Tips to Prevent Downtime

7 Tips to Prevent Downtime

The importance of getting your downtime as low as possible is almost impossible to overstate. Look at the perspective of organizational leadership. Incredibly, 9 out of every 10 data center professionals say that management at their company is more focused on downtime than they were 12 months ago, according to the 2017 Uptime Institute Annual Survey.

 

What can you do to keep all your systems up and running consistently, ensuring business continuity? Before we get into those downtime-prevention strategies, let’s first look at the general issue: statistics on how costly downtime is and common risky ways that sensitive data is shared (an activity that increases when systems are unavailable).

 

  • Why is downtime prevention so important?
  • 7 tips to minimize your downtime
  • Take action to keep downtime low

 

Why is downtime prevention so important?

 

The expenses related to downtime have been soaring in recent years. Findings from the Aberdeen Group show that the cost rose 60% from 2014 to 2016 – ascending from $164,000 per hour to hit an average figure of $260,000 per hour, across all industries. Keep in mind, this cost is purely a financial hemorrhage; for a loss more than $1 million, you get four hours without your systems, and (of course) no benefit.

 

These costs are so incredibly high that the risks of outages should now be considered an even higher priority than it already was (as if $164k per hour were not high enough). No matter how large your firm is, it is fundamental to your stability to have business continuity and disaster recovery documents prepared and understood by your staff. Keep this in mind: if you do not know the drill and do not know what steps to take when downtime does occur, the situation could spiral into a much greater crisis.

 

While you may understand that some small amount of downtime should not be considered devastating, you also do not want to become complacent about it. You really do not want to have to put your DR plan into action.

 

Actually, there is another primary reason that you need to worry about downtime that is related to, yet separate from, the money: data loss. Over three-quarters of senior executives have experienced critical data loss caused by downtime, according to a poll from 2016. Also, a disturbing element of these scenarios is that your employees may transition to consumer platforms when the system goes down — creating security and compliance vulnerabilities. Use of these tools should actually be a concern regardless, as indicated by the extent to which information is shared in risky ways (from a 2014 poll):

 

  • Almost one-third of office workers had used a personal email account for work purposes.
  • Dropbox, Box.com, and other file storage software was used by 45% of employees.
  • Storage via USBs or other remote devices was conducted by 63% of workers.

 

As expressed by the above evidence, and regardless of the specific nature of your business, it is reasonable to conclude that downtime matters. Now, what can you do about it?

 

7 tips to minimize your downtime

 

So… what can you do about this? Here are a few trusted and relatively straightforward ways that can improve your ability to keep “all systems go” throughout the day, month, and year:

 

#1 – Review the service level agreements (SLAs) of your providers.

 

Before you get into what is actually happening, you want to know how much availability is guaranteed within the fine print of your business relationships. You will not be able to achieve the availability that you want if your software and hardware vendors offer 90% uptime SLAs. Demand high uptime, and check that those goals are met (compare our 99.9% uptime guarantee with an award we received for our actual 99.989% uptime).

 

#2 – Use highly scalable hardware architectures, along with load-balancing.

 

If you want to be speedy and productive online, it’s necessary to be able to properly scale your data processing and distribute it evenly throughout a group of servers. By using load-balancing, an alternative node will start handling requests whenever the primary node is performing various tasks on a file or is otherwise unavailable. Why is it so central to your business that you be able to quickly and seamlessly scale your infrastructure? You will be a step out in advance of your development – so that the demand for computing from your users is not exceeding your resources. It is also worth noting that downtime is negative even if it is planned because it gets in the way of your productivity. For these reasons, balancing your loads and making your backend as scalable as possible are key to avoiding downtime.

 

#3 – Deploy active-active clusters.

 

To keep downtime levels as low as possible, a typical strategy is the use of active-active or active-passive clusters. The former tactic is particularly effective: one study shows that IT departments using the latter technique lost 34% more critical messages and data than those that implemented active-active clustering.

 

#4 – Do not think that system audits have you covered.

 

Periodic system audits are standard operating procedure for IT departments — and those will help with uptime. You also want to get rid of unhelpful redundancies and to make the practices of your business more intelligent through process audits. Think about the processes that are the most pivotal if your system were to go down; safeguard those systems. Beyond boosting uptime of your mission-critical systems, you will get a better sense of how to spend money on bolstering your infrastructure when you complete your process audit.

 

#5 – Adopt systems that are strong and dynamic.

