According to Forbes, in 2018, 77% of all enterprises were using the cloud for at least some of their applications or IT services. The reason for such a significant uptake is simple: the cloud provides companies with a range of substantial benefits, making them more agile, secure and cost-efficient while giving them access to the …
Cybercriminals continue to find more advanced ways to penetrate company networks. According to a report released by FireEye’s Mandiant division on Tuesday, cybercriminals can use a phishing attack to gain access to employee credentials and send messages from internal email accounts in as little as 30 minutes. Insights from the…
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On October 31, 2014, Endurance International Group acquired yet another popular web hosting company. Arvixe is now owned by EIG and will be operated as an Endurance brand. Although the initial transition appears to have been smooth and uncomplicated, many users are worried about a possible drop in the quality of Arvixe service, support and products. Loyal customers have been left with a number of questions as their preferred provider is folded into a larger company.
A Short History of Endurance International Group
Endurance International Group has been a popular web hosting company for almost two decades. Since its founding in 1996, it has gradually acquired more than 40 brands, including well-known names such as Bluehost and HostGator. It currently manages 10 million domains and nearly three million customers. When Endurance acquires smaller hosts, it allows these hosts to operate under their original brand names, but customer support and service is handled by the central EIG organization. Arvixe is one of the company’s most recent acquisitions.
Arvixe Has Enjoyed a Loyal Fan Base
Arvixe was founded in 2003 and has enjoyed a loyal fan base ever since. This California-based company has built a reputation for solid web hosting among entrepreneurs, small businesses, professional bloggers and other customers in need of a strong online presence. The company is known for its reliability and its solid tech support. Many reviews emphasize the positive experiences that customers have had with Arvixe’s 24/7 support staff. Even when there are temporary technical difficulties, problems are almost always resolved quickly and cleanly, minimizing the disruption to business.
Reviews Speak Highly of Service Standards
The majority of users who give positive reviews to Arvixe have emphasized the company’s commitment to customer service. Many customers mention the 60-day initial guarantee, which offers a refund if the user is not satisfied with the first two months of service. In an industry where a 30-day guarantee is standard, this extra perk has made Arvixe a popular choice among startup entrepreneurs and other people in rapidly changing fields. Reviews on sites such as WebHostingGeeks have spoken highly of Arvixe’s tech support standards. One customer reported that he never had to wait for more than two minutes to speak with an expert technician and start solving his problem. In a fast-moving business world where every minute of downtime can mean a loss of income, this quick response rate has built a good reputation for Arvixe.
Some Troubling Precedents
Endurance International Group has acquired dozens of web hosting companies over the past decade. Although small companies are often stronger under the umbrella of a large organization, the personal touch of a mid-sized web hosting company is not easily replicated in a huge customer service operation. Many customers have reported that wait times increase and one-on-one attention decreases after companies are bought by Endurance. While some of this discontent may simply be a result of loyalty to an older company which is no longer operating on autonomous terms, there are some troubling signs that Endurance-owned companies are letting their customer service standards slip.
Bluehost: A Case Study
Bluehost was founded in 1996—the same year as EIG. It has been well-known as a personal and business web hosting company since the late nineties. After Bluehost’s acquisition by EIG in 2011, reviews on WebHostingGeeks and other popular sites have begun to slide downhill. One disgruntled long-term customer reports that service and tech support has “gone down the tubes in recent years,” citing the lack of immediate responses and accurate time estimates. Instead of speaking with one expert who can focus on solving the problem, customers are often handed off between several tech support staff, requiring them to explain the issue again and start from scratch each time. Information is no longer consistent between calls and emails, and some tech staff attempt to sell additional products or services instead of tackling the problems that exist.
Tech Support Is the Crucial Issue
A number of customers emphasize the fact that Bluehost’s prices and software options remain ideal, but tech support is no longer satisfactory. Although Bluehost is still a popular web hosting company, its reviews have declined steadily since the EIG buyout, and many new customers are reluctant to try it because of its recent reputation for inferior customer service.
Worries in the Web Hosting Community
With the purchase of Arvixe by EIG, many people in the web hosting community have begun to wonder whether Arvixe will suffer the same decline in support. Arvixe has built a strong customer base with attention to smart customer service and fixing things in a timely fashion. Arvixe was among the first web hosting companies to use online chat as a support option, and this feature has become popular and convenient for many customers. For bigger issues, Arvixe users have consistently reported good customer service results via email. Now that this medium-sized company has been consumed by a much larger corporation, long-term users are unsure whether it will be able to sustain this level of personalized support.
