A Blog is an online personal diary. Blog as we call it today is taken from the word weblog. We may say that blog is similar to a website which has blog entries, posts that appear in the reverse chronological … Continue reading
A lot of people think about virtual private networks, or VPNs, as networks used only by large corporations and global organizations that need to provide employees or partners with a secure and private remote access to the corporate network or the chance to share files confidentially. The truth is that a VPN can be just as well exploited by a personal user, bringing various benefits to a home network too.
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Life on the virtual cloud can be a great experience for tech users. Being able to store, manage and access information and data wherever you go and whenever you need it, without actually using a hard drive offers great convenience. However, as with most technologies, the cloud is not perfect for every application. Plus, although your mom always told you to share, when it comes to cloud computing, sharing just isn’t for everyone.
Rackspace “Bare-Metal” Servers
Because performance on the cloud is not always as predictable as one would like, companies are actively looking for ways to improve cloud infrastructure. To that end, Rackspace recently announced a new technology that allows users the opportunity to move and up and down dedicated servers the same way they would move up and down virtual machines (VMs) on the cloud.
Why Dedicated Servers?
So one might ask: “Are bare-metal dedicated servers really necessary?” The problem with cloud VMs is that many tenants use them at the same time, which has a tendency to limit their capabilities. In other words, every time you are using the cloud you are also sharing the resources from the server and network connections with others. That leads to inconsistent performance, which can be frustrating.
Another issue that companies face when they use the cloud is growth. Although growth is almost always a good problem to have, it can be troublesome in regards to the cloud. When a company that starts on the cloud grows what tends to happen is that it moves into a collocated date center. However, when it decides to move into this type of infrastructure it also tends to lose the flexibility of the cloud. This is the problem that Rackspace is taking dead aim at with its new bare-metal dedicated servers.
How Do They Work?
So how do these dedicated servers work? This is not the first time that Rackspace has tried a bare-metal server, but the company’s new offering, OnMetal is different from past offerings. According to Rackspace, the new OnMetal dedicated server works much better than previous attempts, as well as much faster. The previous bare-metal servers were a lot like traditional hosting in that a person might have to wait for several hours or even several days before a server could be provisioned.
Another way the new Rackspace OnMetal dedicated servers are different from their predecessors is the cost. While traditional dedicated hosting plans typically carry a monthly usage fee, Rackspace is renting these new servers by the minute. That’s right, Rackspace is offering this service to is customers by the minute, which means anyone can rent a dedicated powerful server, which is sitting at a Rackspace location, for 20 minutes or so, or longer. It’s simple to set up as well. With just a few clicks you can put your request in online and in no time at all you can be up an running on a powerful dedicated server that is only open to you for however long you rent it.
Many Different Usage Levels
As most people are aware not all dedicated server usage is the same. Rackspace has prepared for this by creating three different designs, or usage levels, for its OnMetal servers and each of these configurations can be scaled to accommodate large-scale web apps. They are based on the following:
- Computing power
Handling Different Workloads
Rackspace also pinpointed four separate workloads that will benefit the most from its bare-metal cloud servers. They include:
- Processing web requests
- RAM-based caching
- Background processing
- Database servers
In order to accommodate this technology, Rackspace also designed its own open source servers based on the Open Compute Project model. Accordingly, the OnMetal server is a solid unit with no moving parts, vibration or heat. Cooling is also created externally because there are no fans or spinning disks. You might call these servers the elephants of dedicated servers, because their memory is fantastic. At the low end of the spectrum they come with half a terabyte, so running out of space is not a concern.
Save You Money
Although OnMetal will not be fully introduced until late July, and it’s price is not yet known, it’s believed that running a heavy workload on it will be cheaper than running a heavy load on a cloud virtual machine. After all, that’s what OnMetal is intended for. Ultimately, OnMetal is aimed at giving users the best of both worlds, allowing them to scale like they are on the cloud but still giving them the stability and capacity of colocation.
Who Will Benefit?
Although the entire concept of cloud computing and storage is based on the principle of sharing, Rackspace is taking a whole new approach with their bare-metal servers. The idea of sharing is great for many entities and users. On the other hand, this concept is squarely aimed enterprises that need and want to have a dedicated server system for their cloud-based operations. That’s why Rackspace made OnMetal with the capability to be ramped up or down as necessary. This is also possible because the service is charged by the minute.
