LeaseWeb Blog http://blog.leaseweb.com LeaseWeb is a quality hosting provider and operator of a first-class worldwide network. Thu, 26 May 2016 13:15:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Seven Deadly Sins of Web Scale (Part 2) http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/25/seven-deadly-sins-web-scale-part-2/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/25/seven-deadly-sins-web-scale-part-2/#respond Wed, 25 May 2016 13:00:41 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4899 In this 2-part mini-series, Joshua Hoffman examines some of the common issues companies face when designing for scalability. Read part 1 here. In my previous blog I looked at what I call the first three sins of web scale – pride (the refusal to use tools not invented here), envy (the desire for a more […]

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joshua_web_scale_part_2In this 2-part mini-series, Joshua Hoffman examines some of the common issues companies face when designing for scalability. Read part 1 here.

In my previous blog I looked at what I call the first three sins of web scale – pride (the refusal to use tools not invented here), envy (the desire for a more exciting project) and gluttony (ignoring scope and capacity). Today I’ll discuss the other four sins you need to be aware of when building and deploying your app or product. So without further ado, let’s check them out.

Lust: Premature Optimisation
Continuing with our examples of the seven deadly sins of web scale, this next scenario comes from a company I’ll call Audiogarden that needed to build a timeline service. A timeline service is a backend service that generates the “activity feed” for each user on the site and it is a critical part of of the user experience on any “social” site.
When you first start out with building your web application and you’ve never done this kind of thing before you do what’s called the “naive” design. By this I mean that you write your app in your chosen language and you have a database and every time someone posts you put it in the database and when another person logs in you look that information up and display the it to the user. It’s simple enough but it doesn’t scale. In order to scale you need to decouple things and break them apart and if you continue to grow you’ll eventually need to build a service just to perform this task. Pure database queries aren’t going to be able to handle the same load that a caching model can.
To address this issue a talented engineer was tasked with building a replacement to support the growth and scale that was anticipated. The engineer went off and spent months in isolation researching and writing code. Eventually he produced a service built with two tiers. It was a great piece of software: it handled the timeline service well
, it was scalable and reliable in the right ways. So what went wrong? The engineer had committed what I call the sin of Lust or premature optimization. By the time the new timeline service had been put into production (a challenging migration) the requirements had changed. It was so optimized for the original problem that it just didn’t fit anymore and had to be replaced. The result was months of wasted work on a great piece of software that was no longer usable. This is why you should never try to optimize anything until you know what you need to do. It also stresses the importance of staying in touch with stakeholders throughout the development process and not working on projects in isolation.

7 deadly sins of web scale-export.029Wrath: Insufficient Testing
The next example takes us back to Hipster and involves a job that should should be really simple: removing a driver. An engineer was tasked with unloading the IPMI driver from all of the hosts. At the time this happened the company had about 1,000 servers. The IPMI driver is used to communicate to the management board via the host OS rather than talking to the network interface. It was discovered that if you loaded the driver and sent it some commands there was a possibility, because of a bug, that the driver could deadlock the system. If it was never loaded, it wasn’t an issue. There was no functionality that required communicating to the IPMI interface through the host OS so the decision was made to push a config to all servers to blacklist the driver so that it would never be loaded again. This was done without incident.
The next step was to find all the servers where the driver was loaded and unload it. The engineer picked a host to test the procedure and it worked flawlessly. He chose a second host and repeated the same steps and it worked flawlessly as well. After deciding that two hosts were sufficient to test he kicked off a job to the entire fleet to unload the driver. What wasn’t known at the time was that the two test servers were the unusual case and the more common case was that unloading the driver triggered the bug that deadlocked the motherboard. To make things even more complicated, all of the servers were a 4-in-1 type chassis where four hosts are sharing two power supplies. The only way to recover a system in this state was to power cycle it. The problem with this is that if only two of your servers are locked you still have to power cycle the entire system and one or both of the healthy servers still in use might be something important like a master database.
Back in the office engineers started seeing servers going down left and right on the dashboards. I made the call to put the site into read-only mode so that we could find out what was happening. The damage was slightly contained in that the host running the job locked up after about the 800th server had gone down but now we had an even bigger problem. We had done a lot of data center automation and only had two or three technicians on site at the time. Everyone available in the office had to pile into cars and drive thirty minutes to the data center where the rest of the day was spent identifying the locked servers, manually pulling them out of their chassis to power cycle them, and shoving them back in. Eight hours later the site was back online.
I call this the sin of Wrath or insufficient testing. The result was approximately 800 physical servers that required a hands-on fix before the site was up and running. It was a significant outage that even made the news and took a lot of time and manpower to fix simply because the engineer hadn’t done adequate testing.

