A Look Inside Steadfast Networks
May 21st, 2013
Imagine if every company were responsible for generating their own power, we would have overbuilt power plants everywhere, as everyone would need to build out to a peak level that they thought they would achieve in the future. In addition, a single failure in your power plant will bring down all your operations and just imagine the workload in managing all those facilities. You can't risk running out of power, that would just stall and ruin your business, so what did we do to resolve this issue? Centralized power generation and distribution.
It now amazes me that so many businesses still operate in this outdated model for their IT and data infrastructure, keeping their own data closets and small data center in-house. If you're one of these companies, you're not alone, as recent studies show that only 22% of businesses have begun using centralized IT or cloud services, but hopefully this article informs you as to why this isn't a good long-term strategy.
Growing IT Demands on Small Business
The needs and demands for storage, processing, and transaction speeds are going up at alarming rates. How do you know you'll be ready for what is coming 5 years down the road, let alone 6 months? Things are just growing exponentially as we're tracking, storing and analyzing more things each and every day. As Eric Schmidt said in 2010, "There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing." The use of Big Data by business is just starting, so the demands are only expected to keep growing. This is compounded by the fact that more people are working from home or mobile and customers are demanding more immediate access to information, meaning all of this new information needs to be accessible 24/7 from around the world.
Now, in 2013, these data needs are not "nice to have" features, they are "must have" features that a business needs to survive and stay competitive. On their own, how is a small business going to plan for that type of data growth? To prepare for that growth you need to either over-build, wasting money and resources now for resources you may never need in the future, or you're not going to be ready for the future. You need a partner to help get you the scale.
Things Get Cheaper with Scale
I am sure most of you are familiar with the idea of "economies of scale." Simply put, it is that per unit costs go down (often significantly) with an increase in size/scale and that idea holds very true with data centers and technology. What makes it even greater is that these economies of scale aren't just on initial, upfront costs, but on the recurring costs as well. While a small data closet may cost $15,000 or more per kw to build with effective power and cooling redundancy, you'll also be paying twice as much just cool the equipment and condition/distribute the power, all at standard commercial power rates. In a larger scale data center facility (500+ kw), all these costs can be nearly cut in half as system and energy efficiency can be greatly improved. Now, it doesn't make sense for most individual companies to build their own 500+ kw data center, but that is where the above analogy comes in, utilize centralized data centers to take advantage of those efficiencies.
This economies of scale don't just apply to the facilities, it also applies to workforce efficiency, network connectivity, and managed services. A large data center, like Steadfast, will already have experienced data center technicians, systems administrators, systems engineers, and network engineers working 24/7. What would it cost for you to put that same team together? We provide the team and expertise so you don't need to provide your own. What would it cost you to scale to 100+ Gbit/sec of Internet connectivity? You don't need to worry about that, we have the scale to do it as we have 113 Gbit/sec of Internet connectivity active right now. Why spend the $200k+ for a highly redundant NetApp SAN of your own when we can sell you capacity on ours for just $15/mo and just add more at a moments notice as needed?
Scale Gets You Better Service
Now, hopefully you can see how taking advantage of the scale Steadfast can deliver will save you money, but it can also deliver you a better level of service for less money. We are building, maintaining and monitoring thousands of servers for 1500+ companies each and every day. Our staff deals with a wide array of infrastructures, network designs, and problems. Chances are, if you bring us a problem, an idea, a plan, we've seen it before. We'll have the hands on experience and knowledge to bring to the table on almost any situation, 24/7. Is that something your in-house team can guarantee?
With building data center facilities for 1500+ customers, we need to take best practice into account as far as security and reliability to serve a wide array of customers. This means that all of our facilities are SSAE16 audited, have biometric + RFID based access controls and logging, have at least N+1 power redundancy, have 2N network redundancy, have extensive 24/7 monitoring, and have 24/7 on-site staffing. Would your in-house data center have all of those features? What is the value of being able to sleep better at night knowing you have all of those things? These things are included at no additional cost, due to our scale.
Steadfast Gets You the Scale You Need
How can you afford to keep your own local power generation station? How can you afford to have your own in-house data center? Steadfast already has 3+ MW of IT power, over 20,000 square feet of data center space, 30+ experienced IT professionals, and 113 Gbit/sec of Internet connectivity, we can be your centralized utility (with MUCh better service and support) that can provide the speed, reliability, and scale you need for your business to grow and expand. Due to the economies of scale, that can all be provided to you AND save you money. You don't need to worry about how you'll keep up with the data needs of the future, that is our business, you focus on your core business.
You don't need to take the whole plunge at once either, we can be as little or as much as you might need. You could simply locate your existing servers with us in our data centers and take advantage of more efficient facilities, greater access to connectivity, 24/7 on-site staffing, etc. using colocation. You could have us also monitor and manage that equipment 24/7 with managed colocation. Otherwise, you could have us deal with everything and never have to worry about your own hardware or network design ever again and get managed dedicated servers (we can also use them to build you a custom private cloud) or our public cloud offerings.
If any of this is too confusing for you, or you'd just like our help or insight, please contact our sales team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 312-602-2689 (option 2). We'd be more than happy to give you a free assessment of your current IT infrastructure to see where you might be able to take advantage of some more economies of scale.
April 29th, 2013
Black Lotus, a leader in availability security and provider of distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection, today announced its partnership with Steadfast, a Chicago based IT Infrastructure Data Services provider. Under the terms of the partnership, Steadfast will offer Black Lotus enterprise-grade DDoS protection to its customers. Black Lotus uses BGP to remotely deploy its award winning DDoS protection to datacenters and hosting networks like Steadfast while minimizing latency overhead. As a result, Steadfast is able to defend against any type of attack vector to include SYN floods, HTTP, SSL, and DNS attacks through Layer 7. This technology allows Steadfast customers full access to affordable DDoS protection solutions without needing to engage outside vendors.
