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Navigating the Complexities of Web Hosting and Content Delivery Networks

Navigating the Complexities of Web Hosting and Content Delivery Networks

Key Strategies for Enhancing Your Online Presence Through Superior Hosting and CDNs

Choosing a hosting provider or CDN is a pivotal decision that transcends mere operational considerations, touching on the essence of your online strategy. Prioritizing speed, reliability, and architectural resilience in this decision-making process is imperative for businesses aiming to secure and expand their digital footprint in an increasingly competitive market. Milano Ventures’ WorldDirector technology addresses all these issues.

In the era where digital agility defines market leadership, understanding the symbiotic relationship between high-speed web and application hosting, alongside advanced WorldDirector Content Delivery Network (CDN), is more than necessarily a competitive advantage. This exploration delves into the essence of selecting the right hosting provider or CDN, a decision that significantly impacts the efficiency of content delivery. The complexity of this choice is heightened by the prevalent issue of low-cost options, which, while attractive at a glance, harbour limitations and hidden risks that could undermine your digital presence.

The Hidden Costs of Budget Hosting Solutions

Economical hosting solutions, characterized by consolidating cloud and DNS services on singular server farms, present a deceptive allure. While initially appealing, this cost-saving approach carries inherent risks, notably the peril of a single point of failure. Such a scenario can precipitate extensive service interruptions, affecting critical operations from website accessibility to consistent email communication. It’s a stark reminder that the cheapest option is not always synonymous with value, especially when the stakes include your online visibility and operational continuity.

DNS: The Foundation of Your Digital Identity

At the heart of a resilient online presence is a robust Domain Name System (DNS) underpinned by a globally distributed network of application servers. This foundational framework is indispensable for delivering rapid and reliable cloud services, crucial for maintaining an uninterrupted online presence. Redundancy is the linchpin in this architecture, serving as a bulwark against network failures and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. A diversified hosting strategy spanning multiple locations and several autonomous systems, is essential for minimizing the risk of downtime, thus ensuring a seamless user experience.

Redundancy: Your Safeguard Against Downtime

The annals of internet service providers are replete with tales of outages, often traced back to overlooked single points of failure. Enlightened cloud service providers counter this vulnerability by deploying multiple DNS servers dispersed across diverse network segments and geographical areas. This strategy enhances system resilience, safeguarding against failures at any singular point within the network. Adopting redundant DNS servers is not just a technical requirement but a strategic investment in reliability and trustworthiness.

The Dual Edges of Anycast DNS Services

Though potentially more costly, anycast DNS services offer a strategic advantage by routing user requests to the nearest server, optimizing speed and reducing latency. This approach, while effective, necessitates a careful analysis of cost versus performance benefits. It represents a shift from traditional DNS setups, promising enhanced efficiency but requiring a nuanced understanding of its application and potential impact on your digital strategy.

Navigating the Complexities of Anycast DNS Services

While Anycast DNS services offer distinct advantages in reducing latency by directing user requests to the nearest server, they often operate within the confines of single Autonomous Systems (AS), typically relying on a single provider. Although beneficial for speed and efficiency, this configuration introduces a critical vulnerability. Should there be routing issues or disruptions within the Anycast routers, the entire system becomes susceptible to single points of failure. This potential weakness underscores the importance of a comprehensive evaluation when considering Anycast DNS for your digital infrastructure. It’s a potent reminder that while technology can offer enhanced performance capabilities, it also requires careful consideration of its inherent limitations and the possible impact on service reliability.

Scalability: Preparing for Peak Traffic

The challenges experienced by platforms like HealthCare.gov, which faltered under the weight of excessive traffic, underscore the critical importance of scalable online application engineering. The ability to dynamically scale server resources and distribute application loads across servers in various geographical locations is pivotal in mitigating latency and preventing data loss. This adaptive approach ensures continuity and efficiency, even during unexpected traffic surges or individual server failures.

Global Distribution: The Key to Uninterrupted Service

Expanding the geographical spread of servers facilitates effective load balancing and significantly enhances the system’s overall reliability. In scenarios where specific servers or network segments encounter failures, a globally distributed load-balancing architecture like WorldDirector guarantees uninterrupted service availability as long as at least one server remains operational. This global perspective transcends traditional load-balancing or passive CDN solutions, which typically rely on a single origin server and are inadequate for the dynamic demands of today’s digital landscape.

