Industry Buzz

Amazon EKS Now Supports EC2 Inf1 Instances

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) has quickly become a leading choice for machine learning workloads. It combines the developer agility and the scalability of Kubernetes, with the wide selection of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance types available on AWS, such as the C5, P3, and G4 families. As models become more sophisticated, hardware acceleration is increasingly required to deliver fast predictions at high throughput. Today, we’re very happy to announce that AWS customers can now use the Amazon EC2 Inf1 instances on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, for high performance and the lowest prediction cost in the cloud. A primer on EC2 Inf1 instances Inf1 instances were launched at AWS re:Invent 2019. They are powered by AWS Inferentia, a custom chip built from the ground up by AWS to accelerate machine learning inference workloads. Inf1 instances are available in multiple sizes, with 1, 4, or 16 AWS Inferentia chips, with up to 100 Gbps network bandwidth and up to 19 Gbps EBS bandwidth. An AWS Inferentia chip contains four NeuronCores. Each one implements a high-performance systolic array matrix multiply engine, which massively speeds up typical deep learning operations such as convolution and transformers. NeuronCores are also equipped with a large on-chip cache, which helps cut down on external memory accesses, saving I/O time in the process. When several AWS Inferentia chips are available on an Inf1 instance, you can partition a model across them and store it entirely in cache memory. Alternatively, to serve multi-model predictions from a single Inf1 instance, you can partition the NeuronCores of an AWS Inferentia chip across several models. Compiling Models for EC2 Inf1 Instances To run machine learning models on Inf1 instances, you need to compile them to a hardware-optimized representation using the AWS Neuron SDK. All tools are readily available on the AWS Deep Learning AMI, and you can also install them on your own instances. You’ll find instructions in the Deep Learning AMI documentation, as well as tutorials for TensorFlow, PyTorch, and Apache MXNet in the AWS Neuron SDK repository. In the demo below, I will show you how to deploy a Neuron-optimized model on an EKS cluster of Inf1 instances, and how to serve predictions with TensorFlow Serving. The model in question is BERT, a state of the art model for natural language processing tasks. This is a huge model with hundreds of millions of parameters, making it a great candidate for hardware acceleration. Building an EKS Cluster of EC2 Inf1 Instances First of all, let’s build a cluster with two inf1.2xlarge instances. I can easily do this with eksctl, the command-line tool to provision and manage EKS clusters. You can find installation instructions in the EKS documentation. Here is the configuration file for my cluster. Eksctl detects that I’m launching a node group with an Inf1 instance type, and will start your worker nodes using the EKS-optimized Accelerated AMI. apiVersion: eksctl.io/v1alpha5 kind: ClusterConfig metadata: name: cluster-inf1 region: us-west-2 nodeGroups: - name: ng1-public instanceType: inf1.2xlarge minSize: 0 maxSize: 3 desiredCapacity: 2 ssh: allow: true Then, I use eksctl to create the cluster. This process will take approximately 10 minutes. $ eksctl create cluster -f inf1-cluster.yaml Eksctl automatically installs the Neuron device plugin in your cluster. This plugin advertises Neuron devices to the Kubernetes scheduler, which can be requested by containers in a deployment spec. I can check with kubectl that the device plug-in container is running fine on both Inf1 instances. $ kubectl get pods -n kube-system NAME READY STATUS RESTARTS AGE aws-node-tl5xv 1/1 Running 0 14h aws-node-wk6qm 1/1 Running 0 14h coredns-86d5cbb4bd-4fxrh 1/1 Running 0 14h coredns-86d5cbb4bd-sts7g 1/1 Running 0 14h kube-proxy-7px8d 1/1 Running 0 14h kube-proxy-zqvtc 1/1 Running 0 14h neuron-device-plugin-daemonset-888j4 1/1 Running 0 14h neuron-device-plugin-daemonset-tq9kc 1/1 Running 0 14h Next, I define AWS credentials in a Kubernetes secret. They will allow me to grab my BERT model stored in S3. Please note that both keys needs to be base64-encoded. apiVersion: v1 kind: Secret metadata: name: aws-s3-secret type: Opaque data: AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID: <base64-encoded value> AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY: <base64-encoded value> Finally, I store these credentials on the cluster. $ kubectl apply -f secret.yaml The cluster is correctly set up. Now, let’s build an application container storing a Neuron-enabled version of TensorFlow Serving. Building an Application Container for TensorFlow Serving The Dockerfile is very simple. We start from an Amazon Linux 2 base image. Then, we install the AWS CLI, and the TensorFlow Serving package available in the Neuron repository. FROM amazonlinux:2 RUN yum install -y awscli RUN echo $'[neuron] \n\ name=Neuron YUM Repository \n\ baseurl=https://yum.repos.neuron.amazonaws.com \n\ enabled=1' > /etc/yum.repos.d/neuron.repo RUN rpm --import https://yum.repos.neuron.amazonaws.com/GPG-PUB-KEY-AMAZON-AWS-NEURON.PUB RUN yum install -y tensorflow-model-server-neuron I build the image, create an Amazon Elastic Container Registry repository, and push the image to it. $ docker build . -f Dockerfile -t tensorflow-model-server-neuron $ docker tag IMAGE_NAME 123456789012.dkr.ecr.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/inf1-demo $ aws ecr create-repository --repository-name inf1-demo $ docker push 123456789012.dkr.ecr.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/inf1-demo Our application container is ready. Now, let’s define a Kubernetes service that will use this container to serve BERT predictions. I’m using a model that has already been compiled with the Neuron SDK. You can compile your own using the instructions available in the Neuron SDK repository. Deploying BERT as a Kubernetes Service The deployment manages two containers: the Neuron runtime container, and my application container. The Neuron runtime runs as a sidecar container image, and is used to interact with the AWS Inferentia chips. At startup, the latter configures the AWS CLI with the appropriate security credentials. Then, it fetches the BERT model from S3. Finally, it launches TensorFlow Serving, loading the BERT model and waiting for prediction requests. For this purpose, the HTTP and grpc ports are open. Here is the full manifest. kind: Service apiVersion: v1 metadata: name: eks-neuron-test labels: app: eks-neuron-test spec: ports: - name: http-tf-serving port: 8500 targetPort: 8500 - name: grpc-tf-serving port: 9000 targetPort: 9000 selector: app: eks-neuron-test role: master type: ClusterIP --- kind: Deployment apiVersion: apps/v1 metadata: name: eks-neuron-test labels: app: eks-neuron-test role: master spec: replicas: 2 selector: matchLabels: app: eks-neuron-test role: master template: metadata: labels: app: eks-neuron-test role: master spec: volumes: - name: sock emptyDir: {} containers: - name: eks-neuron-test image: 123456789012.dkr.ecr.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/inf1-demo:latest command: ["/bin/sh","-c"] args: - "mkdir ~/.aws/ && \ echo '[eks-test-profile]' > ~/.aws/credentials && \ echo AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=$AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID >> ~/.aws/credentials && \ echo AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=$AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY >> ~/.aws/credentials; \ /usr/bin/aws --profile eks-test-profile s3 sync s3://jsimon-inf1-demo/bert /tmp/bert && \ /usr/local/bin/tensorflow_model_server_neuron --port=9000 --rest_api_port=8500 --model_name=bert_mrpc_hc_gelus_b4_l24_0926_02 --model_base_path=/tmp/bert/" ports: - containerPort: 8500 - containerPort: 9000 imagePullPolicy: Always env: - name: AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID valueFrom: secretKeyRef: key: AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID name: aws-s3-secret - name: AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY valueFrom: secretKeyRef: key: AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY name: aws-s3-secret - name: NEURON_RTD_ADDRESS value: unix:/sock/neuron.sock resources: limits: cpu: 4 memory: 4Gi requests: cpu: "1" memory: 1Gi volumeMounts: - name: sock mountPath: /sock - name: neuron-rtd image: 790709498068.dkr.ecr.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/neuron-rtd:1.0.6905.0 securityContext: capabilities: add: - SYS_ADMIN - IPC_LOCK volumeMounts: - name: sock mountPath: /sock resources: limits: hugepages-2Mi: 256Mi aws.amazon.com/neuron: 1 requests: memory: 1024Mi I use kubectl to create the service. $ kubectl create -f bert_service.yml A few seconds later, the pods are up and running. $ kubectl get pods NAME                           READY STATUS  RESTARTS AGE eks-neuron-test-5d59b55986-7kdml 2/2   Running 0        14h eks-neuron-test-5d59b55986-gljlq 2/2   Running 0        14h Finally, I redirect service port 9000 to local port 9000, to let my prediction client connect locally. $ kubectl port-forward svc/eks-neuron-test 9000:9000 & Now, everything is ready for prediction, so let’s invoke the model. Predicting with BERT on EKS and Inf1 The inner workings of BERT are beyond the scope of this post. This particular model expects a sequence of 128 tokens, encoding the words of two sentences we’d like to compare for semantic equivalence. Here, I’m only interested in measuring prediction latency, so dummy data is fine. I build 100 prediction requests storing a sequence of 128 zeros. I send them to the TensorFlow Serving endpoint via grpc, and I compute the average prediction time. import numpy as np import grpc import tensorflow as tf from tensorflow_serving.apis import predict_pb2 from tensorflow_serving.apis import prediction_service_pb2_grpc import time if __name__ == '__main__': channel = grpc.insecure_channel('localhost:9000') stub = prediction_service_pb2_grpc.PredictionServiceStub(channel) request = predict_pb2.PredictRequest() request.model_spec.name = 'bert_mrpc_hc_gelus_b4_l24_0926_02' i = np.zeros([1, 128], dtype=np.int32) request.inputs['input_ids'].CopyFrom(tf.contrib.util.make_tensor_proto(i, shape=i.shape)) request.inputs['input_mask'].CopyFrom(tf.contrib.util.make_tensor_proto(i, shape=i.shape)) request.inputs['segment_ids'].CopyFrom(tf.contrib.util.make_tensor_proto(i, shape=i.shape)) latencies = [] for i in range(100): start = time.time() result = stub.Predict(request) latencies.append(time.time() - start) print("Inference successful: {}".format(i)) print ("Ran {} inferences successfully. Latency average = {}".format(len(latencies), np.average(latencies))) On average, prediction took 5.92ms. As far as BERT goes, this is pretty good! Ran 100 inferences successfully. Latency average = 0.05920819044113159 In real-life, we would certainly be batching prediction requests in order to increase throughput. If needed, we could also scale to larger Inf1 instances supporting several Inferentia chips, and deliver even more prediction performance at low cost. Getting Started Kubernetes users can deploy Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Inf1 instances on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service today in the US East (N. Virginia) and US West (Oregon) regions. As Inf1 deployment progresses, you’ll be able to use them with Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service in more regions. Give this a try, and please send us feedback either through your usual AWS Support contacts, on the AWS Forum for Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, or on the container roadmap on Github. - Julien

