Category Archives: Technology

Server monitoring

WorkAround hosts several mission critical client/server systems and web sites. As a hosting provider, we need to know immediately if those sites are unavailable so that we can determine if a server issue is causing the problem. How do we do this?

We currently use Pingdom to remotely monitor our servers. Pingdom offers several critical features:

  1. Protocol based ping tests to verify a server is responding
  2. Storage of response time for each ping

Using this information, WorkAround administrators can be notified quickly if a server fails to respond and we can determine if performance degradation is occurring over time to see if emergency maintenance might be required (before a terminal failure occurs).

Another useful thing that a big cloud service like Pingdom can do is to geographically test your site from various points around the world. If you roll your own ping tester, this is more difficult to accomplish. It may be very important to your web site operations if it’s not accessible from a specific geography.

If you’re not hosting with us, you can still use Pingdom to monitor your own web sites. Don’t let your clients tell you your web site is down: monitor it yourself using the power of the Cloud.

Office 365 – Ask Us How

 

Collaboration in the cloud

  • Be more professional…
  • Be more productive
  • Be more efficient…
  • Save money…
  • Ensure Security…
office365

COLLABORATE BETTER

In many organizations, employees send documents as email attachments and then save and edit them on their local drive.  Keeping track of which computer holds the most recent version of a document can be a nightmare.  Information gets lost and changes are not tracked.  Information sharing in Office 365 is simplified across your organization with Microsoft SharePoint®.

WorkAround will help create a readily accessible team space for sharing and editing files by many people in different locations, by designing and deploying a custom online SharePoint site for your organization, based on your business structure.

In addition to sharing documents online, virtual meetings are easy with shared calendaring and audio, video, and onscreen sharing, allowing everyone to communicate more effectively with colleagues, partners, and customers.

LOOK PROFESSIONAL

Small businesses and professionals need a strong web presence that is easy to maintain.

WorkAround can assist you in designing a professional looking website. Using Office 365 tools we will help you create a site that better represents your company.   We will teach you how to maintain your website and keep it up-to-date with information to prevent your website from becoming stale.

In the past, smaller organizations have been limited by generic web-based email.  You can strengthen your company image with domain-based email that reflects your organization.  We will handle all the DNS registration and configuration to get you started.

WORK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW

You will be more productive using the tools you’ve grown accustomed to using. Work with all the full-featured functionality of the programs you’re already familiar with and use most often—including Microsoft Outlook®, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel®, and Microsoft PowerPoint®. Stay efficient with convenient access to your email, calendar, and contacts across multiple platforms and devices whether in the office or on the go.

WORK FROM VIRTUALLY ANYWHERE

Your employees are working remotely and they need important information that is readily available to them when working outside of the office environment.  They need consistent and easy access to the productivity tools and documents that are required to stay ahead of the competition.  With Office 365, they can view and edit documents using a PC or Mac across a broad range of browsers, or from a mobile device, including Windows® Phone, Symbian, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android.

SAVE MONEY

All these services are available in the cloud.  You no longer need to purchase new servers, update software and renew licenses.  For a low monthly fee, you remain up-to-date with the latest versions in a secure and easily accessible environment.

SECURITY

Office 365 invests in state-of-the-art security, reliability, and recovery technology to ensure that your files and messages are secure, your data is safe, and you are always able to access and work with your information. Office 365 offers

  • A guaranteed 99.9% uptime Service Level Agreement
  • Data centers with SAS 70 and ISO 27001 certification
  • Geo-redundant, enterprise-grade reliability and disaster recovery
  • Multiple data centers and automatic failovers to ensure your data is safeguarded
  • Up-to-date antivirus and anti-spam protection

 

We use Office 365

Contact us to get a free trial!

 

DNS Ownership

The Domain Name System (or DNS for short) is a simple technology that we use every day, but most people probably have little idea how it functions. Like any good infrastructure technology, it is invisible when it is working smoothly. Its main purpose is to translate simple names like www.workaround.ca into a lower level numeric address like 67.226.157.50.  DNS is a lot like associating a name with a street address. If I want to go to the CN Tower, I’m going to use the name (CN Tower) and not the address (301 Front St. W). Without this service, we would need to remember low level IP addresses and the usability of the world wide web would disappear.

One of the few times that you might need to worry about DNS is when registering your domain name for use on the Internet. Like any directory service, DNS works by requiring end users to register and maintain their own directory entries. There are two parts to managing a DNS entry:

  • Registering the name
  • Hosting the name

Registration of domain names is handled by large organizations such as ICANN and CIRA. In general, you will interface with these organizations through a second-tier organization that will handle the registration for you.

Hosting the domain name refers to actually having a server on the Internet that responds to requests for name translations. This can be done by a third-party company, or you can host a DNS server within your own infrastructure. For most small to medium companies, the additional overhead of managing an external DNS server and having to deal with security and denial of service issues isn’t cost effective. You will almost certainly use an external DNS hosting provider and that provider will amost certainly handle the registration for you.

One of the complications that can arise when working with an external web design firm, especially if they also host your web site, can come in the form of implicit DNS registration. In these cases, the web design firm may register your domain for you and essentially own that domain. You can determine if this is the case by doing a whois search on your own domain names. Someone from your organization must be the administrative contact for the domain, even if the technical contact is from an external company. This will allow you to control the administration and transfer of the domain, if necessary.

While outsourcing domain ownership can seem like less of a headache when you’re trying to get a new site onto the Internet quickly, it can be a major problem if you need to part ways with your provider down the road. One of the issues with DNS hosting is that your domain name system is responsible for more than your web site. DNS services are also potentially used for e-mail delivery, server auto-discovery, or SMB services offered by Google or Microsoft. In addition, domain control is usually required if you need to obtain security certificates for secure access to your web servers. If another company has control of your domain registration and hosting, it can cause problems or delays if you need to make changes to these settings.

For this reason, we recommend our clients always register and host their own DNS entries through a trusted DNS hosting company that is not tied to a specific web design partner. This gives them maximum flexibility if they need to switch design firms or hosting companies.

If your web design partner currently owns your domains, you should have them transferred to a third-party DNS hosting company to avoid future problems with domain control and ownership. This is usually a painless process and your current provider should not obstruct this move. Your domains are your property and possession is nine tenths of the law. Due to built-in protections for domain ownership and to prevent fraud and domain hijacking, it can be a long process to get control of your own domains without co-operation from the current owner.

Once you do have control over your own DNS registrations and hosting, ensure:

  • You maintain your own passwords and access to DNS modifications. If your DNS provider allows you delegate access to your domains, that’s great. Otherwise, don’t give up your credentials to a third party.
  • Make sure you renew your domains when they are up for expiry. This means you should always make sure the contact information in your whois record is up to date and accurate. You should receive notification e-mails when your domains are up for renewal.

DNS is largely invisible if it is set up properly and maintained on an annual basis. With some small upfront effort, you can ensure that your domains operate smoothly when changes are required.