Embracing Automation in Server Management

The transition towards fully automated server management, necessitating minimal human intervention beyond initial setup, marks a significant evolution in hosting technology. Advanced global load-balancing mechanisms, exemplified by systems like WorldDirector, embody this shift, offering a fully redundant and distributed DNS framework complete with content acceleration capabilities.

This automation enhances operational efficiency and significantly reduces the potential for human error, ensuring a more reliable and consistent online presence.

Read more about WorldDirector on our website.

5 secrets to fast and reliable cloud services

5 secrets to fast and reliable cloud services

5 secrets to fast and reliable cloud services

We often come across low-cost, low-grade competitors who offer cloud and free-bundled DNS services out of a single server farm or, even worse, providing DNS services hosted on the same server or the same network, sometimes even at the end of a very remote xDSL line. Under these conditions, using a single location for a DNS system, long latency and any temporary network failure cause disruption of all services for a domain, including the potential loss of email.

Milano Ventures distributed and redundant storage

A good Domain Name System (DNS) and a network of globally distributed application servers help build fast and reliable cloud services.

  1. When looking for an always-on internet solution, the ideal is to use redundancy to protect against network failures and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. This usually means using redundant DNS and servers hosted at different locations, possibly routed by other AS (Autonomous Systems). Downtimes with significant cloud and CDN providers often occur because their systems are not designed to survive a single point of failure inherent in their architecture.
  2. Any cloud service provider should offer their clients multiple (more than two, redundant DNS servers on different network segments and at various physical locations, with inherent redundancy in all potential single points of failure. Anycast DNS services can also be a more expensive (sometimes less effective) solution to this problem.
  3. Do you remember the notorious technological problems of HealthCare.gov (the US President Obama Health Insurance Marketplace)? When too many users access an application simultaneously (i.e. any line application or a web server), the server or the network may become overloaded. The result is increased latency (slow or no response) and potential data loss. By carefully engineering online applications so that the number of servers can be dynamically increased, the application load and the number of users may be distributed among different servers at various geographical locations, and more transactions can be managed simultaneously. On the other hand, when a single data centre or server fails or if a router or the network is overloaded, all online services will become slow or unreachable.
  4. By increasing the number of geographical locations where multiple origin servers are hosted, it is also possible to “load balance” and improve the reliability of the whole system. If one or more servers or network segments fail, a globally distributed load-balancing system will continue to provide service until there is at least one server online. To this extent, the most common load-balancing or passive CDN solutions relying on a single origin server are invalid.
  5. Configuration and de-configuration of servers in case of network or server problems should be fully automatic and require little or no human intervention after initial set-up. A global load-balancing mechanism like WorldDirector provides a fully redundant and distributed DNS system,m including content acceleration.
WorldDirector multicloud architecture

WorldDirector multicloud architecture

WorldDirector in a multicloud architecture

Moving to a multi-cloud environment is a big decision that requires careful consideration of the pros and cons and a thorough evaluation of your organisation’s readiness. The benefits of cost savings, resiliency, and new feature enhancements are undeniable, but it’s essential to understand the challenges and limitations of an immersive environment before making a movie. With the proper planning and assistance from cloud providers, organisations can successfully migrate to an amulti-cloudd climate.

Multi-cloud architectures, in which different cloud providers host multiple services, are becoming increasingly popular among organisations.

According to Eurostat, 41% of enterprises in the European Union used cloud computing in 2021. Hosting in the cloud can save on initial infrastructure, planned and unexpected maintenance, and operational costs. However, there are challenges and complexities associated with adopting a multi-cloud architecture that organisations should consider.

Challenges in multi-cloud migration

One of the organisations’ most significant challenges when migrating to the cloud is choosing the right platform. Sometimes, the choice is made for them, for example, when certain outsourced services work only with certain cloud providers. In other cases, organisations had become locked into using a specific cloud vendor when applications were first moved to the cloud. Another challenge associated with running a multi-cloud architecture centres on security. Organisations need to apply a consistent security policy across all cloud platforms compatible with the security policy of internal systems. This can be challenging because different cloud providers have other security protocols.

Milano Ventures’ WorldDirector technology as a fully-managed multi-cloud enabler

Milano Ventures Ltd help managers and leaders understand the challenges of migrating to and securing a multi-cloud infrastructure. Our technology,y called WorldDirector, is offered as a fully managed service across distributed private and public clouds. It operates natively on multi-cloud environments, including proprietary and secure “edge” technologies designed to secure and protect the client’s data and applications.

WorldDirector as globally distributed , self resilient multicloudOverall, a multi-cloud architecture can provide many benefits for an organisation but also comes with challenges. Choosing the right platform and ensuring a consistent security policy across all cloud platforms are two key considerations organisations must consider when migrating to a multi-cloud infrastructure.

