Top 10 things we accomplished in 2015

On December 29, 2015, in Inside DiscountASP.NET, by Takeshi Eto

I post an annual Top 10 list of our accomplishments for the year. You can check out previous posts for 2014, 2013 and 2012

Here’s my list for 2015.

  1. Retired Windows 2003
    Windows-2003-end-of-lifeMicrosoft announced a while back that Windows 2003 support was ending on July 14, 2015. We launched our hosting services back in 2003 with its foundation on the newly released Windows 2003 – so we had a lot of customers on the O/S and we also had some of our back end infrastructure on Windows 2003 as well. We didn’t want to wait until the last minute to try to deprecate Windows 2003 servers so we actually started working on customer migrations two years ago!  We started helping with voluntary migrations and then switched over to migrating sites manually one by one…about 6000 sites. We finally finished up early July, right on schedule. Ray gives the inside scoop on how we retired Windows 2003 – it’s a good ‘behind-the-scene’ read.


  2. Launched CloudBackup solution
    cloud backup solutionA great example of a hybrid hosting service, we launched a solution to help automate off-site website and MySQL database backups where the files/data are stored on the Amazon cloud. The service includes an intuitive web-based portal to manage backup scheduling, versioning and restorations. And the backup solution starts at $1.75/mo.  More information on CloudBackup here.


  3. Enhanced CloudBackup with automated MS SQL backup
    One of the things the original CloudBackup solution lacked was a solution for backing up MS SQL databases. Automated SQL backup has been a big ‘ask’ from customers for many years,  so we enhanced the solution to back up SQL 2012 and SQL 2014 databases. (And fear not, we are working on SQL 2008 backups which should be coming just around the corner! Stay tuned for announcements.) As a bonus, we also slipped in Blacklist Monitoring. This is where we continually monitor Google and should your site ever become blacklisted due to hacking activities, we’ll immediately suspend the backup schedule so that CloudBackup doesn’t continue to backup your compromised website files and databases. With the Blacklist Monitoring feature, customers should be able to get to their clean backups more easily and not have to wade through useless backup copies. More information on CloudBackup here.


  4. Launched ASP.NET 4.5.2 hosting
    asp.net hostingKeeping up to date with new ASP.NET versions is becoming more important as Microsoft announced that they will only support the last two minor versions. So we updated both our Windows 2008 and Windows 2012 hosting platform with ASP.NET 4.5.2.


  5. Launched Shared and Managed TFS 2015
    TFS-2015-2013-2012Microsoft launched TFS 2015 so we launched both Shared and Managed TFS 2015 hosting in both the US and UK datacenter locations. The newest version of Team Foundation Server finally allows the renaming of team projects. Other enhancements include the ability to display bugs in the task board and quick code editing through the web portal. More info on TFS Hosting here.


  6. We migrated our Data Center location
    We needed more breathing room in our data center, so we moved locations within our USA-based data center to a larger space.  This was no trivial task. It took a lot of planning and we moved hundreds of servers.


  7. Enhanced the control panel with a PHP version chooser
    php hostingFor our hosting services we do focus on ASP.NET hosting but we also realize that many .NET developers use PHP applications, such as WordPress. To strengthen our PHP hosting service, we introduced a PHP version chooser that works similar to our ASP.NET version chooser tool.


  8. Expanded SiteLock services with Trueshield CDN and Web Application Firewall
    sitelock web site securityWe launched a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service through our partner, SiteLock. This service will cache customer content (both static and dynamic depending on the plan) in edge servers located in over 25 data centers around the world and also includes features like content minification and image compression. The CDN service increases the website speed as visitors can pull content off servers closer to their location. The enhancement also includes a Web Application Firewall service to help prevent hack attempts and exploits, especially targeting popular open source apps like WordPress, DNN or nopCommerce. Because millions of websites use the SiteLock service, they “see” the signatures of common hacking attempts so they can stop such activities dead in its track before the malicious traffic hits your site on our servers.


  9. Launched Managed SQL solutions at Everleap
    sql 2014 hostingYes, this item is a feature that is not at our DiscountASP.NET brand, but I include it here as an example of an upgrade path for customers that need larger SQL storage, or customized SQL database solutions, or customers needing many smaller SQL databases for a SaaS application. We cannot accommodate such SQL requirements at DiscountASP.NET but with Managed SQL hosting at our cloud hosting brand, Everleap, we provide a solution for special SQL needs. Here is more information on Managed SQL hosting at Everleap.com.


  10. Renewed our Microsoft Gold Partner status
    microsoft gold partner - hosting competencyWe successfully renewed our Microsoft Gold Partner status for the 10th year. I know, I know, I keep mentioning this every year. But it is a big deal because it’s getting harder to maintain every year and it’s an investment on our part that many other hosting providers are no longer keeping up with.


Thank you for making it through this long post and we look forward to an exciting 2016!

Have a happy and safe holiday.

