October 31, 2011
Important: This is something new and just like with everything 1.0 we need your feedback. Give it a listen and please fill out the survey:
ExchangeDefender Executive Podcast is a short, 10 minute recording meant to sum up a week worth of news and developments across our products and services. As we get bigger and you become more successful, time becomes very scarce and nobody can afford to miss out – so we figured a short podcast that you can listen to in your car on your way to work or on your way to the client would fit the bill for folks that don’t have the time to read half a dozen blog posts, hour long webinars or training throughout the week. So here is the first one:
Download ExchangeDefender Executive Podcast #1 (mp3, 9 Mb)
We hope this gives our busy partners a way to stay in the loop. While it’s not as detailed or as worthwhile as the blog posts and longer webinars we offer on our blog, I hope this is a great investment of time for those of you who have various staff that needs to stay on top of what your coolest vendor is doing.
Give it a listen and please fill out the survey. Have a great week!
Vlad Mazek, MCSE
CEO, Own Web Now Corp
(877) 546-0316 x500
October 28, 2011
This week has been dedicated to improving the core mechanics behind our Exchange Defender Compliance Archive software and increasing the functionality it offers. This product was originally designed over two years ago, with limited functionality. This product has definitely been one of the more challenging software platforms to design and implement on a large scale. However, it’s been a very enjoyable program to design and launch. This week has been very productive and we have got a lot of new features and new tools to talk about!
· Misc. rending issues have been resolved.
· Elevated domain level access.
· Message download (.msg format).
· Import Tool ( Still being developed )
One of the biggest challenges when creating front-end GUI browser software is getting things to look and respond the same way across several browser platforms. It seems (chrome, Mozilla, opera, IE) all have their own recipe when it comes to rendering different component. One of the first issues we addressed this week was minor rending issues, increased performance and logic loops for displaying messages in the browser. None of these were huge issues, but an eye sore none the less.
We’ve had this request for a while and we finally implemented (Elevated Domain-Level Searching). This new feature allows domain admins to examine messages inside any user’s mailbox that is within the selected domain. Using this feature, you have full control inside of that mailbox just as if you were signed into that compliance mailbox. However, there is currently no way to wildcard search all mailboxes within the same domain at the same time. The processing load that would generate would be tremendous and would not be a pleasant searching experience.
One of the more elaborate features, (at least behind the scenes) is message downloading. In the past you could download messages in .eml format, which left a lot to be desired. Well, we’ve changed that this week. Now when you request a message download, it will generate the file in .msg format! Looking at this from a developer’s perspective and for anyone who has ever worked with Microsoft.Office.Interop.Outlook controls will understand the heartache in this area of development. The control exposes a lot of information, if you just want to look at elements and examine a message contents. However, the second you want to use the component to perform any useful operations that’s when it becomes a challenge.
The last and most important area of concern was importing mailboxes into the compliance system. This is something we’ve been working on and it should be ready in a few weeks. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress with this tool and are very excited for its launch. When designing this tool, we’ve put message integrity at the top of the list. Some of the concerns we had about this software was handling duplicate messages and keeping them from being inserted into the archive mailbox. We also added the ability to handle program/internet crashes while messages are being imported and the ability to resume the import process.
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
October 27, 2011
This week I’ll be recapping some issues that may have affected multiple clients in the past week within the ExchangeDefender realm of our portfolio. Before I get to those items, I’d like to take this time to thank some of our partners who were extremely helpful and truly honor up to the title of partner. A couple of these issues required client side testing that we would not be able to emulate as they involved third party transactions and notifications.
The first multi-client issue we resolved last week was a content filtering issue. We received a couple of reports that ticket updates from one of the major PSA vendors were getting pretty mangled by our filtering, we had a couple of partners step up with excellent samples in .msg format, that allowed me to dive into the message content and header information to track down what portion of our filter was causing the issue.