Benefits of moving to a multi-cloud infrastructure

The future of IT projects is in the cloud, and the benefits of cost savings, resiliency, and new feature enhancements that organisations realise by moving to the cloud are too great to ignore. However, moving to the cloud and a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment differs. Milano Ventures Ltd helps small and large organisations evaluate which strategy suits their applications.

When deciding whether to move to a multi-cloud environment, weighing the pros and cons is essential. The first step is to examine where the application currently sits. Is it hosted in a data centre managed by your organisation, colocated, or is it already hosted in a cloud provider’s data centre? Many organisations start by moving their application to a single cloud provider first to understand the experience and the challenges associated with cloud migration.

Milano Ventures multi-cloud consulting services

Another essential factor is how much control your team will surrender to the cloud providers. Cloud providers offer a range of services, from the most basic, in which the cloud provider provides hardware and a range of IP addresses, all the way up to a fully managed service. The service you choose is also a budgetary matter. The more cloud provider services you use, the greater the costs.

It’s also essential to determine how quickly your provider installs patches and to thoroughly document code and dependencies before moving to a multi-cloud environment. It would help if you also demanded the same from your cloud providers. You must fully understand the organisation’s services, the cloud providers’ patching cycles, and how to get support if something goes wrong.

Milano Ventures multicloud migration consultingDesigning for a multi-cloud infrastructure often means redesigning your application to accommodate a more complex networking and infrastructure environment. At Milano Ventures Ltd., we have developed our multi-cloud technology so that such modifications are often unnecessary, as WorldDirector can be transparent to users and application data.

We have architects on staff who can help answer any questions from your team and offer tips to make the migration process smoother. Cloud architects are a valuable and expensive resource for many organisations, so often, it pays to have these competencies outsourced when evaluating a migration to a multi-cloud platform.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for more details.

What is WorldDirector?

What is WorldDirector?

What is WorldDirector?

WorldDirector is a fully managed Internet cloud technology used to create globally distributed, geographically load-balanced private and public clouds or Content Delivery Networks (CDN) designed to accelerate content from enterprise (private cloud) and public cloud data centres to remote clients at the edge of the Internet. WorldDirector is the first-ever technology of this kind, developed in 1994 and deployed since 1995.

In 1994, the WorldDirector design’s original aim was to overcome the effects of a massive earthquake that would keep Silicon Valley servers out of reach for several weeks.

WorldDirector has evolved into a modular product and is offered as a service (PaaS, IaaS), optionally with open source or custom applications (SaaS). It also includes content acceleration by HTTP compression, antivirus, anti-malware, anti-trojans, anti-worm, anti-crypto lockers filters and DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) protection local and global load balancing, intrinsic disaster recovery by active and passive data duplication across several data-centres. WorldDIrector may also be used to provide an effective and inexpensive solution to disaster recovery and can be bundled to offer cloud services, such as hosting, colocation, email services, DNS, data archives, backups, and audio and video streaming.

WorldDirector was nominated for the IST Prize

IST Prize nomination

In 2003, the European IST prize selected WorldDirector as a “European IST Prize Nominee”. The European IST Prize was the most distinguished award for innovative European IT products. Selection criteria for the prize included technical excellence, creative content, potential market impact, capacity to generate employment, contribution to the acceptance and understanding of IST in society, and likely social impact.

From the product perspective, WorldDirector ensures that Internet connectivity is the most efficient and reliable on the market at the best cost of ownership. WorldDirector can enable any site or Internet application. All that is needed is that one of our Linux devices containing WorldDirector hardware and software is placed close to the customer’s server and/or at the ISP’s Web farm. WorldDirector does not require any ‘extra’ software installed on the Client software or the client-server side. There is no ‘Plug-in’ at the server or client end, nor any modification to the server application needed.

WorldDirector is currently available under license or as a fully managed service, including hardware and software to install a complete WorldDirector CDN solution. It is open to host end-user applications, ISPs, and corporate accounts. WorldDirector is offered at Wornex data centres in Europe, the USA and Asia (including as an option AWS, Google and Azure cloud locations) and provides service to 300+ websites, B2B & B2C applications, portals and streaming services on behalf of customers in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

WorldDirector as globally distributed , self resilient multicloud

Which innovative features does WorldDirector provide?