Greed: Making Stuff Tightly Coupled or Monolithic
In the next case study we go back to Pink Shoe Linux. As an early part of their effort to deliver an enterprise platform they created an online service to allow the management of the software on the servers. It was very helpful for people with fleets of machines who wanted a product like this and it worked very well. The engineers built the service with a bespoke content management system and chose to use the existing database then in use at the company which was Oracle. While they were writing the software they decided to hard code all of the Oracle database queries throughout the entire code base. It wasn’t an issue until customers started to request an on-site version for themselves. This was a lucrative opportunity but the potential for a difficult situation arose if the customers didn’t have an Oracle license and didn’t want to get one.
This is what I call the sin of Greed or making stuff tightly coupled or monolithic. If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone creating a new application it would be to never tightly couple your data source to your application. As you scale things up this will hurt you again and again because depending on the mechanism you’ve chosen the software may be doing things you can’t easily find and fix. You cannot tease out and separate very easily the interactions with data source and application. This is number one challenge in taking something that worked well at a small scale and bringing it up to a very large web scale.
The result of this sin was years of work were needed to clean out and abstract away all of the Oracle database queries before it was a clean and separate code base. In the meantime, in order to satisfy customers, the company had to pay for Oracle licenses to ship with the product for the big customers in order for them to be able to use the service without first having to buy the license themselves.

7 deadly sins of web scale-export.035Sloth: Avoiding Maintenance and/or Documentation
Our last example comes from a company I’ll call Americans on the Internet. This was a company that was such an early adopter of technology that nothing like standardized protocols we use today existed. Everything that was built was proprietary. When they first released their service it ran on one Stratus server which, at the time, were the same kind of servers used by banks and hospitals because they were they were very reliable. That level of reliability came with a price though and these machines were very expensive – costing up to half a million dollars. They could support a lot of users but the problem was that if you went over the capacity even by just a little you had to make another costly purchase in order to run your service.
The decision was made to move to an HP-UX platform; unix servers were dropping in price and a plan was made to migrate the Stratus data onto the new hosts. As this was not a simple task developers immediately started to build new software on unix. In order to make the transfer easy one of the original Stratus engineers decided to build a gateway service to broker the proprietary Stratus protocol to TCP/IP so that all of the new stuff being built could talk to the gateway service.
After a few years, using HP-UX became too expensive because of the need to buy HP servers and licenses so the decision was made to move to linux on commodity hardware. The problem was that no one could find the documentation or the source code for the gateway service. There was no way to be sure exactly what this binary service was doing or how it accomplished its task. The original engineer who had written the gateway program had retired and left the company and no one could find him. This is the sin of Sloth or avoiding maintenance and/or documentation. The fix for this took months of work and there were multiple outages due to many failed attempts before a working replacement was created with good docs and source code.

I hope you find something to take away from these case studies I’ve shared with you to inform the work you do next. If you are starting a new company or a new project, hopefully now you can avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Web Scale.

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The seven deadly sins of web scale (Part 1) http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/19/seven-deadly-sins-web-scale-part-1/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/19/seven-deadly-sins-web-scale-part-1/#respond Thu, 19 May 2016 09:30:17 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4882 Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work at a variety of different companies both large and small. They each had their own set of unique challenges regarding growth but one thing I noticed with time and experience was that the solutions to the problems they faced were not specific to the company itself. […]

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joshua_web_scale_part_1Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work at a variety of different companies both large and small. They each had their own set of unique challenges regarding growth but one thing I noticed with time and experience was that the solutions to the problems they faced were not specific to the company itself. The approaches that were taken and the lessons that were learned could be extrapolated and applied to many of the situations facing a company looking to expand and grow technically.

There is a concept in some religions that before you save a sinner you have to tell them how they have sinned. In other words, if someone doesn’t know what the problem is they won’t be able to change. For a company just starting out, there are no wrong ways to build and deploy your app or product. Once you begin to grow however, you realize there are things you didn’t know and that some or all of the decisions that you made at the beginning were mistakes. This is the point where you need to decide how to address these issues. New companies are started all the time so I decided to draw from my experience to put together what I call the Seven Deadly Sins of Web Scale using seven real world examples from my career.


Pride: Refusal to Use Tools Not Invented Here
The first case study involves a company we’ll call Boohoo that operates many data centers. Like most companies that started early on in the technology scene they had to build their own management platform because there wasn’t a lot of software available that met the needs of running a large internet application or had the ability to manage a large amount of hardware reliably and efficiently. The first data center was built to suit the requirements at the time but as they grew they needed to expand. This was a fork in the road for Boohoo: did they want to enhance and build on their first platform or start over with something completely different?

A new team of engineers was tasked with building out the second data center and instead of deciding to enhance or fix the current technology they wanted to build something completely new. They would build it right this time, it would fix all of the problems, and then they would migrate everything from the old platform to the new and everything would work great.

These engineers committed what I call the sin of Pride or the refusal to use tools not invented here. Instead of using in-house technology or any of the available open-source options they decided they could build it better each time.
The end result is that years later they now have eight data centers that run on eight different data center management platforms and have learned nothing in the process. The job for the engineers who have to support them is much more difficult because not only do they have to code for multiple APIs in order to communicate between the data centers and their different platforms but they must also support multitudes of other software that have been built to abstract on top of them. It also means that troubleshooting any particular team’s software is challenging at best.

