, network equipment, etc) in a second data center, usually in a data center that is at least 2-300 miles or more from your main location.  The reason for the distance is in case the primary center is subject to a natural disaster.  For instance, if a hurricane brings down your primary location, you want to ensure that the secondary location is also not affected.

 

The Advantage: You have full redundancy that would cover almost any event.

The Disadvantages: It requires that you duplicate your entire infrastructure, thus doubling your costs to protect against an event that may never occur.  Also, setting up a DRS so that it is fully automated requires a serious commitment to programming and architecture.

 

These are just a few of the things you can do to bullet-proof your site.  We also offer Mysql clustering as well as primary/secondary Mysql solutions that can ensure that there is some redundancy in your databases.  As always, should you have any questions about high availability, please contact our sales department.

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09
Feb
2011

NatNet News: Show Us The Love

by Administrator

Show Us The Love Campaign - Free iPad - NationalNetNatNet News: Show Us The Love

In this newsletter, we highlight Jerimiah Bledell as our Assitant Director of Technical Services, discuss our 2010 year in review, and ask you to Show Us The Love. Find out more by reading the newlsetter here.

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03
Feb
2011

NationalNet: 2010 In Review

by Administrator

by Bill Van Vorst, President

As another year has closed, I find myself reflecting back on what a year it has been.  There have been some good times and tough times but I’m happy to say that we made it through a year that was difficult for most businesses and find ourselves stronger than before due to changes we have made.

So, what did last year bring?  With regards to business overall, it brought more of the same.  We, as well as many of our customers are still feeling the pain of the recession and while some government pundits are saying “the recession is over”, I feel that it’s going to be 2012 before we really start seeing the economy returning to pre-2009 numbers.  However, there has been a benefit to the recession, as it has forced us to trim the fat and to change our spending habits.  With the changes we have made, we’re leaner and meaner than we have ever been.  When the economy does turn around, we’ll be in a great position to ride the wave.

It’s been a year with a bit more customer churn than we are accustomed to.  The recession, combined with less discretionary income as well as tighter credit card limits has created a perfect storm for many web sites who rely on online sales to stay in business.  Unfortunately, some of these web sites have not survived the recession, which results in the closing of their doors and a loss of a customer for us.  On the flip side, we’ve brought on many new customers, such as the Atlanta Falcons and Oovoo, just to name a few. 

This has been a year of growth for us in other areas.  Not only did we receive a large IPv6 IP address allocation from ARIN, with the network upgrades we have done this year, we have put ourselves in a great position to roll out IPv6 as it becomes more prevalent.  For more information about IPv6, you can read the blog posting here.

Finally, we have seen some employee changes and additions this year, which we’re very  excited about.  William Slocumb was promoted to Director of Technical Services.  Click here to read more about William. Jerimiah Bidell, has been promoted to Assistant Director of Technical Services.  We also expanded our marketing department with the addition of a new Marketing Manager, Jennifer Collom.  Jennifer is not only working closely with the Director of Sales and Marketing to create a new marketing plan, she is in charge of our entire social media campaign where you can keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook.  Megan Arnall has also joined the NationalNet family as a web designer and has already done some very nice work for us (stay tuned for the roll-out of our new web site in the next month or two.)  These promotions and additions have brought a fresh and different outlook as well as some much-needed excitement to the company as a whole.

Overall, it’s been a very interesting year with both highs and lows.  However, I truly feel that after all is said and done, NationalNet will emerge at the end of the year as a stronger, more agile and healthier company that is ready to meet the new year head on.

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02
Feb
2011

Featured Employee: Jerimiah, Assistant Director of Technical Services

by Administrator

Jerimiah with NationalNet

With all of the positive changes that have taken place for NationalNet over  the past few months, we’d like to share just one more with you, a promotion for Jerimiah Bedell to Assistant Director of Technical Services. Jerimiah has been with our company since July of 2007 and has worked very hard for the past few years to attain this new position. He now takes part in managing our technical team, acting as a point of escalation, trouble shooting, and contributing to our Advanced Customer Solutions Team.

Jerimiah has a long history in the technical and hosting world, including positions held at SpaceNet and Earthlink as a Web Host Engineer. It should come as no surprise that he enjoys gaming and programming when he has the time.

His personal life is filled with a wife and three little boys under the age of six. He describes his life as extremely busy, but that he wouldn’t have it any other way. With three little boys in the house, we’re sure there’s always something going on. On the weekends, he really enjoys family activities such as visiting the park or taking the kids to Chuck E. Cheese.  

We are happy to formally introduce our new Assistant Director of Technical Services to you, and please join us in giving him a round of applause.

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