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05
Jul
2011

SSAE 16: A Statement on Standards, Part. 2

by Administrator

by Tony Morgan, CEO of NationalNet

Since our first article on NationalNet’s SSAE 16 Attestation process, we’ve kept up the momentum and are now well on our way to the testing segment. We’ve not only given the auditors a list of all of our data center commitments, but we’ve gone into detail on how we control them to ensure a high quality of service is continually given to our customers.

As I explained in Part 1 of this series, we spent many weeks committing all of the things that we do on behalf of our customers to paper. Along with our contracted consultants we wrote step by step documentation for everything from the process one uses to gain access to the data center all the way through the smallest details of how we evaluate our employees on an ongoing basis. These processes are also known as “controls”. Step two of the audit process is where we define how we will “test” all of the controls.

From the outside looking in, one could only assume that a student writing their own final exam would be easy, but in this case, it is not. Because the CPA firm has their license on the line, they will not accept anything less than the best form of testing that is available. For example, as a company we choose to test our generators once per week by firing them up and running them to make sure that they are reacting appropriately. This is common among most Data Centers, but in our Attestation we stated that we also test the generators under a full load at least once per year because we know that they can react differently under load than they do with no load. You would be surprised at how many of our competitors choose not to do the last step. So, in our test simply stating that we do it is not enough. We agreed to provide logs from the system showing the tests, invoices from our vendor showing the tests were performed and the contract that we have signed with the vendor to complete this on an annual basis. In addition, if the auditor so chooses, we may be asked to actually pull up video from our security cameras around the generators showing the exact date and time that these tests were performed. This is just one of literally dozens and dozens of controls that are tested.

 

In addition to the obvious tests there will be some that are not so obvious, as well. For an example, the auditors will be gaining access to the facility at different times throughout the audit period. Each time they will be watching to make sure that the security policies and procedures are being followed to the letter. One of the things that we state in our Attestation is that all visitors must have their badge displayed prominently while inside the facility. We also go on to state that it is every employee’s responsibility to challenge anyone found inside the building without credentials displayed, as opposed to most facilities where it is simply left up to the security force. The auditor may choose to simply remove their badge and walk around the halls in the secured areas to see if employees challenge their access. Our customers need to know that when we say that we are a secure facility that it is not just lip service…we really mean it.

In the coming weeks, we will be finished writing the tests of the controls and will be moving onto the next step of the “walk through”…..call it a “pre test” if you will. This step will complete two steps…first, it will give us a chance to see how we perform under the tests, but it will also be a chance for the consultants to make sure that the tests are solid and do not need to be tweaked prior to the audit. More on that in Part 3 of this series coming soon…

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13
May
2011

Volunteering with TechBridge: Digital Ball 2011

by Administrator

On Saturday, NationalNet had the pleasure of volunteering for TechBridge’s Digital Ball 2011. TechBridge is the “non-profit for non-profits” by facilitating IT and Tech needs for organizations such as Hosea Feed the Hungry, AID Atlanta, and Childkind, just to name a few. TechBridge has provided everything from software training for employees, server hosting, and implementation of high end database management services. Without TechBridge, many of these non-profits would still be keeping records in paper form with little to no organization and performing at a lower rate of efficiency.

The Digital Ball is the annual shindig for TechBridge to bring together C-level and Executive representatives from technology companies all over the Southeast. In recent years, the Ball has raised over $1 million in funds that are directly used for helping TechBridge’s network of non-profits. After an incredible turn out this year, we are still awaiting news of the final amount that was raised.

NationalNet has been committed to helping the community for nearly 15 years, and we feel that TechBridge is an amazing group to give a concentrated effort toward. Two of our employees have worked tirelessly since December on the Raffle Committee to find and secure items that were raffled off at the Ball, contributing to the overall funds that were raised for the night. If you would like more information on TechBridge and how to get involved, visit the organization online.