7 deadly sins of web scale-export.019Envy: The Desire For a More Exciting Project
Our next case study comes from a company we’ll call Pink Shoe Linux. Pink Shoe Linux wanted to migrate from a bespoke document publishing system to Docbook. Docbook is a specification that can be used for authoring material on the web or published in printed form. You write the content in XML and it gives you some advantages such as having a single source that can generate multiple outputs as well as being able to do things like make an instructor course manual that has quiz answers and a student version that does not. The challenge is in how you generate the output and there are many tools to choose from.

Pink Shoe was already using many Docbook features but with a proprietary build system that needed to be maintained by the people who were authoring the coursework. The decision was made to migrate to an open source standard tool chain for Docbook called Publican. The advantage with Publican was that there would be no need to maintain internally built tools and there were already available resources from within the organization. An engineer was chosen and it was estimated that the task would take a few weeks to get the toolchain working, define the workflow, and write up some documentation.

After several weeks had gone by I happened to take a look at the code and noticed something that rang a few alarm bells. It appeared that the code as written was able to function with or without Docbook. Digging into the situation a little further I learned that the engineer had always wanted to write his own publishing system and had taken this project as an opportunity to do that. In order to meet the requirements he added in the ability to support Docbook. The engineer had committed what I call the sin of Envy or the desire for a more exciting pro
ject. A lot of day to day work isn’t glamorous or fun but keeping it simple and effective is, to me, the right answer. This a challenge because you want to keep engineers happy and give them exciting projects to work on but if you’re committed to the success of the company and you want to build out everything the company will need to handle the load it’s going to face then you have to have discipline in situations like these.

The result of this was a new bespoke tool that replaced the old one that mostly worked with Docbook however it broke a critical feature that was used to export portable translation objects. These objects are sent to a translation company which translates the material into other languages and then sends it back so that it can be imported and you have multiple language versions of your document. Two weeks before the publishing deadline to send the objects to the translator and almost four months after the project started I was called in to fix the situation. Most of the existing code had to be thrown out and the standard tool was able to be implemented within the deadline. What should have been a relatively simple project ended up with months of work in the trash.

Gluttony: Ignoring Scope and Capacity
The next example comes from a company I’ll call Hipster. This is a company that started out small and experienced such rapid growth that the peak traffic for the front end from when I first started had become the low point after only a few months. Everything had been built so quickly that there hadn’t been time to implement network metrics. The decision was made to instrument everything and turn it on. At the time there we were using an in-house metrics platform built on OpenTSD running on an Hbase cluster. The Network team set everything up and started shipping metrics without telling anyone. Over 2000 network ports started sending every frame to the Hbase cluster which was already being used to monitor critical systems that were running the site. The whole thing fell over because of the sin I call Gluttony or ignoring scope and capacity. The sheer volume of new metrics killed dashboard performance for everyone which then made troubleshooting actual issues almost impossible.

If you work in engineering everything you do requires capacity planning. It requires an awareness because there is no unlimited resource. Whether you are using an internal resource or a vendor such as a CDN or cloud provider like LeaseWeb you need to plan at every stage. We’ll cover the next four deadly sins of web scale in part 2.

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Remote Management: how it secures and gives you more control over your Bare Metal Servers http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/18/remote-management-secures-gives-control-bare-metal-servers/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/18/remote-management-secures-gives-control-bare-metal-servers/#respond Wed, 18 May 2016 10:17:01 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4869 LeaseWeb is always striving for the best customer experience and we believe that putting you in the driver’s seat is a key factor in this. After all, the more control you have, the faster you can get things done. To help you with this, we automate important self-service processes that enable you to manage your […]

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bareMetal_USP_controlLeaseWeb is always striving for the best customer experience and we believe that putting you in the driver’s seat is a key factor in this. After all, the more control you have, the faster you can get things done. To help you with this, we automate important self-service processes that enable you to manage your infrastructure.

Recently we launched a new free feature for our Bare Metal and Dedicated Server products which gives customers secure access to their server’s IPMI interface. The IPMI interface is a very powerful tool that can be used for many things, especially:

  • For debugging issues if your server becomes unreachable
  • Installing an operating system which LeaseWeb does not offer through the Customer Portal
  • Customizing your OS installations

All these actions are made much easier by giving access to the IPMI interface.

LeaseWeb already offered access to the IPMI interface on request by assigning a public IP address so it would be accessible over the internet. However, IPMI interfaces are not known for their security, so exposing them over the internet is far from ideal.

That’s why, during the past year, we invested in our core network infrastructure to be able to offer secure IPMI access through an internal private network which we refer to as ‘The Remote Management Network’.

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People with an existing IPMI device on a public IP address are encouraged to switch to the new secure Remote Management Network. Please contact one of our sales representatives to start this process.

How to access the Remote Management Network
You connect to the remote management network by setting up a VPN connection. The technology we use is OpenVPN. It is open source, secure and there are clients available for every operating system. If you have dedicated servers in multiple LeaseWeb data centers you need to establish a VPN connection per data center.
2You can download OpenVPN connection profiles to establish these connections when logging in to the LeaseWeb Customer Portal. To see if Remote Management is available for your dedicated server, simply go to the server management page and click the Remote Management tab.

If Remote Management is available, you can view the IP address and credentials for your server’s IPMI interface. Otherwise, simply contact one of our sales representatives to check the available options.