Host of The Jordan Harbinger Show Shares His Advice for New Podcasters

HostGator Blog -

The post Host of The Jordan Harbinger Show Shares His Advice for New Podcasters appeared first on HostGator Blog. Jordan Harbinger was podcasting before podcasting with a thing. He and his friend AJ (who also uses the last name Harbinger) debuted The Jordan Harbinger Show podcast in 2006 to talk about social skills, meeting people, and building relationships. The Jordan Harbinger Show now has more than 530 episodes and gets two million downloads per month by listeners eager to hear “the Charlie Rose of podcasting” talk with high-profile leaders in fields ranging from law and business to medicine and journalism about the social skills and mindset they use to succeed in their relationships at work and off the clock. HostGator is a proud sponsor of The Jordan Harbinger Show, and Jordan recently took the time to answer questions from our team about starting the podcast, why podcast producers must have a good website, and the steps new podcasters and site owners must take to succeed. The discussion has been edited and condensed. HostGator: Did The Jordan Harbinger Show start as a podcast, a website, or something else? Jordan: It did start as a podcast. We started this as a hobby because AJ and I were having conversations about eye contact, vocal tonality, body language, persuasion, influence, and non-verbal communication. People were saying, ‘You should write a book.’ I was studying for the bar exam, and AJ was a cancer biologist. We weren’t about to write anything because we didn’t have time, but we thought we could record our conversations and let those fly somewhere on the Internet. There wasn’t such a thing as podcasting when we initially envisioned this, or at least we didn’t know about it yet. AJ figured out that we could record things and put them in iTunes. HostGator: What made you decide to get a website? Jordan: Originally, you had to have a website for your podcast. You had to host it on a web server, because iTunes doesn’t host. We also needed a website so we could point people to it, especially since most people didn’t know how to use iTunes back then, and most people probably still don’t now. HostGator: What happened once you got the website? Did it help you expand your business? Jordan: Once we got the website, we found that a lot of people were emailing us. It was easier to contact us. People started to hire us for coaching services. People started finding our show because they were Googling the things we were talking about. It was really interesting to see how things kind of exploded once we got that online presence. HostGator: How do you encourage people to visit The Jordan Harbinger Show website and build your site traffic? Jordan: We encourage people to visit the website through word of mouth. We also talk about the website on the show so that people will go back to the web site and use that to email us or to find other episodes of the show. You can’t tell people, ‘First, go download iTunes, then do this, then do this, then do this.’ You just tell people about websites because everybody knows how to use them. HostGator: Which of your website features has had the most impact on your business? Jordan: In the beginning, it was the ability to host files. We had a blog where we were able to discuss what we were talking about briefly, and then we’d create the MP3 and host it there. People could click and download it or click and play it on our site if they weren’t playing the show through iTunes. That was huge. The website wasn’t just a web presence, it gave us the ability to host files for download and the ability to point people to those files directly. HostGator: What advice do you have for future podcasters and new website owners? Jordan: Make sure your files are not only playable but also downloadable so listeners can export them onto their smartphone or other device. Also, there should be an easy way to contact you. Visitors shouldn’t have to dig for it. Your number should be on the front page, or your contact form or email. Make sure your contact forms are working. Your email should be there for people who don’t want to use the form. I think that’s obvious, but I see most sites still don’t have that. A lot of times, companies make it tough to contact them because they don’t want to deal with that, but if I’m trying to hire you, if I have to figure out how to contact you, I don’t want to do that. It means you’re purposely difficult to reach or you’re ignorant of how people should be reaching you. That’s not somebody I want to give money to. I want to be able to reach them quickly and easily. For podcasters, you need to make sure you’ve got a description of your content as well as a way to download that content. Stream it online, too, so if people want to listen at their computer or on their smartphone they can make it work. Last but not least, it has to work on mobile. Most visitors come from mobile, especially if they’re listening to podcasts, so you can’t have a janky website that doesn’t work well on mobile or it’s just a huge fail. You’re going to lose more than half your business.  You can subscribe to The Jordan Harbinger Show here.  Learn more about HostGator’s easy to use web hosting services and plans here. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Free Alternatives to FTP

InMotion Hosting Blog -

At some point or another, it will be necessary to upload (or download) files from your server. Even if you use WordPress, there are occasions on which you will need to have direct access to the content of your server. For years, the most popular file transfer method was the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), which comes pre-installed in every InMotion Hosting account (and virtually any hosting account you may find). If you don’t have FTP, it’s easy to install, setup, and use. Continue reading Free Alternatives to FTP at InMotion Hosting Blog.

