Net Access Blog

Attending Cloud Partners in Boston Next Month? Let's Meet!

Posted by Alex Weiss on Aug 24, 2015 3:39:00 PM

Cloud Partners 2015: September 16-18th, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA.

The Net Access Partner team, including Channel Manager Alex Weiss, Sales SVP Steve Callahan, Marketing VP Gene Rogers and CEO Raul Martynek, will be attending the Cloud Partners Conference & Expo in Boston in mid September. If you are attending and would like to learn more about our program and our hybrid colocation, cloud and disaster recovery solutions,including our new FLEXOfficeRecovery offering, please e-mail Alex at aweiss@corp.nac.net to set up a meeting.

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Topics: Partner Program

What We Have Learned About Disaster Recovery Workspace

Posted by Steve Callahan on Aug 17, 2015 9:50:31 AM

Earlier this year Net Access launched FLEXOfficeRecovery, a move-in ready disaster recovery workspace offering. Since then I have met with a few dozen companies of various sizes and from different industries to get an understanding of their business continuity objectives. This has allowed me to ask each customer - whether they found us or we found them- why they are interested in disaster recovery and what aspects of FLEXOfficeRecovery are important to them. Here is what I have learned:

  • There is a significant interest in these services within the financial vertical. They typically have budget allocated to DR initiatives, they have compliance mandates to adhere to and they have the most to lose if their day-to-day business is disrupted.
  • FINRA is the independent regulator that protects investors by ensuring that the securities industry operates fairly and honestly. Part of FINRA compliance is making sure that all FINRA members have an alternate physical location for their employees to work if their main workplace is inaccessible.
  • The amount of money that a financial firm would spend for FLEXOfficeRecovery over the course of a 3 year period is a very small fraction of the money they will lose in 2 days if their operations cannot function properly for any reason.
  • Workspace recovery is not only for natural disasters. Over the last few months we have had inquiries from companies whose buildings were inaccessible due to a crane accident and a gas leak, and another who wanted to give their employees the option to work from an alternate location when a decent sized snow storm hits.
  • Having employees work from home is not a solution for the serious prospects of this service. Maybe their business demands live face-to-face collaboration and interaction, they need secure access to files and systems that a VPN cannot handle, or they believe that productivity suffers immensely when their employees are not in an atmosphere conducive to doing business.
  • We have also seen a great deal of interest from the legal community for this service, mostly from firms that are hired to perform confidential e-discovery and document review for larger cases.
  • Prospects have told me that they like the fact that our site is built by a company that builds data centers, as opposed to a location that is built strictly by real estate investors.
  • We often have prospects tour our Parsippany II Data Center before or after touring our DR site, and always come away impressed with the innovation and attention to detail that has gone into building that facility. Back-up generators, ATS’s, UPS’s and access to a fiber networkare all very important for these prospects.
  • Proximity to mass transit and a hotel is very important to our prospects. With a Marriott across the street and a train station less than 2 miles away we are well positioned for both.
  • A few people have commented that they find our rate structure very straightforward as compared to other providers that they have investigated. This is especially true when compared to those who assess high daily activation fees, which makes longer stays very expensive.
  • Because we have not yet built out the entire space, prospects appreciate the fact that they can design a dedicated suite that perfectly accommodates their needs. They also like the fact that each suite has its own HVAC controls that operate 24x7.

I am always anxious to receive feedback on any of our services, so please feel free to drop me a note and let me know what you think.

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Topics: disaster recovery seating

Net Access Establishes Direct IP Peering with Verizon

Posted by Dan Spataro on Aug 4, 2015 8:34:31 AM

We are pleased to announce that effective last month the Net Access IP network is now directly connected to the Verizon IP backbone. With this new direct peering arrangement our network customers will see improved performance with reduced congestion and lower latency when exchanging traffic with Verizon subscribers. They will also benefit from increased redundancy (by reducing the dependence on transit providers), dedicated, not shared, capacity and increased routing control over traffic. Since Verizon is one of the largest ASNs in the market, this is an especially significant milestone for customers with Internet facing applications/websites, and who distribute content via infrastructure located in our data center.