Time Will Tell
As more and more people develop and maintain websites, the market for web hosting is more competitive than ever before. The lightning speed of online business means that interruptions must be kept to an absolute minimum. Arvixe’s user-friendly interface, award-winning customer service and other features have helped it build a good reputation among customers, with reviews consistently above four stars, even from the most demanding user populations. Time will tell whether Arvixe can maintain this standard of quality under the umbrella of a larger company which may not be able to pay as much individual attention to customers.
Buyouts Are a Fact of Modern Life
Whether it’s your favorite brewery, your favorite bakery or your favorite web host, almost any company is at risk of being bought out by the giants of the modern economy. This can be disconcerting and even a bit sad, but it doesn’t always have to mean a rapid decline in quality. As large corporations acquire more of their local competition, they are starting to pay attention to the customer experience and devote more time and resources to real-life support. Loyal Arvixe users are hoping this will hold true in their case. To find out more about your options for smart web hosting, get in touch with an IT professional today.
Top image ©GL Stock Images
With the introduction of Cloud technology, many firms and enterprises got skeptical about the future of dedicated hosting. There indeed is a reason for anyone to doubt it – with the fast gaining popularity of ‘as a service’ suffix of … Continue reading
Thanks to incredible advancements in technology, it is possible for anyone to upload the most intimate and personal details of their life to the internet with just a few clicks of a button. While this convenience makes it possible to shop online, browse endlessly, and share the details of one’s life with family members and friends, it also makes it possible for subversive individuals to gain access to the personal data of countless web surfers without their knowledge. The ability to glean endless information regarding a person’s search history, online preferences, and even classified information from the internet leaves many people wondering if it is possible to remain anonymous and still be on the web.
Who Wants Your Information?
There is always going to be someone out there who can benefit from finding and exploiting unprotected personal information on the internet, including:
- Identity thieves
- Major search engines
- Social media sites
- Government agencies
Even so-called “privacy policies” can be circumvented by technology-savvy individuals who have the desire to do so. With the odds stacked against you, how do you keep yourself and your information anonymous while surfing the web? Is it even possible to do so, or is privacy truly dead for the average citizen?
According to a 2013 Pew Study, more than half of Americans have completely given up on the idea of online privacy completely, but they still continue to surf the web on a daily basis. It seems that the only way to remain completely anonymous on the web is to stay away from the internet completely. However, this is simply not a practical solution for most people, so here are a few other ways to protect your identity on the web.
1. Set Up a Firewall
Think of your computer as a mansion full of valuable stuff that other people want, and think of your firewall as a giant fence that keeps unwanted individuals out. Antivirus programs can be related to cameras that detect and deter individuals who are desperate enough to climb over your fence or try and find another way to get to your valuable stuff. If you don’t have firewall software on your computer, you are leaving yourself open and vulnerable to crooks, hackers, and even government agencies. You can try your luck with standard firewall software that comes along with Windows 7/8, or you could beef up your security with a third-party firewall package. There are also some very decent firewall packages that are completely free if you are concerned about shelling out too much money.
2. Know How Much Information You Are Giving Away
It is pretty hard to protect your online identity from vulnerabilities if you have no idea how much information you are giving away each time you get on the internet. One great way to find out how much you reveal about yourself from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer is by using a program such as Stay Invisible. This program analyzes your electronic device and sends you a full report detailing the information you send to third parties when you surf the web. Many people are unaware that their electronic devices send some or all of the following information each time they visit a website:
- IP address
- Approximate physical location
- Time zone
- Preferred language
- Browser type
- Operating system
- Browser plug-ins
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the massive amounts of information you share with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Both sites store massive amounts of data and metadata on each person who has a profile with them.
3. Social Media
Social media has become an incredible avenue for people to share the events of their lives with friends and family members who are located throughout the world. It is also a great way for businesses to advertise their products and services in order to gain a larger customer base. However, it can also be used for some very sordid purposes, such as providing world-wide governments with access to the highly personal lives of thousands of Facebook users.
In 2013, Facebook received demands from various government agencies to reveal information about approximately 38,000 Facebook profile holders. The United States Government was responsible for more than half of those demands. Facebook has recently been under fire for providing data on its users in response to approximately 60% of demands or requests directly from the NSA. The popular social media site has also given the Turkish government profile information for 45 users whom the Turkish government deemed to be a threat.