 

A key concern when you want to limit your downtime is to optimize for scalability. At the level of the hardware, you want to have load-balancing solutions in place so that you do not have a lot of problems related to downtime. What does that mean in practice? If you have to remove a machine from service to make an upgrade or replacement (as with routine maintenance), another server can take its place with no loss of key information or slowdown of your workflow.

 

#6 – Develop and refine a disaster recovery plan.

 

As indicated above, you need a DR plan if you don’t have one. Remember that the scope of disaster is broad, far beyond the notion of a weather disaster such as a flood or earthquake. In the majority of cases, human error – mistakes made by people – lead to disasters; in these situations, unplanned downtime is caused by problems with the process. It is important to know what the DR plan of your vendor is, what would take place if the data center failed, and the extent to which multiple redundancies exist.

 

#7 – Ensure that your providers use enterprise-grade monitoring tools.

 

If the service you choose, such as a managed VPS hosting company, uses the most advanced and effective monitoring tools, they are able to know when a component is going to fail before it happens. If the monitoring systems and processes that are used by the service are sound, software sends messages whenever risks exist that could hurt the business’s speed or reliability. The hosting engineers should resolve the issue immediately so that users are unaware – with all adjustments performed behind the scenes.

 

Take action to keep downtime low

 

Downtime must be avoided – whether you are looking at your own data center or an external one. Achieve excellent uptime that benefits from economies of scale with a strong infrastructure partner. At KnownHost, we have the best uptime in the industry. See our fully managed VPS hosting.

Read More

Starting a Reseller Business

How to Start a Reseller Business

Are you interested in starting a reselling business? This short manual is your Reselling 101, providing basic understanding and direction so that you are able to succeed (diverse advice on the topic) – consultative help to make the decisions that will determine a game-plan for this business model. Then we will specifically address the niche of becoming a VPS hosting reseller, by way of example but also as a potential service that might make sense to you.

 

  • What exactly is a reseller?
  • 6 tips to start a reseller business
  • Becoming a VPS hosting reseller
  • And… action

 

What exactly is a reseller?

 

A reseller or VAR (value-added reseller) is a firm that buys software, hardware, and/or services in bulk, then resells them. The idea behind a VAR is that the reseller is adding value through additional features and programs, or by including support.

 

However, to get away from the “value-added” distinction, the fundamental idea behind a reseller is that they are selling a service or product that is provided or owned by another company; that is the ease of it and why these programs are essentially attractive to many people. Resellers can complete orders through phone or a website, but they can also actually have the products in stock.

 

Reseller programs will each have their own expectations and rules, expressed within the terms and conditions of the agreement. It may also be possible to create a bespoke agreement with certain merchants, on a case-by-case basis.

 

6 tips to start a reseller business

 

Here are quick step-by-step instructions on how to start a reseller business, an expansion on ideas presented by The Reseller Network:

 

Figure out what type of reseller relationship you want. There are various ways to go with reselling, in terms of the nature of the relationship and role that you will play. A reseller could purchase stock from vendors at volume rates and resell with a profit margin; alternately, a reseller might push sales to providers for commissions. Your reseller arrangement will be dependent, in part, on the industry through which you are reselling and the extent to which you want to invest upfront capital.

 

Select an industry. Except for cases in which you are simply directing traffic to a provider, you will usually want to have a good sense of the particulars of the field and market. Learn as much as you can about the suppliers and products that you are considering offering, along with the terms and prices. It helps if you care about and have some background with the product; you also want to know the market has room for you.

 

There is a sound argument for choosing web hosting as a focus. It is particularly compelling because it is in its growth phase, as indicated by the IBISWorld analysis of the industry. In fact, through 2020, Joy Mali notes in StartupNation that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of some web hosting categories is expected to be between 23% and 27% – both incredible numbers, really. So your timing is ideal if becoming a fully managed VPS hosting reseller is of interest to you.

 

Figure out the market that makes sense. Now that you’ve considered the industry and where you will get your product, there is another key piece: determining who your customer is. Where are they located on the globe? Do you need to handle shipping, or is it a drop ship or referral agreement? What are shipping costs? What is your promotional strategy? Answering these questions will guide you.

 

Play the opponent, not just the ball. There is this expression that is sometimes used in tennis and other racket sports to “play the ball, not the opponent”; both legendary and current top-3 players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have referenced this maxim, so maybe there is something to it in terms of avoiding potential distraction posed by competitors. However, it is unwise not to have a strategy that is tailored to your current rival. In business as in tennis, you need to understand what to expect from those with whom you are competing. In other words, “play the opponent, not just the ball” – despite what the sports legends say.