Basically, as technology continues to grow and migrate more towards email as the primary method of communication, email content itself is becoming more rich and interactive. In the past, emails with form tags and rich html were often phishing scams, but in this case it was a significant amount of mail flow from a reputable source to probably a large portion of our client base. In order, to resolve the issue we basically turned the filtering dynamic from a flat (almost boolean) logic to a very dynamic, multi-level, per domain/ip policies. Thankfully, one of our partners was able to provide documentation from their PSA vendor that provided whitelisting guidelines. Once we received that, we were able to move forward, and make a portion of filtering that has been pretty rigid in the past into something more dynamic and flexible to reflect current email content. Please see the basic layout of the new web tag workflow:
The second issue we tackled involved our Encryption service’s feature that allows folks to reply to an encrypted message directly from the portal in an encrypted manner. Currently, on our primary smart host we use a very strict anti-spoofing measure that does not allow folks to relay as “from” a wide variety of free mail services. We had to put this measure in place to improve overall mail reputation and we’ve seen marvelous results so those changes will always remain in place. However, we hit a road block when someone from one of these free mail services attempted to relay an encrypted message because our anti-spoofing measures would not accept the messages in their current format.
The solution lied in having PHP use an alternate route to deliver messages generated by this script only, without altering the SMTP configuration. So after digging through pages and pages of configuration notes for the mail() function in php, I kept finding that you can pass “other parameters” to your SMTP process within the command. However, I only found folks had successfully used it in the past to rewrite the “from:” address, which we were already doing successfully.
Apparently what folks failed to mention is that what the “additional parameter” is doing is just appending your arguments at the end of the SMTP command defined in your php.ini file. Once you reach that point, you basically can run a different SMTP configuration for any script on demand instead of just blindly relying on whatever smarthost the server is running. To make the rest of this story short, folks using free mail services can now reply to Encryption messages within the portal without any issues.
Here are some tips:
1. Before submitting and subsequently waiting on a ticket, please take a look at the Knowledge Base inside of the portal. We’ve recently consolidated a large amount of information from our previous help blogs to make sure everything we’ve made available, can be viewed in one location. We’ll be taking a look at outdated items over the next week to make this a very valuable resource.
2. Rely on the portal. https://support.ownwebnow.com is where we are available 24/7. Remember there’s no such thing as too much information, but there is such a thing as not enough information. To avoid back and forth interactions, always error on the side of too much information it will always save you time.
VP Support Services, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x737
October 26, 2011
I have to admit, I’m very excited about the Q4 webinar on Thursday. It looks like this will be our best attended webcast of the year and I’ve got a ton of stuff to present, explain, position and help you make money with. The profit structure of the MSP space has been changing rapidly so come see how OWN partners stay ahead of the curve and beat out the likes of Microsoft and Google when it comes to closing.
Seating is limited but if you register you will be able to watch the webinar recording at your convenience.
ExchangeDefender Q4 Webinar
Thursday, October 27, at Noon EST
Here is a brief summary of what we’ll cover:
- Brand new web site with all of our products and services on one site
- Realtime Network Operations Center that keeps you in the loop
- Launch of our new ExchangeDefender Compliance Archive email solution
- Geographic redundancy for all ExchangeDefender services
- Launch of LiveArchive 3 in Dallas and Los Angeles
- Enhanced integrations with Kaseya, LPI, nAble, GFI Max, Quotewerks, etc
We’re starting to open up our 2012 roadmap and we’re really looking for feedback. ExchangeDefender Gold program is underway and some of you have started receiving calls from my management – help them help you. If you’d like to talk to me directly and don’t want to hit my cell phone, I will be at the HTG / Preday / ConnectWise event and have an open schedule, claim a spot:
ConnectWise IT Nation + HTG Appointment Request
Beyond that, we’ve really kicked up the blogging on here to the next level. There is new content on nearly daily basis and we’re getting amazing feedback from our partners so we’re going to keep at it. This is typically more detailed stuff than you’ll ever get from me but that’s the point, if you want to stay in touch and be in the know now you can. Here are some of the posts from the last week:
How to position and sell Exchange messaging
ExchangeDefender Redundancy: Technical Implementation Details
Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010 vs. Exchange 2010 Essentials
Introducing Geographic Redundancy to ExchangeDefender Services
The Persuasive Power of Discounts and Trials
Shockey Monkey & Keeping It Clean
Upselling Downtime–How to Properly Position Business Continuity
My staff spends far more time, collectively, with you than I ever can and they are experts at their pieces. What you read here is not just their opinion, these are the best practices we pick up in the field working with you day-to-day. Best of all, you can read it anywhere, anytime – no need to wait for a conference, no need to sit through a long webinar and you can easily forward it to the appropriate people in your company. We hear success stories about how these articles have already made a difference in our partners sales staff and marketing, not to mention given folks that interact with the services on a technical level a much better understanding of how these products behave on the very basic level.
