Ben Hatton A Discussion on Net Neutrality

Net neutrality has always been a hotly-debated issue in the tech world, and as our digital lifestyles have evolved over the past several years, the debate has as well. The question of whether or not the Internet should be federally regulated in some way is a point of contention for many, and it was the big question posed at a panel discussion I attended in Indianapolis last month. The TechPoint event brought together 3 experts in the internet services field to discuss the pros and cons of a completely “neutral” Internet vs. one that is regulated by the FCC. The speakers were:

Bret Swanson: President at Entropy Economics.

Darby McCarty: President at Smithville Communications.

Barry Umansky: Telecommunications Professor at Ball State University, and formerly with the FCC. He served as Moderator for the discussion.

Before the panel opened, I already had some knowledge about net neutrality, as well as some opinions about it, but there were still several interesting insights that were discussed that I hadn’t really considered before.

The Internet has changed the world BECAUSE of non-regulation

The Internet’s existence has been the single largest factor in moving forward virtually every facet of our society today: how we communicate, how we work, shop, and engage with others around the world. This explosive growth that the world has seen year after year has largely been possible due to the fact that the Internet hasn’t been federally regulated up to this point. In fact, in 2005 the FCC released a set of “open internet principles” that were intended to prevent internet service providers from denying or slowing access to certain services or devices (you can check out the 2005 policy itself here).

This original stance on the FCC’s part helped allow the Internet to continue growing into both our personal and work lives (something that would be especially realized when the first iPhone was released just a couple of years later). With a non-regulatory approach, the Internet was able to grow quickly through bold ideas and innovation, rather than slowly because of burdensome rules and regulations.

The Internet is continually evolving, which is part of the reason some want regulation

More and more the Internet has evolved into every type of technology we interact with everyday, from our phones and cars to even our kitchen appliances. This growth has occurred at a blistering pace, and has put the Internet in a place that is far ahead of what was thought possible in 2005. While this has been a great thing for the way we work and play, it has also introduced a new set of challenges into our world, such as illegal content sharing and online privacy concerns.

It has also led to the question of whether or not the Internet should be regulated in some form as a result of these challenges; after all, if we don’t take the first steps now, couldn’t these issues become exponentially worse in the coming years? That question, combined with the growth costs faced by internet service providers, has been at the heart of those who are proponents of Internet regulation. Exactly what that regulation could like though isn’t quite clear.

The “Internet Fast Lane” debate

One of the biggest points of opposition that net neutrality supporters have against regulation is that it would give a higher level of authority to ISP’s over the internet speeds they offer to different customers. For example, if you’re a business owner who wants an edge on your competition, you could in theory pay your ISP more to allow for faster access to your website or online services you may provide. The argument is that this so-called “internet fast lane” would have the potential to stifle competition and make it difficult for startups with small budgets to get a foothold, and could also result in the end users having to pay more to larger companies who can afford to be in the “fast lane” (Netflix being a good example of this).

This was a question that I and others raised to the panelists, and the response was certainly something I hadn’t considered. Rather than assuming that these “fast lanes” would be inherently bad for startups, Mr. Swanson looked at it from a different angle, asserting that there are likely many small companies or startups out there that would prefer to pay for a faster and more dedicated connection, in order to deliver their new high-end services as efficiently as possible. He went on to say that while such an arrangement could be possible with some level of federal regulation, this is something that wouldn’t be possible or legal if the original principles established by the FCC in 2005 were followed. This tweet from TechPoint on the comment sums it up pretty well:

I can definitely understand his point, and I think it may be true to a point, but ultimately I think history will decide whether regulation or true net neutrality wins out. Overall though this was an excellent event to attend, and I learned a ton on the subject. I really encourage you to watch the full discussion on YouTube if you want to learn more yourself!

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Ben Hatton Keys to Migrating Your Business Data to a new Data Center

Data migration

Before you migrate any of your data, please plan accordingly. (Image courtesy of AHA-Soft)

In a recent blog post I covered a few methods for making a data center migration go as smoothly as possible (you can check out the “Keys to a Successful Data Center Migration” post here). While that post focused on the physical equipment side of a migration, now I’d like to take it a step further, and look at the migration of the actual data. Your data is ultimately the reason for performing a data center migration in the first place, and there are many considerations and challenges to keep in mind when performing a data migration to a new location. But with proper planning, you can migrate your data as well as your equipment with minimal headache.

