05-23-13 | Blog Post

Update from Online Tech: Major Data Center Initiatives & Investments

Blog Posts

Summer is just around the corner in Michigan and when we look outside, it feels like everything is growing right before our eyes.  I want to take a few minutes to give you an update on what’s been happening at Online Tech, as it feels like a lot of things are growing quickly with the company as well.
Data Center Updates
If you’ve been to our Mid-Michigan data center in the last 6 months, you may have noticed our new Network Operations Center (NOC) that we built out late last year.  The NOC houses some of our engineers with systems displays on the wall for us to monitor the systems in real time.  This mirrors the NOC in our Ann Arbor 2 data center where we’re also monitoring all of the systems across all of our data centers.

Next month we’ll also be breaking ground at the Mid-Michigan data center to add 2 additional 1-megawatt generators for additional backup capacity.  This $1.5M investment will continue to deliver N+1 generator backup for all systems as we continue to grow the power footprint of the data center.

New Emergency Broadcast System
OT Emergency Broadcast SystemOne of the areas we’ve been focused on improving is the time it takes to notify our clients of a client-impacting event at the data center.  We took two significant steps over the last 6 months to improve our client-facing communications with a focus on rapid information and communication availability:

  1. We outsourced our VoIP phone system and Exchange server to a trusted partner so our communication tools will work independently of any data center issue that may arise.
  2. We created an Outage Alarm system that can e-mail, text and call our clients in the case of an outage with just a few clicks.  This custom iPad application sits in each data center NOC connected to a 4G wireless network.  This new system dramatically shortens the time it takes to inform our clients of any major incident at the data center.

Our transparency goal is to ensure we inform you of any issues before your customers or users notify you, so you’re in complete charge of the communications with your users.  Our emergency broadcast system allows us to provide very quick communication to you of an issue while allowing our operations team to stay focused on fixing the issue as quickly as possible.

Admittedly, we’re still learning how quickly to send out an alert message.  In the past few months, we have been a little too quick to use the system on what turned out to be minor issues with minimal client impact, but scared a number of our clients with broader than necessary alerts.  I apologize for the over-communication.  We’re working out the timing and breadth of using these alerts.

OTPortal Enhancements
Recently we added features to let you request and track firewall rule changes more easily, copy old firewall rule changes as a starting point for new rules, and have new firewall rules “expire” on a certain date, so that temporary rules don’t accidentally become permanent ones. This can help with security; we don’t want to leave ports or services open after they are no longer needed.

In the next 90 days, we’ll be announcing additional capabilities to the portal to make it easier to control your servers:

  • The ability to view a list of your servers, and enable or disable access to common services, like FTP and HTTP for each one without needing to understand firewall rules to request these changes.
  • Cloud Server Controls: You will be able to start, stop and restart cloud servers through the portal. These actions can be done immediately, or scheduled in the future.
  • Cloud Server Snapshots:  You will be able to revert snapshots for cloud servers. If you are about to install new software, you will be able to easily take a snapshot of the server beforehand. If anything goes wrong with the install, you can easily revert back to that snapshot. Snapshots are temporary and expire (and are automatically deleted) after 24 hours. They cannot be used as long-term backups.

We have more upgrades in the pipeline based on some great suggestions from our clients on how we can improve the portal experience and make it more efficient for you to use.  We appreciate the feedback.  Please keep sharing your suggestions with us.  We find it very helpful in improving the portal user experience.
Security Services:
Is data security a concern?  If so, schedule a call with one of our systems engineers to discuss the options you can leverage to secure your servers, network and data.  Security tools like Daily Log Review and Monthly Vulnerability Scanning can take the worry out of attempted breaches and let you sleep better at night.

Daily Log Review collects your server logs daily and analyzes them for anomalies, informing you if immediate action is necessary to protect your data.  Monthly Vulnerability Scanning checks your firewalls, networks, open ports and web applications for holes that hackers can get through and provides you a monthly action report for any open vulnerabilities.

Webinars and White Papers:
Please join us for any number of our upcoming educational webinars.  We have a new series on data encryption starting June 4th, as well as an informational series on disaster recovery recorded at: http://www.onlinetech.com/events/webinars.  We also have a new mobile security whitepaper available at: http://www.onlinetech.com/resources/white-papers.

Net Promoter Score:
Finally, thank you to all of our clients that filled out our one-question survey over the last 6 months as part of our Net Promoter System (NPS) to track and measure client satisfaction.  We received a lot of really good feedback – both on what we’re doing well and where we can improve.  We ended 2012 with impressive results – an NPS score of 80% which sits with the best across most industries for customer satisfaction scores.

We look forward to continuing to serve you and deliver one of the best hosting experiences in the business.

Sincere Regards,
Mike Klein
Online Tech LLC

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