Helping IT Professionals Lose Weight While They Sleep…


I recently attended a presentation on the topic of writing good copy for blogs. The presenter mentioned, among other things, that effective headlines are essential. An example he gave was “Lose Weight While You Sleep” which is a headline that would probably get a lot of people’s attention. After the talk it struck me that in a way that’s exactly what I do: help IT pros lose weight while they sleep. Allow me to explain…


Enter Sandman

Prospective clients, unprompted by me, often tell me their current storage or backup infrastructure is keeping them awake at night. Their infrastructure is often of suspicious quality, overloaded, overly complex and therefore just not very dependable.

The list of problems is endless: data volumes or LUNs going offline without warning; unexpected (and sometimes hidden until far too late) data corruption issues; recovery failures; all manner of honest configuration mistakes; plain old bad code from the vendor, and on and on.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. I supply a very carefully vetted set of storage and backup solutions from companies that are selected according to four stringent criteria:

  1. Solid, best-of-breed design and feature sets.
  2. Lights-out functionality and ease of use.
  3. Superior customer experience, whether it be support or just day-to-day doing business.
  4. Financial strength.

In a sense, all of the solutions on the SDS line card are sleep aids – when they are in place the infrastructure simply works more smoothly and with greater dependability. For my clients, a good nights sleep can be had after all.


Honey I Shrunk The Storage Array

A defining feature of nearly all the solutions on the SDS line card is density. Through the use of advanced technologies such as compression and/or deduplication, data storage can take up much less physical space than has traditionally been required by legacy technologies.

When combined with the built-in SSD or Flash caching technologies of SDS solutions such as those from NexGen Storage, Unitrends or Nimble Storage, the tradition of over-provisioning capacity in order to meet speed requirements is also a thing of the past, further slimming the physical profile of the solution. Physical size and rack space reductions of 80% are not uncommon.

It is therefore, in my humble opinion, fair to consider these solutions the IT equivalent of a weight-loss program.

So there you have it. I’m thinking of having my business cards changed to read: “Southern Data Storage, Inc. Helping IT Professionals Lose Weight While They Sleep.” Catchy, ain’t it?

read more

The Wayback Machine: when the Internet gave you an unfair treatment

If there’s anything more heartbreaking than watching something you’ve spent literally weeks – maybe even years – creating just disappearing down the drain, I’m yet to discover it. While this statement can relate to relationships, video game save files and, I suppose, children, I’m talking about the thing that really matters – your website.

Despite promises to the contrary, a website isn’t necessarily going to go on forever. All it takes is a missed hosting fee, a corrupt line of code or a disagreement with an anonymous organisation of pre-teen hackers and before you know it, everything you’ve worked towards is gone in the blink of an eye.

The key to protecting yourself against something like this is to backup your website regularly and, most importantly of all, in a manner you can control and rely on. Thankfully, the process is relatively painless. With a little experience and a lot of patience, anybody can pick up the know-how when dealing with web management systems.

If you’re one of the 76 million people out there who own a WordPress site, you’ll be relieved to know that the back up process can sometimes be as simple as installing a plugin or arranging for a server backup by your hosting company. Plugins, unfortunately run the risk of becoming corrupted themselves, so may not be the most reliable of options. However, any premium hosting company worth its salt will offer the backup option as part of the initial charge – and can be as simple as a click of a button or shooting a quick email to their customer services department.

For the technically minded, there’s also the option of manually backing up by downloading the site files to your computer using something like FileZilla. Make sure you start with the config.php file, as this holds the database settings and the configuration of your site. After that, you will need to hold onto the wp-content folder that, as the title suggests, contains all the creative content such as blog posts, themes and uploaded media that is the real bread and butter of your site.

This is all well and good, but for those reading who may not have had the foresight to prepare for the catastrophic events that have led to their website disappearing from the internet there is still hope. It’s called the Wayback Machine – the answer to the question: WHY CAN’T THE INTERNET BE NICE TO ME? 😀

If you’re out of options, the Wayback Machine is essentially a scraper bot that is able to access a comprehensive 20 year web archive, pulling out the relevant pages to allow you to access and restore your website. There are even services that allow you to download a website from the wayback machine. It doesn’t just count for your websites either, one of the coolest things is that you can look back at some of your old favourite sites, too. Fancy playing that one flash game everyone was raving about? Or maybe you’re looking to reference some obscure pop culture reference from way back when – the Wayback Machine is there to help you connect with your past.

read more