DataYard Network Maintenance 8/8

DataYard will be moving up a part Saturday’s maintenance on our core internet infrastructure to tonight (8/8) at 10:00 PM for customer on a few services. Tonight’s change will impact ethernet express metro and regional ethernet services delivered via Centurylink. Downtime is expected to be less than 15 minutes.  This is being done to prevent any business hours interruptions to service due to hardware that is in a degraded state.

Let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to chat: 1.800.982.4539 or support@datayard.us. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@datayardtechops & @datayard)!

DataYard Network Maintenance 8/10

DataYard will be performing maintenance on our core internet infrastructure Saturday morning (8/10) at 12:01 AM to replace suspect hardware. This will impact ethernet express, ethernet express metro, and regional ethernet services. Downtime is expected to be less than 15 minutes.

Let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to chat: 1.800.982.4539 or support@datayard.us. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@datayardtechops & @datayard)!

 

DataYard Network Maintenance 7/18

Due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts, DataYard will be performing patching on its core internet infrastructure in order to address some performance and security concerns.  This will take place tomorrow morning (7/18) at 12:01 AM and any downtime should be kept under 15 minutes.  This maintenance will affect customer on our Ethernet Express, Ethernet Express Metro, and Regional Ethernet products.  Make IT Better!

Let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to chat: 1.800.982.4539 or support@datayard.us. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@datayardtechops & @datayard)!

Keeping the Internet Safe

Earlier this month was Safer Internet Day, which is a day dedicated to creating awareness around safe internet usage mainly geared towards children and teens. I realized this topic didn’t exist when I was growing up. Think about it for a second. I am in my mid-late twenties and I have had more years with dial-up internet or no Internet at all, than I have with anything close to the high speeds we have today. I’ve grown up with the Internet quite literally. When I was a kid, teachers and parents were just trying to grasp the concept of the Internet and how it was used, let alone talk about how to safely address it. For this reason, I’ve taken it upon myself to catch all of us up on some quick Internet Safety Tips.

Passwords

Creating complex passwords and changing your passwords regularly can go a long way. That means moving past the passwords like ‘Password123’ and ‘Jacob19’, onto more creative phrases and symbols. It is also beneficial to use different passwords for your different accounts and websites, rather than using the same one across the board. For this reason, I would recommend using tools like LastPass, KeePass or 1Password to help keep track of all of your different passwords. These tools can also be set up to remind you to reset your password every couple of months.

Public Network Security

Free public Wi-Fi has essentially become a basic utility, making the internet easily accessible virtually anywhere. This is also making users increasingly vulnerable. The challenge with public Wi-Fi is that it’s often unsecured, making it easy for hackers to access your device. If you want to utilize public Wi-Fi in a secure manner, you can purchase a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a software that will provide you with a secure connection to the Internet.

At Home Network Security

Taking a comprehensive look at your home network will allow you to have peace of mind when you are connecting to the Internet at home on your various devices. Changing administrative passwords and implementing a few precautions can make your connection much safer. For a checklist on securing your home network check out our Securing Your Home Network blog.

Safe Browsing

Many times, Internet browsers themselves provide Safe Browsing functions (see Google). However, you can go an extra step and retrain yourself on not giving away personal information, avoiding questionable websites, only downloading software from sites you trust, and increasing your browsers security settings.

  • Click Smart – don’t click on sketchy links or ads
  • Share Selectively – don’t just share your personal information with anyone
  • Shop Safe – when shopping online always make sure to look for https

HTTPS

Keep an eye on the addresses of the sites you are visiting. In the address bar for your website, you will see either HTTP or HTTPS (more about the difference) which represents how data is transferred between a web server and a web browser. With an HTTPS site, the data is encrypted, which keeps your information safe. This is extremely important for any online shopping or banking, and any site taking your personal information. You need to make sure that it has encryption.

Stay Up to Date

Staying up to date on the latest operating systems (OS) and software/application versions will ensure that you have the most up-to-date security measures in place. We recommend turning on auto-update when applicable.

If you have more questions about making your home a safe place please feel free to reach out to us on social media or at hello@datayard.us

Other Resources:

DataYard – At Your Service

DataYard – At Your Service!

Now available by popular demand, DataYard has created a brand new offering under a brand new division, At Your Service.  AYS will help regional companies with all aspects of business IT – whether it is managing existing workstations and servers, migrating to a VoIP phone service, upgrading network equipment, or guiding your transition to the cloud – DataYard has you covered.

The DataYard Difference

For over two decades, DataYard has helped thousands of local businesses use technology to improve business efficiency and reliability. But we noticed that we were getting more and more requests from clients to assist with projects beyond just Internet services or hosting projects – they needed help with technology inside of their businesses, and turned to us for advice. AYS is an answer to those questions and needs, and DataYard can now bridge the gap between on-premise IT work and cloud-based hosting services.

We’ve built some great partnerships over the last twenty years – with Microsoft, VMware, and Cisco, to name a few – and these relationships make it possible for DataYard to be your full-service, end-to-end IT partner. If you have a problem, project, or just want to talk through an issue, give us a call – DataYard is here to help you make IT better.