6 Best Tools for Creating Social Media Graphics

HostGator Blog -

The post 6 Best Tools for Creating Social Media Graphics appeared first on HostGator Blog. Social media plays an important role in how small businesses market their products and services online. Beyond superb copywriting, your social media content must include creative graphics. You only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention before they scroll to the next post. That’s why your graphics should include vibrant colors and that latest designs. We’ve compiled a list of six tools to help you create social media graphics. Learn how you can quickly wow your followers with these top social media graphic creation tools.  1. Canva Consumers are spending up to 3 hours on social media platforms per day, and even longer looking at their mobile screens. This trend is an opportunity for your small business to get in front of a larger audience.  The key is to stand out from the crowd with appealing social media graphics. You want followers to instantly relate to your content without any hesitation.  Canva can help you create visual content to establish your online presence. You get access to a premium library of more than one million stock images, graphics, and illustrations to produce high-quality designs. Keep your Facebook page looking fresh with over 100 popular layouts and 130 unique fonts. With this graphic design tool, you also can edit and save your social media design as often as necessary. There’s even a collaboration feature to invite team members to edit and comment on your current designs. When you’re ready to post on social media, just export your design as a JPG or PNG. 2. Piktochart The best social media graphics will persuade your followers to pay attention to your message. Your images should convey a story, so fans are encouraged to click the link in your post. Amy Copperman, head of editorial content and social media for Adobe Spark, offers her perspective:  “The fundamental building block of a brand is consistency. It takes five to seven impressions for people to begin to recognize your brand. This means that the repetition of key brand ingredients—logo, colors, and typeface—is essential.” Combine your site branding with graphics using Piktochart. With this tool, you can sift through thousands of royalty-free images and add nifty visual effects. You also can customize ready-made templates with just one click. It’s an easy way to try different styles to match your brand’s unique personality and style guide. 3. Prezi Video Apart from graphics, video is also essential to your social media content. Bite-sized clips can entertain and inform your audience in a matter of seconds. And that’s what your brand needs to outshine your competitors.  Before you press record, you’ll want to think about the type of videos you want to post online. Some brands enjoy making behind-the-scenes footage of their business, while others like producing short, product-related videos. No matter what video type you choose, Prezi Video is an effective tool for making engaging videos. You have the option of repurposing an existing PowerPoint presentation, choosing from a library of templates, or starting completely from scratch. Prezi offers a collection of how-to videos to help with the video-making process. You’ll learn how to animate content, convert slides to video, and use advanced features like a pro. If you’re too busy, you also can hire a certified Prezi expert. 4. Social Image Resizer Tool In social media, one size doesn’t fit all. Every channel requires specific graphic dimensions. What works on Twitter won’t work on Facebook. So, it’s recommended not to reuse the same graphic size across all your social accounts. Manvi Agarwal, a marketing and communication strategist at SocialPilot, states the significance of your social media graphics:  “Be it Facebook profile pictures, LinkedIn banners or any social media image for that matter, images are now undoubtedly the backbone of all social media platforms. Images have hugely garnered the marketing reigns in its control and if your images are compelling, you are sure to win the engagement battle.” Thanks to Social Image Resizer Tool you don’t need to remember the image dimensions for every social media channel. Instead, just upload your desired image and select a predefined option, like LinkedIn Profile Photo. Then, the tool will automatically adjust the graphic size for you. 5. Animoto Research shows that 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family. So, your brand must strive to find new and interesting ways to create memorable moments for your fans.  Professional videos can help you reach this goal. Animoto is another video maker for improving your social media marketing. This drag-and-drop tool makes it easy for novices to develop video content.  Animoto includes a library of stock photos from Getty Images, a music catalog featuring thousands of licensed tracks, eye-catching animated text effects, and logo watermark branding to promote your small business. Plus, you can join an exclusive Facebook community to get tips, inspiration, and feedback on your videos. 6. GIPHY Your social media fans want to be engaged as they scroll down your timeline. Sometimes, followers need a good laugh or something to put a smile on their faces. GIFs are one of the best-kept secrets to boost social media engagement.  Use GIFs as an opportunity to get people excited and to help them remember your brand. Lisa Hassell, director of creative agency Inkygoodness, offers some advice: “A good GIF can be playful and full of dynamism, or it can be slow and smooth; whatever describes the feeling behind the moving images. The key is to understand what makes an eye-catching GIF and create a language that fits the mood of the message.” With GIPHY, you can create fun GIFs using multiple images or trimming a video. Think outside the box to design GIFs to thank your customers, explain a process, or even tell a short story. Design Engaging Social Media Graphics with These Tools Social media is vital for your online marketing efforts. You can spruce up your campaigns by creating engaging social media graphics. Using the above-mentioned tools will make the creative process easier for your small business. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

WP Engine Appoints Jason Teichman as COO

WP Engine -

AUSTIN, Texas – June 15, 2020 – WP Engine, the WordPress Digital Experience Platform (DXP), today announced it has appointed Jason Teichman as Chief Operating Officer.  As COO of WP Engine, Jason will be responsible for overseeing the full customer journey of the business, driving strong operational excellence, global growth and amplifying the company’s customer-inspired… The post WP Engine Appoints Jason Teichman as COO appeared first on WP Engine.

5 Steps to Starting Your Own Hosting Business

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Starting your own hosting business is one of those things that seems so simple, you wonder why everyone isn’t doing it. While there is plenty of competition, there is plenty of room to grow. Starting your own hosting business can be cheap, easy, and safe. Since every company, and many individuals, need their own websites, providing hosting services can generate significant returns. If you are a company that deals with IT infrastructure or web design, adding a hosting service to your existing platform can bring in new revenue and clients to add sustainable growth to your business. A hosting company can bring in new revenue streams and products to offer upcoming clients if you are just getting started. But why bother starting your own hosting business when your plate is already full and your business is running fine?  3 Reasons to Start a Hosting Business Here are some of the best reasons to start offering hosting services to clients: 1. It’s Easy Really, the web hosting provider is doing most of the legwork. They handle the technical difficulties that scare most people away from the industry, and keep services running smoothly. All you have to do is keep your individual clients happy and provide the right hosting solutions for them and their organization. Once it’s running, most websites tend to keep running without much effort or expertise. 2. Additional Revenue Starting a hosting business can put extra padding in your pockets without losing your day job or adding unreasonable amounts of work. Aside from the initial setup and registering new clients, you can simply watch your bank account grow. An overhead price that covers your costs and brings in decent cash flow keeps costs and prices straightforward for you and your clients. 3. Great Upsell for Digital Firms If you already run a digital business, especially web design, then throwing hosting into your package makes your service more “all-inclusive.” This could give you the edge you need over competitors and can make you a bigger and stronger organization. By offering hosting to your clients directly on your own platforms, or without having to manage separate users on separate hosting providers, you simplify things like account management and software solutions that must be installed on client machines. To top it all off, it’s easier than you think to get started. In fact, you can have your own hosting business up and running after only 5 simple steps. How to Start Your Hosting Business in Five Easy Steps 1. Find Your Niche In the web hosting business, competition is fierce. You won’t be able to compete with the giants of the industry (at least not yet), but you can still target a specific niche group and start growing from there. It’s essential to offer something unique to separate yourself from other companies and make your organization more distinct. That could be an additional service like web design, a competitive or revolutionary pricing plan, or maybe you’ll target a specific community (like webcomics or homemade jewelry stores). It’s important to separate yourself from the crowd and cater to unfulfilled needs. By finding a great niche, you can offer custom solutions that fulfill their needs and aren’t offered anywhere else.” Whatever your niche turns out to be, it’s necessary to figure it out first before you get into your hosting business’s nitty-gritty. This will give you the upper hand against competitors and help jump start your business by offering services to a specific industry. 2. Research Competitors Next, you want to separate yourself even more from other hosting companies within your niche. Ideally, you will want your offering to be so unique that you’ll have no competition… but that’s rare. Even if you’re specializing in your market, you’ll still have more than a few competitors. Research competitor business models and see what they’re doing that works, and where there’s room for improvement! Analyzing your competitors is the best strategy for discovering ways to outdo them.”  This will give you an advantage when providing new services, looking for clients, and identifying marketing techniques and product offerings. Because the hosting industry is fiercely competitive, it’s important to gather as much information and data as possible to separate yourself from the crowd. 3. Choose Your Server Type Assuming you’re reselling server space from a hosting company like Liquid Web, as opposed to building your own server in your garage, you still have a few different options to choose from. Dedicated Server As the name suggests, a dedicated server is a server dedicated to a single client. While the features are extensive, it’s the most expensive type of server. A single machine provides more robust features for larger clients, including the ability to have more security or HIPAA-Compliant Hosting. Cloud Servers Cloud servers are great tools because you don’t have to worry about scaling your server or infrastructure — even with an unexpected spike in traffic, performance remains consistent. While not as expensive as dedicated hosting, cloud hosting falls somewhere in the mid-range, in terms of pricing. VPS A Virtual Private Server is a single server (cloud or otherwise) that is partitioned to suit multiple systems. While space is limited, it’s easily the cheapest option, and a good place to start for beginners in the hosting business. This will allow you to host multiple clients on one system to keep costs slow. But features may be more limited than other types of servers. There is no one “best” server type. Instead, you’ll want to choose the one that fits together with your niche and business model. It’s best to stay away from shared hosting for your infrastructure, as it won’t provide the performance, security, or scalability you will need to grow. 4. Create a Business Model Now let’s get into the “business” part of the hosting business. You’ll need to fine-tune the details of your niche marketing as well as invent your brand.  In this stage, you need to finalize plans for the following: Branding This includes your company name, logo, and tagline. Be aware of which domain names are available since you’ll inevitably need to build a company website. Your name should be memorable and easy to find. Pricing Plan Hammer out the details of your pricing plans to find that sweet spot between how much the hosting infrastructure costs you, and how much your clients are willing to pay for your services. This can also play into your niche marketing if you’re trying to undercut the cost of your competitors. Website Design As with all digital industries, your web hosting company’s website is it’s the main storefront, so spare no expense in making it top notch. The quality of your website can reflect the quality of your services, so make strides to make it the best it can be. 5. Launch Customer Service and Support Customer service and support is optional in theory, but in reality, it’s so important that it’s practically a necessity. Consider handling customer service and support as part of your hosting business. In the web hosting business, part of your appeal to potential clients is that they don’t need to worry about the technical concerns. Even for hardware engineers, these tidbits can get frustrating, so you can imagine the anxiety it causes laypeople. Clients rely on you to keep their websites and services up and running without a hitch.  If you aren’t able to provide this level of customer satisfaction, clients may choose to host their websites somewhere else. Customer service should be a top priority for your new hosting business. That’s why we here at Liquid Web invest so much into our Support Team so they can be the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting. Our customer support is what endears us to our clients and keeps them loyal.  Features like our 59 Second Guarantee and 24/7 access not only set us apart from our competitors but also turn what could be a negative customer experience into one of our company’s greatest strengths.  When you are hosting your infrastructure with us, your clients gain the benefits of our support programs, and it can take some of the load off your back in the process! You’re Ready to Resell Hosting Now that you know the 5 steps for forming your own hosting company, you can get started today! You have found your niche and researched competition, selected servers, and defined pricing plans, and understand the need for customer service, so you can start reselling web hosting. Start Reselling Hosting Today Liquid Web has a Reseller Program that is a perfect fit for those looking to resell hosting. Or download our Hosting Buyer’s Guide to learn more about your hosting options. The post 5 Steps to Starting Your Own Hosting Business appeared first on Liquid Web.

