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Spire attends HostingCon Global 2016 conference

IMG_6042At Spire, we’re constantly on the lookout for new technology that gives us or our clients the competitive edge.  While we don’t want to be bleeding edge, we do want to be ahead of the mainstream. We take vendor and technology selection very seriously, and only a few carefully chosen ones make the cut.

Why are we telling our clients this?  We want you to know we aren’t sitting around waiting for technology to pass us by.  Investing the time and money to attend conferences like HostingCon regularly is an important part of keeping up with the fast pace of change in our industry.

Many Managed Service providers (MSP’s) are attempting to get into the hosting business, and many Hosting/Cloud companies are trying to enter the managed services space.  The lines are getting blurred as technology converges into more “as a service” and cloud.  We’re already there, and have been for many years – and while our […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:38+00:00 August 3rd, 2016|Labs, Newsletter|Comments Off on Spire attends HostingCon Global 2016 conference

I’ve seen the future and it is 4k

A.K.A. how I weaned myself off my iPad for good.

4k Viewsonic monitor connected to Surface Pro 3 4k Viewsonic monitor connected to Surface Pro 3

So recently I upgraded my old boat-anchor notebook for something small and light, eg a Surface Pro 3.  Unlike my old laptop, which had a 21″ screen (yes) and matching wheel-bag to haul it around with, the Surface sports a little 12″ screen.

So I needed a new external monitor, and was contemplating a two-monitor setup like many of us use here. I determined that for the price of two smaller monitors, I could buy one 28″ 4k monitor (yes, that’s 3840×2160 resolution) and hook it up to the Surface’s  mini displayport connector.

I had some concerns that text might be too small at that resolution, but on the 28″ monitor it is just fine for me.  I can use the windows-right and windows-left arrow keys to dock programs on the […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:48+00:00 April 1st, 2015|Labs, Newsletter|Comments Off on I’ve seen the future and it is 4k

SpireTech Labs: Server 2012 Storage

Just want to keep you all up to date on our progress with Server 2012 testing: We’ve acquired some more hardware to continue our evaluation of Server 2012. Our lab environment includes two servers connected to a shared external SAS drive array, which allows for expansion of disk storage and server failover.  Each server runs Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition, and shares the disks in a pool between the servers.

One of the most exciting features promised by Server 2012 is automatic server failover of virtual machine (Hyper-V) servers.  We’ll get to that in a future edition, but for now our evaluation has focused on the storage layer.

One of the most exciting things about Server 2012 is Storage Spaces. This new feature adds a lot of function to how the operating system can interact with and manipulate storage. It adds a virtual layer to provide high availability and clustering features with fewer […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:55+00:00 December 5th, 2012|Labs, Newsletter|Comments Off on SpireTech Labs: Server 2012 Storage

SpireTech Labs: Windows Server 2012 First Look

In the buzz of the next version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system, Windows 8, an important Microsoft release sits in its shadow – Windows Server 2012. Often taken for granted, Windows Server is the keystone to many offices. We’ve had a peek at the release candidate for this new version, which sees a lot of improvements in function and efficiency. On the surface, the most striking difference is the server management interface – but there are are powerful capabilities under the hood.

The desktop environment has been stripped bare. That took some getting used to. In previous versions, the desktop looked much like any other workstation with a few extra options. The new interface has been designed to improve workflow. All dashboard menus are now oriented toward administrative functions. Previously, you had to navigate through the workstation elements to get to the administrative options behind it. My experience with Server 2012 gave the feel of a […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:55+00:00 October 1st, 2012|Labs, Newsletter|Comments Off on SpireTech Labs: Windows Server 2012 First Look

Business Cloud File Storage Revisited

A few months ago, we reviewed the open-source package OwnCloud.  Since then, we’ve been through a few version updates and bugfixes, and are unhappy to report that Owncloud is not ready for prime-time yet.  Our main beef at this point involves file duplication, which is a known bug which has yet to be fixed.  The good news is that several other issues have been addressed by the development team, so perhaps the problem will be rectified soon.