Client Spotlight – Mikesell’s Project Overview

DataYard is proud to announce our latest partnership with the Mikesell’s Snack Food Company – the oldest potato chip company in the United States! Since 1910, Mikesell’s has been manufacturing and shipping delicious treats from right here in Dayton to the surrounding tri-state. DataYard and Mikesell’s were introduced via mutual partners and Technology First relationships, and we began discussing a full-scale technology redesign and refresh in May of this year.

Mikesell’s had an interesting predicament, albeit not out of the ordinary – recent restructuring of the internal technical team had brought with it a change in long-term vision and strategy. Mikesell’s new CIO, Steve Hangen, wanted to shift the focus of the internal technical resources away from supporting local servers and towards supporting internal processes. However that didn’t remove the reality that there were multiple (and fairly critical) line of business applications running internally on antiquated hardware. Pair that with an Internet bandwidth bottleneck and an outdated DR strategy, and the risk to business continuity was enough to make anyone sweat.

After months of planning and fine-tuning, DataYard and Mikesell’s finalized our strategy and partnership at the end of August. In a few separate installments, I’ll be describing the individual goals of the overall redesign – the how, what, and why.

  • Network topology redesign – DataYard completely re-imagined the WAN design, and has deployed a new network to centralize ownership and management of network services. We had to get creative in a few spots, and a description of these challenges will be an interesting read!
  • Active Directory Upgrade and Virtualization – Once the WAN was centralized, we needed to upgrade and migrate internal Active Directory (AD) services up into the DataYard cloud. One less administrative headache for Mikesell’s internal personnel! We’ll discuss the process, benefits, and challenges here in a later post.
  • Exchange Upgrade and Virtualization – After the AD project was completed we’ve now set our sights on the upgrade from Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2016. This upgrade is happening simultaneously with the migration up to the DataYard cloud. The Exchange project will lighten the load on Mikesell’s staff, and the coming description of the objectives and execution should give valuable insight to anyone facing a similar challenge.
  • JDE Deployment – Mikesell’s is moving away from legacy line of business applications on an internal mainframe and towards the JD Edwards ERP solution in the DataYard cloud. This project will undoubtedly have its obstacles, but the resulting streamlining of operations will provide significant benefit and increased efficiency at Mikesell’s for years to come.
  • University of Dayton Project – DataYard is assisting seniors from UD and providing the needed infrastructure for the students’ MIS Capstone project. The development of this new application will result in the increased day-to-day effectiveness of Mikesell’s internal staff, as well as provide invaluable experience to future IT professionals.

I’m looking forward to sharing the details of these projects as DataYard knocks them out, one by one – starting with a description of the network topology redesign and deployment, coming soon.

Mikesell’s is a historic brand with deep roots in Dayton, and we are very excited to begin a long and successful partnership – stay tuned!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The technological landscape continues to evolve at a fantastic pace, and staying on top of it all can be challenging. In spite of the high rate of change I think there are some “timeless” lessons we’ve learned over the last two decades, lessons that will continue to be true for the foreseeable future. Here are three lessons that are part of our DNA today and are integrated in our daily thinking.

The first is that the demand for robust, high-performance Internet access and applications consistently increases. It never shrinks. Our clients today are getting much more comfortable taking their applications off-site and into the cloud, so reliable, fast, low-latency connections to the network are becoming increasingly vital to daily operations. Furthermore, our users are connecting to their data using a dizzying array of devices, applications, and APIs from a diverse number of geographic locations. This trend is only going to continue as more computing power is loaded into smartphones and tablets, and small-footprint IoT (Internet of Things) devices like Arduinos and Raspberry Pis multiply.

The second is that good data and application security cannot be an after-thought. Protecting data, and your users’ access to it, has to be an important element of the system from Day 1. Good security is not something you do once and then assume you’re done, nor is it something you bolt onto an already-built system. Good security requires processes that are enforced, systems and software that are monitored around the clock, and software updates and security patches — at least at the operating system level — for the lifespan of the application. Failing to take security seriously from the onset means that your critical systems might be exposed to potential compromise, and that critical business data might be corrupted or lost.

Thirdly, a tremendous amount of planning and care is needed to integrate new Internet services into a client’s enterprise with nearly zero downtime to the end user. This cannot be done haphazardly. It requires knowledge of a client’s working environments, their online habits, their schedules, their processes. It requires critical thinking and the judgment skills necessary to weigh competing priorities to help create installation plans that minimize negative ripple effects when new systems are brought online. It requires the ability to communicate excellently, both on a technical and an operational level. A client can’t have a positive technology experience if they don’t understand what’s going on, if they don’t know who is leading the project, or if they never know where they are in the process.

For the last few years I’ve used a line from a superhero movie to describe the importance of the role we at DataYard play on behalf of our clients: “With great power comes great responsibility.” We take the management of our entire infrastructure, and the management of individual client applications from end-to-end, very seriously. When you have the power to bring an enterprise’s technology to a screeching halt you tend to open technical doors very carefully. You only open those doors when you absolutely have to. You do it with a purpose, and you know — in advance — exactly what you’re going to do when you’re on the other side. To be careless with a client’s applications or data only invites disaster.

Nobody likes disasters, including technological disasters. Responsible technologists avoid disasters by first imagining all the things that could go wrong. Then they use their position and influence to mitigate those risks one by one through good processes, building in capacity and redundancy, and preparation prior to plan execution. To do anything less is a disservice to your users.