No More Sharing
Although sharing is still a good concept, it doesn’t always work for all business enterprises in the computing world. Because sharing can make things more complex and reduce a server’s functionality, bare-metal dedicated servers are a good alternative. With OnMetal dedicated servers, managing single tenant provisions is simple and quick. Plus, it also integrates seamlessly with cloud infrastructure that is already in place. It also allows interfacing with multi-user cloud servers.
Best of Both Worlds
The bottom line when it comes to dedicated servers is that if you need the capacity and stability of colocation, but you want still want the scalability of traditional cloud servers, then the new OnMetal dedicated servers from Rackspace are a great option. They basically perform just like a cloud virtual machine, but you don’t have to share your server space or your network connections with anyone else. Plus, you are only charged for the time you are actually using the service. For large enterprises, it sounds like the cloud just got a whole lot more inviting.
Top image ©GL Stock Images
Whether it happens in a corporate conference room or in a startup client’s office, at some point in your career, whether it’s as a designer, social media manager or marketing expert, someone is going to ignore your suggestions and ideas and say, “here’s a site I like. I want one designed just like this!” Your bruised ego is one thing, but knowing where to draw the line between inspiration and theft is another. Relaying that to a client or boss can be even tougher.
There are times we need to just give in to clients and bosses—it is a service industry/job, after all. As an old teacher once said to me:
“If you’re a marketing designer, you will have to follow instructions and inane wishes of clients and bosses. If you want to do your own thing, be an artist and paint pictures.”
It sticks in my mind because at the time he was strangling me while other students tried to pry his hands from my throat. My arguments about creativity and self-respect were naive… and aggravating, judging by the teacher’s attempt to murder me. I’ve since learned my lesson while enjoying breathing freely.
Your Duty to the Client
As a professional hired to build on a company’s brand, it’s up to you to not just be a pair of hands that knows how to do “that internet stuff” and build and promote a business and their website, but to also know how that branding will affect the client in the market and among a customer base. When faced with a request to copy another creative’s work, line for line, button for button and color for color and word for word, you have to consider the ramifications for your career and for the client or company.
A website that takes all its “inspiration” from another design is totally heinous to a creative, but it happens more often then we’d care to admit. Companies like to jump on bandwagons and an idea that’s been tested and succeeds is a magnet for those who fear risk. As creatives, we love risk and we live to dare, so it is hard for us to understand. As professional business people, we need to understand the fear a client feels and how to guide them past it to success. Design is a message—it should be pointed, effective and unique. It should also make us feel good about the job we do and love and knowing we left the client in a better place.
But if a client wants you to take “inspiration” from an existing, successful website, the first question you must address is: Will the design of the example site fit the demographics and purpose of the client’s business? If it’s way off target, you need to express those concerns to your client. If the answer is, “I don’t care” or “just do it, web monkey,” then you have a good idea of the client’s ethics… or understanding of business.
The next question is: Will there be any brand damage by using the design? Again, as a professional, it’s part of your service to protect the client’s reputation. It takes a gentle but firm demeanor to explain why using a knockoff of the Coca-Cola website is not a good idea for a funeral home (“Coke Adds Life” is their motto. It’s doubtful a funeral home wants the same motto… one would hope!). If targeted consumers see the brand’s website as a spoof of the original design, they won’t take the company seriously. If word spreads on social media, huge embarrassment will ensue and chances are, your name and reputation as the one who did the branding/marketing will get thrown under the bus. Oh, look, the 3:10 express to Endofcareersville is right on time.
Let’s say the client is really excited and determined about the idea of the funeral home having the same branding as Coke. There is only one final question for the client: Are there legal ramifications to using the same design and branding? Are any copyrights or trademarks being infringed upon? The company could get a cease-and-desist order, which would shut down the website and any collateral materials. You might very well be blamed for the whole ordeal. If the client’s answer to the legal question is “Eh, I think it’s fine,” you know there will be trouble ahead.
If you’re ordered to “take inspiration” from another design/brand and all the outs described above haven’t worked, refer to this handy list of subtle acts of nonviolent resistance:
- In meetings, dress as a thief character from the 1920s by wearing a mask, striped shirt, black pants and flat cap and carry a bag marked “loot.”