We’re very excited to offer you this new feature. Now we would love to hear from you about how you think we could make it even better – or what other options you’d like to have to manage your servers!

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How the cloud is like Minecraft http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/17/cloud-like-minecraft/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/17/cloud-like-minecraft/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 10:00:55 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4864 Recently I was reading this article in the New York Times about Minecraft. It’s a story about how Minecraft is changing the way children play, learn and create things. It does so by bringing them into a digital environment that provides the freedom to let them fully design their own world, complete with houses, vehicles […]

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Minecraft_Logo_03Recently I was reading this article in the New York Times about Minecraft. It’s a story about how Minecraft is changing the way children play, learn and create things. It does so by bringing them into a digital environment that provides the freedom to let them fully design their own world, complete with houses, vehicles and more. Players start mining and expand their environment by chopping trees, mining blocks and creating their own tools. In Minecraft, the article goes, you’re provided with a toolbox to do so, which allows you to be creative and build things. The physical equivalent of Minecraft is somewhat like Lego.

Fortunately, in the Minecraft world, things look simple but can get pretty advanced as well. By using a resource called ‘redstone’, players can build their own machines to make life easier, automating things that are time-consuming or boring. The components used to do this are very similar to the components that are used to design computers – logic gates and digital signals. What’s more, just like Lego, you have to buy the blocks beforehand and people will complain if you need a newer set because the old one doesn’t have the blocks that you need.


Pickaxes and Chef
As someone working in technology during the day but who loves to play Minecraft in my free time, I couldn’t help seeing a parallel with IT infrastructure. On a daily basis, we are providing building blocks and seemingly simple tools that allow customers to build their own solutions as well as to automate things that are time-consuming or boring. What if the cloud is our Minecraft?

2656299-screen10-pngIn the cloud, the focus is on flexibility and automation. We provide you with an environment as well as a number of (basic and more advanced) tools to create whatever you like. You’re not using pickaxes or furnaces but, rather, Ansible or Chef. Sometimes – like in the Minecraft world – our customers come up with ways to use our infrastructure we didn’t even think about yet. Seemingly simple building blocks can be used to design very complex things. After all, at the end of the day the device you’re reading this on is just made of logic gates and digital signals.

In Minecraft, the player doesn’t deal with physical things. (S)he doesn’t have to manipulate items or click things together – the way we used to play with Lego or other construction toys. Lego solved this issue smartly by designing Minecraft Lego sets. So whenever it makes sense, we can choose to go for the hardware. Because it fits better, or you don’t need the flexibility, or just because it’s easier to ask for a box of Legos. This is not too different from IaaS: whenever you don’t need that flexibility in your cloud infrastructure, you can go for bare metal or more traditional dedicated servers.

Hybrid_lego_2It’s not just a game
There are some situations where that parallel goes off track. I can’t combine the things I built in my Minecraft world with the physical Lego set. It’s not yet possible to create a single build that connects those worlds. In IaaS, this is different. Customers can select bare metal, cloud and other infrastructure components, combining them whenever it makes sense to do so. And in infrastructure it often does. The challenge is for the supplier to provide those simple tools that allow this to be done easily. Another huge difference is that your business might be dependent on your cloud whereas what you do in your Minecraft world has little real-world business impact. Carelessly mining blocks in a game can be fun but business-critical infrastructure needs to be well thought-out and carefully designed.

One last important difference is finding your way. In Minecraft, you’re dropped into this new world and part of the game is exploring and figuring out how to survive. In IT infrastructure, there’s more guidance and help available. This is where LeaseWeb comes in. Talk to us, and we’ll help you figure

out what combination of Lego or Minecraft – or both – you need, all around the (real) world. We’ll even help you build it, unless you want to connect those blocks together yourself!

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Scalability: The hot topic at this year’s TechSummit http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/12/scalability-hot-topic-years-techsummit/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/12/scalability-hot-topic-years-techsummit/#respond Thu, 12 May 2016 08:18:52 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4846 The theme of TechSummit 2016 Berlin and Amsterdam is “Designing for Scalability”. But what do we really mean by the word “scalability”? Well, we’re all familiar with the standard definition along the lines of Wikipedia’s definition: “The capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work… A system whose performance […]

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TS_CoreViz_SocMedia_TNWThe theme of TechSummit 2016 Berlin and Amsterdam is “Designing for Scalability”. But what do we really mean by the word “scalability”?

Well, we’re all familiar with the standard definition along the lines of Wikipedia’s definition: “The capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work… A system whose performance improves after adding hardware, proportionally to the capacity added, is said to be a scalable system.”

Just in case – or just in time?

So, primarily, scalability is a way for businesses to use resources in the most cost effective way. Rather than having to over-specify hardware just in case the extra capacity is needed one day, they invest in scalable systems which can be scaled up (or down) in a just in time way – as and when they are needed.