2020年第1四半期ネットワーク層DDoS攻撃の傾向

CloudFlare Blog -

2020年第1四半期の締め括りにあたり、当社は、DDoS攻撃の傾向が、未曾有の世界的外出禁止令の中、変わったのかどうか、変わったのであればどのように変わったのかの把握に着手しました。それ以降、トラフィックレベルは多くの国で50%以上も増加していますが、DDoS攻撃も同様に増えているのでしょうか。長期休暇の時期は、トラフィックの増加が見られます。この時期、世の中の人は、オンラインで買い物や食べ物を注文したり、オンラインゲームで遊んだり、その他オンラインでさまざまなことを楽しんでいるものです。使用量の増加は、種々多様なオンラインサービスを提供する企業にとって分刻みの収益増加につながります。こうしたピーク時にダウンタイムやサービス低下が発生すると、あっという間にユーザーの解約や大規模な減収という事態になりかねません。ITICの見積もりでは、停止時の損失額は、1分あたり平均5,600ドルとなります。これは1時間あたり30万ドル以上の損失に相当します。したがって、長期休暇時期に攻撃者がDDoS攻撃の数を増やすことで、この機会を利用するのは驚くべきことではありません。現在のコロナ禍は、同じような因果関係を持っています。多くの人が、家にいることを余儀なくされています。日々の仕事をこなすために、オンラインサービスへの依存度を高めている現状が、インターネットトラフィックとDDoS攻撃の急増を引き起こします。小規模で短時間の攻撃の台頭2020年の第1四半期に観測された攻撃のほとんどが、ビットレートで比較的小規模なものでした。次の図で示すように、10Gbps未満の攻撃が起きたのは、2020年第1四半期が92%、一方、2019年の第4四半期は、84%でした。さらに深く掘り下げると、第1四半期の10Gbps未満の攻撃の分布には、前四半期と比較すると興味深い変化が見られます。前年第4四半期では、47%のネットワーク層DDoS攻撃の最大値は500Mbps以下であるのに対して、今年の第1四半期では、それが64%まで増加しています。パケットレートの観点からは、攻撃の大部分で最大値は100万pps以下でした。ビットレートとともに、このレートは攻撃者が1秒あたり数ビットまたはパケットの高速フラッドを生成するために努力もリソースも集中させていないことを示しています。ところが、減少しているのはパケットとビットレートだけでなく、攻撃持続時間も減少しています。下の図を見ると、第1四半期に30~60分間続いたDDoS攻撃は79%で、第4四半期の60%から19%増加したことがわかります。この3つの傾向は、次のように説明できます。DDoS攻撃を始めるのは安価で、技術的な知識はそれほど必要ではありません。DDoS-as-a-service(サービスとしてのDDoS攻撃)ツールは、専門知識を持たない悪者が費用対効果の高い方法で、帯域幅も多く使わずに迅速かつ簡単にDDoS攻撃を仕掛けることを可能にしました。Kaperskyによると、DDoS攻撃サービスは300秒間(5分間)の攻撃でわずか5ドルです。さらに、アマチュアの攻撃者でも簡単に無料ツールを使って、パケットのフラッドを引き起こすことができてしまいます。次のセクションで説明しますが、第1四半期の全DDoS攻撃のうち13.5%が一般に公開されているMiraiコードの変種を使って生成されていました。10Gbps未満の攻撃は小さいように見えるかもしれませんが、未保護のインターネットプロパティに影響を与えるには十分な規模です。より小規模でより速い攻撃は、インターネットプロパティの可用性を妨害しない代わりに、攻撃者が企業から身代金を要求することのROIが高いということになるかもしれません。大規模な攻撃は少数ながら依然として存在する攻撃の大部分は10Gbps未満ですが、大規模な攻撃も依然として蔓延しています。以下のグラフでは、2019年第4四半期と2020年第1四半期にCloudflareが観測し、軽減したネットワーク層DDoS攻撃の最大ビットレートの傾向を示しています。今四半期に起きた最大の攻撃は3月に発生し、ピークは550Gbpsをわずかに上回りました。失敗しても諦めず、再試行を繰り返すしつこい攻撃者は、攻撃に失敗しても諦めないタイプです。何度も仕掛けてきます。ターゲットに向けて複数の攻撃を仕掛け、攻撃ベクトルを複数利用することもあります。2019年第4四半期の年末期間中に、攻撃者は単一のCloudflare IPに対して1日に523件ものDDoS攻撃をしつこく仕掛けてきました。攻撃下にあったCloudflare IPそれぞれが、毎日平均4.6ものDDoS攻撃の標的となりました。各国で新型コロナウイルスによる都市封鎖が始まった第1四半期中、例年の月間平均と比べると、攻撃数に大幅な増加が見られました。このような増加を目の当たりにしたのは、2019年の第4四半期以来です。ただし、そこには興味深い違いがあり、現在の攻撃は年末時期より持続性が低かったように見えました。2020年第1四半期、各Cloudflare IPアドレスへの1日あたりの攻撃の持続率は2.2件まで低下しており、単一IPアドレスへの攻撃の最大数は311件でした。これは前期の年末時期に比べ40%の削減でした。過去2四半期にわたり、1日あたりIPごとのDDoS攻撃で使われた攻撃ベクトルの平均数はほぼ一定して約1.4で、最大数は10でした。この四半期では、第3/4層で34種類の攻撃ベクトルが見られました。ACK攻撃は第1四半期の最大数(50.1%)を占め、次はSYN攻撃の16.6%でした。第3位はMiraiで、それでも攻撃の大きな割合(15.4%)を占めています。SYN攻撃とACK DDoS攻撃(TCP)を合わせると、第1四半期の第3/4層への全攻撃ベクトルの66%となります。攻撃ベクトルのトップすべての攻撃ベクトル .tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;} .tg td{border-color:black;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px; overflow:hidden;padding:10px 5px;word-break:normal;} .tg th{border-color:black;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px; font-weight:normal;overflow:hidden;padding:10px 5px;word-break:normal;} .tg .tg-kenc{background-color:rgb(201, 218, 248);border-color:inherit;color:rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family:Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif !important;;font-weight:bold;text-align:center;vertical-align:middle} .tg .tg-42jq{background-color:#ffffff;border-color:inherit;color:rgb(0, 0, 0);font-family:Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif !important;; text-align:center;vertical-align:middle} Attack Vector Percent in Q1 ACK 50.121% SYN 16.636% Mirai 15.404% UDP 5.714% LDAP 2.898% SSDP 2.833% DNS 2.677% Other 0.876% QUIC 0.527% NTP 0.373% RST 0.353% Memcached 0.296% ChargeGen 0.236% WS Discovery 0.221% ACK-PSH 0.208% SNMP 0.159% VSE 0.081% MSSQL 0.079% ICMP 0.072% Bittorrent 0.056% OpenVPN 0.046% Dahua 0.032% GRE 0.022% TFTP 0.014% LOIC 0.014% STUN 0.011% Lantronix 0.009% CoAP 0.008% Jenkins 0.006% VXWorks 0.005% Ubiquity 0.005% TeamSpeak 0.004% XMAS 0.003% SPSS 0.001% 残念なことに、危機的状況とは時に悪意の好機である2020年3月のDDoS攻撃数は、1月と2月と比較して増加しました。以下に示されるように、この危機的時期を、攻撃者はDDoS攻撃を増やす絶好の機会であると考えました。さらに、各国の政府当局が都市封鎖と一時待機の義務づけを始めたのに合わせて、攻撃者は3月下旬に大規模な攻撃を増加させに至りました。3月の後半(3月16~31日)には、前半(3月1~15日)に比べて検出された攻撃は55%も増加していました。さらに、300-400 Gbpsをピークとする攻撃の94%が3月中に発生したものでした。規模に関わりなく、ソースにより近くでDDoS攻撃を阻止DDoSの状況は常に変化しており、包括的で適応性の高いDDoS保護ソリューションを備えることが重要です。上記の攻撃への洞察の観点から、ここではCloudflareがお客様を保護するために、こうした変化に対して機先を制していく方法をご紹介しましょう。攻撃の速度も持続時間も短縮を続け、今までのベンダーが提示してきたような、最大15分の軽減時間のSLAは、実用性がありません。Cloudflareは、多くの場合、ネットワーク層DDoS攻撃を10秒未満で軽減します。これはますます短くなる攻撃に対抗するために重要です。こちらで最新のDDoS攻撃検出と軽減システムについてお読みください。このシステムでは、DDoS攻撃の自動検出と軽減を迅速に、かつ大規模に行うことができます。近年より多くのDDoS攻撃がローカライズされています。つまり、スクラビングセンターアプローチを採用する従来のDDoSソリューションは、グローバルなカバレッジに制限があると同時に、DDoSトラフィックをセンター経由で動かす必要があるためチョークポイントとなり、実用性が低いということになります。Cloudflare独自の分散型アーキテクチャは、世界200都市に広がり、完全なDDoS対策機能を提供して、データセンター全てを強化します。大規模に分散された帯域幅消費型攻撃はまだ存在し、チャンスが増えたとき、高い処理能力を持った攻撃者に使われてしまいます。1Tbpsを超える攻撃が将来的に予想されるため、大規模なDDoS攻撃を軽減する能力は、今日のDDoSソリューションにとって大切です。Cloudflareは、最大規模のDDoS攻撃でさえも軽減することが可能となる35Tbpsを超える容量を持つ世界で最も相互接続しているネットワークの一つです。この大規模なネットワーク容量と世界的に分散されたアーキテクチャによって、Cloudflareはどのような規模でも、ソースに近いところで攻撃を軽減することができます。CloudflareのDDoSソリューションの詳細は、こちらにお問い合わせいただくか、今すぐ始めましょう。

