Is Your Website Ready for Holiday Season Traffic?

load timesThe 2017 festive shopping season promises to be one of the biggest ever, particularly for online retailers. Total sales are projected to grow by 16.6 percent over last year, with online sales comprising 11.5 percent of all holiday shopping.

The period before, during, and after the holiday season is a huge sales opportunity for you. But if your e-commerce website is not ready for the influx of traffic, it can be a lost opportunity. Slow load times, broken links, and a poor user experience are unacceptable to shoppers expecting to find greater convenience and selection by going online.

Websites that cannot handle the surge in traffic immediately lose on sales. Worse, they damage the reputation of the brand and disappoint customers who may have otherwise become loyal fans. Optimising your website to accommodate more traffic is a sound goal for both the short and long term, and there are a few great strategies to keep in mind for getting your website ready:

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Quick Guide for Using Powershell to Control Apache Cloudstack

Intro

Controlling your Cloud environment via the Portal (GUI) is something everyone can do (assuming, of course that you know what you want to accomplish and what options you need to get the most out of your platform). A good cloud platform automates things to the greatest extent possible to help prevent human errors from happening. Automation can also help take full advantage of the scalability and flexibility of a cloud.

In this blog, I’m going to take a bit of a different approach to what most Apache Cloudstack administrators are used to working with. Our LeaseWeb engineers usually script their actions on the Cloud using Cloudmonkey, a useful tool that provides all of the features an administrator would need. But instead of using Linux and Cloudmonkey, I want to approach things from a different angle. I will focus on Windows Administrators who are familiar with Powershell, and show what can be accomplished using this tool.

We will begin by connecting to Cloudstack via Powershell, list the current Instances under my account and deploy a new Instance.

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Cloud Advancements for Crunching Big Data Effectively

big dataThe expression “big data” is often thrown around in the business and tech world, but what does that really mean? Big data is a term that’s used to describe huge data sets that can be analyzed for trends and patterns in order to make better business decisions.

That may sound easy enough, and although there is extensive research and written information on big data technologies, few companies are actually using big data successfully. Most businesses remain ambitious, knowing they should be employing the technology without actually doing so.

Data continues to come in faster than ever, making it crucial for companies to process it more quickly. Effectively implementing fast processing of data will ensure your company is more up-to-date and relevant, and this is extremely important given how diverse data is becoming — a factor that gives us all the ability to analyze more innovatively.

As cloud computing continues to dominate the production environment, it’s time to take a look into “big data analytics” so you too can recognize how the power of crunching big data is bringing endless competitive advantage to companies.

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LeaseWeb Launches in the UK: The Importance of a Global Presence

data centerThe LeaseWeb decision to launch our company in the UK is driven by a few strategic considerations. As a global provider of cloud infrastructure solutions, we serve many customers who are using our services in different locations across the globe. We have seen a growing demand for UK-based infrastructure from our existing customers, which we decided to address as their strategic infrastructure business partner.

In addition to this growing demand, we see a vast opportunity. The UK is still the largest market in Europe for cloud services, with significant growth rates for the next few years. The London Internet Exchange has for many years been a crucial pillar of the internet, and LeaseWeb is delighted to have a local presence in London in addition to strong positions in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Washington DC, Singapore, and Sydney.

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Focus on Your Core Business With Managed Network Services

Managed Network ServicesWhether you’re managing a remote workforce, utilizing a lot of data, or need top-notch cybersecurity, it all takes a toll on your network infrastructure. It is tough to meet all these needs within a tight budget and existing bandwidth, especially if you’re doing it on your own.

The good news is that you don’t need to do it all on your own — instead, you can consider network management services.

Managed network services help you remain focused on your core business by making sure your business is always online and that your equipment is consistently available. They can also help keep your costs down because you don’t need to make expensive technology investments — typically, you just pay a monthly fee per device managed.

 

What Managed Network Services Can Do for You

Having a secure and stable networking infrastructure that allows users to improve productivity is no longer a commodity — it’s a necessity. It is absolutely crucial to have this type of structure in place to ensure your company has the platform needed to expand your core business and provide the competitive advantage your intellectual capital depends on.

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3 Ways to Prevent Bot Attacks on Your Web Applications

botsIt’s becoming more common to hear about IoT security — or the lack thereof — in the news, and computers and IoT devices are frequently targeted by hackers for “bot” employment to perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, application exploits and credential stuffing. Non human traffic or bot traffic represents currently more than 60% of the total traffic going to web sites.

Those bots come in a variety of forms, making it extremely important to distinguish between the infected hosts that often make up botnets to perform various malicious activities, to the legitimate bots that are extremely important in driving customer traffic to your site (Googlebot, for example).

Different Types of Bot Attacks on Web Services

Websites that contain pricing information and proprietary information are especially vulnerable to bot traffic.

An example of a content scraping process can be seen when airline companies use bot farming to scrape price information from competitive airline company sites. They use this information to dynamically price similar products — once they find out what a competitor is charging, they can price their services lower to gain a market advantage.