Getting flexible with scalability

As a prime business driver these days, this concept of scalability is central to system design and development these days – which is why we chose it as a theme for TechSummit 2016. But we’re adopting a pretty broad interpretation of the term in our presentations which cover many different aspects of what scalability means.

matthias rampkeScalability and load balancing
SoundCloud Engineer Matthias Rampke, for instance, will be looking at the role of load balancing in scalable systems. He explains: “We will take a closer look at IPVS for Layer 4 connection load balancing, HAProxy for Layer 7 HTTP load balancing, with honorable mentions for ECMP and SoundCloud’s service discovery mechanism. For each, we will see which use cases they excel in, when and how they break down, and what to watch out for.”
joshua hoffmanLeaseWeb on scalability
LeaseWeb speakers include Arnoud Vermeer and Joshua Hoffman. Joshua will pick up on some of those things “to watch out for” in his presentation entitled “The seven deadly sins of web scale”. Using real life examples and case studies he’ll walk us through some of the pitfalls to avoid when scaling apps. And Arnoud will describe how we scaled our entire engineering department using agile techniques.
Jessy IrwinEncrypt Yourself: Opsec for Developers
We’re also proud to have Jessy Irwin on stage, explaining which tools and operational practices individual developers should use to protect their work. “In this introduction to secure, usable encryption tools, everyone will learn something about protecting themselves, their data, and their identities from some of the most common threats online today.”

So you see there are many different aspects to the scalability topic. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many other speakers throughout the day will be sharing their tech secrets so why not come down to the TechSummit Amsterdam and scale up your tech knowledge!

TechSummit Amsterdam
2 June, Pakhuis de Zwijger Amsterdam
Tickets only €25,-
Amsterdam.techsummit.io

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Keeping the Internet open, innovative and competitive http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/11/keeping-internet-open-innovative-competitive-update-leasewebs-efforts/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/11/keeping-internet-open-innovative-competitive-update-leasewebs-efforts/#respond Wed, 11 May 2016 12:25:52 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4839 In the past two years we’ve witnessed various events that have had an impact on the open character of the Internet. In October 2015 European Net Neutrality rules were published, providing guidelines for regulation, but they were criticized by many as being too open and leaving too much room for uncompetitive behavior (here’s an example). […]

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AdServing_01_FlexibilityIn the past two years we’ve witnessed various events that have had an impact on the open character of the Internet. In October 2015 European Net Neutrality rules were published, providing guidelines for regulation, but they were criticized by many as being too open and leaving too much room for uncompetitive behavior (here’s an example). In June 2015 the FCC published its US Open Internet order along the line of “no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization”, driving a significant change in the IP Interconnection landscape especially. In parallel, we saw ongoing consolidation on the side of the ISPs, with large ones absorbing their smaller competitors or other players in the digital value chain (e.g. cloud hosting services, “Over-The-Top” – OTT – video services) or even merging with mobile providers. Another trend we saw was the launch of services for which the related Internet traffic is not counted towards the “monthly data budget” of the customer, typically referred to as “zero rating”.

At LeaseWeb, our experience is that this consolidation increasingly leads to behavior where large ISPs don’t provide uncongested Internet access to their customers anymore but restrict (“peering”) interconnection capacity with other networks (e.g. Tier 1 backbones or content providers) in an effort to monetize these interconnects and have Tier 1 backbones and content providers contribute to the investments in the ISP’s networks. This behavior started a long time ago with large ISPs in Germany and France, for example, but we now see that pan-European ISPs are starting to behave similarly. Some of these cases have become very visible such as in the case of Dutch Ziggo customers complaining about the quality of their Netflix streams.

Competition and innovation at risk
To us this means that that an open Internet is at risk: innovative OTT and cloud services often compete with the services provided by these ISPs, so if ISPs create cost bottlenecks for the OTT content that their customers want to see, competition and innovation are at risk. A complicating fact is that the end-user will typically not blame the ISP but “the website” and just leave the OTT service and find an alternative. If ISPs include zero-rated OTT services in their offering, the discrimination between “their” and other services even becomes worse.

To contribute to protecting our customers against this trend, we have reached out to the Dutch competition authorities (ACM), Ministry of Economic Affairs, Consumer Rights Organizations (Consumentenbond, BEUC), EU Directorates and members of the European Parliament to update them on these developments and motivate them to address this. We have also joined a European alliance called Save Net Competition (www.savenetcompetition.eu) and the European Competitive Telecom Association (ECTA – www.ectaportal.com) – both of them striving for European regulation that safeguards competition. With these initiatives our focus is on educating people about the Internet ecosystem and explain how these interconnection costs can kill the business case for innovative services. In the next few months the Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications (“European telecom law”) will be reviewed, so if regulation is the answer to the problem, now is the time to address this.

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Six Tips for Picking the Perfect Cloud Partner http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/03/picking-perfect-cloud-partner-blog/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/03/picking-perfect-cloud-partner-blog/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 14:07:42 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4796 By now, the concept of the cloud is ubiquitous, but for many business leaders the idea still presents more challenges than opportunities. Understanding the complicated technology, not to mention the vast array of delivery models, degrees of services and levels of security available, can be a daunting task for companies under pressure to adapt or […]

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LSW0264_00_WhPaperVisualBy now, the concept of the cloud is ubiquitous, but for many business leaders the idea still presents more challenges than opportunities. Understanding the complicated technology, not to mention the vast array of delivery models, degrees of services and levels of security available, can be a daunting task for companies under pressure to adapt or adopt.