While much can be done to limit your visibility to third parties by putting the tightest restrictions on your Facebook privacy settings or by using a pseudonym, the only way to completely remain anonymous and protect your identity is by opting not to use social media altogether.
4. Limit the Gathering of Your Search History and Preferences
If you can’t bring yourself to delete all of your social media accounts, you should at least make sure that your personal information, search history, and preferences cannot be easily gathered by social media sites such as Facebook. Disable cookies, never save your history, and use a separate browser for all of your social media purposes.
5. Use a Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a powerful encryption tool that allows you to protect your online identity. This type of network is especially imperative to use if you do a lot of web surfing from public locations like libraries or coffee shops.
6. Download TOR
TOR is a free app that is intended to offer protection from online surveillance. By utilizing a complicated and encrypted set of data tunnels, the app helps to hide your location while you surf the web and publish online content.
While it is true that the only way to stay completely anonymous online is by keeping off of the internet completely, you can do much to protect your online identity from the NSA and others by setting up a firewall, being aware of how your data can be used against you, using pseudonyms, tightening your privacy settings as much as possible, and utilizing a VPN as well as TOR apps.
Top Image ©GL Stock Images
Social enterprises, enterprise collaboration, bring your own device (BYOD), new development methodologies are the changes that the affect the organizations as a whole and the IT departments is no exception. However there are the fundamentals which are and will be there for times to come as is the business continuation, asset management and disaster recovery. Here are the traditional technology strategies still in place.
Change management is a traditional Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process, which is here and is not going away in the future. Version control is also a part of change management. Spinning some number of servers at once from System Center Virtual Machine Manager using virtual machine templates or changing virtual machine hardware in minutes does not unnecessitate the change management cycle. Keeping track of hardware, software and versions, operating system patch levels is one of the most critical things IT departments have to do. Yes, there are tools to automate these operations but still the CIO must ensure that they are carried out properly.
Asset management and tracking is one of the core operations of the IT department. BYOD, using Chromebooks seem to loosen the policies but in fact they should be tightened. Since personal use of devices make the boundaries of the asset management blurry, CIOs need to decide the ways to keep track of and manage these devices, especially the data stored on them. Revisiting the old policies and updating them is a must-do, but slackening or abandoning them is a very strategic mistake.
Meetings and travels are the things that should not be left out, and with “meetings” I don’t mean “Live meeting” in Lync, Skype or Hangouts. I mean, where people sit down in one room physically and breathe the same air. This human interaction cannot be replaced with any technology. Having such a meeting with the system, network, database administrators, business specialists and analysts is the best way to discuss things and sparkle ideas. In almost all decision cases, such meetings address lots of problems in advance and assign them to people so that precious time is saved down the road.
Same goes for visiting people in their offices or meeting rooms – the term for this is “walking around.” It does not matter which collaboration platform is in place in the company, whether or not you have mobile access to the platform and everybody is interactive there does not mean that everything is fine. Do not assume that a post with a smiley is a real expression of a person’s feelings. A may mean many things – from “OK I understand” to “no bad feelings” – but it is just a response to the latest post. I does not show how a person feels about the project, about his or her job or does not reflect any discomfort. Only by speaking face to face with people, by observing their voice tones and body language you can understand their feelings. To do this you have to go “there”, to people’s offices, to meeting rooms, wherever people happen to be.
When the servers begin to show their age, they are repurposed for tasks that have low system requirements. The objective is to get the most out of the investment as possible, even after depreciation period is completed. Reusing of old servers is another strategy that will be here as long as there are servers in the datacenter.
Traditional application development life cycle is here to stay. Today there are agile development methods, rapid releases and similar methodologies, which give companies competitive advantages in the web app space. It is a totally different thing when we talk about mission critical applications where they are expected to work correctly every time, must be compliant with regulations, standards and should be compatible with other systems. In such systems the deployment lifecycle of requirements gathering, application design, development, testing, documentation, version control, quality assurance etc. should be followed in order to deploy a high-quality software. If this software is expected to have a high number of users, it also has to be stress-tested. Stress tests can be carried out by automated tools, but it should not be skipped.
As I have discussed, “the fundamentals” do not change. Whether it is a new app, a new methodology of doing things or changes in the environment, such as BYOD there are time tested solutions that work and they should not be overlooked.