Behind the Curtain


Exclusive Interview

Did you know that GigeNET has been in business for nearly 25 years?  During that time, GigeNET pioneered some of the first client-accessible control panels and was one of the ...

chicago colocation

In today’s business world, finding ways to reduce expenses without compromising capability is a goal all entrepreneurs share. Given the importance of computer technology and online interaction, colocation is the perfect place to start. Right now, its concept is unquestionably one of the best solutions on the market.

So, what exactly is colocation, and how can it be used to save your business significant operational costs? Here’s all you need to know.

What is Colocation?

Colocation is a term that ultimately describes the process of housing privately-owned servers and networking equipment at a third-party data center. Rather than maintaining the necessary facilities themselves, businesses can piggyback on existing infrastructure by renting space.

Space is rented out in ‘racks’ and ‘cabinets,’ which includes all the power, bandwidth, IP addresses, and cooling systems needed to run your system optimally. GigeNET’s colocation solutions allow you to choose from a full, half, or quarter rack, or as little as a single serverall powered by a premium network, backed by our 100% uptime guarantee, and supported around the clock to ensure you’re maximizing your business potential.

Enterprise Class Facilities for a Fraction of the Price

Taking the in-house approach to building a data center will require a huge financial outlay for your business. It is suggested that tier three data centers cost roughly $900 per square foot, which means the costs are likely to greatly outweigh those of colocation, often exponentially so.  Factor in the costs of expanding your data center to account for future growth, and it is clear why most small-to-midsize operations will find that colocation is the best solution for both immediate and long-term financial situations.

Colocation enables small to mid-sized businesses the opportunity to get all the benefits of an enterprise level data center without the cost of one. By deploying your existing infrastructure with GigeNET, you not only eliminate the hassle and costs of building and running your own data center but also gain benefits typically found only in large, enterprise-level facilities.  

At GigeNET, these benefits include multiple layers of redundancy for vital systemspower, HVAC, and networking. In addition, you gain access to optimized, low-latency networks from a variety of carriers to maximize your online presence, all in a physically secure environment to meet your compliance needs. Access is controlled by swipe cards and staff who are present 24/7 with cameras constantly recording activity throughout the facility.

Expert Staffing

As with any part of your business, the quality of the staff will have a huge impact on your operations. Can your in-house data center match the 24/7 access to world-class technicians that GigeNET colocation services provide?

Colocation gives you continuous access to a team of certified experts that specialize in data center activities and will handle inquiries and process requests for you. As part of the service, it’s not only more cost-effective but also saves you valuable time better spent focusing on your primary business goals.

Colocation isn’t the best solution for every business, but more and more startups and SMEs are taking advantage of this approach. To discover more about the possibilities for your specific business model, contact GigeNET today.

High Power does not equal High Performance Computing

The number one fastest supercomputer in the world (at the time of this writing) is the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This computer uses over 2 million cores and almost 3 Petabytes of memory. However, what is more extraordinary about this supercomputer is that it’s also the #5 greenest supercomputer in the world with a power efficiency of 13.889 GFlops per watt.

Indeed, companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google have found that the finite limitation when it comes to the systems of tomorrow is not compute power, but electrical power. Each have created their own initiatives to find a way to maximize high performance computing needs while avoiding excessive power usage.

In 2010, Google took the approach of becoming their own power company. Google Energy was authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to buy and sell electricity like any other power utilizing company. In so doing, Google purchased and built wind farms and solar energy plants. In fact, just in April of this year, Google became 100% renewable energy powered. By owning their own power plants and selling excess power back to the grid, Google was able to eliminate power costs as well as the power ceiling. If their needs continue to climb, they just need to build more power plants. Unfortunately, not every company is big enough to be their own power company.