Talk to you tomorrow, I look forward to it!
Vlad Mazek, MCSE
October 25, 2011
Let’s just face it – downtime happens. In the past three months almost every major cloudy service, from Microsoft Office 365 to BlackBerry, Amazon Web Services, the Sony Playstation Network, and Netflix, has suffered an outage for one reason or another. There’s no reason to try to hide this reality when you try to sell hosted solutions to your clients. It makes more sense to set an accurate expectation that a reasonable amount of downtime is to be expected, then to help them decide whether they can accept it or what they could do about it. It’s a bit like “under promise and over deliver” with a twist, and it can often help you to upsell a higher value solution.
Costs and Benefits
Purchase decisions are all about a cost/benefit comparison, and always will be. What clients seek when making cost/benefit comparisons is very simple: good enough. Most want neither the bottom of the barrel, nor the top of the line, but a solution somewhere in the middle that addresses their core needs at a reasonable price. As your client’s Trusted Technology Advisors, you get to give that “Goldilocks advice”—what’s too little, what’s too much, and what’s just right.
Often email and messaging are among the most important services to a business, tools they depend on every day. With hosted messaging solutions from ExchangeDefender, you can help to protect your clients from suffering downtime their business can’t afford. Downtime can be the key to upselling a client from Exchange 2010 Essentials to Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010. It’s just a matter of finding out what’s “good enough.”
The Power of Good Enough
In many cases clients are willing to trade off a few features or accept a lower service level for the benefit of a lower price, but only to a point. The question becomes: how important is email to the client’s business? How much downtime can they afford? An hour? A day? Can that client justify the cost of guaranteeing that their email will always be available?
If the possibility of an occasional bout of downtime isn’t the end of the world to the client, and they really just need a secure email-and-only-email solution, then Exchange Essentials 2010 is the right fit. With a cost difference of a mere $4 per mailbox per month, though, it can be quite easy to upsell the LiveArchive feature of Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010 to those clients who cringe at the thought of prolonged downtime.
With Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010 from ExchangeDefender, the Live Archive service is always on, constantly archiving sent and received mail so there is no maintenance or management to worry about in case of an outage. So let’s say the power goes out at the client’s office. With Live Archive, all those users have to do is go home and log on to their secure Outlook Web Access portal and pick up work right where they left off. The cost of the outage just dropped to almost nothing.
Help to protect your clients from downtime they can’t afford by setting accurate expectations about the reality of downtime, and by offering them the right ExchangeDefender solution to meet their real needs.
Do you find this information useful?
If you’d like a lot more in-depth discussion about the cloud and how it affects you and your clients, visit Looks Cloudy http://www.lookscloudy.com where I blog daily about the adoption of the cloud in SMB, conduct live webcasts and podcasts with industry leaders and more.
VP Community Development, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x777
October 20, 2011
With the holiday season quickly approaching, people start to browse the web for sales and deals. Being in marketing, I couldn’t help but notice and think about all the different techniques and approaches that move prospective clients further along in the purchasing decision. This is one of the most important areas that we as marketers and business minded people can and should focus on when marketing to potential clients.
The purpose of this article is to shed some light on ways to attract clients to your service and get them to go further into the buying decision. Another reason is to give you ideas as to how you can position your products and services and more attractively offer them to your client base.