In a new white paper, “Developing a Cloud Sourcing Strategy: Six Steps to Select the Right Cloud Partner,” LeaseWeb gives decision makers the tools they need to formulate an effective cloud strategy or to identify the right cloud partner to executive it. In summary form, these six tips will help you find the cloud partner for your business.

  1. Support and services — For most businesses, concerns about cost, security, vendor management and technology take the lead in the search for a reliable cloud partner. Surprisingly, the ability of  a provider to smoothly and effectively deliver customer support, SLAs and managed services is often minimized or overlooked, at the expense of the customer. When deciding which cloud partner best fits your needs, don’t underestimate the crucial importance of the support and services they make available. It’s the difference between a cloud partnership that takes your business to new levels and one that just adds to your daily hassles.
  2. Architectural alignment — One of the biggest considerations is whether to use a hyper-scale or traditional hosting model. Practically speaking, a hyper-scale provider requires users to be responsible for operational, day-to-day tasks, while hosting providers oversee the day-to-day management of the infrastructure elements. It’s up to you to decide which is a better fit for your technical team and business needs.
  3. Security and compliance — Data centers are a frequent target of malicious attacks, so it’s important to make sure that your cloud provider is prepared for every eventuality. This means everything from physical security and network threat recognition, to regular security audits to updated compliance certifications like HIPAA. Your data is your most valuable asset, so make sure it’s going to be treated that way.
  4. Support for data sovereignty and residency requirements — In tandem with security and compliance issues, data residency is another issue that frequently stalls cloud and hosting projects. The growth of “bring your own device” (BYOD), big data and cloud projects is dragging sensitive data to third-party clouds and data centers. This makes many business owners uneasy, which is why it’s so important to address the location of your data, the laws governing the export of data wherever it’s stored and the security and encryption of that data.
  5. Financial management — Traditional hosting companies typically offer a more basic cost scheme, based upon initial configurations with monthly utilization. This traditional model works well for companies with steady and predictable usage patterns. Hyper-scale cloud services, on the other hand, were built around granular per minute or hourly costs from their inception. Provisioning is primarily self-service and allows users to turn up server, storage and network services. This feature appeals to users who need to spin up environments in near real time and then turn them down when not needed. Consider your requirements to determine which model fits you – or if you want a mix of both.
  6. Cultural and strategic alignment — Cultural fit with your service provider is a key point that never receives enough attention in the RFP process. For nearly all enterprises, using a cloud or hosting provider is truly a new venture, one that requires extensive internal buy-in. For first-time cloud buyers, the ongoing degree of partnership is an unknown factor. Each provider engages and on-boards clients differently.

If you’re in the process of picking a cloud partner for your business, remember that no one becomes a cloud infrastructure expert overnight. But with a smart approach, you can make an informed decision that will lead to great results for your company.

Ultimately, remember that you will only achieve the higher-performance and lower-cost environments you are aiming for by choosing the provider that fits your needs and requirements best.

To learn more, visit us at here to receive our full white paper on selecting the right cloud partner today.

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Fighting online abuse together http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/02/4807/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/05/02/4807/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 12:22:51 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4807 LeaseWeb, as a hosting provider, operates in a dynamic industry. It is thus imperative to keep on top of changes in the technologies we and our customers use and the different legal jurisdictions we operate in. This especially comes in to play when we discuss the topic of ‘Abuse Prevention’. LeaseWeb’s Abuse Prevention department faces […]

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secureLeaseWeb, as a hosting provider, operates in a dynamic industry. It is thus imperative to keep on top of changes in the technologies we and our customers use and the different legal jurisdictions we operate in. This especially comes in to play when we discuss the topic of ‘Abuse Prevention’. LeaseWeb’s Abuse Prevention department faces ever-evolving abuse-related threats and challenges that need to be overcome and, of course, we can’t do this alone. To be effective, we need to develop mutually beneficial relationships with those who have the same goals and vision.
Finding allies in the fight against online abuse sounds like a simple, yet effective plan. However, forging long lasting relationships and trust takes time, energy and especially commitment from both parties.

Community Outreach Program
The Community Outreach Program was founded in 2010 with an initial focus on gathering more data in order be able to reduce abuse within the LeaseWeb network better. While on the lookout for feeds and other information sources to extract data from, it became more and more apparent that there were quite a few projects that truly contribute to a safer internet with the work they deliver.

community outreachAt the same time, we also realized that many of these projects are privately funded and in need of sponsorship, on which they are dependent due to their non-profit nature. For us, the decision to support them was simple as 1+1=2. So we now provide sponsorship to organizations like these – and others that provide open information that is beneficial to the overall online community including commercial bodies – through our Community Outreach Program.
When we set up the Community Outreach Program, our first members (such Abuse.ch, specialists in identifying and researching online abuse) joined quickly due to us actively approaching them. They found that becoming a member of the Community Outreach program involves more than us just providing one or two free servers: we like to stay in touch with our members and, where possible, meet-up! In fact we have met most of our members in person – and even see some on a regular basis.