 

Lack of competition is a huge advantage to you when you can find it. As you look at competitive companies, think about the price that you will be paying the supplier and what you will be able to charge your customers. Be conservative with your estimates for a healthy profit margin that won’t drive away your potential sales. Plus, think about differentiation now. Decide if you want to add value through the addition of products or services, or if you just want to go head-to-head on price (along with the ability to garner attention – visibility, branding, etc.).

 

Verify that you will be able to make money. It is time to do some math, if you haven’t already. You want to put together a spreadsheet with expected costs, how much you expect to make in sales, and the difference of that will be your profit. Don’t be excessively exuberant about the money that you can generate.

 

Get your business ready for reselling. If you are interested in reselling as your first business, you may want to incorporate your business – a process that is relatively simple. A domain, website, and hosting for your site (independent of whether you want to resell that service or not) would also be needed if you don’t yet have those pieces in place.

 

Becoming a VPS hosting reseller

 

As IBISWorld notes above, demand for web hosting services expanded significantly during the past half-decade because so many firms have been building up their online visibility. That growth will continue to occur through 2022, according to their forecasts. Furthermore, Mali notes that semi- and fully-managed VPS plans are becoming more popular since they are fast and flexible but don’t require the customer to do any maintenance. StatCounter adds that VPS hosting, whether managed or unmanaged, “allows for more customization within the operating system that’s used and offers more dedicated resources within a server” [than shared hosting].

 

Let’s talk directly about reseller hosting or white-label hosting. As a reseller or white-label host, you would handle sales and communications with your customers, but not anything having to do with the actual datacenter hardware. Here is a quick to-do checklist to start reselling Internet hosting, from PCMag (with a little repetition of the above general advice):

 

  1. 1. Look at your estimate of customers and revenue, and use that to select the correct hosting reseller package.
  2. 2. Think about the types of plans that you will want to offer your customers, such as VPS hosting, SSD VPS hosting, and WordPress VPS hosting.
  3. 3. Set your prices.
  4. 4. If everything looks good, sign up for an account with the host.
  5. 5. Put together templates and pages for each of the plans.
  6. 6. Promote and sell the plans.
  7. 7. Deliver support as determined by the agreement.

 

And… action

 

Are you interested in becoming a reseller? At KnownHost, our VPSs come pre-optimized and pre-secured by default, so there are no worries about having to secure your VPS for you or your clients. See our VIP Reseller Program.

Read More

Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server

Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server: What Are Your Options?

Every business owner, whether they’re a freelancer or the head of a team of hundreds, wants to maximize revenue without having to overextend themselves. It’s often a careful balancing act between wanting to bring in as much money as possible without wearing yourself or resources too thin. Often, people start wondering how they can start making more “passive” income.

 

Right off the bat, passive income is largely a myth and it often sounds too good to be true because it is. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add another service to your business that won’t require a tremendous amount of time, but still bring in a decent amount of additional revenue. Make no mistake, being a hosting reseller takes work. You will have to provide customer service. But, you can turn it into a profitable addition to your business is you properly dedicate yourself to it. Many digital-based businesses have invested in dedicated servers with the goal of reselling the space on it to host clients’ sites. Many businesses have found success with this model, which is why so many hosting companies advertise their reseller deals. Here is what you need to know about reselling space on a dedicated server.

 

Who would benefit from reselling?

 

Nearly any kind of digital based business can add hosting to its portfolio of services. Naturally, you should offer some kind of web design or development service already in order to seamlessly add the hosting component to the package. You don’t have to be a full-time web designer, though. You may also be an SEO consultant, marketer, or public relations professional that includes site building as part of your list of services provided. Any situation where you’re helping a client design a site or improve their site is an ample opening to also offer hosting. You can easily add it as a line item to your monthly retainer. Or, you may now get to offer a monthly retainer.

 

Choosing the server

 

There are a good variety of high performing servers out there that can help you reach your goals. Ultimately, the question comes down to using a VPS vs a dedicated server. While a VPS costs less and may have enough horsepower to provide a sufficient hosting environment for multiple informational sites, you’re better off going with a dedicated server if you’re serious about running a hosting reselling business.