Market Discount Trends
Currently, the marketplace is experiencing a growing trend in sales and marketing promotions. Recently, there has been a high success rate with promotions that offer free trials and discounts.
There are two types of sales and marketing promotions that are growing trends that I see success in the marketplace is quite often a free trial and offering discounts. Online vendors are beginning to offer a 7-day or 30-day free trial of a product or service. When signing up for an offer, you are asked to enter your credit card information. Upon trial expiration, you are then charged the full amount for your product or service. That is how they get you – and hook you in! Typically people end up liking the service that they are testing out and do not cancel the trial…so in this regard it is a good way to draw people in and actually get them to use the product or service. Many services are subscription based too, charging your credit card a recurring fee and subscription sites are a great way to deliver information and provide a great deal of value for both the buyer and seller. Companies are providing free trials to allow you to experience the product or offering before any actually exchange of money takes place. Those who continue on with the product or service are more loyal and better informed about what they are buying. Discounts are also very beneficial when a client is cost conscious or bringing on a large volume.
So now the question to ask yourself is how I can apply this methodology of a free trial or discount to my own products and services?
Think about the products that you are currently marketing or selling. Is there a way to give your prospective clients a sample of what you offer them? Free trial for a month of service? Free trial of consulting services or technical support? Free marketing materials? Free training sessions? Discounts on a service? These actions will help to get your clients hooked on your product by making it a more attractive offer to start with the service and by showing them that you want to help.
On a side note, free trials are not ideal for every company or every product. However, they do force you to reconsider how you expose your products and services to your target market. Rethinking the value of a trial can help boost your marketing to the next level. The key is to experiment with different offers, discounts, trials, etc. and see what works for both you and your clients. You should measure how many prospective clients partake in the initial offer and then show interest in the upsell or continue to purchase services. It is very important to focus on customer value, not just the initial purchase price or getting the sale and promotions can help to accomplish that.
How can ExchangeDefender help?
Since ExchangeDefender offers you a free 30-day trial on new services and discounts on services, it is easier for you to do the same to your clients!
Currently, at ExchangeDefender, in addition to our normal free trials, we are introducing a new promotion for Exchange 2010 Essentials and also ExchangeDefender Compliance Archiving. Any accounts that our partners sign up during that promotional period with the corresponding coupon code will receive Exchange 2010 Essentials for $5.99/mailbox and thus far the promotion has been wildly successful, for both our company and in turn our partners!
- Visit our Promotions Center to stay up to date with all of our current and upcoming promotions that are available to you!
- Contact me for any help with marketing collateral or visit our Marketing Center.
Also, we always offer free 30-day trials for all of our products that you should take advantage of. This is very appealing for our partners because they get to try out a service and are then more apt to continue using the service. I would guess that about 99.999% of the people who sign up for trial accounts end up keeping them. These are all promotions that you could use with your clients. Remember some people just need a little push to do something…so help make the decision for them – Offer a discount or trial!
Let me know if or how you are using free trials and how successful they are for you! As always, please let me know if there is anything that I can help with!
VP, Marketing, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x735
October 18, 2011
In August our core data center in Dallas Texas suffered its worst outage in the past 8 years after an ATS power failure. Since the power outage was due to the ATS, backup power was not able to be routed to the redundant feeds to all our servers and as a result critical services were knocked offline. ExchangeDefender’s core focus is on-time clean mail delivery, and inbound mail delivery speed was impacted but was still available and processing mail for all customers. One of the most beneficial features of ExchangeDefender is LiveArchive which acts as a continuity solution for ExchangeDefender clients by keeping an additional copy of all client inbound and outbound mail. During the outage, LiveArchive was knocked completely offline for the first time since release. The full scale outage of LiveArchive prevented clients on Hosted Exchange and ExchangeDefender from being able to reach their continuity solution, creating lots of issues for partners and their clients. The outage caused us to reevaluate the redundancy in our solutions across the board starting with additional ExchangeDefender nodes and implementation of LiveArchive in our Los Angeles Data Center.
Today, I would like to update you on what we’ve done and announce the immediate availability of the new solution that will work even if one of our data centers is offline completely for an extended period of time.
