The Benefits and Challenges of Virtual Machine Hosting

The beauty of virtualization and cloud computing is that it is easier for enterprises of all size to benefit from the high performance and availability of our network without the cost of running your own hardware. Virtual machines are ideal for small-to-medium enterprises that need reliable service at low cost, and Layered Tech surpasses other Virtual Private Server companies by providing guaranteed levels of service and support.

But just like running your own hardware, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to virtual machine hosting. If you’re wondering if a virtual hosting environment is right for you, we have you covered.

Benefits

  • Familiar Interfaces – Virtual environments are built to mimic physical ones, so you should never have any idea that you’re running on a virtual machine. Virtual networks include virtual NICs, virtual switches and so on. Other than being able to physically move a server, you’ll receive similar experience and performance on a virtual network that you would with physical servers.
  • High Availability – By distributing load across virtualized machines, virtual hosts are able to ensure high availability of applications and data. Even if one server fails, another virtual machine can be spun up with minimal downtime or data loss.
  • Scalability – Virtualized machines allow scalability on demand without adding physical resources you don’t need, and they can be expanded much easier than in a physical machine. Adding additional RAM to a virtual machine can be done in a few minutes, while it can be up to a day’s work for a physical machine.
  • Backup with Fast Recovery – Virtualization and cloud computing offer powerful solutions for data backup and recovery. Even if hardware should fail, virtual machines can instantaneously and accurately migrate data to working hardware with little or no downtime.
  • Easy Cloning – Cloning a virtual machine takes just a few clicks and a matter of seconds, whereas cloning a physical machine can be a serious undertaking.

Challenges

Of course, no technology is without its challenges. Virtualization has a number of advantages over physical machine hosting, but there are some challenges you should be aware of when choosing a virtual hosting company.

  • Security – If you’re moving applications from physical servers to a public cloud, there are a number of security risks since your cloud servers will be hosted on virtual machines in a shared infrastructure. Virtual hypervisors are easier to harden against attack than an operating system, but they are still complex systems that offer a new target for attack, especially in a public cloud. Layered Tech offers a 100% secure cloud environment that is closely monitored to ensure security.
  • Potential Downtime – While it’s unlikely that your virtual resources will all fail at once, it can be more difficult to reboot virtual machines in the event of a catastrophic hardware failure. Virtual machines can power on and off just as easily as a physical machine, but a VM coming online from a host crash will need to wait for their physical infrastructure to boot, plus the time it takes for your virtual machines to boot. The additional downtime may not be outrageous, but it can add up.
  • Oversubscription – Almost all modern cloud environments are built on an oversubscription model, so it is possible to oversubscribe your virtual machines on physical hardware. Essentially, if you have 5 VMs using 2GB RAM running on a physical machine with 8GB RAM, you’ve oversubscribed that hardware. Luckily, oversubscription does not mean over-capacity. Avoiding oversubscription on your virtual machines requires attention to resource allocation to ensure you’re properly utilizing your virtual resources when they’re needed.

Nate BrancatoAbout the Author: Nate Brancato is Layered Tech’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Since joining the company in 2008, Nate has overseen the development of strategic client and partner relationships, helping grow Layered Tech into a leader in secure cloud and managed hosting. Connect with Nate on Twitter at @LayeredTechSVP.

Health Wildcatters – As the Seed Grows

So, you’re an entrepreneur with a bright idea around technology in the healthcare industry. You have the necessary technical and business knowledge and you’ve put together a small, dedicated team. You’ve planted your technology seed and you’re bootstrapping your business.

Everything at this point is relying on you. Whether you succeed or fail depends, arguably, on whom you know, what your cash flow situation is, the guidance available to you, having a competitive advantage, and even having a workplace environment conducive to development of your idea. Without these things, your technology seed may never take root.

To help meet these challenges, the Dallas-Texas-based Health Wildcatters organization, a spin-off of the Tech Wildcatters, a Forbes Top-10 Accelerator program, provides a mentorship-driven healthcare seed accelerator program for early stage healthcare startups.

Last year, I participated in the educational HIPAA presentation and one-on-one event hosted by Health Wildcatters and sponsored by Layered Tech. Since HIPAA compliant hosting is one of the services offered here at Layered Tech, I teach about the security practices necessary to meet healthcare regulatory standards and specifications.

At the event, there was a range of startups with technology ideas directed at the digital health, mental health, health IT, medical devices, and other areas applicable to the healthcare industry. I had the opportunity to meet with several of the entrepreneurs who gave me high-level overviews of their projects, to which I gave my opinion on the impact the HIPAA standards and specifications might have on their technology seeds and provided guidance on what security practices they might need to consider.