 

Managed TFS 2015 Now Available

On October 14, 2015, in Announcements, Team Foundation Server, by Takeshi Eto

Takeshi EtoA few weeks ago we launched Shared TFS 2015 Hosting and today we are announcing the launch of Managed TFS 2015 Hosting in both our U.S-based and U.K-based data centers.

With Managed TFS you get your own instance of Team Foundation Server on a private VM that is not shared with any other customer. Since you’re on your own private VM, we can offer server-side customization that is not possible with our Shared TFS hosting service. And on top of that, the solution is fully managed. You can concentrate on your software development and we’ll take care of all the TFS infrastructure, security updates and patching.

As with our previous Managed TFS 2013/2012/2010 service, with Managed TFS 2015 we offer both the TFS Basic and TFS Full configurations. TFS Basic includes source control and task management just like our Shared TFS – but the TFS Full option will add SharePoint and Reporting.

If you’re interested in a Managed TFS Hosting solution, please contact us for a quote.

If you’re not completely sure if Managed TFS is for you, you can first try out our Shared TFS hosting for 30 days free for up to 5 users. You can test it out before you commit to a Managed TFS solution.

 

Takeshi EtoShared Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015 hosting is now available in both our U.S. and European data centers.

Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2015 is Microsoft’s latest update to their application lifecycle management solution.

TFS 2015 brings a wide range of improvements. Some of the new enhancements in TFS 2015 include the ability to rename team projects, quick code editing through the web portal, ability to display bugs in the task board, backlog and Kanban board management improvements, customizable cards, better identity control and Git integration improvements.

We offer a 30 day FREE trial of our shared TFS 2015 hosting solution for up to 5 users, so you can take it for a spin today.

 

Takeshi Etocloud backup solutionI’m excited to announce that our Cloud Backup service will now automatically back up your SQL databases off-site to the Amazon cloud. So Cloud Backup has you covered for your website, SQL and MySQL databases.  You are in full control of when backups are made and how many versions to keep.

Automated SQL backups is a feature that many customers have been asking for over the years and we are happy to be able to deliver this solution to you.

And that’s not all….

While we were working on enhancements, we added Blacklist Monitoring as well. With this feature, we will monitor Google to detect if they ever flag your site for being compromised. If we detect a Blacklist event, we’ll alert you and stop the backups of your site and databases so that you are not making backups of compromised files. This should help you recover your clean backups more easily.

The “peace of mind” Cloud Backup solution starts at $1.75/mo. You can order Cloud Backup in Control Panel.

 

Windows hosting platform updated to .NET 4.5.2

On March 26, 2015, in Announcements, by Takeshi Eto

Takeshi Etoasp.net 4.5.2 hostingWe have updated both our Windows 2012 and Windows 2008 platforms to .NET 4.5.2.

Some of the enhancements of ASP.NET 4.5.2 include better ability to schedule async work items, better control over http headers, and debugging improvements.

This update is an in-place update so we did not rush pushing it out. Experience has taught us that in-place updates can be disruptive to some customers despite Microsoft assurances of backward compatibility. In fact to be on the safe side, when we updated to .NET 4.5.1, we only updated our Windows 2012 platform, leaving our Windows 2008 R2 platform at .NET 4.0, so that we could move customers should any unforeseen issues arise from the update.

However, updating our entire hosting platform to  .NET 4.5.2 is now important because Microsoft announced that they will be deprecating .NET 4 – ,NET 4.5.1 in early January 2016. In the future, Microsoft intends to only support the latest few frameworks.

At the end of February, we updated our Everleap cloud hosting platform to .NET 4.5.2 and we did not encounter any issues, so we scheduled the update for DiscountASP.NET at the end of March during the usual maintenance window. You can now enjoy the latest Microsoft web stack. Of course, if you do notice any issues, please contact us right away.

 

Takeshi EtoI’m very happy to announce that we are going into our 10th year of maintaining our Microsoft Gold Partner status.

Microsoft continues to raise the bar to attain the Gold level status, so we do put a great deal of investment every year in maintaining our Gold Partner status. We think that our partner status truly shows our commitment to stay on top of Microsoft-related technologies. This commitment not only serves as a differentiator, but it also helps us maintain our strong relationship with Microsoft – a relationship that helped bring Everleap, our cloud hosting solution based on Windows Azure Pack, to life.

 

Introducing Cloud Backup: safeguard your site now

On January 22, 2015, in Announcements, by Takeshi Eto

Takeshi Etocloud backup solutionToday we are announcing a new Cloud Backup solution that will backup your website off-site onto the Amazon cloud. The service comes with a web-based management portal to manage backup scheduling, versions and restoration.

A solution for “Oops” recovery
We’ve all done it – accidentally deleted an important file or overwritten something that broke a site or threw off the entire layout. Having a previous backup could save hours of painstaking work.

Bounce back quickly from website hacks
Hackers are constantly probing and learning how to exploit application vulnerabilities. No matter how vigilant you are in patching and updating, it’s still possible for hackers to gain access to websites and replace pages, or place malicious code or files within your site. Cloud Backup can help you quickly recover in the event of any hacking activities, restoring your site with a previous clean version.