Facebook took a different approach. Facebook worked with Intel to develop a new server chipset. The Xeon-D family was solely created to address the primary goal of extracting as much compute capacity for the least amount of power consumption. The result is a much denser compute cluster using the same amount of power.At GigeNET, we too have been looking at providing HPC to our customers without ruining the environment. Our complex system clusters including our Public Cloud, Private Clouds, and dedicated server clusters run on the Xeon-D family chipset. By making the intelligent choice of switching to a new server standard, we have greatly increased our customers computing power while also reducing our power draw.

sysadmin day

Being a sysadmin is no easy feat, especially for sysadmins working for a hosting provider like GigeNET. They’re tasked with overseeing the software and network of hundreds of our clients all over the world, working day and night to ensure our customer’s systems are up and running. Unlike many other professions, there’s not one clear path to becoming a sysadmin.

I sat down with one of our sysadmin experts, Kirk, to learn all about how to become a sysadmin, why he’s so passionate about system administration, and his advice to future sysadmin.

Q: How did you discover your love for technology? When did you know you wanted to become a sysadmin?

A: I honestly don’t remember a time when I was not interested in technology.

I started messing around with old MS-DOS computers when I was in about second grade and was playing games on my mom’s old Apple IIe long before that. It was in grade school that I started to experiment with programming in BASIC and taking an interest in learning how things worked and how to make computers work for me. I was learning on second-hand hardware and software which was old at the time, but I think that learning on older systems taught me more low-level skills and understanding.

I feel like if I had started later, with newer and more “graphical” operating systems, that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn as much. I think that learning so early in life may have played a great role in making technology so second nature to me as well.

My mom has an anecdote about taking me to the library as a kid to go on the Internet and explore websites, before the Internet was very mainstream in our area in homes, but around the time that kids shows were advertising things like their “AOL keywords.” This was before I could even read. She told me that she thinks a huge motivating factor for me learning how to read early on was wanting to read things on the computer without her help.

I think this has been true for a lot of things, that my passion for technology has motivated me in other ways too.

Q: How did you become a sysadmin?

A: In my junior year of high school, I got in touch with the tech department and started to volunteer. At the time, their tech department was a one-man show. This was my first real professional experience with working in a tech department.

When I graduated and set up my plans for college, the high school hired me on part time and I continued to work for their tech department, which became my first tech job. I guess you could technically have called me a sysadmin at that time.

In one of my computer science classes in college, I met Sara, who at the time was working in a development role at GigeNET, and she brought this company to my attention and put me in touch with management here. The rest as they say, is history!

Q: You’ve been with GigeNET for a few years now. What does a typical day as a sysadmin look like?

A: It is difficult to describe a typical day, I often do not know what I’ll be walking in to each day.

A large part of the responsibility of GigeNET’s sysadmins is assisting with customer requests, and that is inherently very unpredictable. Some days may be relatively quiet, and others you may unexpectedly need to migrate several servers or take on some other large project for a client.

We also take on internal projects, everything from deploying new servers and infrastructure in our datacenters to managing our inventory and testing and recycling used hardware.

I personally also handle abuse complaints, so I work with our customers regularly to help them address issues with abuse matters like phishing, compromised servers, and copyright infringement complaints.

I also handle any legal compliance documentation that we receive so I will occasionally interact with the police, FBI, and other agencies to comply with law enforcement requests.

We do a lot of varied things here! The variation is partially why I enjoy my role here, it definitely doesn’t get boring.

Q. I’ve heard that our customers love working with you. If they call in or submit a support ticket, you’re always insightful and provide practical ways to make their systems better. Do you like this part of the job or would you rather stay behind the scenes?

A: I enjoy being on the front lines and interacting with customers. Of course there are occasionally some customers who are difficult to work with, but overall the customer service aspect is one of the most fulfilling parts of this role for me.

As a technical person myself, I’ve had no shortage of bad customer service experiences from tech companies. For example I’ve been in situations at home in the past where there have been issues with my Internet service, and convincing the ISP of what I believe the problem is (and that it’s not on my end) is an uphill battle.

At those companies, I’ve usually found one or two staff members who I can eventually get through to and then who act as a huge asset to me moving forward. This is the honest truth – I once left an ISP because my contact there left his job, the service deteriorated, and I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me anymore and could never get the issues resolved.