SAFE Partners
Besides forging relationships with other parties through sponsorship agreements, we also started to search for organizations that are not necessarily in need of sponsorship, but are looking to establish trusting relationships with parties such as ISPs like ourselves. These organizations benefit from short lines of contact and become so-called ‘trusted parties’ for LeaseWeb which allows them to quickly address issues within our network.
From this need, our SAFE partner program came to life. SAFE stands for Specialists, Analysts, Forensics and Experts, who together form the core of building a safer internet.

The battle against abuse
Due to the ever changing digital landscape, the need for dedicated organizations focused on battling (technical) internet abuse increases on a daily basis. These companies emerge on either a non-profit or a commercial basis but, one way or another, they contribute to a safer internet. LeaseWeb Abuse Prevention is glad to be part of this revolution by integrating these organizations into our partner programs which allows us to support those closest to the battle lines the best way possible.

Learn more
Interested in learning more about our Community Outreach Program members or our partners? Through this blog, we introduce newly joined members and, on our special section devoted to these programs, you can learn and read more about them all.

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Why customer relationships are more important than ever for solution providers http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/04/15/customer-relationships-important-ever-solution-providers/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/04/15/customer-relationships-important-ever-solution-providers/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 14:10:23 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4801 This is the final blog in a five-part series in which Freek Hemminga, LeaseWeb’s Global Channel & Strategic Alliances Manager, looks ahead to the challenges and opportunities for channel partners in the coming year. Here are part 1, 2, 3 and 4. Every business has to foster good relationships with its customers. But right now, it’s more important than ever […]

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LeaseWeb Authorized Reseller 180pxThis is the final blog in a five-part series in which Freek Hemminga, LeaseWeb’s Global Channel & Strategic Alliances Manager, looks ahead to the challenges and opportunities for channel partners in the coming year. Here are part 123 and 4.

Every business has to foster good relationships with its customers. But right now, it’s more important than ever for solution providers to pay attention to maintaining strong connections not only with existing customers but with new ones too. That’s because the inevitable transformation from a transaction based business model to a recurring revenue based one takes time. So it’s going to be vital to keep the installed base satisfied during the process because they will be providing the bread and butter funding in the short term. Then, once the recurring business model is established, it will be necessary to build relationships from scratch with new customers who will provide the profits in the long term.

The importance of a cloud strategy

Solution providers need to do two key things: First, strengthen their financial position to get through the upcoming storm and, second, they need to formulate a robust cloud strategy to build upon once on the other side. The latter is important because it helps map out where they are in the transformation process while also giving them target milestones to achieve along the way.

Customers in the installed base are likely to fall into two categories: Those eager to adapt to new technologies and those who are more reluctant. So, as part of the cloud strategy it will be necessary to develop new services and offerings that will appeal to both groups. Otherwise, there’s a chance that new entrants to the market could poach those customers with fresh, cloud-based offerings. But, developing new products and services will be equally important as a way to attract new business – the business that will form the basis of future growth.

The need to get started soon

As if the pressure to develop new products and services wasn’t enough, there’s also a significant time pressure. Solution providers need to start their journey soon. The traditional transactional business model typically bears fruit on the bottom line within two to five months but a recurring model will take at least twice as long to show on the balance sheet. It’s a leap, to be sure, but make no mistake: it has to be done. It is the only way to add value and stay relevant in the marketplace going forward.

Staying focused

One useful approach to developing strong customer relationships is to lead with the idea of “Trust”. Lack of it is a key inhibitor to cloud adoption for many customers but convincing them that security is strong and compliance is rock solid can really help make a difference. Solution providers, however, shouldn’t let non-core business like compliance get in the way of their core business – it’s something best left to third parties. They need to focus all their attention – their money, people, time – on core areas in order to optimize their financial position.

One thing’s for sure. Consumption and production are going to be separated more and more so all providers need to decide where they are going to play a role now and in the future.

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What you need to know about IP address blacklisting http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/04/14/need-know-ip-address-blacklisting/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/04/14/need-know-ip-address-blacklisting/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 14:49:51 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4782 Having your IP address end up on a so called ‘blacklist’ can be a troublesome experience, especially when not anticipated. In most cases, it is a sign that something is wrong on the server(s) you rent or own, or that maybe one of the end users hasn’t followed email sending guidelines. This post is dedicated […]

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secureHaving your IP address end up on a so called ‘blacklist’ can be a troublesome experience, especially when not anticipated. In most cases, it is a sign that something is wrong on the server(s) you rent or own, or that maybe one of the end users hasn’t followed email sending guidelines. This post is dedicated to those who want to know more about IP address reputation and what can be done to resolve issues identified by other parties.

The ongoing fight against spam

As we have already explained in the Spam blogs (I and II), email spam continues to be an issue. Due to the ever-evolving problem of email spam, there is an understandable need to have measures to combat this. Over the years, several efforts have been made to prevent unsolicited emails from reaching email inboxes by a plethora of means. Many of these proposed solutions have had promising technical white papers but few have actually resulted in an implementation that is either scalable, reliable or both.

What is a blacklist (or DNSBL)?