Using data science and machine learning for improved customer support

CloudFlare Blog -

In this blog post we’ll explore three tricks that can be used for data science that helped us solve real problems for our customer support group and our customers. Two for natural language processing in a customer support context and one for identifying attack Internet attack traffic.Through these examples, we hope to demonstrate how invaluable data processing tricks, visualisations and tools can be before putting data into a machine learning algorithm. By refining data prior to processing, we are able to achieve dramatically improved results without needing to change the underlying machine learning strategies which are used.Know the Limits (Language Classification)When browsing a social media site, you may find the site prompts you to translate a post even though it is in your language.We recently came across a similar problem at Cloudflare when we were looking into language classification for chat support messages. Using an off-the-shelf classification algorithm, users with short messages often had their chats classified incorrectly and our analysis found there’s a correlation between the length of a message and the accuracy of the classification (based on the browser Accept-Language header and the languages of the country where the request was submitted):On a subset of tickets, comparing the classified language against the web browser Accept-Language header, we found there was broad agreement between these two properties. When we considered the languages associated with the user’s country, we found another signal.In 67% of our sample, we found agreement between these three signals. In 15% of instances the classified language agreed with only the Accept-Language header and in 5% of cases there was only agreement with the languages associated with the user’s country.We decided the ideal approach was to train a machine learning model that would take all three signals (plus the confidence rate from the language classification algorithm) and use that to make a prediction. By knowing the limits of a given classification algorithm, we were able to develop an approach that helped compliment it.A naive approach to do the same may not even need a trained model to do so, simply requiring agreement between two of three properties (classified language, Accept-Language header and country header) helps make a decision about the right language to use.Hold Your Fire (Fuzzy String Matching)Fuzzy String Matching is often used in natural language processing when trying to extract information from human text. For example, this can be used for extracting error messages from customer support tickets to do automatic classification. At Cloudflare, we use this as one signal in our natural language processing pipeline for support tickets.Engineers often use the Levenshtein distance algorithm for string matching; for example, this algorithm is implemented in the Python fuzzywuzzy library. This approach has a high computational overhead (for two strings of length k and l, the algorithm runs in O(k * l) time). To understand the performance of different string matching algorithms in a customer support context, we compared multiple algorithms (Cosine, Dice, Damerau, LCS and Levenshtein) and measured the true positive rate (TP), false positive rate (FP) and the ratio of false positives to true positives (FP/TP).We opted for the Cosine algorithm, not just because it outperformed the Levenshtein algorithm, but also the computational difficulty was reduced to O(k + l) time. The Cosine similarity algorithm is a very simple algorithm; it works by representing words or phrases as a vector representation in a multidimensional vector space, where each unique letter of an alphabet is a separate dimension. The smaller the angle between the two vectors, the closer the word is to another.The mathematical definitions of each string similarity algorithm and a scientific comparison can be found in our paper: M. Pikies and J. Ali, "String similarity algorithms for a ticket classification system," 2019 6th International Conference on Control, Decision and Information Technologies (CoDIT), Paris, France, 2019, pp. 36-41. https://doi.org/10.1109/CoDIT.2019.8820497There were other optimisations we introduce to the fuzzy string matching approaches; the similarity threshold is determined by evaluating the True Positive and False Positive rates on various sample data. We further devised a new tokenization approach for handling phrases and numeric strings whilst using the FastText natural language processing library to determine candidate values for fuzzy string matching and to improve overall accuracy, we will share more about these optimisations in a further blog post.“Beyond it is Another Dimension” (Threat Identification)Attack alerting is particularly important at Cloudflare - this is useful for both monitoring the overall status of our network and providing proactive support to particular at-risk customers.DDoS attacks can be represented in granularity by a few different features; including differences in request or error rates over a temporal baseline, the relationship between errors and request volumes and other metrics that indicate attack behaviour. One example of a metric we use to differentiate between whether a customer is under a low volume attack or they are experiencing another issue is the relationship between 499 error codes vs 5xx HTTP status codes. Cloudflare’s network edge returns a 499 status code when the client disconnects before the origin web server has an opportunity to respond, whilst 5xx status codes indicate an error handling the request. In the chart below; the x-axis measures the differential increase in 5xx errors over a baseline, whilst the y-axis represents the rate of 499 responses (each scatter represents a 15 minute interval). During a DDoS attack we notice a linear correlation between these criteria, whilst origin issues typically have an increase in one metric instead of another:The next question is how this data can be used in more complicated situations - take the following example of identifying a credential stuffing attack in aggregate. We looked at a small number of anonymised data fields for the most prolific attackers of WordPress login portals. The data is based purely on HTTP headers, in total we saw 820 unique IPs towards 16,248 distinct zones (the IPs were hashed and requests were placed into “buckets” as they were collected). As WordPress returns a HTTP 200 when a login fails and a HTTP 302 on a successful login (redirecting to the login panel), we’re able to analyse this just from the status code returned.On the left hand chart, the x-axis represents a normalised number of unique zones that are under attack (0 means the attacker is hitting the same site whilst 1 means the attacker is hitting all different sites) and the y-axis represents the success rate (using HTTP status codes, identifying the chance of a successful login). The right hand side chart switches the x-axis out for something called the “variety ratio” - this measures the rate of abnormal 4xx/5xx HTTP status codes (i.e. firewall blocks, rate limiting HTTP headers or 5xx status codes). We see clear clusters on both charts:However, by plotting this chart in three dimensions with all three fields represented - clusters appear. These clusters are then grouped using an unsupervised clustering algorithm (agglomerative hierarchical clustering):Cluster 1 has 99.45% of requests from the same country and 99.45% from the same User-Agent. This tactic, however, has advantages when looking at other clusters - for example, Cluster 0 had 89% of requests coming from three User-Agents (75%, 12.3% and 1.7%, respectively). By using this approach we are able to correlate such attacks together even when they would be hard to identify on a request-to-request basis (as they are being made from different IPs and with different request headers). Such strategies allow us to fingerprint attacks regardless of whether attackers are continuously changing how they make these requests to us.By aggregating data together then representing the data in multiple dimensions, we are able to gain visibility into the data that would ordinarily not be possible on a request-to-request basis. In product level functionality, it is often important to make decisions on a signal-to-signal basis (“should this request be challenged whilst this one is allowed?”) but by looking at the data in aggregate we are able to focus  on the interesting clusters and provide alerting systems which identify anomalies. Performing this in multiple dimensions provides the tools to reduce false positives dramatically.ConclusionFrom natural language processing to intelligent threat fingerprinting, using data science techniques has improved our ability to build new functionality. Recently, new machine learning approaches and strategies have been designed to process this data more efficiently and effectively; however, preprocessing of data remains a vital tool for doing this. When seeking to optimise data processing pipelines, it often helps to look not just at the tools being used, but also the input and structure of the data you seek to process.If you're interested in using data science techniques to identify threats on a large scale network, we're hiring for Support Engineers (including Security Operations, Technical Support and Support Operations Engineering) in San Francisco, Austin, Champaign, London, Lisbon, Munich and Singapore.