 

Dedicated servers provide more resources, which is better for scaling as you take on more clients. They are also more flexible. Additionally, if you’re looking to install any specific operating systems or software to help you more easily create a shared hosting environment, the hosting company you partner with may restrict what servers they allow this software to be installed on. A dedicated server may be the best option by default. VPSes are great to be sure, but you might as well go for the safe bet for a few extra dollars a month.

 

The next piece of software may be of particular interest to you if you’re planning on running a Linux server to support your business.

 

Why CloudLinux may interest you

 

You’ll have to choose between going with a hosting company that offers hosting on Windows servers or Linux servers. Linux does allow for a bit more flexibility and customization. Assuming you do go with a Linux host, you may be interested in installing CloudLinux on your dedicated server. CloudLinux, as a company, offers a variety of products. As a reseller, though, what you’ll primarily be interested in is CloudLinux OS as many of the other management tasks will be handled by the hosting company. Installing CloudLinux OS on your dedicated server will make it easier to create a shared hosting environment for you to manage and divide out to your clients.

 

CloudLinux offers features that improve stability, density, and security. It better isolates each client so that allocation of server resources remains “fair” and doesn’t negatively impact other clients on the server. If you’ve ever used shared hosting for your own site before, you know how other sites’ traffic can affect your performance.

 

What you need to be familiar with

 

If you already successfully manage your own site, you’ve already got the technical knowledge required to start your reselling business. You’re no doubt already familiar with how cPanel and WHM work. All you’ll need to do here is go into WHM to create a cPanel environment for each of your clients’ sites and give them the administrative access they need to manage their site. The rest is up to them. Of course, there is one big skill you’ll need in order to successfully run this hosting reseller business and isn’t so much a technical skill, but rather a customer service skill.

 

When you purchase a server with the intention of reselling space on it, it’s usually done (and should be done) under a white label agreement. That is, the original hosting company’s branding isn’t anywhere to be seen. For all intents and purposes, you are selling server space on hardware that you own. However, the downside to that is any issues your customers have aren’t going to be handled directly by the hosting company. They will be handled by you. What that means is, the hosting company you’re paying for a server won’t field your customers’ service tickets. You’ll have to accept them, then contact the hosting company in order to get things fixed. Being comfortable in that middle man role is going to be essential to running this reseller business.

 

Preparing your business

 

Depending on what you already do primarily with your business, preparing your business to take on the role of web host may be simple or it may be time-consuming to get off the ground initially. Either way, it will certainly add somewhat to your regular workload. If you’re lucky and you work strategically, it shouldn’t take up too much time and the extra income every month will far outpace the amount of time you need to spend doing any really difficult work.

 

You’ll need to set up a ticketing system to process any requests that your clients have regarding troubleshooting. This will also involve setting up some sort of help desk type interface somewhere on your business’ current site. Also, be sure to get any kind of legal paperwork prepared including proposals, agreements, and terms of service. When it comes to hosting, these things are important and you need to protect yourself. You may already have a lot of this already prepared for your current business and it’ll just take some tweaking.

 

Conclusion

 

Web hosting is much more adaptable and profitable to your business than you may realize. While many people think of their hosting solution as just a way to keep their business website online, which is important, there are many opportunities to expand your portfolio of services and make additional income. While it may not be explicitly “passive” it’s certainly a great way to make extra revenue every month as a billable item. If you’re interested in signing up for a dedicated server to divide and resell space on, contact us today. At KnownHost, we’re dedicated to providing you with the business solutions you need to grow.

Read More

Prioritize Your Website Hosting

7 Key Reasons to Prioritize Your Website’s Hosting

Web hosting is often a decision that is made quickly in order to move on to “the actual work” of building your online presence. Here, we review why you should make your hosting decision carefully – by assessing what can go wrong with a poorly run service.

 

You probably know how important it is to your business to use a diverse set of online marketing tactics and to carefully approach your design. However, the web hosting, the infrastructure that backs the site and delivers the resources to serve your site to end users, is fundamental to your site’s impact; in other words, the performance of your site (its speed and reliability) is central to determining its performance as a business entity (its revenue-generating capabilities).

 

Why is web hosting such as key factor in business success? You can better grasp why the hosting service you choose is essential by looking at what can go wrong with a poor host. All these reasons are fundamentally related to performance (i.e., the first version above) since that is the basic and functional purpose served by hosting.