Complexity & Size Problems
The biggest complexity of the additional LiveArchive network was accepting mail between multiple datacenters and routing it to the nearest network, and finally synchronizing the mail between with remote networks. Due to amount of mail processed by ExchangeDefender on a daily basis, we were prevented from using the built in redundancy in Exchange 2010 like Database Availability Groups and Microsoft software load balancers for OWA and SMTP.
On average our Dallas LiveArchive network processes and stores over 115 million messages a day. By adding redundant LiveArchive networks we will automatically double our message processing count on our Exchange transport servers due to synchronization between networks. The additional overhead would also create immense load on our network if we utilized Database Availability Groups as our Dallas network is already storing over 382 TB of data. The notion of having a desynchronized network or increasing LiveArchive mail delivery time was not a viable solution as LiveArchive would then fail as a continuity solution.
To overcome the obstacles and limitations we faced, we started to develop custom solutions to tie in with our LiveArchive networks and redesigned our network layout and made minor changes to the LiveArchive storage length in Los Angeles to one month.
The first issue to tackle was the Active Directory layout as we could not tie Active Directory into our already established and quite frankly rock solid Dallas Active Directory network. In the event of another catastrophic failure in Dallas the inability to contact the primary Active Directory network would render the Los Angeles copy useless unless we create them as unique sites. Although this was possible, we felt with the power of our automation between ExchangeDefender and LiveArchive was better suited for the job as the above solution would cause too many changes to occur during a failure, including many DNS changes. We decided to have unique Active Directory domains between sites and we hooked user account creations for Los Angeles into our ExchangeDefender provisioning.
The second issue was mail delivery design between sites. The original design of LiveArchive mail routing would cause the LiveArchive copy of inbound mail to always be routed to Dallas for delivery to LiveArchive. The Achilles heel of the design was always in mail that was delivered to Data Centers outside of Dallas as it would cause the original mail delivery to be delayed a few seconds as a copy was dispatched to Dallas. Up until a few months ago our original design was acceptable and was only cause minor delays about twice a year. As the amount of mail processed increased, the delays became more noticeable. Mail delivered to networks outside of Dallas began to see increased processing time and eventually took twice as long compared to mail that was accepted by Dallas. By adding an additional LiveArchive network in Los Angeles we were able to route mail that arrived in Los Angeles to our Los Angeles LiveArchive network.
The final issue was mail synchronization between sites. We took advantage of the powerful extensions into Exchange by creating a custom Transport Agent that would copy submitted messages from each ‘local’ LiveArchive message to the remote network for processing. By utilizing custom routing and Edge servers we were able to successfully copy mail and provide real time processing and delivery between both LiveArchive networks.
In the event of a failure in either site, ExchangeDefender mail will automatically fail over to an additional DC and all LiveArchive mail will route to the network with available heartbeats. Upon creating an outage notification, our team will modify the DNS records for https://livearchive.exchangedefender.com to route to Los Angeles. To access the Los Angeles LiveArchive network directly users can login at https://la.livearchive.exchangedefender.com
Los Angeles LiveArchive Cluster: https://la.livearchive.exchangedefender.com
Please make sure your clients are
VP Network Operations, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x757
October 14, 2011
Have you considered adding hosted Exchange or other cloud messaging solutions to your portfolio? If not, you’re already behind Microsoft, Google, IBM and many others. Even if you have considered it, the marketplace is getting flooded with cloud marketing and you need to be savvy to get your solution front and center and not get displaced by he competition. Here is how!
Hosted Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010 and Exchange 2010 Essentials: while they’re only two simple, reliable solutions, they pack a powerful punch that solves a wide variety of small business messaging and collaboration challenges. When we surveyed our partners, 90% of them told us that Hosted Exchange is their single best “foot in the door” or relationship builder product. This is because small businesses are becoming more and more dependent on their messaging technology, while the cost of deploying and managing it continues to skyrocket. They need affordable, reliable messaging technology to support their unique businesses – and Hosted Exchange + SharePoint and Exchange 2010 Essentials from ExchangeDefender offers small businesses of all kinds an attractive combination of rich features, affordability, security and flexibility.