MySQL backup
Cloud Backup can access your MySQL database and back it up automatically.

SQL backup
Backing up your SQL database is a two step process. The SQL backup tool in the control panel will copy your SQL backup into your web space and will be backed up with your site.  You can run the SQL backup tool manually or automate the process using our SQL backup API.

Check out our site for more information on plans and pricing and learn how Cloud Backup can help you achieve peace of mind.

 

Top 10 things we accomplished in 2014

On January 8, 2015, in Inside DiscountASP.NET, by Takeshi Eto

Takeshi Eto2014 went by so fast I didn’t get a chance to get my annual Top 10 post up in December. So here is a recap of the Top 10 things we accomplished in 2014.

1. We launched Everleap

everleap-logo-orangeThis project was brewing in R&D for a couple of years and we are excited to launch our cloud hosting solution at Everleap.com. Everleap is powered by Windows Azure Pack (WAP) and provides scaling options that do not exist at DiscountASP.NET. We were the first host to launch a production hosting solution using the websites functionality of WAP.

Over the years, we’ve witnessed web applications becoming more sophisticated and complex and customers outgrowing traditional shared hosting services. So we wanted to provide a hosting solution for growth but we were not so keen on doing the same old VPS and dedicated hosting as all the other hosts.

Now with Everleap, we have a great upgrade path for our shared hosting customers, seamless scaling options that are not easily found at traditional hosts, all offered at flat, fixed pricing without mystery bills. In fact, we are offering free migration services for DiscountASP.NET customers who want to move to Everleap.

2. SQL 2014 hosting in the US and Europe

sql 2014 hostingAs always we try to keep up to date with new Microsoft technology releases. We launched SQL 2014 hosting in both our US-based and Europe-based data centers.

3. Managed TFS 2013 hosting in the US and Europe

tfs 2013We launched Managed Team Foundation Server 2013 hosting in both our US-based and UK-based data centers. This is a great option for businesses that want their own instance of TFS that is not shared with any other users and/or those who require server-side customization. TFS 2013 includes real-time collaboration enhancements with Team Rooms.

4. Exchange ActiveSync

Exchange ActiveSyncActiveSync was an “ask” from many customers, and now some new updates in Microsoft licensing make it possible for us to offer this feature. Exchange ActiveSync helps sync your email, calendar, contacts and tasks with the Smartermail email server and your mobile devices in real time – including Google Android, Apple iPad and iPhone, Motorola, Nokia, HP, Samsung, LG and Windows Phones.

5. SSD powered Reserved Cloud Servers at Everleap

On our Everleap cloud hosting solution, we introduced SSD accelerated Reserved Cloud Servers. The Reserved Cloud Servers are your own private VM that is reserved to serve only your sites, no other customers. So you get to use all the resources of the server, meaning all the CPU and RAM and there is virtually no constraint on idle timeouts and concurrent connections. We offer them in three flavors – small (1 CPU, 1 GB RAM), medium (2 CPU, 2 GB RAM) and large (4CPU, 4 GB RAM). These are a great option to grow into for CPU intensive or memory hungry apps.

6. Smartermail update

Admittedly, we did not keep up to date with Smartermail updates over the years. In 2014, we updated all our mail servers with the latest Smartermail version and we will work to keep up with the updates.

7. Git integration at Everleap

gitMany developers are using Git for their version control nowadays. We had customers ask about Git but integrating Git with DiscountASP.NET is difficult. However, WAP includes features to integrate Git so we offer Git publishing over at Everleap. We even host a local Git repository in your account. You can add additional users with Git publishing rights as well.

8. TFS 2013 Updates 1-4

Microsoft is adopting a faster cadence for releases. With Visual Studio 2013 we saw 4 updates released throughout 2014. So for our TFS 2013 hosting service, we stayed up to date with all the updates. But we don’t go ahead and blindly install updates. We test them out as thoroughly as possible and we schedule the updates with our customers.

9. Urban Turtle for Managed TFS 2013 and TFS 2012

urban-turtle-logoFor a while there, we were only able to support Urban Turtle for TFS 2010. Now, the latest Urban Turtle tools for TFS 2013 and TFS 2012 are available for our Managed TFS hosting solution. And, as discussed in the previous item, Microsoft’s fast release cadence can cause breaking changes with add-ins. So when we apply updates to TFS, we also work with Urban Turtle to make sure compatibility issues are ironed out.

10. Microsoft Gold Partner renewed

microsoft gold partner - hosting competencyI know I may sound like a broken record (remember those?) but I think the renewal of the Microsoft Gold Partner status it is something important to include here because it is not a trivial task to maintain. With Microsoft continually raising the bar for the Gold Partner level, we’ve witnessed many hosts dropping in partnership level. Maintaining the Gold status is an investment and a differentiator.

Thank you for powering through and reading this long post and we look forward to having more things to talk about in 2015!

 
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