The below graph illustrates the improvements we have seen in both latency and packet loss since moving from transit providers to direct peering with Verizon late in week 26:

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Topics: network, IP

Net Access Takes a Proactive Approach to Data Center Security

Posted by Rob Stevenson on Jul 23, 2015 8:47:55 AM

In my previous two blog posts I discussed the importance of physical data center security, outlined some of the common controls that data center operators are utilizing today, and suggested some questions to ask when evaluating a data center’s physical security policies. For today’s post I wanted to be a bit more specific about how Net Access handles physical security at our data centers.

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There is no “one size fits all” solution and that’s why data center security applications tend to vary. I think our security design is primarily driven by our customers’ needs and expectations but also their feedback as well. In order for data centers to appeal to their prospective customers, they need to be able to offer an attractive security package. Many in the industry have recently decided to heavily invest in their physical security designs and I think it has really raised the bar.

There are still some large disparities that exist out there as well. I’ve seen data centers that continue to log visitors in manually (with pen and paper) and handwrite the name tags that they issue out to guests. On the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve seen data centers that employ armed security guards to protect their facilities so you never really know what to expect. 

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Net Access data centers are manned 24x7x365, with a security office in the front area protected by Kevlar embedded walls. We utilize multi factor authentication, with biometric scanning – both fingerprint and iris – for all visitors, even employees. Additionally all data center floor visitors must individually enter and exit through an anti-tailgating portal. We have HD security cameras inside and outside all buildings, and have a 90 day retention period for video footage and a 6 month retention period for keycard transaction history.

A unique aspect about our security department at Net Access is that all of our employees work directly for the company and are not contracted out by a third party. That means we adhere to the same policies and share the same company goals. It also allows us to provide a more intimate customer experience as we are aware of our customers’ individual needs and expectations. And our security department employees all have a vast amount of industry experience. We have employees that derive from military, law enforcement, public safety and loss prevention backgrounds and a few have earned criminal justice degrees along the way. All security employees are required to be NJ SORA (New Jersey’s recognized security officer training program), CPR, AED and First Aid certified. This training and experience allows us to provide our employees and customers with a safe and secure work environment and also gives us the ability to respond to any emergency situations that may arise.

Another key security tool is our customer care portal. Created by our development team, data center customers can log-in to the portal and easily pre-schedule visitors, track incoming shipments and even review keycard history for all access card holders that are listed on their account.

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Looking forward, as the image at the bottom of this post indicates, we have several security enhancements scheduled to take place between now and the end of the year. The most noticeable change will be the addition of a 10-foot high perimeter fence that will border the property of our Parsippany II data center. This project will include K-rated access control gates that will control the access of vehicles entering/exiting the site, as well as the addition of numerous large ‘security’ boulders to further protect the perimeter. License plate recognition cameras and software are also being considered.

We are also in the process of upgrading the entry access platform at all of our data centers, and integrating that with our video surveillance software. This project will enhance security’s ability to view and respond to alarms by incorporating an active building map. When alarms are generated from the entry access system they will automatically pull up any associated cameras for that particular event. This will lead to faster response times and the ability to easily investigate alarm events.

 

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Rob_Stevenson Rob Stevenson has been with Net Access for over 6 years and currently manages the Security department. He previously served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Security Forces member.

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Net Access Opens New York City Sales Office

Posted by Steve Callahan on Jul 16, 2015 9:54:00 AM

Our strategy of locating our data center and disaster recovery facilities safely away from coastal flood plains and urban threats zones has made our services incredibly attractive to businesses based in major metropolitan areas. I think for that reason we have recently seen a large increase in interest in our solutions from New York City-based companies. To best address this demand, earlier this month we opened a new sales office in midtown Manhattan. Located on the 8th floor at 470 Seventh Avenue in the heart of Midtown, this new location will provide clients, partners and prospects more convenient access to the company’s account management and sales engineering teams, and will increases our capacity for meetings, training sessions and special events like partner lunch and learn seminars. It should also help us recruit new employees and partners.

So if you are in the area, please let us know if you’d like to stop by!

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Topics: net access

Support is More Than Just People Answering Phones…

Posted by Tom Duff on Jul 7, 2015 8:06:48 AM

It’s 2am. Your phone rings, jarring you out of that awesome Bob Dylan dream you keep having. In your half-asleep state, you manage to grunt out “I.T., Mr. Tambourine man speak…er…what’s up?”

