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13
October
2014

Taking the shock out of Shellshock

Software bug

Matt Lovell, CTO, Pulsant

Over the past few weeks another vulnerability has emerged – Shellshock – that has had an impact on many users of the affected software including cloud providers. Essentially this vulnerability enables hackers to potentially take advantage of systems by adding in a few lines of their own code. The Shellshock vulnerability, specifically, affected the LINUX program Bash GNU which had implications for cloud providers like Pulsant whose servers ultimately needed patching.

The severity and need to mitigate the vulnerability as quickly as possible meant many providers had to engage on wholesale infrastructure security updates, which can affect customers with the need to recycle or reload. However, this exposed an array of different responses from vendors in terms of completing the updates and the impact to operational service. It raised an important question for customers to consider in terms of just how does your cloud provider respond and protect infrastructure services in the event of a potential critical vulnerability.

There is no question that identified systems needed to be updated as quickly as possible. Clearly scale and security management approaches differ between cloud providers and may determine reaction times, as well as the actual processes which are leveraged to complete the updates. The nature of the update may also necessitate a reboot or recycle of the host, which requires careful scheduling of downtime to manage systems availability. While system downtime for many may be required in order maintain optimal protection of the infrastructure, the application of Shellshock has exposed cloud supplier differences in security management processes.

The team at Pulsant mobilised quickly in response to the Shellshock vulnerability without any downtime for our customers although other approaches from other suppliers have involved system downtime.

Even with advanced warning, any downtime for companies can cause disruption, cost money and ultimately affect the relationship they have with their customers and with their cloud provider. This is something we consider very carefully because the services we provide – colocation, managed hosting and cloud – aren’t always delivered straight to the end-user. We host a number of businesses within our data centres that pass those services on to their customers.

When we were made aware of Shellshock and the impact it would have on us, once the full vendor update was available, the initial step was quantifying the update process and the effect on host systems. We reacted immediately by understanding exactly how best to mitigate the vulnerability in terms of the update process whilst minimising customer impact. Once quantified, we then engaged with our customers, keeping them informed every step of the way, from initial awareness, through to testing and deploying the patch to our servers. This took place within two hours of the official release of the security update. This provides the opportunity to engage with customers, particularly where a vulnerability may necessitate a system reboot to complete the update to discuss the individual scheduling of the update whilst considering the risk of the vulnerability. In the Shellshock instance, we identified this as a critical but non-disruptive vulnerability and, as a result, we were able to patch servers immediately after the patch was released and tested. The patches were completed over a period of 36 hours with no disruptions to customer sites and no downtime.

As with dealing with any event that has the potential to impact on your and your customers’ business, the two most important factors in this instance were speed of reaction and keeping our customers informed at all times. In this way, the situation was resolved quickly and effectively, and our customers were engaged and aware throughout.

Categories: Blog, Cloud, Managed Hosting, Managed Networks, vulnerabilities

8
October
2014

Pulsant’s Success in Scotland for Attracting Business

BBC Radio Scotland Logo

In both our personal and professional lives we are surrounded by ‘stuff’ which needs to be stored or thrown away. We can recycle or find a new place to put our personal items when we need more space and computer data is no different. Old files can be deleted or transferred to our storage network when we need more space on our computers, tablets or servers.

At enterprise level, the storage and management of this data is a growing industry, especially in Scotland where Pulsant is the region’s largest data centre operator.

Mark Howling, CEO of Pulsant talks to Gillian Marles, senior business journalist, BBC Radio Scotland about the company’s growing presence in Scotland and gives her a tour of the company’s Newbridge facility, just outside of Edinburgh.

To hear Mark talk about the good source of highly skilled technical people in Scotland and the future of IT outsourcing in the next three to five years click here. The interview starts at 3 minutes 30 seconds.

Categories: Blog, Cloud, Colocation, Commercial Data Centres, Managed Hosting, Managed Networks, Power Generation

18
September
2014

Pulsant are sponsoring Byte Night on the 3rd October

Are you ready for Byte Night?

On October 3rd two teams from Pulsant will be braving the cold, packing up their sleeping bags and getting ready for a night under the stars. Why? We’re sponsoring the annual Byte Night, Action for Children’s fundraising event. Taking place in eight locations across the country with more than 1500 people climbing into their sleeping bags, Byte Night is a sleep-out event that encourages us to give up our beds for one night to help tackle youth homelessness.

If you would like to contribute to the event’s success or participate, please visit the Byte Night website. Alternatively, if you’d like to sponsor our Reading or Edinburgh team, please visit the Just Giving website

Categories: Blog, News

12
September
2014

Pulsant channel set for exponential growth

50 new partners to be added by end of 2014

Pulsant has seen significant growth of its partner programme since it was refreshed towards the end of last year and is seeking to add 50 new partners by the end of 2014. The programme brought in over £4 million in revenue from a compact base of partners in 2013 and is set to exceed that in 2014 with its growth.