- Cry and ask for God’s forgiveness every time you say the word “inspiration” while meeting about the site.
- Ask for an extra fee to keep your mouth shut about the “inspiration.” Wink every time you say, “inspiration.”
- Make sure your contract indemnifies you from lawsuits. Save all correspondence that show you argued about the direction the client is taking.
- Demand that you be referred to by a pseudonym such as “John Smith” in all correspondence so you can go under the radar once the site goes live.
- In every discussion about the project, end it with questions about the plans to avoid litigation.
These acts of protest should make your point clear: crime never pays… and clients in prison also hardly ever pay a freelancer.
A Client’s Duty to Branding/Marketing
I’ve never heard of a person refusing to be put under during an operation so he/she could tell the surgeon how to operate or, for that matter, tell a portrait painter what colors to use and brush strokes to be taken. Using professional designers, branding experts and marketers is hiring people with experience and knowledge. Like a surgeon, they know what needs to be cut out, stitched up or augmented. Like a painter, they know how to make you look your best.
There are a million ideas to be thought up and just as many solutions for your business branding. Listen to unique, standout ideas from the professionals you hire and employ. They want you to succeed because every win is success for them as well. A growing business means a growing client for more work!
Images ©GL Stock Images
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There are many companies which try to resist BYOD just because of the security implications. Although I see this resistance futile, it is there to stay for some time more (I have discussed this in the first two articles: #1 Web of Things and #2 The Swift Revolution).
If you remember, in my article titled “The Corporate Face” I have taken the view from a Chief Technology Officer’s (CTO) perspective and asked the questions which the CTO will have to answer with her IT team. The questions that I asked in the article were mainly technical questions, which the majority of them that could be solved with simple procedures.
In this article, I will try to explore the gray areas of the BYOD initiative without touching security. I will try to see what additional topics should the IT departments be discussing to support the myriad of different devices which come with myriad of operating systems (and operating system versions). I will also keep the perspective of company-subsidized devices, together with the employees’ own devices.
The device is a whole discussion in itself. Which devices – the brands – will the company support. You may argue that in terms of support, it is the operating system that should be considered today, rather than the hardware vendor. Not completely true. The consumer-grade vendors act according to the consumer rather than the enterprise preferences. Consumers like to have the cutting-edge devices and can renew them yearly, even more frequent, depending on their budget. When thinking about their own budget, they do not think too much about servicing, maintenance and procurement. They also do not think about the lost/stolen devices, which they can easily cover with an insurance. These are some of the cases which the consumer and enterprise preferences do not align. In the case of company-subsidized devices, where the company has some control over the purchase of devices, the budget, lost/stolen device and the servicing issues has to be clearly discussed and laid down in procedures. Having an approved device manufacturer list is likely to assist both the corporate IT and the employees.
Of course the device selection is not constrained to what I have just talked about. If you are a company having operations outside the shiny business offices, then you need to think about ruggedized devices. iDevices, glaring notepads are simply too fragile for warehouses, construction sites, air-cooling rooms and any other places where the device will be subject to rough handling. In such areas, the company has to have thick borders with the choice of devices. If the employee drops the company-subsidized iDevice to the concrete in the warehouse, she has to bear the burden to fix it from her own budget.
There is of course the issue with the proper and professional use of the devices. In almost all companies without an exception, I have seen executives using company-issued devices personally. This includes having unsupported applications installed on notebooks, photos of family eating up the phone’s storage and the like. Reasonably, I cannot say that the employees must have a separate device for business and another one for business. Nobody, including me, will prefer to carry two devices where both can do the same thing. But there are applications to overcome this problem, which allow you to separate your work and personal life on one device (one of them is Divide). The company can force the users to have such software installed on their company-subsidized devices.
Think of these applications as virtual machines running on the devices. Business-related data – applications, user-created content, shared data – is completely isolated from the personal data (technically, such applications create an encrypted partition where the business-related data is stored and managed). They solve the problem of data ownership and application management.
Of course these discussions cannot be thought at the IT-level only. The discussions are far from the CIO level, encompassing the whole company overall, especially the B- and C-level executives. If the IT department does not have the agreement and support of these executives, then the company has more to think about than the BYOD. How will you enforce policies on your staff when your B- and C- level executives disregard them?