June 19, 2019

Small to Medium Business, Uptime and Single Points of Failure

Throughout the history of IT, there has always been an effort to reduce the number of single points of failure (SPOF). 

A single point of failure is simply defined as any part or system that, if it fails, brings down your entire system or network. We have always had to live in the smaller business world with several of these SPOF’s but whenever possible, with the parts that failed most often, we would have redundancy. Examples include Hard Drives combined together in RAID arrays or multiple power supplies in a server. (RAID systems often but not always use several hard disks to provide redundancy.)

These are great systems but they can exacerbate the problem of single points of failure in the case of RAID controllers which are also single points of failure. Although RAID controllers do not fail regularly, when they do, its ugly. And most clients don’t have spare RAID controllers sitting around. Other SPOF’s include mainboards or motherboards and processors. The resolution from these issues has often been relying on backup but that can have a terrible cost if you are paying 50 employees hourly as they wait for the backup to be restored. There could also be some loss of data depending upon how recent the last backup was. The more recent solutions are BDR (Backup and Disaster Recovery) Appliances and Virtualization specifically VMware shared storage. While neither solution is inexpensive, both provide for quick recovery should a SPOF fail. Each has a very different function and are not interconnected but can both be used in any IT environment. Each works as follows.

VMware Shared Storage

VMware shared storage is a solution that takes advantage of inexpensive storage. Specifically two or more physical servers (commonly described as hosts in the world of virtualization) keep exact copies of your “guest” servers on all the physical “hosts”. If a SPOF event happens on one physical server, you can simply turn on the “guest” server on the other physical device. Not clear? I’ll try again using the “host” and “guest” terms that define the virtualization world. Say your Uncle Wilbur comes to stay at your house.

But since your spouse doesn’t really like Uncle Wilbur, Uncle Wilbur decides to keep an exact replica of his belongings at your sisters house for the inevitable time when your spouse kicks him out. When it does happen, his belongings are available at your sisters house. It is a bit of simplification but hopefully the concept is clearer. VMware shared storage is NOT a backup solution. So anytime you think of using this technology make sure you budget for a good backup solution as well.

BDR Appliance

A Backup and Disaster Recovery Appliance is tool that leverages your backups to avoid downtime. While this device doesn’t work at all if you do not get good backups and test them frequently, if you do, it can minimize any losses due to SPOF’s. In the past if something failed and the part you needed was not readily available, you would run around like a chicken with your head cut off to find a replacement for the failed part or you replaced the whole system and recovered from backup, inevitably you would run into a few unexpected speed bumps in this recovery process and your employees would hang around asking if the system was up yet.

The BDR appliance resolves this by acting as the storage location for your backups and most importantly, it also acts as the server you can recover to in event of a failure. Effectively the appliance becomes the “host” if needed for your “guest” server. Zephyr Networks is a VMware reseller and we work with several BDR appliance makers. Call us at 8008847559 so that we can help you define what is the perfect solution for your business.


Southern California Cybersecurity No Longer A Choice For Orange County And Los Angeles County Business Owners

Southern California cybersecurity is no longer a choice; it has become a clear necessity. Los Angeles County relies on information networks to connect its employees, partners and customers; Southern California cybersecurity can no longer be ignored. Since public networks people use daily are foundational to networked business, the connection between the two is prevalent and without exception.  While more and more networked business is conducted over private networks (or encrypted tunnels through public networks), the Internet, open WiFi networks and various mobile networks are now commonly used to connect members to such business networks. As a result, Zephyr Networks has seen an increase in vulnerability in 2013, and such vulnerability needs to be addressed and protected before it is too late.

CYBERSECURITY: Cyber & Security Have Become One

Southern California Cybersecurity

CYBERSECURITY: Cyber & Security Can No Longer Be Separated

The number of cyber attacks perpetrated against the information infrastructures of both public and private companies has upsurged in the recent past. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report that was published last month cites a 782% increase in the number of reported security breaches of federal agencies between 2006 and 2012. Within the last three months, major banks in the United States (TD BankWells Fargo) technology companies (Apple, Facebook, Microsoft), and media outlets (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post) have been attacked successfully and had their cybersecurity threatened. If it can happen to such major players, could it also be happening to you? As a small to mid-sized business owner in Los Angeles or Orange County, can you take such a risk? Can you put your Southern California on hold any longer?

The perpetrators of the recent spate of attaches were able to disrupt their targets’ online services, defaced their public websites and steal supposedly-protected information, including trade secrets, strategic plans, records of transactions and customer information. Cybersecurity is no longer a choice because it has become a clear and present threat to any networked business. As the growth of the networked business model continues to accelerate, you can know without question that the frequency and severity of cyber attacks. If you put up enough targets, sooner as opposed to later, the bad guys will take aim and fire. In the world of cybersecurity, there are bad guys beyond the arena of fiction, television dramas and movie thrillers.

From the angry young hacker sitting in his mom’s basement to well-oiled machine of cyber criminals looking to take organized crime off the streets and into your network, the threat is real There is a reason why President Obama issued an Executive Order last month that recommended that, “to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties.”

Southern California Cybersecurity For You

Zephyr Networks knows from experience that Southern California cybersecurity is no longer an option. It is a necessity. Our goal is to prevent damage before it happens because too many times have we been called in after the fact to help companies after the damage already had been done. Enough is enough! If you are worried about the cybersecurity of your company, please contact Zephyr Networks today. To learn more about how we can protect your company, call Zephyr toll free at (800) 884-7559 or fill out our handy contact form.

Truly Proactive IT Support

Marc Winger of Zephyr Networks

Marc Winger of Zephyr Networks

Many “Managed Service Providers” (MSP’s) promise the world. They talk about 24 by 7 monitoring and response. But many of them do this by using an automated program that, if it identifies a problem on your servers, it notifies you and maybe runs a script to restart a program while they snore away. These scripts are supposed to keep your system running well all the time and make it so they don’t have to send someone onsite.

To Zephyr, this is not enough. Your network is a unique, living, ever changing, dynamic system that needs proactive personalized attention to keep it running its best. Our Proactive Plus IT Infrastructure Care program includes time designated for our technicians to come on-site and go through checklists specifically designed for your network. But most importantly, a solid percentage of that time is designated to listening to end users I.T. needs. We focus on trying to determine what will help make them more productive. Part of that is listening to their honest perception of their network performance. Part of it is just watching how they work and making some subtle suggestions on shortcuts. As a company, we think it is important to get the pulse of a network from the people who use it most. A lot of that is listening, and when was the last time your IT consultant actually listened.