In 2015, WorldDirector was re-developed into a modular product and included the following features:

  • Edge caching for Internet servers and applications, regardless of protocol (HTTP, FTP, TCP/IP, UDP, etc.);
  • Multimedia streaming (audio & video) enabler from multiple locations to bring multimedia content close to the edge of the Internet and to the end-user;
  • HTTP content acceleration via standard IETF Content-Encoding to any Web site, regardless of the server’s operating system, HTTP origin server or type of Internet application;
  • Static and dynamic web server accelerator: adds scalability at a lower cost to any web portal or application. Offers more than 40 times increased performance for dynamic portals, with more than 200 concurrent accesses.
  • Global and local load balancing: this will automatically reduce response time under high load and significantly reduce the burden on the origin website. Compared to other systems, more edge servers are not required. Each WorldDirector node’s cost is a fraction of the origin Web server in the case of large portals. For smaller sites, each WorldDirector node may be shared among different websites;
  • Protection against Internet Worms & DDOS by filtering undesired requests to the origin server, protecting crosssite scripting vulnerability and uploading malware to origin servers. This may be especially useful to avoid situations of network congestion and breakdowns such as those created by the internet worms, most types of attacks and similar;
  • Automatic Disaster Recovery for any Web site, multimedia archive or FTP site: any content available via “GET” (including dynamic portals) may be made available from any WorldDirector node when the origin Web site is unavailable;
  • Automatic configuration and de-configuration of each WorldDirector node when servers are down and up again. Any server can be brought down for maintenance, or any network segment can fail without disrupting service until at least one WorldDirector node is reachable. This mechanism is transparent to end-users, applications, and administrators. It does NOT depend on any master/enslaved person and has NO central point of failure characteristics like similar cloud and CDN implementations. It also introduces no latency compared to other masters/enslaved persons or star-centred solutions.
  • Distributed email service: WorldDirector is also very effectively used to provide a redundant, globally distributed corporate email service (based on multiple geographically distributed SMTP & MX servers), with DDOS, antivirus and spam protection that can sustain high traffic peaks and considerable server downtime with uninterrupted service.

Milano Ventures multicloud migration consulting

WorldDirector compared to other cloud and CDN solutions

Although Web accelerators, content caching devices, and multimedia streaming/caching services have recently become available (or claim to be), no similar product or service is currently marketed, including all the features above.

Generally speaking, cloud solutions are delivered by a single data centre location, possibly using redundant hardware, but more often from a single site, network, or AS (Autonomous System), representing a single point of failure. However, WorldDirector provides services from many different ASes, networks, and geographical servers that operate as autonomous nodes in an all-master (not master-slave) configuration. It works effectively and transparently even if some servers or parts of the Internet are down or unreachable.

Similar services offered by competitors may require modification of the Web site content to provide replication. Others sell devices that heavily depend on enslaver/enslaved person or redirection mechanisms, may add latency and operate as a single point of failure, diminishing the whole system’s reliability in case of failures.

WorldDirector is conceived as a turn-key system with full service, and it is 100% transparent to any application. WordlDirector does not require any modification to the origin web server, its pages or any of its applications) and clients (it does not require any additional software or plug-in). Additionally, the reliability of the WorldDirector system has allowed us to maintain a status of 100% always available since 1995 for many clients’ websites and applications, even when one or more servers have been unavailable for hours or days for maintenance or due to faults either in the network, hardware or software.

No Backup is Secure in the Cloud: Nobody is liable for your Data Losses

No Backup is Secure in the Cloud: Nobody is liable for your Data Losses

No backup is secure in the cloud, nobody is liable for your data losses

We often get asked about how secure is our clients’ data, and how can a customer backup their data safely. European privacy laws, for example, require that personal data are kept secure and can always be recovered, but there is huge ignorance or wrong assumptions  that once they backup data in the cloud, you can have peace of mind.

Milano Ventures global networks

Among liars in our industry, some low-cost control panel hosting or cloud providers, for example, offer unlimited in/out data transfer, total disk space and free backup services at a meagre monthly cost. They are not just liars. Their marketing strategy works well with their low prices and free options until you need your data back. If you look carefully between the lines of most fine-printed SLAs and contracts, there is mostly no liability for service interruption or data losses. Moreover, you will likely be discontinued if your disk space or monthly data transfer exceeds the average clients’ usage.

As a side note, Microsoft discontinued its unlimited OneDrive storage because someone was abusing it, and Microsoft was surely losing money.

Let’s focus on cloud backups

Several low-cost web hosting companies offer free daily or even hourly backups of web data. What a temptation to upload all your pictures, music and videos to a web hosting space for a few dollars and even get a free backup!