Here are some guidelines to help get you started!

Create backups! (and be smart with them)

Whenever you are migrating any amount of data as part of a data center migration, it is absolutely crucial that you create backups of all the data being moved. This allows you to mitigate any data loss that can potentially occur in the event of a hardware failure or unforeseen software issue during the migration. When it comes to actually creating and working with your backups, here are a few pointers:

  1. Make sure that they are as current as possible, so you won’t be forced to work with out of date data if you have to restore to a backup.
  2. Have a  plan in place for how you will actually perform a restore from your backups at the new location, should any issues arise. Having backups is good, but they don’t count for very much if you aren’t able to efficiently restore your data from them.
  3. Speaking of efficiency, aim to have your backups at the new location well in advance of the migration. Doing this will ensure that they are readily on hand and available, if and when you need them.

Communicate effectively with all parties

It is very important to communicate with your connectivity provider(s), as well as any vendors or companies you have a service level agreement with, well in advance of your data center migration. While they may not necessarily play a part in the actual migration, at the very least you should make them aware that a migration is taking place, when it’s taking place, and where your new data center is located. This way, they will be able to respond more quickly and accurately (ie. at the right location) should any issues arise.

Test and refine

Once you have created your data migration plan, you will want to test each step of the plan thoroughly. In addition to the actual migration plan you create, there are some things you can consider that will help ensure that you test in a way that’s as realistic as possible to how your actual migration will be handled. Here are a few tips:

  1. An effective way to test your actual data for a migration is to create a copy of it that will specifically be used for testing (this is commonly referred to as “splitting off a copy”). This allows you to test the migration of your actual business data in a real-world scenario, without the risk of losing that data if an issue arises.
  2. In addition to using a copy of your real data, your test migration should also heavily involve the actual data center location you are moving to. You can do this by isolating a “testing” location within your new data center, and using that as your test migration site; it should ideally be a fully isolated space, yet fully functional.

By making both these data and physical elements of your migration as realistic as possible, you can create a “true to life” testing scenario that will help you to more easily identify potential issues or risks before the real migration takes place.

Conclusion

Migrating your data center (and your business data along with it) is no simple task, but with a bit of proper planning and legwork up front you can ensure that your migration is a successful one. I hope that these pointers will be helpful for you if this is something you will soon be involved with!

For even more information on planning for a data center migration, check out these additional resources:

“Keys to a Successful Data Center Migration” blog post

“Data Center Relocation 101″ whitepaper

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Ben Hatton Why it Pays for a Data Center Migration to have Stakeholders

Organizational Structure

Your business no doubt has many different stakeholders, and so will your data center project!

If you have ever been involved in a data center migration, consolidation, or other significant data center project, you know that the work can be very detailed and complex. These types of projects have lots of moving parts, and require a high level of intensive planning up front (we looked at a few planning factors to consider in a previous post). One thing I mentioned in that post was the importance of getting as much internal buy-in as possible for your data center project, by the key stakeholders in your business. In this post I’m going to delve into why that is so important for these types of projects (just like I promised!).

Who are your stakeholders?

A data center migration is bound to impact several different parties, and these are the individuals who should be considered the primary stakeholders of the project. Each of them has their own unique goals and pain points, and taking as many of these into account as possible during the planning phase will increase the likelihood of a successful migration. That’s not to say that a level of compromise won’t be necessary at times, but it’s still good to keep in mind what your team’s cumulative success factors look like. Here are some examples:

Stakeholder Goal
Your IT Department A successful migration that utilizes modern standards and technology, with a minimal level of downtime.
Finance/Budgeting A migration that is as cost-efficient as possible.
Department Managers No technical interruptions or outages that affect their regular workflow.
Upper Management A migration that is not only cost effective, but helps improve the overall direction and growth potential of the company.
Your Customers Zero service-impacting downtime. Customers should never even have to be aware that a data center move is taking place. If any issues do arise though, they will expect every effort from you to be transparent and honest about what is being done to restore their services as soon as possible.

 

When you can identify all of the different parties who have a stake or interest in your data center project, you can begin working towards a general consensus on realistic and achievable goals for the project. Getting all of these groups of people involved at the beginning will not only help with meeting their individual goals, but it will shift the focus for your data center move from being just “an IT project” to being a “company project” instead. In the following example we’ll see why this is so important for a data center project.