 

Here is what can be avoided by investing in a high-quality provider for your brand’s server(s):

 

#1 – Ignored by the search engines

 

The convenience of a web host is great; really, the hosting industry has made it possible for the internet to explode by skipping over the part where you have to set up the machines in order to get started. However, that system needs to be available at all times; the way that the host delivers your site will impact your search results. Since the host will help determine how you fare with Google and the other search engines, you do not want it to be the weakest link of your web presence, undoing all the effort you put into targeting keywords and building content. Downtime is just one issue; slow loading is a less extreme scenario that will also affect your search engine result page (SERP) rankings (since 2010, speed has been a known and direct ranking factor in the Google algorithm). Think about it this way: you build strong content so that you can have high search results and use that prominence to drive traffic to your site. However, Google and Bing need to see that your content is actually live – can be accessed by people consistently – when they crawl it with their spiders.

 

#2 – Missing out on money

 

If your site is not performing well, the prospects are not going to see your blog articles or product pages and know what you have to offer them. In the case of e-commerce, sales opportunities will be missed, notes WPBeginner founder Syed Balkhi. Keep in mind that the strength of the hosting really does matter. What would 5 minutes of downtime cost you in a year? What about 5 minutes of downtime per month (adding up to an hour per year)? That may seem to be a tiny sliver of time; however, one minute that your site is down could be extremely costly (depending on your industry, when the outage occurs, and how much money your site is making each minute in that setting). Industries and brands that are supporting a lot of network activity, or a smaller amount of high-dollar activity, will suffer considerably. For instance, the average cost of any instance of downtime among healthcare firms was already $690k in 2013; the typical rate of loss was $7900 per minute. What company wants to lose hundreds or thousands of dollars every minute? I do not know of any. Check your web hosting provider’s uptime guarantee. You want uptime of 99 percent minimum, says Stele Olenski in Forbes. If your site goes offline, your customers will see a blank screen or error message rather than experience your site.

 

#3 – Users fleeing from awful UX

 

Speed is key for SEO because it indicates that your site is worth Google or whatever search company highlighting it through a high ranking. Keep in mind, though, that part of the reason Google boosts sites with better performance is that they are more rapidly answering user questions, processing their entries, and otherwise meeting their needs. Think in terms of user experience (UX), which “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products,” according to UX consultancy Nielsen Norman Group. What is the UX like for someone who navigates to your site and then waits patiently, in vain, for your site to load? What if you are on a shared server, a neighbor is hogging resources, and each page is slow to load? If the hardware is low-end or if too many accounts are accessing the same server, the experience will be awful, and your customers will find a better place to buy.

 

#4 – Your data in danger

 

You want security. Everyone does. A weak web hosting provider will not standardly back up your site; a strong one will use remote backups (creating a second copy at a distant location) and will have restoration points built into your system so that you can be up and running soon following any malicious attack. In other words, you want backup to be automatically built into your hosting plan. Chances are that backup is one of your foremost concerns, and it should be; you might accidentally delete a number of pages, or someone might hack your site and wreak havoc. Just consider these cybercrime stats: 1 out of 5 small businesses get hacked; of the ones that do, a shocking 3 out of 5 are bankrupt in just 6 months. Keep in mind that security protects your own data as well as the information of your customers (including their login details, payment card numbers, and other sensitive information); it is a wise investment. Getting back to the issue of backup, this concern is simplified when your host handles it within your agreement – as indicated by Olenski. Knowing that your service includes free full image backup will give you peace of mind.

 

#5 – No one there when you need them

 

Similar to the issue of security, a weak web host will not be available with advice and fixes; a great one will help with security, maintenance, and technical questions 24/7 (ideally through support that is 100% based in the United States). You may think you will be able to handle everything yourself, but managing a website will always come with challenges; support really will help.

 

#6 – Files disappearing

 

If a web host shuts down or simply does not have enough built-in redundancies for full backup, you could lose files. Be aware that the hosting service you use offers an impressive, enterprise-grade network environment so that your files are safe.

 

#7 – You can’t scale properly

 

Scalability is fundamental. Scalability is really about flexibility, not just the ability to grow. You want to be able to increase the size of your system as you do more business, but you also want to be able to expand or contract seasonally or whenever – think Black Friday or an unexpected piece of press. Plus, you want a host that does not charge you fees to make a switch between plan offerings or cancel your plan.

 

***

 

Are you convinced that your choice of web host is critical to the success of your business? At KnownHost, with fast servers, great 24/7 support, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee, we believe that high-quality hosting is fundamental. But don’t just take it from us: check out our client testimonials.

Read More