 

Digital Ball 2011

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21
Apr
2011

Press Release: NationalNet Makes a Statement on Standards, Begins SSAE 16 Attestation

by Administrator

SSAE 16 LogoATLANTA, GA – April 19, 2011 —   NationalNet, a web hosting and data center solutions company, announced today that they have begun the process for attaining a Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16, Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization, otherwise known as SSAE 16. While the SSAE 16 attestation is new to the web hosting industry, it will supersede the Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS 70) by June 15, 2011. NationalNet is choosing to remain ahead of the curve in the industry by beginning this process with the Atlanta based CPA firm, Windham Brannon.

As stated by the American Institute of CPAs, “This section [SSAE 16] addresses examination engagements undertaken by a service auditor to report on controls at organizations that provide services to user entities when those controls are likely to be relevant to user entities’ internal control.”

NationalNet has made the commitment to continuing its high level of customer satisfaction and growth within the data center and hosting industry. As part of that mission, attaining the SSAE 16 attestation is just one step toward making sure our customers understand the company’s focus on providing the best services and controls needed to maintain a reliable data center.

“Deep down in our hearts, we know that we do everything necessary to guarantee our customers’ satisfaction every single day” said Tony Morgan, CEO of NationalNet. “Based on what we’re hearing within the data center Industry, we’ve decided to begin the SSAE 16 attestation process.  My team and I have spent the first quarter of this year in meetings with Windham Brannon committing what NationalNet does every day to paper.”

As yet another affirmation to provide outstanding service, NationalNet will complete the SSAE 16 attestation and many other goals within the 2011 calendar year.

About NationalNet

A leader in innovative web hosting and data center solutions, NationalNet is changing the way businesses manage their connectivity.  Whether it’s fully managed hosting or a custom configured colocation space, NationalNet has solutions that exceed expectations and can fit any budget.  NationalNet’s success is built on superior customer service customized to meet the needs of every client.  For more information, please visit www.nationalnet.com, call 678.247.7000, or email sales@nationalnet.com.

About Windham Brannon

We believe Windham Brannon is Atlanta’s premier CPA firm. They offer comprehensive accounting and advisory services, proactive tax consultation and compliance. Windham Brannon serves many of Atlanta’s most successful local companies as well as large, publicly-held corporations. For more information, please visit www.windhambrannon.com.

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12
Apr
2011

SSAE 16: A Statement on Standards, Part 1.

by Administrator

by Tony Morgan, CEO of NationalNet

Over the next 8 months NationalNet will be undergoing an extensive audit known in the industry as SSAE 16 (formerly known as SAS 70 Type II Certification).  This article is the first in a series explaining the audit, what we are actually doing, and keeping you updated on our progress.  I chose to write this article myself as it is an important part of the growth of our company and we take these milestones very seriously.  I will try to keep it light by being informative without boring you to death with all of the geek-speak.  As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to address them to me, directly, at ceo@nationalnet.com

Let’s start with the basics, shall we….. 

What is SSAE 16?  Well, since you asked, get ready for this…..it is a “Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 16, Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization”.  Wasn’t that a mouthful?  While that may seem like a long name that really means nothing, pay close attention to the last 7 words, “Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization”.  At our core, NationalNet is simply nothing more than a service organization and one of the things that you pay us for is to have controls (or systems) in place to handle any eventuality.  This audit is really nothing more than a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) coming into our facility and “testing” these controls and certifying that we have them and we follow them.  The controls cover everything from the actual physical security of the Data Center, to the logical security of the network, to the  training of our employees, to the inner workings of our Customer Portal, MyNatNet. 

Why would NationalNet want to be SSAE 16 Certified?  For many customers, before you choose a hosting/collocation provider, you take an opportunity to visit the facility and talk with key people and get a warm feeling about the provider and the level of service you may expect to get from them.  However, in many other cases, the decision may be made at the Home Office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, (to quote David Letterman).  Having this certification allows us to send documentation to the Home Office (in Grand Rapids, Michigan) that shows the controls and that a licensed, outside party has certified that the systems were in place and functioning during the audit period.  In addition, many Government Agencies, Fortune 500 Companies, and Foreign Governments require the certification before they will do business with a data center at any level. 