How Facebook Delivers Ads: What Marketers Need to Know

Social Media Examiner -

Want better results from your Facebook ads? Do you understand how the Facebook ads delivery system works? In this article, you’ll learn how the learning phase of Facebook ads affects your ads’ visibility and find tools to improve ad performance. How Does the Facebook Ads Delivery System Work? The Facebook auction and algorithm were designed […] The post How Facebook Delivers Ads: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

Unlock and Begin Again — Getting Back to Business

BigRock Blog -

As we started getting used to the COVID-19 global lockdown, it was overwhelming to imagine that someday this will all be over and ‘life as we know it’ will resume. We’ve been talking about the ‘post corona world’ and the ‘new normal’ —  well it seems like it’s almost here!  With many countries and states reopening, it’s time to start preparing and planning to continue doing business, while aligning with the current norms and needs.  What is this ‘new normal’? To start with, it’s a world where health and safety come first. Additionally, it’s keeping in mind the changed interaction between businesses and customers, the new expectations and demands, and a new way of communicating and reassuring customers.  It’s been over 3 months of lockdown for most countries, and it’s extremely important to remember that although the situation might be improving in some countries and states, COVID-19 is still here, and one cannot stop being careful, and taking all the necessary steps. That said, as a business, you also need to be mindful of your customers and understand that not everyone is ready to unlock.  Your strategy to unlock and begin again needs to be two-pronged — one that caters to those ready to unlock and one for those who prefer, or need to, stay locked down.  Plan Your Business Unlock  When making any business strategy it’s important to carefully plan every step before you jump to execution. Now, more than ever, strategic planning will go a long way in ensuring a strong and effective unlock plan for your business.  Let’s take a look at the different aspects you need to think about and plan for: Your Location If you own a physical business store, the first thing you need to consider is the reopening guidelines within your state/locality. The reopening guidelines are different for every state and you must adhere to the ones laid down by your governing authorities.  Your Business The next thing you need to consider is the services and products your business offers. If your business works on physical interaction and social distancing is not possible, or minimal, you may want to rethink your business reopening plan. For example, if you’re a beauty salon, how will you minimize physical interaction? If you’re a home decor store, how will you maximize social distancing within the store and take complete sanitisation measures?  Your Customers Knowing your customers and catering to their needs is the most important thing to run a successful business. You don’t just need to know who your ideal target audience is, but also understand how the customer interaction has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Are more customers willing to unlock and head to your physical store, or would they rather deal with you online? Like we mentioned before, chances are that you’ll have a mix of both and you need to plan a reopening strategy for both.  Your Employees Employees are the backbone of your business and considering their safety and needs must be high on your priority list. Take into account the individual needs of your employees and come up with a plan that suits best for all.  Your Reopen Communication How will you communicate with your customers about your unlock plan? What are the things you need to communicate about? What are the different channels you will use to communicate? How will you continue the communication and ramp up customer engagement to boost business?  Execute Your ‘Begin-Again’ Strategy Having considered all your unlock factors, it’s time to create and execute your ‘begin again’ business strategies. If you are in a country or state that continues to be in lockdown, there are several ways you can maintain business continuity during COVID-19. If you are in a country or state that is starting the reopening phase, here’s what you could start doing: Update your website We live in a digitally connected world, and digital communication is the first step to reopen the business. Update your website homepage with clear communication about your reopen plan. This must include when you plan to reopen, what are the measures you are taking to ensure safety, any change in operations like business hours or contact information, FAQs that clearly lay down your reopen strategies.  Announce on Social Media Use your social media handles to announce your reopening plan. You can do this by creating several posts that talk about the different steps you’ll be taking to ensure safety and one main announcement post that includes the date of reopening, working hours, and any other information that is vital for your customers.  Announcement Email  Email marketing allows you to reach right into your customer’s inbox. Create an announcement email campaign that includes all the necessary information, steps, contact information and operational changes that the customers will benefit from.  While it may be exciting to get planning and working on your reopening business plans, ensure your messaging is sensitive and factors in the customers who are not ready to get out and do business with you yet. You need to sound reassuring, while also being careful and abiding by all necessary safety guidelines.  It is also critical to understand that customers are more likely to trust, especially during these times, businesses that they are already familiar with. This is thus also a great time to let your customers know how their support and loyalty has helped you bounce back. Thanking your customers for trusting you, letting them know that you will leave no stone unturned to guarantee complete customer satisfaction, and making them feel like they are valuable will make reopening and beginning again much more successful.  Get Back to Business  It’s exciting, nerve-wracking, overwhelming, and a million other things to think about getting back out there — we’re all in this together.  It’s time to make the health and safety of our customers, business, employees, community, and everyone around us our priority, and reopen with a paradigm shift in our strategies and approach to the way we do business.  Plan, plan again and plan some more. You want to do this right, by your business and your customers. Start creating and executing plans, keeping in mind both sets of customers — those willing to get out and those who prefer maintaining distance. This is the time to strike an equal and healthy balance between your online and offline business strategies.  As places and businesses start to reopen, let’s inspire one another, and bounce back stronger — together.  Looking for more tips and ways to boost your business? Head to our Learning and Resources Blogs category to know more. If you have any questions or ideas about doing business in the ‘new normal’, do share with us in the comments below. 

Four Tips to Network on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Official Blog -

Your professional network can help you find a job and unlock new opportunities, so it’s important to build and foster your professional relationships. We’ve seen an increase of 55% in conversations among connections on LinkedIn over the past year, and expect that to continue as people focus on reconnecting and engaging with people in their existing network. If your network is filled with people you know personally, it is real and usable, and every connection has the potential to impact your... .

Instagram Stories: Why and How They Help in Marketing Your Business

HostGator India Blog -

  Instagram Stories are the latest trend in the social media town. Whether you have a personal Instagram account or a business account, chances are you must have viewed an Instagram Story – those snippets of photos, videos, quiz questions, stickers and more on the top of your Instagram feed.  Launched in August 2016, the […] The post Instagram Stories: Why and How They Help in Marketing Your Business appeared first on HostGator India Blog.