So I strive to be that person who someone else is glad to have pick up their call/ticket, I like knowing that a customer who knows me may feel a trust that their issue will be resolved completely because they see me working on it.
I know how it feels to be on the other end of that relationship and that it can really make a difference in someone’s life. That’s why I love the customer service part of the role and find it so fulfilling.

Q: What does your workspace set up look like?

A: I keep my desk very clean and spartan, I do the same at home actually. There’s not much on my desk at any given time besides my equipment. I keep a laptop and tablet charger here always so that I can quickly dock my mobile stuff when I get in the office.

My work computer is running Linux Mint with the MATE desktop interface, and I have 3 monitors attached on a monitor tree. My monitor tree is relatively high, allowing me to open my laptop on my desk without obstructing any of my workstation screens.

Usually my workflow is along the lines of: Skype, music, and a notepad on the left screen, research, any browser tabs, connections to any servers I’m working on, and any currently open documents on the middle screen, and always watching the ticket queue on the right screen.

Having a lot of screen real-estate really makes all the difference, especially when things get busy and I have multiple tickets and multiple customer servers open at the same time.

Since I work second shift and am often by myself, I brought in some nice speakers with a subwoofer so I can really turn it up after everyone heads home for the night. Music is very important and motivating to me. The right tunes can really put me in the zone sometimes.

Q: Now, I heard you have a pretty cool computer setup at home. What’s that like?

A: My setup at home is actually very similar to my setup at work, but with a few additions.

At my desk at home, I often use two computers. I use a program called Synergy to integrate their keyboard and mouse together, so that I can control both computers as if they are a single computer.

My main desktop at home is also running Linux Mint with the MATE desktop UI. I use a monitor tree at home similar to the one I have at work, also with 3 monitors, but my monitors at home are a bit larger. I use this computer most of the time for anything that I do online while I’m at home, from research to shopping to YouTube.

Above my Linux monitor tree, I mounted a 43” 4K TV which is attached to my Windows 10 gaming PC. I don’t keep this PC on all the time as it uses a fairly large amount of power and can really heat up the room, but I turn this on when I want to play some games. I have a rather large Steam library and recently upgraded this computer’s graphics card to a 1080TI, so it’s quite capable.

A picture is worth 1000 words:

sysadmin day workstation setup

I have put a lot of time and effort into my network at home. I have installed multiple ethernet runs to most rooms in my house which go back to centralized gigabit switches. I recently installed 7 IP cameras for video surveillance around my house as well. I have 3 WiFi access points, 2 of which are mounted in the attic and 1 of which is mounted in the garage rafters. These provide pretty good wireless coverage throughout my house as well as my front and back yard.

I also have my own little mini-datacenter, a 24U APC Netshelter server rack currently containing my custom built file server and 3 HP servers I picked up on eBay. I use the file server to store all of my data, backups, media, etc. The HP servers are more for “compute” than storage, and currently all 3 of them are VMware servers running virtual machines for my various internal services and projects.

In the future, I would like to look at some fiber projects, especially for the large things like my server rack, but currently everything in my house is gigabit ethernet. Since my uplink to the Internet is 500Mbps, this is fine (for now). 😉

Q: So I take it being a sysadmin is a hobby as well as a job for you? What are your other hobbies?

A: I’m sure you got that sense from my answer to the last question as well. 😛

A lot of my hobbies do revolve around technology, but in other ways.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past experimenting with wireless. I wouldn’t call this “sysadmin” and it’s definitely not something I do at work.

I have a lot of high powered wireless gear and antennas and even a 2.4GHz spectrum analyzer around from past projects. I always found long-range wireless to be fascinating, and back when I lived with my parents in the more rural countryside where there were a lot of open fields, playing around with long range wireless was fairly practical. Not so much now that I live in the suburbs.

This became an interest of mine because this was how we got broadband at my parents’ house for years (in fact their broadband connection is still a long range wireless connection to a tower several miles away) so I wanted to know all the ins and outs so that I could troubleshoot and understand my connection and how to care for it when it was having issues.