The partnership programme is aimed at assisting partners in delivering more value to their customers and being more competitive in a rapidly evolving IT market. It was given a refined focus – on collaboration – and was bolstered by the appointment of Chris Reynolds, towards the end of 2013, to head the initiative.

“Over the last few years there has been a definite shift by end user customers towards running both on-site IT solutions, as well as deploying off-site IT systems. As a result, the demand for technology has moved beyond merely supplying just hardware and software. This has created the ideal environment for us and our partners to work collaboratively in bringing the end client the best, most appropriate solution possible,” says Chris Reynolds, partner manager, Pulsant.

The programme has already expanded with a number of new partners added this year, including Strawberry Global Technology.

Strawberry Global Technology MD Alex Brown says: “After extensively evaluating a number of reseller cloud programmes we chose to join the Pulsant partner programme. That decision was based upon the range of services available, the cost, the standard of the data centres and the quality of delivery. The Pulsant solution architects can work seamlessly with our technical team to allow us to provide our customers with additional options for cloud, hosting and colocation services.”

The programme’s collaborative focus includes actively working with partners to support and complement their business offerings. In addition, Pulsant partners benefit from the cloud expert’s experience and expertise in the industry, as well as staff resources.

“Each partner has access to an account manager who will assist in creating a business development plan that ensures we understand their business and are able to match Pulsant’s complementary services with their offering. In addition, partners get extensive sales and technical support from our team, especially from our solutions architects when it comes to developing solutions for their customers,” continues Reynolds.

Ultima Business Solutions, an IT solutions provider is both a Pulsant customer and partner. Danny Fisher, head of managed and support services, Ultima says: “As part of the partner programme, Pulsant offers us a compelling technology-proven, contractually stable, secure platform for us to leverage. In addition, we are driven by our customer base and in Pulsant we found a business that is very similar to us in approach.”

Categories: Blog, News

9
September
2014

Pulsant to expand largest commercial data centre in Scotland

Pulsant, are proud to announce the expansion of our well-established South Gyle tier 3 data centre site, based just outside of Edinburgh, with the construction of a new facility.

The expansion project includes the construction of two new data halls, consisting of up to 64 racks in each, as well as build and configuration rooms and secure storage areas. The new facility will feature two-factor authentication security access and will be configurable according to specific customer requirements.

We are currently the largest data centre provider in Scotland and our South Gyle facility is the largest commercial data centre in the country. It hosts the IX Scotland, the region’s dedicated Internet exchange, and currently supports 820 racks in two purpose-built redundant data centres, featuring 24-hour a day security and support.

“This expansion is part of Pulsant’s overall growth strategy which includes upgrading and growing our existing data centre sites,” says Matt Lovell, CTO, Pulsant. “The drive behind this strategy is to ensure we deliver cost-effective, highly secure, environmentally sound services to our customers through our technologically up-to-date facilities that deliver maximum uptime, redundancy and support.”

The new halls will complement the data centres’ existing infrastructure but will feature autonomous mechanical services in order to ensure complete redundancy and increased efficiency is achieved.

South Gyle is supported by over 30 telecommunications carriers, is PCI-DSS compliant and G-Cloud accredited. The new halls will benefit from these features, with direct fibre access to a wide range of service providers and carriers, and will also make use of blended evaporative and fresh air cooling technologies and onsite high voltage network to ensure 2N delivery of power to each rack.

“The decision to expand our existing site means that new customers can effectively move right into the new halls once construction is complete, as the infrastructure to support the racks is already in place. For our existing customers this increase in capacity ensures that they experience no disruption to their service, but will be able to take advantage of the additional racks with ease,” says Lovell.

The expansion project is scheduled for completion in February 2015.

Categories: Blog, Commercial Data Centres, Managed Hosting, Managed Networks, News

8
September
2014

Pulsant rank 35th in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100

Pulsant are delighted to announce that we have been placed at number 35 on the 14th annual awards, which were published with the Business section and in the Sunday Times digital edition on Sunday September 7th 2014.

Read our profile on Tech Track 100



The 14th annual Tech Track 100 awards dinner will be held at Vinopolis, London on Tuesday 18 November. This is an invitation-only event

FT badges 19 April 2012

Categories: Blog, News

27
August
2014

Bug fixes and Internet slow down

Matt Lovell, CTO, Pulsant

Regardless of industry or environment, everyone is aware of the importance of keeping hardware and software up to date. From patching and firmware updates, to OS upgrades and system health checks, all technology must be maintained to ensure that it performs correctly and allows users and the organisation as a whole to operate properly. This doesn’t just apply to PCs or laptops, but includes aspects such as the network infrastructure. For a colocation, cloud and managed hosting provider such as Pulsant, maintaining our network is a vital part of providing seamless service, maximum uptime and availability to our customers.