I came away from the event realizing that providing startups with access to the resources they need, including an understanding of the complex regulatory environment, is a win-win for everyone.

For the Health Wildcatters organization, which provides initial seed-money and resources to a limited group of entrepreneur applicants, they are well positioned to invest in the cream of the crop upon graduation from their 3-month program. For Layered Tech, there is potential for creating a HIPAA compliant secure hosting services relationship with these healthcare startups. And, for the entrepreneur, there is every opportunity to succeed and nurture the growth of his or her well-rooted technology seed.

With the healthcare IT space exploding,  programs like this 12-week accelerator platform are an ideal way to foster development of much needed technology. And, it’s gratifying to watch a seed of an idea bloom into a great business.

About the Author: Terry G. Raitt holds the CISSP certification and is the Information Security Risk Manager at Layered Technologies. His 15 years of experience in the Information Technology and Services industry includes roles as a policy enforcement manager, computer security incident manager, technical support manager, Linux/Unix system administrator, and network administrator.

Capturing Conversions: Why Milliseconds Matter to the Bottom Line

There’s an old saying we all deal with every day: time is money. On the Internet, money can be measured pretty well by one important metric: page load time. Research has shown consistently that user experience is important and functionality is useful, but nothing will cause a customer to jump ship quicker than a slow website.

In fact, Microsoft claims that 250 milliseconds can be the difference between a return customer and an abandoned checkout cart.

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Visit Layered Tech at HIMSS14

On September 23, 2013 the HIPAA Omnibus Rule went into effect. This rule provides further clarification to a complex set of requirements. It also defines some potentially catastrophic penalties associated with a Protected Health Information (PHI) or Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) breach.

Whether your company is a Business Associate, or a Covered Entity, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule has a significant impact on the policies and security measures in place for your hosting environments.

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PCI Compliance Management: What To Expect



Many hosting providers offer a PCI- or a HIPAA-compliant solution that meets industry standards for high security and includes various tools to enable compliance. But at Layered Tech, we’ve taken this up several notches by offering complete compliance management through our Layer 4 Compliant Services.

With Managed Compliance, we take care of the majority of the work needed to pass a PCI audit. In fact, our clients are able to offload up to 80% of the 220 PCI controls, when they engage our Guaranteed Compliant offering.  This work includes taking on roles and responsibilities like centralized logging, change control, managing code rolls, full documentation, and audit support.

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Top 10 HIPAA Data Breaches of 2013

With 2013 in the books, it’s time to look back at some of the biggest health information privacy blunders of the year. The list below represents the ten largest HIPAA data breaches as tracked by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), based on the total numbers of affected individuals.

While penalties haven’t been handed down and lawsuits settled, each of the below likely represent millions of dollars in fines and settlements. For example, during 2013 HHS handed out penalties ranging from $150,000 to $1.7 million. Potential class action lawsuits and the cost of providing fraud protection for those affected can quickly propel those costs into the tens of millions or even billions.

So on that happy note, let’s dive in!

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iHT2 Health IT Summit Preview: Three Hot Topics


Hi, I’m Steve Chu from Layered Tech. Next week I will be attending the iHT2 Health IT Summit in Austin, Texas along with Jeff Reich, Layered Tech’s Chief Risk Officer.

The Health IT Summit is one of several regional events conducted by the Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2). We look forward to attending this summit and engaging in discussions about the rapid evolution of technology in the healthcare industry. Continue reading ‘iHT2 Health IT Summit Preview: Three Hot Topics’

Migration: One of the Most Overlooked Service Capabilities of a Cloud Provider

There has been a great deal of innovation around automated provisioning, scaling and decommissioning of cloud services in the past couple of years. The primary driver of this innovation is the ability to easily consume cloud services and pay only for the services that are being used. Creating cloud servers and appliances has become a remedial task to the end user with point-and-click provisioning being performed via slick web portals, while modern day cloud orchestration systems do the heavy lifting on the backend provisioning of the services that were ordered.

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Why Education and Certification Matters for Tech Service Providers

It seems obvious that better trained employees will have a positive impact in any business. Yet, a recent survey by Accenture found that 35% of executives say they have not invested enough in training to develop the skills they need, and 64% anticipate loss of revenue due to this skill gap

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10 Reasons Why Migrating to the Cloud Makes Sense

I had the opportunity to attend and speak at recent KANAConnect events in the US and Europe. I was surprised and delighted at the breadth of discussion and focus placed on cloud computing and the forward-thinking direction of many of the attendees.

One thing that was quite clear and different from what I’d experienced at past KANA events was the overall mindset towards the cloud playing a larger role in the future growth plans of the majority of the companies in attendance.

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