All of this said – I do not like wireless. It is a necessary evil sometimes, but wired will always be faster and more reliable, hence why I put so much effort into wiring my house.

Of course I am also a gamer, although often this takes a back-seat as it feels “not productive” to me so I don’t spend a lot of time gaming usually. I only game on PC and have never had much of an interest in consoles, other than the original Nintendo Entertainment System, which was the first gaming system I ever owned. I still love Super Mario Bros. 3, but I usually play it on an emulator on my PC these days.

Along with the gaming hobby, I have been streaming on Twitch for the past several years. I started out by just streaming games I was playing in order to have a social experience of sharing them with friends, but it started to tie into my next thing:

About a year ago, I picked up my first professional DJ equipment and started to learn about mixing. I streamed most of my learning experience on Twitch, and eventually started to get a following from that. I still have a lot to learn, but I really enjoy mixing music and have been doing DJ sets on Twitch every weekend as much as possible. My favorite genres to mix are the type of stuff you would hear at an EDM festival, like dubstep and trap.

Q: I love reading your blogs because you’re always discovering new technologies and writing on how to use them. How do you find these and figure out what works best?

A: A lot of this just comes down to Google and involvement in the open source community. I’ve found that for every problem there are usually a handful of projects out there trying to solve it, and then it’s just about finding the best one for my use case. That can be the tricky part as usually none of the projects are perfect, and each one has a community surrounding it who will often blindly swear that their project is the best.

Usually I’ll look for some projects that do what I’m looking for, check out some documentation and see how good that is, and then maybe install 2 or 3 different ones and try them out. This is where my VM server at home comes in handy, because I’ll usually spin up separate test environments for each thing and then trash the ones I didn’t use.

For example when I found Syncthing, I also tried out Seafile and BitTorrent Sync (which no longer exists as an open source product now). I liked Syncthing the best out of those 3. I also considered ownCloud at the time as I was already using that for other things, but Syncthing seemed better suited for the large file library that I wanted synced in a less centralized way.

As with anything, my preferences are my personal preferences, and sometimes they aren’t for particularly good reasons. Sometimes I’ll choose to use one product over another because I just like the way the configuration works better, or its default options worked better for me than those of another project.

One thing that working with all of the customers at GigeNET has really shown me is that there are tons of different ways to set up your service for something.

There’s no one right way or one right software for everyone.

I try not to get too tied to one ecosystem software-wise, but it’s easy to get comfortable with one particular set of software. This is what most end users do all the time and that’s why people get so stuck on their OS (Windows, Mac, etc) and are so afraid to jump ship to something else. I’ll redo my whole setup for something if I find a product I like better.

Q: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a sysadmin?

A: Google is your friend, don’t be afraid to break everything, and get involved in open source projects that interest you.

I’ve found that most of the best sysadmins I’ve worked with are self-taught, even if they have a degree. I have a degree but most of the stuff I use every day is self-taught. If you are not comfortable using Google to find answers, the best advice that I can give to you is to learn that first.

Break everything – no seriously.

The best sysadmins I’ve worked with are tinkering with tons of projects at home. That usually entails setting up software you’ve never used before, and you’re going to break it a lot.

Like let’s say you followed my first piece of advice, you’re trying to set up a new service, and you’ve never set anything up like it before. So you’re following a guide that you found online. Most likely it’s not going to work. There will be something different about your setup that the guide forgot to take into account. That’s good, that’s how you learn to troubleshoot!

While optional, I would suggest getting involved in any open source communities that interest you. I’m not saying that you have to do development for them or even contribute to them in any way, but get involved.

I’ve spent a lot of hours over the years hanging out on IRC channels on places like Freenode that tailor to the open source community.

I remember when I was first learning Linux, I would hang out on IRC channels like #ubuntu on Freenode and marvel at how smart some of the people in that channel were. After awhile of experimenting and hanging out in the community, an evolution happened, where I started to marvel at how inexperienced some of the people there were.

The key is to be responsible with that realization, and if you have time, help some of those people. I always try to give back at least by answering questions when I can, because someone took the time to do that for me at one point too.