Our small business clients certainly have options when it comes to cloud-based messaging solutions – Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Business are two major alternatives with which many small business clients may be familiar. Hosted Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010 and Exchange 2010 Essentials from ExchangeDefender are fundamentally different, offering users the familiar Microsoft Outlook user experience at an unbeatable value with the flexibility to deploy just the right tools that the business needs.
Some SMB clients don’t want or need a full-featured messaging and collaboration solution and want to minimize their costs of maintaining basic functionality. While Google Apps for Business offers an attractive price point with “pared down” messaging features, its unfamiliar interface may turn off folks who are comfortable with the Microsoft user experience. Exchange 2010 Essentials delivers the best of both worlds – minimal complexity using Outlook Web Access protected by ExchangeDefender Essentials along with the ever-popular Public Folders and Distribution Groups at a competitive price point, just $6 per month per mailbox. Clients can even integrate with their existing copies of Outlook to get that fat client experience they know and love.
Some SMB clients will require more advanced features like message encryption or archiving for regulatory compliance, and may find the messaging features included in Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Business lacking – security, encryption, and archiving aren’t included in Google Apps for Business, and while Microsoft Forefront protects Office 365 email users, archiving, encryption, and e-discovery aren’t included. Hosted Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010 delivers the full Microsoft Outlook experience with SharePoint’s powerful online portal and groupware functionality, including ExchangeDefender protection and our Live Archive service. Integrate with Blackberry Enterprise Server, split domains, brand the portal experience and leverage the “tried and true” Public Folders feature if desired, as well, all for only $10 per month per mailbox.
Whatever your clients’ needs are, you can get your foot in the door and start building a strong relationship (or deepen an existing one) with the powerful combination of Hosted Exchange 2010 + SharePoint 2010 and Exchange 2010 Essentials from ExchangeDefender. Now you can offer your clients an attractive combination of rich features, affordability, security and flexibility on our globally-redundant infrastructure that even most large enterprises cannot build in-house.
Do you find this information useful?
If you’d like a lot more in-depth discussion about the cloud and how it impacts your clients join at Looks Cloudy http://www.lookscloudy.com where I blog daily about the adoption of the cloud in SMB along with numerous webcasts, podcast with industry leaders and more.
VP Community Development, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x777
October 13, 2011
You’ve asked for it – and it’s my pleasure to say that we’ve delivered. Shockey Monkey now chats, has a desktop client, mobile HTML5 app for your iPhone and Android and plays nicely with Quotewerks, Kaseya, LPI, nAble, GFI Max, Quickbooks and more.
Over the past few months we’ve been focusing on integration between our partners and even improving the network communication in our own software. One of the biggest challenges in the software industry is foresight and being able to determine what comes next. If you have ever written a piece of software and then had to make a change to that software (even something small), maybe 1, 3, 6, 12 months later. You can probably understand how important it is to think ahead. Sure, you can rush software and have to rewrite the same code everyday several times. If you’re like me and don’t like to create (unnecessary) extra work, you can think about what functions & methods you may need for future revisions and implement at least a template that is extensible.
Truly Open API and Fat Client API Demo
That’s the approach we’ve been taking for that last year and it’s really starting to show now. We are able to (design, code & implement and actually sleep) software changes & additions a lot quicker and a lot cleaner. One of the ways we achieved this was to take all of the code that we use all over the place and centralize it into a single location. This is how we got our first API version and we started to build on top of that structure. Since we designed the API, one of our biggest concerns was SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY. We thought: You know what, one day our clients/partners will want to use this API. So when that time came and we were ready to allow the API to become public, we literally flipped one switch and it was all lights go!