A more malicious use includes deploying a botnet that seeks out vulnerabilities in website technology and stores this as a vulnerable site, ripe for exploitation. Read the rest of this entry »

Dark Launching: A Way to Test New Features Before Going Live

Dark LaunchWhen planning a deployment of a new application or feature, it’s a good idea to test it first to gauge its potential and, more importantly, ensure it works in production.

To do this, you can predeploy it in production and either have your team test it, or have a select group of users try it for a while. This can help you find out whether the feature is worth the development time or whether you want to change your strategy.

This process is called “dark launching,” and it helps your team members test changes and see whether the code they developed is working in production. These test users may provide feedback on the changes you make, and you can monitor how the application is behaving when utilized by end users.

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Create More Efficiency for DevOps by Automating Security Patches

Security PatchAt LeaseWeb we are always looking for ways to automate tasks and processes to make the work of our engineers easier and allow them to spend more time on innovation rather than repetitive tasks. One of those tasks is the installation of (monthly) recurring security updates (Windows, Linux, etc.).

Not every company has the latest security patches installed, as evidenced over the last view months with the ransomware attacks (WannaCry for example). Fortunately, within LeaseWeb we were up to date and not impacted by the ransomware attacks, but it does highlight the importance of these security updates.

The events also raise the question if some companies did not have all their updates in order because the tedious deployment task of such patches may not be on every engineer’s “favorite things to do” list.

Within our product engineering department, we also struggle with the task of deploying these patches each month due to the amount of work that goes into deploying these updates on all our systems. For this reason, one of our teams decided to automate this job as much as possible.

At first we considered using Chef which was already heavily used in our company; however, we found that it was not the best option particularly for Windows updates.

After conducting more research, we selected Ansible.  For those unfamiliar with Ansible, it is a simple yet powerful open source automation platform. This product can help with configuration management, application deployment and task automation. Unlike Puppet or Chef, it doesn’t use an agent on the remote host. The main reason we chose Ansible is it already has a nice way to deploy patches on Linux boxes via SSH, but also has a module for Windows updates.

We then set out to configure Ansible for Windows and Linux updates. Linux was easy. It only required SSH connections from a specific system, which in our case was an Ansible management server, and then running a playbook.  But for Windows it was a bit more challenging.  For this system Ansible uses Windows remote management services or WIN_RM.  To set this up you need to enable WIN_RM, open some firewall ports, and start the services.

Fortunately, Ansible provides a nice PowerShell script to do all these tasks for you.  We did discover a downside when trying to remotely run this PowerShell script.  It failed because it needed to run with elevated security permissions, and Windows 2016 prompts the user to confirm these elevated rights executions.

Unfortunately, not all our Windows servers have Chef running, so we had do come up with a different way of enabling WIN_RM and opening firewall ports. In the end we decided to spread the workload of running this script amongst some team members because as the saying goes, “many hands make light work.”

The end result is that we now have both Windows and Linux servers ready to receive patches from Ansible, saving our team time which can be used for other tasks instead of deploying these patches every four weeks.

We still have some work left to do such as completely removing the remaining manual actions. At the moment, someone still needs to login to an Ansible jump host (which we use to connect to different networks) and run the playbook. We also have to manually put systems in downtime in our monitoring platform.

One other important thing we still need to implement is a result check in order to know if a deployment was successful or not.

But now that we have more time on our hands, I am confident it will get done.

 

4 Ways to Make Sure Your Webshop Stays Open

e-commerce hostingWhile global e-commerce sales are predicted to approach $2.5 trillion this year and continue to grow to nearly $4 trillion by 2020, according to a recent eMarketer report, the market remains highly competitive.

Nearly 80 percent of new e-commerce sites ultimately fail, and companies need to have a strong understanding of their market, trends, merchandise, platform, and e-commerce hosting if they want to be among the minority of sites that succeeds.

Most importantly, though, new sellers must understand their customers. More than any other factor, knowing your customer is what will allow you to deliver a first-class online experience.

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U.S. Data Center Upgrades for Even Better Performance

data centerLast month, I wrote about five things you can do to ensure shorter load times for your sites. Today I want to look at a sixth, positioning your services as close as possible to your end users.

LeaseWeb entered the U.S. market in 2011, in part because our clients across Europe and Asia needed North America-based hosting. Over time, we’ve grown our presence, both organically and through acquisition. We now operate 10 data centers across the continent with local U.S. based support.

Positioning services closer to end users enhances customer experience by decreasing content delivery times. Geographic spread also provides the safest disaster recovery and remote backup solutions for maximum uptime.

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LeaseWeb on Twitter

Leaseweb's Arno Witvliet speaks to Dutch IT-Channel about cloud infrastructure and the opportunities offered to MSPs and ISVs lsw.to/lZq

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Is Your Website Ready for Holiday Season Traffic? lsw.to/lZo

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