There’s a lot of knowledge out there on forums and IRC channels. So use that as a resource first, and then if you feel like it, give some help back later where you can. Even when you are helping others answer the simple questions that you are now feeling comfortable answering, you’ll run into more roadblocks and you’ll learn from that experience a lot of the time. This is a fantastic way to self-teach skills that you want to have.

Even with all my experience, there are still times that I get stuck and if I can’t find an answer on Google, I will go back to the IRC channel for the project and ask about my issue there. This has led to many fun and interesting experiences, I remember one night talking with the person who wrote the open source Nouveau driver for nVidia graphics cards on Linux. It felt like such an honor to me actually to be talking to him and he was right there in the #nouveau IRC channel on Freenode and he happened to respond to a question I asked. These kind of cool experiences have shaped me and my knowledge a lot over the years.

Basically get out there on the Internet and learn what interests you, it’s all out there.

Let GigeNET lighten your workload. 

sysadmin day

It takes a special expert to lead a team of sysadmins for a hosting company. The ideal candidate has extensive experience, is a constant learner, and has excellent people skills. Luckily for us, we’ve found this superhero in Jenn Svensson.

In celebration of sysadmin day, I sat down with Jenn to learn about her work in Silicon Valley during the boom, how she became a sysadmin, and what it takes to lead a sysadmin team.

Q: Jenn, you’ve been working in IT for over 20 years. Where did it all begin?

A: While getting my undergrad in Computer Engineering from The University of Michigan, I took a part-time job with CAEN — the Computer Aided Engineering Network (the IT department for U of M’s Engineering Campus).

There, I cut my teeth as a system administrator, and when I graduated I followed the System Administration path to San Francisco, turning down 2 computer engineering jobs with IBM.

Q: What made you turn them down?

A: San Francisco was the place to be for anyone in my field. I had spent spring break of my senior year visiting my aunt in San Francisco and fell in love with the city. It didn’t matter that the cost of living was so skewed that my college friends who took those IBM jobs were buying houses while I was sharing a studio apartment — I was having the time of my life!

While we shared a studio apartment two blocks from Market and Van Ness, my roommate bought a Porsche. That’s how crazy the housing market was at that time — we couldn’t afford to live on our own, but we got to carpool to work down 101 in a Porsche with the top down.

System Administration held a lot of excitement for me, while I lost all desire to spend my career in a lab trying to figure out how to make network cards communicate faster (one of my IBM offers). I felt the type of work I would do as a sysadmin would be diverse and constantly evolving. It would keep me engaged and challenged.

It is what I wanted to do with my life. It was not hard at all to turn down IBM.

Q: What was it like working in Silicon Valley?

A: It was a rollercoaster ride — full of ups and downs, but all the while exciting. Fairly early on, I landed a position with one of the old school tech giants. At first, it was amazing! Our facilities were the best in the valley (they were later bought by Google and are now the Googleplex). Lucasarts would rent out a whole theater complex and take us out for an early screening of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Penn and Teller were hired to perform a private show celebrating the launch of a new server line.

But it didn’t last.
Technology changes so fast, and very few corporations are able to keep up with the pace. Our time as a giant was over, and we spent the next 15 years shrinking to less than 10% of the size we were when I started there. Layoffs were a common thing. Every couple years I’d have to change the group of coworkers I’d eat lunch with. I stuck with the same company for most of my time in Silicon Valley, but had I done what so many others did — hop from place to place, amass vast sums on paper, then lose it all — my experience wouldn’t have been so different. After The Bust, we all faced layoffs, restructuring, etc.

Q: How have you seen the industry change since you began in Silicon Valley?

A: During the Boom, any crazy idea would get funding, spawn a start-up, churn through capital for a while, then vanish. After the Bust, it actually took a reasonable idea to get funding.

When I started, having a strong IT team was considered an advantage and our budgets reflected this. Later, that view shifted to treating it as an expense and companies started outsourcing and minimizing their IT staff as much as possible.

Q: How did you make the climb from being a sysadmin to a support manager?