So, what was SAS 70 then and did it go away?  First developed in 1992 the Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS 70) has been the undisputed leader in testing the security and controls of a data center to assure clients that it meets some level of assurance.  After nearly 20 years, however, this system has become dated and inadequate to handle the next generation of data centers that are dotting the landscape in today’s market. The AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), has mandated that all SAS 70 Certifications cease on June 15, 2011 and be upgraded to the newer SSAE 16.  In a nutshell, it’s time to retire the old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) and upgrade to the 24″ HD flat screen monitor. 

What is the first step to achieving SSAE 16?  This is the hard part for us.  Deep down in our hearts, we know that we do everything necessary to guarantee our customers satisfaction every single day….but now we have to write it down…..in detail…..lots and lots of detail.  You may think it sounds easy but I assure you it is not.  Let me use this example….if I asked you to write down IN DETAIL how a human walks one step you would think it should be easy.  Did you know that the human body uses over 200 muscles to walk a single step?  Now think of having to write a procedure for each and every muscle, in detail, noting every move and every signal from the brain.  Finished?  Not yet, my friend.  Then write, in detail, what each of those 200 muscles and another 300 more muscles that have to deploy in the case that you tripped over the curb.  Now you are starting to get the idea.  My team and I spent the first quarter of this year in meeting after meeting committing what NationalNet does every day to paper and we are almost done with this step of the process. 

What’s next?   In our next article we will begin getting into the actual controls and the testing of those controls.

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30
Mar
2011

Employee Highlight: Fred Dysart, Jr. Application Developer

by Administrator

 

Fred - NationalNet

We are excited to share one of our programmers with you, Fred Dysart. He has been with us for just over a year and has made a positive impact with our Programming department. For those you who don’t know, all of our programming for MyNatNet, billing and website is done in-house. Fred has worked on all of these areas in order to help improve user experience and customer support. He is proficient in programming languages such as PHP, Perl, bash, and java based Android applications…  That spells geeky in a good way.

Fred came to NationalNet as a fresh graduate from the University of Virginia with a degree in Computer Engineering. Lucky for us, his fiancé, Marilyn, decided to attend the Georgia Institue of Technology for her Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering, which pulled Fred to move to Atlanta and join our team.

In his spare time, he enjoys snowboarding, playing soccer, being a member of a kickball league (good reason for beer on a Sunday) and helping his fiancé plan their upcoming wedding.

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22
Mar
2011

NatNet News: Winners, Highlights & More

by Administrator

Video Winners - NationalNet

This month we announced the winners for the “Show Us Your Love” campaign, discuss data center maintenance and high availability server options. To read the newsletter, visit us here.

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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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16
Dec
2010

Featured Employee: Stephanie, Accounts Receivable Clerk

by Administrator

Stephanie, employee with NationalNetStephanie has been working with NationalNet since 2007 as our Accounts Receivable Clerk. She handles all of our billing, inquiries from customers and help tickets. In fact, she gets to spend the most time with our customers and really enjoys getting to know them and creating a lasting relationship. When asked what her favorite aspect of NationalNet is, she replied, “I really enjoy the people I work with, and I like helping and talking to customers.” She also recalls a time when NationalNet helped her through dealing with her home being broken into. The employees came together for a fund to help her replace items that were taken, and she will always be thankful for the way she was treated, not as an employee, but as a family member.

With customer interaction being at the forefront of her position, it should come as no surprise that she graduated from Montana State University with a Health Administration and Public Relations degree. In her spare time, Stephanie has worked with the American Cancer Society and other philanthropies in Atlanta. She also enjoys decorating her new house, cooking and sharing her home with her fiance, two dogs, a cat and two turtles.

From Stephanie, and the rest of our staff at NationalNet, we wish you a Happy Holiday Season!

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NationalNet, Inc., Internet - Web Hosting, Marietta, GA
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