The person on the other end of the line is not amused. It’s your boss. The storefront web server is down…again. To make things worse, it’s Black Friday, and your company is running a special online doorbuster promo for the new Whosywhatzit that all the kids want for Christmas. Your boss said that if the site isn’t back up in 15 minutes, you can start looking for a new job.

You hang up the phone, and jump on your computer. What you find is even worse: You’ve lost all connectivity to the rack at the data center. You can’t see the mail server, the firewall, or your storage server. You’re completely dead in the water. Fearing the worst, you pick up your phone and dial the data center’s Operations Center for some answers.

Remote Hands-" The technician who answers helps to calm your nerves by assuring you that the building hasn’t blown up, and starts working with you to try and figure out what’s going on. They go out to your rack, and report that everything looks visibly normal. Every device appears to have power, and network ports have link and are showing activity. Within minutes, they’ve narrowed down the issue to your rack’s core router, consoled it, found that one of your BGP sessions to another provider was down, and your route-map was incorrectly configured so traffic never failed over. 3 minutes later, the router, and the rest of your rack, are back online.
 

Triumphantly you call your boss, who instead of firing you, gives you a raise, and then pulls out a harmonica and invites you up on stage with him to perform ‘Blowin’ In the Wind’ in front of a sold-out crowd. About that time, you hear a faint ringing that jars you out of your sleep…

All joking aside, colocation and cloud solutions are a great way to add stability, redundancy, and peace-of-mind to your company's daily operations. The problem is, people sometimes forget about the most important aspect of their contracts: remote hands. When choosing a provider, you need to think about those 2am meltdowns, and how your provider will be able to handle them. If you choose a provider whose technicians are nothing more than “the reboot squad”, you’re gonna have a bad time.

On the other hand, putting your confidence in trained, knowledgeable support staff, who understand not only what your gear is, but how it’s supposed to work, will save you from those terrible times when you need to cut your Disney vacation short to fly back and swap out a RAID card.

RemoteHands2Since our company’s inception, Net Access support technicians have been known for rolling up their sleeves and diving in headfirst for you - all the way from setup, right on through to production - Whether it was finding the right modem string to get your dialup working at 56k back in the 1990’s, or installing VMware ESXi 6.0 after racking and stacking your new gear. 
 

Our operations staff hold industry-leading certifications from companies like Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, VMware, and Microsoft, and we’re constantly striving to learn more every day. In addition, 75% of our NOC staff have over 5 years of service with the company, with the average actually being closer to 8 years. We’re passionate about our job, and that’s what drives us to be the best support staff your money can buy.

 

Tom Duff Tom Duff has been with Net Access for 8+ years and currently serves as Team Leader in our Network Operations Center.

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Topics: customer service, support, Remote Hands

People: The Missing Element in Most Corporate Disaster Recovery Plans

Posted by Gene Rogers on Jun 22, 2015 2:32:00 PM

It’s always beneficial to plan for the worst case scenario. In life and in business there are things you can control, and some things that you can’t. Hurricane season just started, and recent severe weather events in the Northeast, including Hurricane Sandy and the other powerful snowstorms and nor’easters, are prime examples of things that we can’t control. Or more localized events like the recent gas explosion in Manhattan or fire in a nearby building. But what can be controlled is preparation for these events – the ability to proactively have a multi-faceted contingency plan in place to respond to all the “what-if” scenarios.

Most of us pay lip service to disaster recovery planning. The plan looks good on paper and we think we have everything covered, but then when there is an issue – be it a power outage, loss of communications or loss of access to your home or workplace - we realize how insufficient the plan really was. Sandy got the disaster recovery planning conversation started again, but did it really change the behavior of today’s IT leaders?

Disaster-Recovery-Plan-"Most corporate disaster recovery plans seem to place the majority of focus – rightly so - on the IT infrastructure. Keeping the systems running and the data intact, in both corporate and third party data centers, should be priority one. However, that’s the point where most plans seem to stop. A critical, and often overlooked, component of any plan is a reliable and secure contingency worksite for a company’s most valuable assets: their people. What happens if one, or all of a company’s office locations become inaccessible? Or if travel to an office location is inaccessible? Are key employees equipped to work at home at a moment’s notice? Relocating people and operations is crucial to getting all business back up and running as soon as possible, but the people aspect is unfortunately minimized in most plans.

