WHAT DOES ALL THIS STUFF MEAN?
This web site is intended to be of interest to IT professionals and distracted amateurs alike. We have tried to avoid boring the former whilst not baffling the latter. These notes may help to maintain the balance.
A. WEBSITES & DOMAINS
To run a web site, you need 3 things: a Domain Name, a Web Site design, and a Server computer to run it on.
There are many people, including us, who will help you to do one, two or all of these things.
(1) The first part is simple, although a bit daunting first time around.
(2) Web site design is a potential disaster waiting to happen - a pitfall for the unwary. We plan to write some FAQ's on this. Ask for comments and advice.
(3) The final part is normally off loaded to a specialist provider like ourselves. Why? Well, the hardware and software, internet connectivity, management, and expertise are all more cost effective, more functional and (if this is important) the performance is better. But, there are still many options to evaluate, concepts to understand and a whole new language to acquire: hence our brief summary below.
First of all, our Inclusive Services for all Hosting Packages:
Anti-virus scanning - All users everywhere should run their own dedicated anti virus software. However, pre-screening significantly increases the protection level, and we run several corporate packages which are regularly updated.
Front page extensions - support for diy or low cost web site designs.
Web statistics - statistics which tell you how effective your web site has been.
Firewall - a barrier between your poor little web site and millions of malicious hackers. We deploy both hardware and software firewalls which are effectively filters which can be configured to allow only permitted traffic through.
Dedicated CGI Bin - Common Gateway interface. A CGI Script is an application that takes input from your client, processes it on the server (hosted by us), and returns the results to your client, displaying them in his Web browser.
Control Panel - This is an administration service accessible via your web browser which provides some management input to your web site.
SSH access - Ssh (Secure Shell) is a program to log into another computer over a network, to execute commands in a remote machine, and to move files from one machine to another. It provides a secure environment in which to perfrom these tasks.
Full FTP Access - stands for File Transfer Protocol, used for routine file transfers between computers.
SSI (Server Site Includes) - SSI refers to tokens that are placed in HTML web pages, and evaluated on the server while the pages are being served. They let you add dynamically generated content to an existing HTML page, without having to serve the entire page via a CGI program, or other dynamic technology.
PHP - is a server-side HTML embedded scripting language. It provides web developers with a full suite of tools for building dynamic websites.
MySQL Database - SQL stands for Structured Query Language and My SQL is a free open source version of this database system.
Domain name transfers - Domain Names are held by nominated Registrars and administering changes means playing their games.
WAP support -Short for Wireless Application Protocol, a secure specification that allows users to access information instantly via mobile phones
Perl CGI - Perl is an interpreted computer language supported by Windows and Linux which can be used to formulate CGI instructions.
Perl ISAPI - A Perl plug in.
Second, our e mail servers:
POP3 Accounts - POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) is the most recent version of a standard protocol for receiving e-mail. POP3 is a client/server protocol in which e-mail is received and held for you by your Internet server. Periodically, you (or your client e-mail receiver) check your mail-box on the server and download any mail, probably using POP3. This standard protocol is built into most popular e-mail products, such as Eudora and Outlook Express. POP3 is designed to delete mail on the server as soon as the user has downloaded it.
Email Support - Problems sending or recieving emails can quickly cause companies to grind to a halt. These problems can be caused by spam, viruses, or outside attacks, but Hastingwood's technical staff can help ensure that these difficulties are kept to a minimum.
Unlimited email forwarding - An email service in which your email is automatically sent (forwarded) from one or more email address, to another (possibly several) specified email address. "Unlimited email forwarding" may refer to: (1) a catch-all email account; (2) the ability to specify any number of email aliases (each of which may have a different forwarding address); or (3) a combination of both.
Unlimited email responders - An auto-responder sends an immediate reply by email when a person buys something online, sends to a specified email address, or fills out a website form. The content of the auto-response message could be information, an electronic receipt, an e-course, and so forth. When people go online, they are often searching for information, and auto-responders gratify them with instant delivery of material they've requested.
SMTP Server - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The standard e-mail protocol on the Internet. SMTP servers route SMTP messages throughout the Internet to a mail server that provides a message store for incoming mail. The mail server uses the POP3 or IMAP4 access protocol to communicate with the user's e-mail program.
Third, some key Hosting Terms:
Shared or Virtual - your web server shares space with other users on a computer run by your hosting company. Your site competes with others for CPU time, disc space and bandwidth, but the computer is fully managed by the host including all patches, updates and adjustments.
Dedicated - Unmanaged. Your web server is running on its own computer, provided by the hosting company. It has as much power as you pay for but its health and functionality is your responsibility. The server belongs to the host - you rent it by the month.
Dedicated - Managed. As above except that the computer is fully managed by the hosting company.
Co-Location - Here the hosting company is providing only rack space, its environment, connectivity and power. You own and supply the servers and manage them yourself.
"Shared" is the cheapest. There are deals on the internet and advertised in the press which seem to cheap to be true - and they are. It costs so little to have this done properly, why take risks?
"Dedicated - Unmanaged" gives you serious performance and is economical IFyou are able to run it yourself. If not, well ever heard of the term "a false economy"? A dedicated box with a large site, secure access, commerce, fully interactive, lots of concurrent users - but not so good if it spends 30% of its time off line.
"Dedicated - Managed" is not so obviously economical but experience shows that it is actually the cheapest way to run a comprehensive site without employing the whole team and infrastructure in house.
"Co-Location" is great for professionals who can do everything themselves but do not want the hassle of providing secure premises, UPS, Air Con, and Connectivity.
B. BACKUP FAQ's
Here are links to two downloads which are our comments and suggestions on Data Organisation and Back Up strategies for users in a small Local Area Network.
C. NETWORK TERMS
MPLS. Short for Multiprotocol Label Switching, MPLS integrates Layer 2 information about network links (bandwidth, latency, utilization) into Layer 3 (IP) within a particular autonomous network in order to simplify and improve performance. MPLS gives network operators a great deal of flexibility to divert and route traffic around link failures, congestion, and bottlenecks.
As an ISP we have to enforce "good usage" of our internect connectivity. The following document contains information on how we enforce and police this policy.
D. TELECOMS TERMS
SDH. Synchronous Digital Hierarchy - an international standard for synchronous data transmission over Fiber Optic connections The North American equivalent of SDH is SONET.
SIP. Session Initiated Protocol - a signaling protocol for Internet Telephony (amongst other uses) . SIP can establish sessions for features such as audio/videoconferencing, interactive gaming, and call forwarding to be deployed over IP networks, thus enabling service providers to integrate basic IP telephony services with other services