A lot of people want access to an API and access to it is usually the first request. However, not a lot of clients/partners will utilize that API, until you show them what’s possible! That’s when it starts to get fun interesting! So, we released the Shockey Monkey Fat Client BETA! It takes advantage of our API and demonstrates the possibilities. Yes, it really is possible to create something useful from these publicly available resources. It’s the first release, so right now we kept it simple. It will allow you to view/update (tickets, contacts & companies). It even comes with a ticket dashboard, which shows you the status and urgency of all your open tickets.
On the other side of the office our Shockey Monkey team has been working on integrations with other Software vendors and helping to bridge that gap in resources. They’ve just finished integrations with (Level Platforms, N-able, GFI MAX). There are still a few others they are trying to complete very soon.
We literally completed these integrations within a week of actively working on them. What made it so simple was the initial template design we created when we made our first Integration point with Kaseya. It allowed all additional Integrations to be designed in a module structure allowing for easy design and implementation. We’ve moved away from the model of “Let’s just get it to work”, we created a few integrations like that in the past. They work great… until the method, you used to obtained information, has now been changed and no longer works.
Our current integration portfolio:
1. Email Gateway – Any device or service that can generate an email can automatically create a ticket in our system. Remember that this is free to you with ExchangeDefender so use it!
2. RMM – Kaseya, LPI, nAble, GFI Max (Labtech in development). We’re currently working with a number of companies that are interested as well as Shockey Monkey’s own built-in lightweight WMI/VNC tool.
3. Accounting – Quickbooks. Exports to xls, csv and data feeds for other ERP. We’re exploring adding more integrations here as requested but we’re spending even more effort into bringing the transaction processing and reporting capabilities into Shockey Monkey. We find that most partners don’t have a very formal accounting backend, especially for tracking cloud subscriptions, and ShockeyMonkey already supports Authorize.net as a payment gateway so look for a development there.
4. Business – Quotewerks. This is currently one of the best integrations out there because it was developed by Quotewrks and is tightly integrated in their software.
We’ve learned a lot from all of these integrations and have amazing ideas for future releases. One of the first things we want to implement is a SOAP version of our API. Currently, they are all written in XML/RPC and that has served us rather well. However, in the future we are envisioning an even more rapid development environment for Shockey Monkey. It’s always nice when most of the data translation is done for you. So we are thinking that SOAP and Shockey Monkey are going to get to know each other very well over the next few months!
Finally, I manage all the development projects and products at ExchangeDefender, including all our integrations, PSA/RMM and our automation infrastructure. I work with many partners but at the end of the day I’m just one guy. So here is how to plug in with the whole team and make sure your requests are being taken care of:
1. Use the portal bug/feature tracking. Located at https://support.ownwebnow.com under the Development tab there are Features and Bugs. We use this as the central storage for all our features and requests. You can see public stuff that was reported by our clients and even some stuff that our internal teams are tracking.
2. Get in touch with someone. Our support team is fantastic and they often bring the issues you are facing to me directly. Sometimes in the office but mostly at meetings and our weekly staff bar crawl where we do our best to complain about everything that isn’t perfect. If you can get someone to hear you out, you can rest assured it will get taken care of faster.
3. Make a compelling, detailed case. There are lots of great ideas. Unfortunately, time is very limited to build them all. If there is a problem that affects a lot of people or a feature that would benefit a lot of people, tell us about it in as many details as possible and recommend suggestions and ideas. You’ve clearly spent more time dealing with it than we do so you have a unique opportunity to make a good argument over why we should work on problem #9881 instead of feature #810. The more perspective and benefits/pitfalls the better.
VP Development, ExchangeDefender
October 12, 2011
As you may be aware, we had our first network-wide outage in our primary data center (Dallas) back in August and our redundancy plan did not deliver on the promise that we should expect. Our CEO went over the details of the outage and during his webinar, we made a promise to revamp our network and infrastructure to prevent the impact this had on our partners moving forward. Once all services were restored, we began playing the outage backwards to figure exactly what went wrong and how we can eliminate the possibility of it ever happening again.
The items that floated to the top were LiveArchive’s failure and an unforeseen level of reliance on Dallas by our Los Angeles ExchangeDefender network. Our Exchange Architect and lead engineer, Travis Sheldon, outlines the changes made to our LiveArchive structure to ensure that if Dallas goes lights out, LiveArchive can keep on to ticking without missing a beat.