Third party business continuity centers offer a great solution to this dilemma. They provide move-in ready office space at secure location with backup power and redundant network connectivity. This gives companies a place for their employees to work, even during a disaster which disrupts the power grid and network communications.

But just like data centers, not all business continuity centers are created equal. When evaluating a continuity center, companies owe it to themselves to be thorough and think of every ‘what-if’ scenario.

  • Availability – How much control do we have of the office space? Is it truly dedicated, or is it shared among multiple users on a “first come, first serve” basis?
  • Accessibility – How convenient is the location? Are there multiple major roadways allowing for alternate routes to the site? Is there ample parking? Is it accessible via public transportation? What is the proximity to a major airport?
  • Power – what is the power configuration at the location? Are generators supported by a common shared backup or is the infrastructure completely self-sufficient? What plans are in place for emergency fuel delivery?
  • Connectivity – what network providers are available at the facility? Will this impact my ability to access my infrastructure? Is there network redundancy?
  • Amenities – Are meeting rooms and kitchen space available at the facility? And if we need to be there for an extended period of time are there hotels and restaurants nearby?
  • Support – what type of hands-on support is available at the facility?

If IT Infrastructure is the brain of a company, then employees are the heart. So no DR Plans can be considered complete unless it includes back up plans for employees. It’s always beneficial to plan for the worst case scenario.

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Topics: disaster recovery, disaster recovery seating

Key Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Data Center's Security Policies

Posted by Rob Stevenson on Jun 11, 2015 11:25:58 AM

Data-Center-SecurityAs I mentioned in my last blog post, today’s data center has become a key strategic asset for most companies, but it seems that often times physical security takes a back seat to IT security when companies are selecting a facility. When evaluating data center solutions, asking the right questions is of paramount importance for the future proofing of your investment. When touring a prospective data center, here are some key physical security questions that you should ask:

 

EXTERIOR SECURITY:

  • What kind of perimeter protection does the facility provide, and are there any natural or structural physical barriers incorporated into the design?
  • Is there a perimeter fence and/or access control gates restricting vehicle and pedestrian traffic?
    • Are these items K-rated? “K” indicates the DOS certified barrier speed rating’s maximum vehicle impact speed achieved when a vehicle traveling at a nominal speed is successfully arrested by the barrier from a perpendicular direction.
      • K12 = 50 mph (80 kph)
      • K8 = 40 mph (65 kph)
      • K4 = 30 mph (48 kph)
  • Is there sufficient exterior security camera coverage?
  • Is there adequate exterior lighting at night?

FACILITY ACCESS:

  • How many points of entry/exit are there for customers and visitors? When customers and visitors enter and exit through a single point it significantly reduces the chance of a security breach.
  • Are the building entry points single factor or multi-factor? Multi-factor authentication methods such as biometric fingerprint readers should be utilized for granting access to the building. Single factor methods like card swipe readers are easily defeated as keycards can be dropped in the parking lot (or other areas) and be picked up and used for entry by any individual.

INTERIOR SECURITY:

  • How is the interior of the building protected?
  • What types of security systems are being used to monitor video and entry access alarms?
  • Are security personnel onsite 24x7x365? If not, what are the hours that security personnel are present and are they providing in-house security or are they contracted out from a 3rd party vendor?
  • Is there an adequate number of surveillance cameras monitoring the critical areas?
  • What type of alarms are being monitored (forced entry, door held open, etc)?
  • Do you have the ability to request video footage and/or an investigation of an event?

SECURITY RECORD RETENTION/COMPLIANCE:

  • What is the retention period for video footage and keycard swipe records? I would strongly recommend having access to these items for a minimum of 30 days as you will most likely need to use them at some point.
  • What types of data center compliance measures are in place to ensure that the industries best practices and standards are being met?  Some of the common compliance audits include the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS), the Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE 16) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

EMERGENCY EVENTS:

  • What measures are in place to respond to emergency events?
  • Do proper policies and procedures exist to mitigate any potential damage?
  • Is there a sufficient fire monitoring system in place?
  • What type of fire suppression system is being used and who is the monitoring company?
  • Are there any first-aid kits or automated external defibrillators (AED’s) onsite, and is the staff required to know how to use these items?
  • What kind of security related training or certifications exist?