There has been a fair bit of media attention over the last few weeks on so-called data jams. Essentially, as the number of connections on the Internet has increased, routers are struggling to cope with demand. According to a BBC article, the ways in which data is sent around the world is tracked via a routing table and the entries on this table went past 524,000 last week.

The result is that a lot of the older equipment is being replaced or updated to cope with this growth and while that is taking place, Internet users have been experiencing slower browsing speeds.

So what does that mean for an organisation like Pulsant and our customers?

Our technical team anticipated potential issues, tested and implemented resolutions in early 2014 to eliminate the possibility of problems ahead of the limits being reached. As a result of this proactive move, our customers have continued to receive the same levels of uptime and connectivity as they always have done.

Again, this comes down to keeping a close eye on hardware and software requirements, making sure everything is up to date, and ensuring that all devices within an organisation are fit for purpose and are running optimally. The most important aspect of this approach is that we are always aware of what is going on within our IT estate and can proactively address potential issues before they actually even become issues.

Categories: Blog, News

22
August
2014

Pulsant awarded certificate of appreciation by Help For Heroes

Pulsant have been awarded a certificate of appreciation by Help For Heroes for the efforts of the Pulsant staff in raising £5935 for the charity over the past 12 months.

A number of the team took part in “Tough Mudder” and helped raise the donations in aid of this noble and worthy cause. Such donations make a huge difference to the lives of some truly inspirational and brave people.

Help 4 Heroes

Categories: Blog, News

30
July
2014

Supporting IXScotland for long-term growth

Matt Lovell, CTO, Pulsant

Nine months ago IXScotland was launched – Scotland’s first dedicated Internet Exchange Point (IXP). IXScotland is powered by LINX (London Internet Exchange) that has set up similar exchanges, in Manchester for example. Pulsant is also involved in the project and is hosting the exchange at our South Gyle data centre facility – the largest in Scotland.

Its establishment has been a real boost for the region. Essentially what IXScotland does is provide faster Internet access for users – either businesses or individuals – by ensuring that ISPs can better deliver Internet traffic to one another. With lower latency and better resilience, traffic won’t need to be routed through London anymore and the result is better connectivity.

We’re delighted to be working on this initiative, adding our expertise and using our infrastructure to make IXScotland a success. As a company we’ve been driven to support local business and communities since our arrival in Scotland with a view to ultimately stimulating the ongoing development of IT services in the region.

It’s important to note that there have been previous attempts to establish an exchange in Scotland. The reason that this one will find success is that IXScotland has received strong support from the community, from business and from government, and is, of course, assisted by LINX. In addition, IXScotland is really meeting the demand for that boost in connectivity.

Going forward, IXScotland and organisations with a local presence will have an important role to play in strengthening the region, with many opportunities emerging along the way, especially with the possibility of Scottish independence on the horizon. As a business with a presence in Scotland and a drive to support the industry, we look forward to being a part of it.

Categories: Blog

6
May
2014

Multiple Data Centre Sites – Where Are The Benefits?

The network forms the backbone of a company’s IT infrastructure – without it an organisation is effectively crippled. Email, Internet services, mobile workers are all reliant on the connectivity that the network provides. Now, consider a data centre and the same principle applies. The network connects the inner workings of the data centre to customer sites and to other data centres. For a data centre operator with multiple sites this network ensures that it can deliver considerable benefit to its clients.

Pulsant owns and operates 10 data centres throughout the UK and this is something we tend to emphasise. All of our data centres are interconnected via our own resilient, high speed and high capacity fibre network. But what benefit does this actually bring to our clients?

Firstly, it is all about reliability. The fact that we own and operate the data centres means that we’re responsible for the maintenance, availability and resilience of the sites. If something goes wrong our customers can be assured that we’re doing our best to make sure that their business is not affected.

Secondly, from a backup and disaster recovery point of view, customers have a dedicated line to any one of our other data centre sites where their data can be held in the event of any downtime or failure at the initial site.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, all sites are reinforced by our Triple A Support model which guarantees access, ability and action for our customers. The aim of this initiative is to provide our customers with a first time fix wherever possible and we do this by making sure that we match your needs and queries to a team of appropriately skilled technical agents.

Of course customers can also benefit from the economies of scale, especially when it comes to cost savings regarding power buying and infrastructure investment; and our ability to support your business growth as a result of Pulsant being a multi-site operator.

Categories: Blog, Colocation

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