That leaves changes to our mail processing. Once the outage happened, our ExchangeDefender NOC team was overseeing the mail flow going to Los Angeles, however, the failure point was the processing speed. The processing speed delay basically blew out all of our disaster recovery metrics that showed us that LA could handle the load on its own. The team’s task quickly became finding the delay within the process. In this case, our transparency became our worst enemy. The fact that we log everything to make it accessible to our partners for their clients was causing the delay. Our Los Angeles nodes were attempting to write data back to an unresponsive database. Think about that for a second, every step of the way for every email we process, was now attempting to update data to an unresponsive network. Needless to say this delay in processing caused all of our queues to grow explosively, thus causing massive delays in delivery.
The other major part of the outage was our outbound network. At the time, our multihomed smart host cluster was at the time housed primarily in Dallas, with standby nodes in Los Angeles. Here’s the problem, since these nodes weren’t in production they did not have active access tables, which basically rendered them useless. So now we had our trail of blood and tears of how and why we failed, but we also had a blue print on how to ensure history didn’t repeat itself. Here is what LiveArchive side of LA looks like now:
So in addition to the new LiveArchive Exchange 2010 cluster in Los Angeles, here’s what we did:
1. We increased the hardware and bandwidth capacity by 80% in Los Angeles. This brought it on par with our Dallas network, which has in the past and with ease handled the load during peak on its own without delays. In addition, we also increased our capacity in Dallas an additional 20%, this is accommodate future growth without having to experience any processing delays.
2. We deployed master to master replication of all of our core processing databases. So now our ExchangeDefender Los Angeles nodes do not rely on any Dallas resources for mail processing. This means two big gaps were closed, if there were a Dallas outage, processing speed would not suffer and that our logging would not need to be sacrificed in the name of processing speed.
3. We doubled our outbound capacity in Los Angeles and they’re live servers instead of standby. This way if an outage occurs, all routing/access/archiving/encrypting rules are already up to date and ready to go. As an added benefit this expansion increased our outbound processing speed and capacity by 80%.
The lessons we learned from this event will only allow us to provide you with better and faster service, so you can in turn deliver the same to your clients. We’ve already successfully stress tested our new infrastructure on multiple occasions with great success and we’re confident about the future of our solutions.
I have worked with many of our partners through the years and, if you don’t mind, I wanted to share some resources that I find most of our partners are not aware of. As the person that oversees all of our support services I can tell you that frustration is a part of the game and we can extend a much better service when you’re plugged into everything that the support side of ExchangeDefender as an organization offers. Here are some tips:
1. Make sure all of your employees are reading our NOC site. http://www.exchangedefender.com/noc While the NOC alerts sync up with Twitter, Facebook and our support portals, our NOC site provides a lot of useful information about how to explain the problems that happen. Our clients are aware things will go down from time to time so keeping them in the loop is critical.
2. Make sure all your employees are in the support portal and that the information is correct. Have you ever had the frustrating experience of opening a ticket only to be asked for more information? We find that most tickets that aren’t addressed by us immediately (and our average response time is a topic for a different blog) can drag on and a quick call can often resolve it. We’re in support, we won’t call you to sell you stuff. But if we have a number to call we can figure things out very rapidly.
3. Rely on the portal. https://support.ownwebnow.com is where we live. All of our communications, alerts, NOC, service monitoring and staff have this open whenever they are at their desk. Monitors around the office show how many issues are being worked on, what everyone is up to, which changes are being made. While we love to talk to our partners we have to take your security into account so make sure that everything goes through there. Yes, we do escalate stuff to Vlad from time to time.
4. Most importantly: Save the info below.
I have been with Own Web Now for years and I often like to tell people that I’ve known Vlad Mazek before he knew how to speak English. If there is anything on the support side that I can help with please feel free to contact me. So much for the introductions, look forward to with you all.
VP Support Services, ExchangeDefender
(877) 546-0316 x737
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