 

Rob_Stevenson Rob Stevenson has been with Net Access for over 6 years and currently manages the Security department. He previously served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Security Forces member.

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Topics: security

Introducing the New Net Access Website!

Posted by Gene Rogers on Jun 9, 2015 4:32:08 PM

You spoke. We listened. We’ve freshened up www.nac.net to give you a whole new view of our company. Now it’s easier than ever to see what we do, how we do it and why we are different…and better! The new site has a clean new look and user-friendly navigation, and is updated with the latest information about all our services. And every picture used on the site is original. So all the people, equipment and buildings that you see are Net Access, and not stock photography!

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Some of the other key changes that you will see include:

  • Streamlined menu structure- now it's easier than ever to find what you are looking for. For example, all of our products and services are now under the SOLUTIONS heading; from there you can then select the product category, like MANAGED SERVICES, and then access the underlying product page, like FLEXServer, to view specs, use cases and even download a brochure.
  • More focused content highlighting why we are different. For example, our DATA CENTERS homepage explains our unique philosophy on data center infrastructure, power and cooling, then each data center page, like the PARSIPPANY II page, provides specifics on what exactly is available in that center.
  • An engaging and responsive design – our site will now respond and adapt according to the orientation of your screen size and resolution. So you can comfortably view our website on multiple platforms, including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.
  • Easy access to tools that you can use – the SUPPORT page gives you multiple ways to contact our technical and billing support departments, and the RESOURCES page provides a comprehensive library of brochures, user guides and links to web-based tools. The BLOG and NEWS sections are both accessable from the homepage, and as always, a the link to our Customer Care portal appears on the top of every page.

Going forward we will continually be adding and updating content, including more videos and case studies, and keep you updated with the latest information. Please take some time to explore everything our new site has to offer, and let us know about your experience. Simply use the form on the CONTACT US page of the website to tell us what you think, give us ideas, or suggest something you’d like us to include in the future.

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Topics: Net Access, new website

Don't Take Data Center Security for Granted!

Posted by Rob Stevenson on Jun 1, 2015 3:33:13 PM

Data-Center-Security I think it’s imperative that today’s data centers provide an adequate layer of physical security and incorporate that into their facility design and architecture. Customers have a lot of time and money invested in the assets they store within their data centers. In return they are entrusting their colocation partner to provide the security protection necessary to keep their assets safe.

At times physical security has a tendency to take a back seat to IT security when companies are selecting a data center. Customers are focused on the obvious requirements, such as network infrastructure, redundancy, power and cooling, but often times they fail to realize the importance of physically supporting and securing their assets. It goes back to the old saying, “you are only as strong as your weakest link” and I think that holds true in this industry. Why invest so heavily in IT if someone can just walk into a building, manipulate their way into your environment and obtain physical access to all of the data stored in your cabinet? An optimal data center provider should be able to offer a well- balanced IT and physical security solution for their customers.

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A typical data center needs to incorporate entry access (software/readers/ACU panels/hardware), video surveillance capability (cameras/software/licensing), and visitor management controls (software/badge solutions) into their overall security plan. All of these items would only allow a data center to meet the most basic customer requests like reviewing camera footage, entry access alarms\transaction logs and efficiently being able to track visits. Add in the cost of full-time security personnel and a few advanced measures like an anti-tailgating security portal or perimeter site protection and it’s easy to see how annual operating costs can easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But as you know the security industry as a whole has changed pretty drastically over the past decade due to increased threats. Data center security has certainly evolved over that period as well. You are starting to see companies invest in advanced biometric systems such as face scanners and iris readers that add an additional layer of protection to the most critical areas. Anti-pass back devices such as security portals are also being used to ensure that each and every individual is being authenticated when passing through biometric access points. And data centers are increasingly investing in perimeter protection such as fencing and access control gates that help regulate vehicular and pedestrian traffic onsite. The ability to identify authorized personnel and deny access to unauthorized individuals before they ever step foot on company property is a huge advantage and helps to limit your liability from a security perspective.

 

Rob_Stevenson Rob Stevenson has been with Net Access for over 6 years and currently manages the Security department. He previously served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Security Forces member.

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Topics: security