Nowadays, practically speaking, the most useful identifiers to help with stopping spam en masse are the IP addresses of the servers that emit the unsolicited messages. Thus, the prevention mechanism most often employed by mailserver administrators is a simple block of these ‘bad’ IP addresses. In order to create efficiency in this process the idea of crowdsourcing this data and centralizing it was fostered and ‘DNS-based Blackhole Lists’ (DNSBLs) were born.

DNSBLs are in some way a form of internet police, the “internet sheriffs” you might say. If an IP address gets involved with something the DNSBL operators disapprove of, and they become aware of this, they might decide to put that IP address on their list.

blogHow do IP addresses end up on a DNSBL?

The thing with DNSBLs is that each one of them operates within its own set of rules and with a focus on a certain abuse category. The most common abuse category among these lists is obviously spam but there are also blacklists that focus on hacking, malware, botnets or even Tor exit nodes. The various DNSBLs employ a wide variety of techniques to gather these IP addresses including: mailtraps, honeypots, botnet analysis and crowdsourcing data from participating mail clients.

How do IP address lookups work?

As mentioned already, each DNSBL has its own criteria for designating an IP address as having a bad reputation. This reputation is published by means of a DNS record and the DNS servers run by DNSBL administrators are open to the public to perform lookups of IP addresses on. DNS was originally meant for looking up domain names but it has become the de-facto method to distribute IP address reputation designations due to its low overhead and high scalability.

From a technical perspective, a lookup is done by performing the following steps:

  1. Reverse the IP address
  2. Append the DNSBL domain
  3. Do a DNS lookup of the resulting ‘domain’

This will either result in ‘NXDOMAIN/Non-existent domain’ response or will return an IP address (usually in the 127.0.0.x range). When an IP address is returned, the IP address is ‘listed’. Below, you will find an example of each:

‘Blacklisted’ IP address (1.54.110.152):

Name:      152.110.54.1.zen.spamhaus.org
Address:  127.0.0.10

‘Clean’ IP address (8.8.4.4):

Name:      4.4.8.8.zen.spamhaus.org
*** server can’t find 4.4.8.8.zen.spamhaus.org: Non-existent domain

Most DNSBLs have guidelines on how to use the responses from their DNS server. In general, it is advised to use data from multiple sources before blocking emails. However, many mail servers are knowingly or unknowingly set up to refuse emails from any IP address that is on at least one DNSBL. While not ideal and often not according to guidelines, this is the reality that email senders have to live with; a single, potentially false positive listing can have disastrous results on email deliverability.

Listed, now what?

Once an IP address is listed on a DNSBL, for whatever reason, there is a chance that email deliverability will be affected. This is a problem that needs to be resolved. Luckily, most lists allow for de-listing once the operator of the IP address has confirmed a solution to the problem or incident that caused the listing. An example of a de-listing request form can be found on Barracuda Central’s website. Just as the criteria for listing an IP address differ from DNSBL to DNSBL, the requirements for de-listing are also list-specific. However, in most cases, de-listing requests are processed within 24 hours.

There is one thing that most DNSBLs have in common: the way they deal with removal requests while the source of the problem is NOT taken care of. Often, this will result in more difficulty getting the listing removed in future requests. While mitigation of the cause would initially have been enough to get an IP address de-listed, after invalid removal requests, the DNSBL might now require you to provide additional proof of the resolution. It is thus wise to only request de-listings when you are sure that the problem has actually been resolved.

What about Hotmail/Microsoft?

If you have mail delivery issues to Microsoft managed domains, it might be because Microsoft is bouncing your emails, if this is the case, you will get the following response from the destination mail server:

“host mx4.hotmail.com[xx.xx.xx.xx] said: 550 SC-001 Mail rejected by Windows Live Hotmail for policy reasons. Reasons for rejection may be related to content with spam-like characteristics or IP/domain reputation problems. If you are not an email/network admin please contact your E-mail/Internet Service Provider for help. Email/network admins, please visit MSN Postmaster for email delivery information and support (in reply to MAIL FROM command)”

Microsoft takes a different approach to preventing spam. The above message doesn’t necessarily mean that your specific IP address is ‘blacklisted’. Lately, more and more ranges are ‘listed’ by default. While the above bounce might indicate otherwise, Microsoft has effectively taken a ‘whitelist’ approach for email delivery originating from certain ranges to their platform. Simply said, Microsoft wants to know what type of email you send before you can send email to their managed inboxes. A request to be whitelisted can be made on this page.

While the Microsoft list is not publicly available, you can request to have access to your IP address status through Microsoft’s Smart Network Data Service.

And LeaseWeb?

As LeaseWeb offers unfiltered access to the internet, like any other large unmanaged hosting provider, it cannot always prevent the negative effects on network reputation by intentional and unintentional unsolicited – or even malicious – network activity. To mitigate these issues, in addition to actively monitoring our network reputation, we also put effort in educating our customers because, after all, we can only create a safer internet with the collaboration of our customers.

When we identify new issues within our network we do our best to mitigate these as quickly as possible. To facilitate this, we use every available information source. To support the DNSBL community, we have included several in our Community Outreach Program, a notable one is Spamhaus.

If you run a medium to large sized DNSBL, we are happy to help you out as well by providing free servers for additional mirrors!

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