So, we decided to review the commercial package Egnyte, which is a “Hybrid Cloud” (we know, this is an overused/abused term) software.  It is available in both on-premise and cloud-hosted versions.  It allows dropbox-like functionality, with enterprise-class security and administrative features, and the usual array of mobile and desktop sync clients.  The free iPad client has a nice user interface and viewers for common file types.

It is configurable for […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:55+00:00 October 1st, 2012|Labs, Newsletter|Comments Off on Business Cloud File Storage Revisited

Google Nexus 7 – First Impressions

After my first two weeks being the owner of the Google Nexus 7, my impressions are positive. As a worker in the tech industry, I need access to a computer pretty regularly, and access to e-mail is an important part of my job. The appeal of getting a tablet was to have a easily mobile method to get to the web, if need be. Previously, I had been using netbook for mobile computing, and the Nexus tablet has grown on me quickly. The first thing that struck me is that I don’t need a separate bag to carry it around. With laptops, and the netbook, I tend to want a bag to carry the machine, along with a power adaptor. The tablet is small enough that carrying it in hand isn’t tiresome, and the battery life is quite good, so it isn’t necessary to carry the USB charging cable.

The Nexus 7 is smaller […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:56+00:00 August 1st, 2012|Labs, Newsletter|Comments Off on Google Nexus 7 – First Impressions

SpireTech Labs: OwnCloud

OwnCloud is an open-source software package that allows companies to setup a dropbox-like environment for employee use.   It comes with clients for windows, mac, linux, android, and very soon, iOS – as well as a server component that works on either Linux or Windows.  It sounded extremely useful to our clients, so we immediately began our evaluation process.  We began by installing OwnCloud on a Linux VPS (Virtual Private Server) in our datacenter, and evaluating the windows and android clients.

The file sharing is the best feature.  OwnCloud allows you to replicate folders from your local hard drive (or perhaps a server drive) to cloud storage hosted at SpireTech (or another hosting provider).  You can share individual files or folders with coworkers, and create groups with permissions similar to what you would do in a conventional file server type environment.   It supports LDAP, so we think we’ll be able to integrate it […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:57+00:00 July 2nd, 2012|Labs, Newsletter|Comments Off on SpireTech Labs: OwnCloud

SpireTech Labs review: OnApp

At the 2011 hostingcon conference, we ran into OnApp’s mega-booth right as we entered the exhibit hall.  Impressive.  These guys must be big, or well-funded.  They claim to have some fairly large reference customers that we have heard of, so we decided to take a closer look.

OnApp solves many of the problems a hosting company engaged in selling virtual servers has:  It provides a web-based console for you and your customers to control their servers. It allows for all the commonly-needed functionality – you can start/shutdown/reboot virtual servers.  You can configure RAM, disk, networking, and do remote control.  Plus, it does all this at an affordable price.

OnApp installed quickly and easily.  We had it up and running in a two-server test environment in a couple of hours.  We tested high availability (HA) features, wherein a failed server can be  automatically restarted on another server.  We examined the networking configuration, especially wherein network traffic from one client’s servers cannot see or “sniff” […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:57+00:00 June 6th, 2012|Labs|Comments Off on SpireTech Labs review: OnApp

SpireTech Labs

At SpireTech, we spend a lot of time evaluating new technology. For every product or service we offer, there are probably ten that don’t make the cut. We thought it would be a good idea to start sharing what we’ve learned – the good and the bad. Even though this information might be helpful to our competitors, it’s also helpful to the tech and business community at large – and especially helpful to our clients. So, taking a cue from Google labs, here we go…

First, we thought it might be helpful to share how we go about reviewing a new product: We start by reviewing the website of the manufacturer. Of course, the software has to solve a problem for us, or our clients. If pricing is published, we’ll make sure the offer is priced competitively at a price our customers will buy. If pricing isn’t published and we have to “talk to someone”, then sometimes the review will stop there – unless […]

By | 2016-11-11T17:41:57+00:00 June 2nd, 2012|Labs|Comments Off on SpireTech Labs