For example, the Akeeba backup plugin for WordPress and the Akeeba extension for Joomla are some solutions that our clients use to automatically save a backup copy of their web data and databases on the website’s web/FTP space. Our clients believe they save money instead of ordering an offline backup service that is charged more but offers some (real) additional peace of mind.

Backups on the same disk space as your website

In fact, for this or any similar backup solution, you should check whether backup files live on the same web or FTP space as the website because (quite often) a backup remains indefinitely on the same disk or same physical storage device as the original data.

What does it mean? Suppose a severe hardware failure happens, especially with a cheap storage solution. In that case, no backup may be left since the original data and backup copies were on the same broken storage device. There is usually no or little incentive for the cloud provider to recover your data because,e in most cases, you have no contractual guarantee on the persistence or recovery of your data (check liability or service agreements of significant cloud providers excerpted below).

Online backup and restore procedures may significantly differ from low-cost, professional hosting services and cloud providers. On the low-cost control panel web services, risks can be much higher, also because there may not be any offline backup of clients’ data; control panel software can be more exposed to bugs and security issues that cannot be corrected immediately; and hundreds of clients are usually packed on high density, memory, disks and networks of low-cost service providers.

Secure and reliable hybrid cloud services provided by Milano Ventures

No liability for data losses in the cloud

In general, there is no guarantee of service continuity or data loss when you look at contracts and SLAs or – if there is any – it’s not for standard services or in standard SLAs. Amazon, Google and Microsoft mention very clearly that their liability is none (or almost none) in case of service interruption and loss of customer data (I lost an entire disk when running a test on Amazon AWS; it failed and was put out of service. However since all data was replicated on WorldDirector’s servers outside AWS, I could quickly rebuild it).

Amazon AWS data loss liability

Amazon’s AWS terms:

https://aws.amazon.com/agreement/ – specifically, section 11:

WE AND OUR AFFILIATES OR LICENSORS WILL NOT BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES (INCLUDING DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF PROFITS, GOODWILL, USE, OR DATA), EVEN IF A PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. FURTHER, NEITHER WE NOR ANY OF OUR AFFILIATES OR LICENSORS WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY COMPENSATION, REIMBURSEMENT, OR DAMAGES ARISING IN CONNECTION WITH: (A) YOUR INABILITY TO USE THE SERVICES, …

Google data loss liability

Excerpt of Google’s liability: https://www.google.com/policies/terms/

WHEN PERMITTED BY LAW, GOOGLE, AND GOOGLE’S SUPPLIERS AND DISTRIBUTOR, WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST PROFITS, REVENUES, OR DATA, FINANCIAL LOSSES OR INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES …

Microsoft’s data loss liability

Microsoft Policy:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/legal/subscription-agreement-nov-2014/

7.2 : EXCLUSION. Neither party will be liable for indirect, special, incidental, consequential, punitive, or exemplary damages for lost profits, revenues, business interruption, or loss of business information, even if the party knew such damages were possible.

What can you do to secure your data?

Back in the times of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) and since the GTD-5 EAX (General Telephone Digital Number 5 Electronic Automatic Exchange), one of the first digital telephone exchanges, appeared in the 80s and 90s, all hardware and software had to be duplicated (as well as databases containing billing data) if you wanted to guarantee a reliable and uninterrupted telephone service. Spare copies of hardware were to be made active automatically whenever there was a fault. The only bottleneck in the digital subscriber’s line (DSL) connecting homes and offices to the telephone exchange and its interfaces.

Secure Web Services with Wornex International (Ireland)

Multiple, redundant, offline and off-site backups for a successful disaster recovery

To avoid service disruption, if you work on critical applications, you should use a backup solution based on multiple, redundant, off-site, and offline storage that does not use the same hardware devices as your live data. The higher the number of redundant copies made offline and at different geographical locations, the higher the likelihood that you can recover your data in full as soon as needed.

Additionally, you should never trust only one cloud provider for 100% of your multiple redundant backups; use onsite and more than one provider, as well as more than one data centre to store your data, and keep additional copies off the cloud to protect from ransomware and ensure a successful disaster recovery.

Conclusions

If you want to have a close to 100% service guarantee and a natural ability to recover data, what you can do is minimize the risks by paying more and make use of fully redundant services, i.e. redundant connectivity offered by many different AS (Autonomous Systems), complete hardware and software redundancy (multiple cold or hot copies), maintain redundant offline backups, and store data and offer access from servers located at different geographical locations in a global load balancing configuration that has no single point of failure.