The WordPress.com Referral Program: Empower Others to Start a Website

WordPress.com News -

All of us know interesting people. Some have unique talents. Others have business ideas, write beautiful poetry, or have a passion to change the world for the better.  Should your mom be sharing her recipes with the world?Does your roommate have hilarious opinions on current events?Got a co-worker who needs to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams?Is your favorite singer-songwriter looking for a better way to make money from his music? If they’re not online, they should be. If you’ve ever told a friend or family member that they should create a blog, start their own podcast, or sell what they make online, this is your chance to give them the nudge they need. The WordPress.com Refer-a-Friend Program kicked off this spring. Both you and your connections can earn credits for their new WordPress.com websites. But what’s really exciting is how you’ll give people you know the opportunity to bring their big ideas to life. How the referral program works We’ve designed our peer referral program to be mutually beneficial: You simply invite someone  — friends, family, casual acquaintances — to build a website. As long as they’re totally new to WordPress.com, they get a US$25 credit towards purchasing a WordPress.com plan. And every time someone you refer picks a plan, you get a US$25 credit, too! That’s our way of saying “thanks.” The credit will be applied within two months of the referrer signing up and making an eligible purchase. WIth current pricing, a $25 credit is more than 50% off the first year of a Personal plan and more than 25% off a Premium plan. Plus, your referrals also get a free custom domain name for their first year. Here’s how to start: Log in to your WordPress.com account and go to Tools → Earn. Locate your unique referral link in the Refer-a-Friend section. Copy the link and share it via email, social media, or text message. Think about what you’ll say to each person before you pass along that link. Instead of saying, “Click this link and you’ll save money on a website,” tell people why you think they should make that leap. Tell them why you believe in them. Then, tell them why you use WordPress.com and explain how you think it will help them, too. A little encouragement goes a long way Why should you bother? Why should you take the time to tell others about WordPress.com? It’s not really about saving a few bucks (although that’s nice!). The credit is just a little incentive that convinces your friends they should take that first step towards doing something meaningful. You’re not clipping coupons. You’re encouraging the creation of something new and valuable on the internet. Think back to when you first built a website. Think about the first blog post you ever published. If you’re like most people, it felt like a big deal. And it was a big deal. You had something to say, a goal you were striving to reach, and your website gave you the power to make it happen. Now it’s time to empower others with that same sense of possibility. In a world of tweetstorms and 24-hour news cycles, websites help us stop consuming and start creating. They give us a space to be thoughtful and proactive. We need more original artists. We need more thoughtful writers. We need more brilliant entrepreneurs. We need more compassionate community activists. Everyone at WordPress.com believes in the importance of democratizing online publishing. That means giving small businesses, free thinkers, and creators the tools they need to build an online presence. But we also need you. We need you to help spread the word about what can be done with a real website. Think about three people you can refer to WordPress.com today and give them the spark they need to get started. Want to send along some inspiration? Check out the amazing websites and customer stories featured on Discover!

YouTube Analytics [Your Ultimate Guide]

HostGator Blog -

The post YouTube Analytics [Your Ultimate Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Marketers and content creators put a lot of emphasis on social media. It’s widely regarded as one of the best channels for promoting your content and growing your following. But while many people think first of Facebook or Twitter when you say social media, Pew Research found that YouTube is the most popular of all social media channels in the United States, with 73% of all adults using it. If you want to reach a large audience, YouTube is one of the most lucrative places to do so. And since it’s owned by Google, the same company that brought us arguably the best analytics platform in the digital world, YouTube offers useful and intuitive analytics to users.  Video can be a powerful way to reach your audience, but it does take resources to create. If you’re going to invest in it, take time to check your YouTube analytics to understand what’s working. Here’s how to do it.  How to Access YouTube Analytics Log into the YouTube account you want to see results for. Once you’re in, click on the Profile icon in the top right corner of the screen. In the dropdown menu, select YouTube Studio.  Once you’re within the YouTube Studio view, you’ll see a menu along the left side of the screen that includes Analytics, click there.  Now you can access all the data you need on how your videos are performing with your audience.  10 YouTube Analytics to Pay Attention To Every brand or creative using YouTube will have their own goals and priorities for the platform. So to know for sure which analytics should get more of your focus, you want to start by clarifying what you want to achieve with YouTube.  For most YouTubers, these ten main analytics will provide most of the information you need. 1. Views YouTube views are one of the basic metrics to follow, akin to tracking the number of visits on a website. The number of views tells you how many people are watching your video overall in a set period of time. This isn’t a count of everyone who has clicked play, it’s specifically people who watch at least 30 seconds. Someone who clicks but immediately changes their mind or loses interest won’t get counted. Nor will someone who had your video autoplay after another, unless they like it enough to keep watching. Views is mostly an important metric for making sure your videos are reaching anyone to begin with. It tells you something about how easy your videos are to find. If your views are low, then you either need to put more effort into promotion and YouTube SEO, or consider if YouTube may not be the right fit for your target audience.  2. Watch Time YouTube watch time is pretty straightforward: it’s the total amount of time people spend watching your videos. If you’re posting videos that are a few minutes long and someone watches 30 seconds—they get counted in your view numbers. But you probably wouldn’t consider that a success. To better understand whether people are finding value in your videos and liking any of what they see, watch time is a more valuable metric.  Watch time is an important factor in YouTube’s algorithm. The site isn’t interested in promoting clickbait to viewers that they don’t actually enjoy. They want to keep people on the site longer, so they’ll keep serving up suggestions for the videos they see people are watching all the way through. To increase your likelihood of showing up for new viewers, your watch time needs to be impressive.  3. Retention YouTube’s audience retention data allows you to dig into the details behind the watch time metrics. Looking at one video at a time, you can see where in the video viewers drop off. You can analyze if viewers find certain parts of your videos more interesting than others, which will help you make sure your new videos focus more on the type of content they like.  Your YouTube retention metrics can also provide insights into whether your videos are the right length. If you’re regularly loading 10-minute videos, but always lose people at the 3-minute mark, maybe it’s time to consider sticking with 3-minute videos.  YouTube Analytics puts your audience retention metrics alongside those of videos of a similar length, so you can see how your data compares to the norm. If you’re losing people a lot sooner than the average, then consider strategies you can try to change that.  4. Playback Locations YouTube analytics don’t just tell you about what people are doing on the YouTube site. Because YouTube videos can be shared and embedded across the web, the platform tracks data for any views or interactions people have with your videos anywhere they show up online, like a video you’ve embedded on your WordPress site. The Playback Locations section of YouTube’s analytics helps you understand where people are finding you. If a lot of your views are coming from outside sources, knowing it can help you better focus your promotion efforts where they’ll be the most successful. 5. Demographics For any type of content to be successful, it’s important to know who you’re making it for. When you have a target audience in mind, you can more successfully speak to what they care about. YouTube provides graphs that show you who’s watching your videos broken down by demographic factors like gender, age, geography, and device type. Use this information to see if you’re reaching the people you intend to, or to learn if you’ve found unexpected audiences for your content.  6. Traffic Sources Everyone who watches your videos has to learn about them somewhere. The Traffic Sources section of YouTube’s analytics tells you how people are finding you. This is where you can gauge how well your promotion efforts are working out. If you’re doing paid advertising, you’ll see if it’s netting you the intended results. If people are finding you by using YouTube’s search feature, then you’ll know your YouTube SEO efforts are working. And if a lot of people are finding your videos through external sites, then you’ll know offsite promotion is worth continuing to invest in.  7. Subscribers Getting a new viewer is hard work. But if you win them over and they subscribe, your new YouTube videos will automatically show up in their feed. At that point, gaining repeated views is much easier. Subscribers aren’t easy to get on YouTube—there are tons of channels out there for them to follow— they have to really see yours as worth it.  That makes your number of YouTube subscribers an especially valuable metric. If your subscriber numbers tick up, you know you’re doing something right. If they start to drop, you want to figure out why. YouTube Analytics both helps you track the numbers, and makes it easy to see correlations between new and lost subscribers and specific videos, so you can better analyze why people subscribe and unsubscribe.  8. Likes and Dislikes Getting people to watch your videos is nice, but viewing something is passive. When they take action in response, that’s a whole other level of engagement. YouTube likes and dislikes are a direct way viewers can communicate their feelings about the video they just saw.  They’re a pretty common way for viewers to give feedback, since it’s easy—simply a matter of clicking a button. Likes tell you you’re doing something right. If you’re getting a lot of dislikes, especially in comparison to your likes, it could point to a need to update your strategy.  9. Comments YouTube comments are the other direct way for viewers to provide you with feedback. But in comparison to likes and dislikes, comments give them the chance to provide more information about what they think. Comments can be a valuable way to better understand who your audience is and what they care about. And they give you an opportunity to respond back. You could even get a conversation going. Because comments do require a bit of effort on the viewer’s part, tracking the number of comments you get is a valuable metric for showing how interested people are in your videos. Inspiring an active response like a comment is usually a good sign (although the content of the comment matters as well).  10. Shares Getting your YouTube videos in front of a new audience is hard. When your audience steps in to do some of the work for you, it’s a pretty big deal! YouTube analytics tracks shares that people make directly within the YouTube screen, using the social media button they provide. This gives you a partial look into the total shares. This particular type of share plays a big role in how YouTube’s algorithm determines the worth of your video, so it’s an important metric on multiple levels.  YouTube Analytics Provide Important Insights for Growth If you want to find an audience on YouTube and provide real value to them, then you need to pay attention to how they interact with your videos. YouTube’s analytics provide useful information about how many people are finding your videos, how they’re interacting with them, and how they feel about them. Use that information to understand what your audience likes, so you can tailor your video strategy to better meet their needs. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Web Pro in Focus: Startec Web Solutions