"Up-time and reliability have always been a major focus of ours and recent highly publicized incidents have made DDoS attacks a major concern for some of our customers," states Karl Zimmerman, President of Steadfast. "We had been looking at DDoS solutions for many years, and ended up deciding that Black Lotus provides the many years of experience and the comprehensive protection that our customers require to give them true peace of mind."
"Under our partnership with Steadfast, its customers now have the option of seamlessly adding DDoS protection to their services in a manner that is cost effective and extremely convenient," states Jeffrey Lyon, President of Black Lotus, "We're very excited to work with a renowned data center operator like Steadfast and are equally excited about the prospect of extending quality DDoS mitigation solutions to Steadfast tenants."
Steadfast is a Chicago-based IT infrastructure provider that specializes in highly flexible cloud environments (public, private and hybrid), dedicated servers, colocation services and disaster recovery. These services are provided from fully redundant data centers in Chicago and New York. Since 1998, Steadfast, has been focused on providing high quality, flexible and exceptionally reliable services at a reasonable price... For any organization, Steadfast provides the technology and expertise it takes to maintain your IT infrastructure, allowing customers to focus on core business. Customers interested in learning more about Steadfast services are encouraged to visit www.steadfast.net.
About Black Lotus Communications
Black Lotus Communications is a Los Angeles-based security innovator that pioneered the first commercially viable DDoS mitigation solutions in 1999, weeks after the first known DDoS attacks. These advanced solutions enhance the security posture of small and medium businesses and enterprise clients while reducing capital expenditures, managing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving earnings and retention. Breakthrough developments at Black Lotus include the world's first DDoS protected hosting network, the first IPv6 DDoS mitigation environment, and the first highly effective Layer 7 attack mitigation strategy. For more information, visit www.blacklotus.net or follow Black Lotus on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ddosprotection.
April 24th, 2013
Here at Steadfast we have always thought it was important to keep and maintain a highly reliable and accurate time service. To further improve these services, we've now put a GPS antenna on the roof at our 725 S Wells data center, with a lock on at least four GPS satellites (generally 5 or 6), and have an on-site Spectracom GPS based Stratum 1 time server, gps.time.steadfast.net, that is available to all of our customers. This should provide everyone with a low latency and precise time source while also providing additional redundancy on the timing side, as we are still providing access (globally) to our stratum 2 time servers, time.steadfast.net and others.
Time services have been coming into greater demand overall, and with this roof-based antenna we will be able to provide a greater array of time based services, such as PTP / IEEE 1588v2, as they're requested. Accurate timing can be critical for security applications (SSL, TLS and Kerberos to avoid replay attacks), Microsoft Active Directory, and various financial / trading applications. For help with setting up access to our time servers or for more information on our time / NTP infrastructure, you can read our knowledgebase article: https://support.steadfast.net/Knowledgebase/Article/View/103/0/time-servers-ntp
April 2nd, 2013
With the recent 300 Gbit/sec DDoS attack against Spamhaus, is making major waves, not just getting covered by technology publications and blogs such as GigaOm, but mainstream media venues like the New York Times. This attack was accomplished by using poorly configured DNS servers in a DNS amplification attack and while neither of these things are new, this story has definitely brought more attention to them.
In response, here at Steadfast we are taking multiple actions to better serve our customers. First, we have developed a list of customer IPs that have at least moderate susceptibility for DNS amplification and will be individually contacting those customers. We will be able to assist all customers in mitigating this type of issue, no matter what level of service or management they have. In addition, we have made a knowledgebase article outlining the ways to identify if you are at risk for a DDoS amplification attack and how to eliminate the risk to help give people across the Internet guidance on resolving this issue. Finally, to protect our own customers from these attacks we are working with an established DDoS protection vendor in offering DDoS protected services to all of our cloud, dedicated server, and Chicago colocation customers. These DDoS protection services should be available within a couple weeks and will be available starting at just $50/mo. Expect an announcement soon!
If you're a Steadfast customer and have any questions or concerns about DDoS protection or DNS Amplification attacks, always feel free to contact us and we're more than happy to help!
Preventing DNS Amplification Attacks
March 25th, 2013
We have now added Tata Communications to our network, adding a 10 GigE to them out of Chicago with a 10 GigE getting added in New York over the coming months. With this addition, as well as a new Inteliquent circuit in New York, our network now has 113 Gbit/sec of capacity to the Internet!
Tata Communications was added to our network due to their very strong connectivity to India as well as other developing countries and markets. Since they had acquired Teleglobe, they had continued to expand their presence into many markets under-served by other carriers, giving us better overall global connectivity. Tata Communications is also a Tier 1 global carrier and, according to Renesys, is one of the top 8 global IP networks in the world. This now means that we connect to 6 of the 8 largest IP networks in the world, Level3/Global Crossing, NTT, Inteliquent, Cogent, and now Tata. Along with our InterNAP FCP we feel that this network mix, along with our hundreds of direct peering relationships, gives us one of the highest performing networks in the industry. Combine that with our 100% network uptime SLA and we doubt you'll find a better quality network product anywhere.
Not only does this increase our network reach and performance, it also increases our network capacity, giving us 113 Gbit/sec of Internet capacity. This capacity allows us to serve the needs of even the largest demands for capacity and scalability, while assuring we do not see any of the negative affects of network congestion, even during large traffic spikes.
We have come a long way in the last 15 years, but network performance has always been a major focus of ours, and hopefully our ever-growing and expanding network is a good demonstration of that commitment.