The government’s data center consolidation

Over the past several years, the U.S. government has been engaged in a major data center consolidation initiative, with their goal being to cut the high number of federal data centers down to a more manageable and financially-friendly level. While the high-level end goal may seem straightforward enough, there are many other factors in play:

  1. The overall IT budget for federal services has been consistently shrinking, so the data center consolidation has to take place using minimal financial resources.
  2. The CIO’s for each major federal agency are constantly being challenged to embrace modern technologies such as cloud computing, that will not only allow for lower maintenance costs, but more efficient and scalable operations as well.
  3. As with most long-term government projects, the data center consolidation has been under much political scrutiny by Congress, and as a result there has been a push for more visibility and accountability as the consolidation project has been progressing.

While each of the above factors may represent challenges as well as additional complexity, they wouldn’t even exist as parameters for the data center project were it not for the collaboration of the key stakeholders involved. The stakeholders in this case are made up of numerous federal CIO’s, members of Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, to name only a few. By identifying as many goals and pain points for these different groups as possible up front, the consolidation project as a whole stands a much better chance of having a successful finish (exactly how successful remains to be seen, since the project is still ongoing).

Collaboration helps everyone

Whether your data center migration project is as complex as the federal government’s, or you are just moving your data center from one location to another, taking the time to identify every party that has a stake in the project, as well as their unique goals and constraints, will go a long way in making the move a successful one for everybody. Doing this will help bring everyone on board who needs to be, and allow each stakeholder to have a role in the planning. Since a data center migration will always affect everyone in an organization, this is really how it should be!

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Ben Hatton Data Cave proud to sponsor Nicole Holcomb to the 2014 CrossFit Games

Nicole Holcomb

Nicole Holcomb will be competing in the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games, and is a co-owner of 812 CrossFit in Columbus.

Data Cave is proud to sponsor CrossFitter and Columbus resident Nicole Holcomb to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.  We have been her sponsor since 2012, and we applaud her consistent focus on excellence that has been demonstrated through a committed perseverance in her daily high intensity training. 

These hallmark traits mirror Data Cave’s business philosophy, as we continuously strive to improve and create a strong and safe location for our clients’ IT equipment.  Our focus on excellence since the company was founded in 2008 has resulted in a 100% uptime level for all of our clients.  In the same way, Nicole has demonstrated consistent improvement through her three years in CrossFit competition, and this year she qualified from the original roster of more than 200,000 competitors to be a finalist in the Reebok CrossFit 2014 “Fittest on Earth” competition on July 25-27, 2014

Congratulations to Nicole on her elite performance and amazing accomplishments!  Good luck from the Data Cave team as you move on to the next level of competition at the 2014 CrossFit Games!

 

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Ben Hatton First look at Data Cave’s updated Business Continuity space

The team at Data Cave has been very busy over the past several weeks, enhancing and building on to the Business Continuity space on our second floor. Things are just about wrapped up now, so here is a first look into what we’ve been working on!

More Cubicle Workspace

The most noticeable addition to our upstairs area is that we now have much more cubicle space than before. Specifically, we now have a total of 75 permanent seats, with room for an additional 165 seats. This increased capacity will allow us to meet the Business Continuity needs for businesses of any size.

 

Cubicle parts photo

Much of the cubicle workspace equipment, prior to being put together.

New upstairs wiring

A small glimpse at the extensive overhead wiring work for our Business Continuity space.

Floor opening for elevator

This is the opening for our new chair lift, prior to it being installed.

Cubicle construction photo

An up close look at the new cubicle space during construction.

Another cubicle construction photo

A wider look at the Business Continuity space (during construction).

Yet another cubicle construction photo

Another angle of the new Business Continuity space. Things are definitely coming together!

 

Elevator Installation

Another new addition to the facility that you will notice is a new elevator that we recently had installed in our front lobby. This will ensure that our Business Continuity space, as well as our upstairs data suites, are fully accessible for our clients and staff.

 

Elevator entrance on first floor

The elevator entrance on the building’s first floor.

Elevator entrance on first floor (full view)

A more full view of the first floor entrance to the elevator.

Elevator exit on second floor

Here is where you will come out on the building’s second floor.

Elevator exit on second floor (up close)

And here is a more up close look at the elevator itself.

 

Many more details and photos of our updated Business Continuity space are coming soon, so stay tuned!

 

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