Reseller Club Blog -

ResellerClub is extremely proud to be associated with powerful, thriving and dynamic web pros, that we have the honour to call our customers. Looking at our customer’s successful journeys is what marks our success.  Startec Web Solutions is one such ResellerClub customer that has grown and flourished over the years. We spoke to multiple people from the support and client relations team, who shared their experience of working with us, working in this dynamic industry and their overall growth journey.  Company Name: Startec Web SolutionsWe spoke to: Multiple people in support & Client RelationsWebsite Link: https://startecwebsolutions.com My name is Matt Schlueter and it’s my passion to guide businesses and organizations to success through their web presence. I’ve been building websites since 2001 when I was asked to create one for our church and never looked back. I started my business as a one-man show, and still operate that way, outsourcing only what I need to. I started hosting for my clients when I myself ran into bad hosting services one after the other. I found it easier to support them myself, branching out into maintenance plans and controlling things hosted on my own. Using trial-and-error to find the best options for my people. Truly, I strive to make sure a website isn’t a burden, but rather a powerful tool to help organizations thrive. I Choose Resellerclub Because: I needed a resource for multiple types of hosting products without having to build the infrastructure myself. I wanted as many choices as I could have for my various types of clients. After testing some of the ResellerClub products, I was impressed by the number of offerings, as well as the quality and pricing. Eventually, I even moved my own site to a ResellerClub SSD Cloud account. Q1. When did you enter the Web Services Industry and where do you see your business going? I started building websites in 2001 and started the hosting side of things in around 2004 when I figured out it could be a source of recurring revenue. It’s been a slow, steady, growth since then, with 95% customer retention, repeat design clients, and I plan to continue that into the future. Q2. What do you think is your secret to success and why do Customers prefer Startec Web Solutions? My secret is simple. Ensure the customer is taken care of — even if they don’t know they need to be taken care off. Website infrastructure is fairly invisible to most customers. I make sure they have as close to 100% uptime as possible, as much speed as possible, and stay on top of any problems they might be having. Q3. Tell us a little about doing business in the United States of America. What are the most unique aspects of the market? I don’t know how to compare business in the USA to other countries, as it’s all I know. However, in the web industry, pretty much every small business I see is a potential client. Q4. Is there any advice that you’d like to give others that are still learning the ropes in the Industry? Don’t do it. LOL! Honestly, unless they can afford their own infrastructure and marketing, those looking to get into the web hosting business will likely have a very hard time. The competition is just too steep, and most people know to stay away from unknown names these days. I use the hosting side as a supplement to my design services. I do have some people who only host with me and designed their own sites, however, the vast majority of the people using my hosting services are people I designed sites for. Q5.  You have been with ResellerClub for how many years now? What do you think has changed over the years? I’ve been with ResellerClub for a couple of years. I joined because I needed more offerings for my clients, specifically cloud & VPS. This allowed me to sell these products under my name without owning the infrastructure. Other than upgrading to newer versions of existing products, I haven’t seen a lot of changes in this time. Q6: Do you know about our all-new WebPro Panel? If yes. How is your experience of using it? If not, would you like to learn more about it? I’ve been using the new panel, and really like the look & feel. It does seem like some of the more advanced functions, like API, branding, pricing, etc. are hidden away and not as easily accessible. Q7. Could you tell us some interesting stories or anecdotes about your company? How has having ResellerClub as a partner helped your business? Almost all of my business has come from word-of-mouth referrals. Some people found me by accident, but just getting referred by happy customers has kept me quite busy most of the time. ResellerClub has allowed me to offer any kind of hosting product to my clients that is possible. Integration into my WHMCS invoicing system makes ordering super easy for them. As long as I have funds available in my account, as soon as they order their product, it is immediately created for them at ResellerClub via the API functionality. Super convenient. Q8: Could you tell us what your most preferred product is from ResellerClub? Also, how has your experience been? I really like the SSD Cloud Hosting. It is super fast. 100% uptime so far, cPanel convenience, and unlimited space. It’s a winner. It has the performance benefits of VPS, but the convenience of shared hosting. Q9: The recent COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways businesses operate. Are you running your business remotely? If yes, how has your experience been thus far? I’ve always run my business from home, so no changes for me there. Q10: Are there any challenges you are facing while serving your customers? If yes, how are you overcoming them? My biggest challenge is time. I have a large family, and also a day job besides running my business. In order to support my clients, unfortunately, it’s not a solution ResellerClub currently offers, but I actually have my shared hosting clients at a provider that offers free end-user support. They integrate their ticket system directly into mine. So, customers submit a ticket on my site and it goes straight to that provider. I would love to see a feature like this with ResellerClub. Q11: What are your learnings when it comes to your interaction with your customers while working remotely? I use an online conferencing tool to interact with my clients remotely. It allows me to easily share specific browser tabs, as well as standard webcam discussion with multiple participants. .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post Web Pro in Focus: Startec Web Solutions appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

Women in Technology: Yvette Gonzalez

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Liquid Web’s HR Generalist on confidence, positivity, and making her voice heard. “I am there to be a confidante for our employees,” says Yvette Gonzalez, “making sure that employees know that they have a safe space.” Music has always played a big part in Yvette Gonzalez’s life. As a kid growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, music was an escape, a refuge, a way to give voice to what she was feeling. As an adult, she still turns to music when she wants to find peace or is in need of a boost in courage or determination. “My favorite lyric comes from a song by my friend’s band, Adelitas Way,” she says. “The words are, ‘If you believe in something, it might as well be you.’ It’s a song that, for me, instills great confidence.” Now, Yvette Gonzalez brings her sense of peace and confidence to Liquid Web as the company’s HR Generalist. “The way I define HR is customer service for the employee,” says Gonzalez. I am there to be a confidante for our employees. I am there to make sure that employees know that they have a safe space. My first job was in a daycare, where I learned to take care of and meet the needs of children. This has led me to learn compassion and understanding to take care of and meet the needs of adults.” Liquid Web has been Gonzalez’s entry into technology, a leap she is glad to have taken. “I was at a point in my life where I was ready to make a change and grow with a company,” she says. “I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of a company that was ready to go above and beyond— not only for their customers, but also their employees.” A love of music isn’t the only thing Yvette Gonzalez has carried into her career from her youth. She has also maintained an appreciation for friendly competition. “I grew up playing all kinds of sports,” she says, “and I still feel that competitive drive in my work environment. I want to be the best HR Generalist I can be!” But alongside competition, Gonzalez loves the camaraderie of Liquid Web, including the relationships at work both with customers and within the company. “I love to work with my team,” she says, “Being able to bounce ideas off one another helps me process problems and come up with a solution. I try to project happiness to our employees. I want them to know that I’m there for them.” An unexpected bonus of the job, for Gonzalez, is the tech support. “The thing I love most is knowing I can go to anyone in the company for help with my computer,” she laughs. “The world of technology is a new environment for me. I love seeing behind the scenes of what makes a website and company work.” Gonzalez points to strong female mentors as guides for her career. “My first HR manager, Trish Nichols, taught me the compassion that it takes to be in the human resources field. And after joining Liquid Web, my current manager Misty Combs has helped me become more confident in my chosen profession.” But her greatest motivation is her nieces. “I want to show them that women are strong. I want them to know that it’s okay to go after what you want.” She wants them— and other girls— to know that it’s okay to fail. “You grow when you try and fail. This is how we learn.” She also says that confidence is key. “Not everyone is going to like you. Keep going. Keep learning.” It is her hope that following her career path in technology will inspire other young women to consider the field. “More and more women are realizing that tech is not just a man’s industry,” she says. “We are owning our space here. We are finding our voices and making ourselves heard.” The post Women in Technology: Yvette Gonzalez appeared first on Liquid Web.

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