A: I earned the respect of my peers by working hard and showing that not only did I know what I was talking about, but I brought years of experience and insight that my younger colleagues couldn’t touch.

At the same time, I developed a reputation for being reliable with my management team. I tried to anticipate their needs, and be prepared before they asked. I filled a gap that hadn’t been filled for some time here, and all of a sudden progress was being made, and projects were getting completed.

I was treated like a manager before it became official, so that once it was, it was pretty much just a formality at that point.

It wasn’t my first time flirting with a management role. While working for the Silicon Valley tech giant, I was up for manager of the combined Network Service and Extranet Services team. It was between me and one other person (I’m sure I had the advantage), but just before any announcements were made, one of those frequent restructurings came down and the position was eliminated.

My team, Extranet Services, was folded into the Datacenter Operations team and thus began years of adventure and mayhem — but those are stories for another time.

Q. So as a support manager, what does a typical day look like for you?

A: No days are typical. One of the first things I did when I became manager was pull myself away from the support queue. I’m still there to assist when things get busy, or for when a gentle hand is needed, but most of the time I’m giving guidance in the background.

That frees me up for what occupies the bulk of my time — planning for our next steps and improving our internal processes and documentation.

Q: With customer support, you’re the face of GigeNET in many ways. How do you balance overseeing a team of sysadmins as well as customer relations?

A: I’m lucky to lead a great team, and most of them have no problem interacting with clients — even when things get dicey.

When things do get escalated to me, I follow a few simple rules: I won’t throw my people under the bus, I won’t be dishonest, and I treat everyone with respect.

If mistakes were made, we own up to them, and if it wasn’t our fault or responsibility, I try to make sure we’re all on the same page, as far as understanding the scope of our support, and still see if there is anything we can do to help.

Q: What do you look for when hiring sysadmins? Do they need specific certifications or experience?

A: I look more for troubleshooting ability and logical thinking than anything else. One of the best sysadmins I know has a degree in Philosophy. Others have no degree and no certifications. Having them certainly helps, but it doesn’t make you look better to me than someone with quality experience.

Q: How do you recharge or take a break from work?

A: I’m a foodie. I’m always seeking out new and exciting flavors. I enjoy reverse-engineering at home a dish I’ve had out, until I get it just right.

I’m also a gamer. I love a huge, open-world, single-player RPG that I can completely escape into. In the past, I’ve played more multiplayer games, but I’ve found that they were harder to pause if a friend called or showed up unexpectedly and it was taking a toll on my social life.

Q: What’s your best shortcut or life hack (no matter how small or niche), or a great rule with your sysadmin team?

A: I always make sure to explain why we have a procedure or policy when I present it. This way, rather than an arbitrary order with no meaning behind it, it makes sense and thus is more likely to be remembered and followed.

Q: The IT industry gets a lot of heat for its lack of diversity. Is it challenging to work in a male dominated field?

A: No, not especially — but it’s the only field I’ve worked in. It’s certainly less so in the more technical areas. I find that it’s a field where one is recognized by one’s peers for their abilities, knowledge and ideas more than many other fields. Factors like gender, orientation and appearance is easy for techs to overlook and ignore.

It’s also a field that tends to attract people that may have trouble with personal interaction. They might not communicate well, or lack tact when dealing with a tense situation. Possessing good communications skills and tact has made me useful beyond just my technical abilities, which has lead to more respect from my peers.

Q: What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?

A: Keep at it! We need more representation in technology! There’s no reason you can’t do it — some of the greatest innovators in technology have been women. Women tend to excel at multitasking, and have an excellent ability to “think outside of the box” — both skills that can be of great benefit in the tech industry.

Our differences are our strengths, not weaknesses.

Let GigeNET lighten your workload. 

GigeNET builds infrastructure right

Right-sizing is not about cutting resources or radically changing your environment. It is about finding the best options while taking your process into account. Even then we typically save customers 40% off their monthly costs. Our solution architects audit your infrastructure, finding optimization points you may have missed or haven’t had time to find. Optimizations are based on workload size, workload type, anticipated growth, and life cycle best practices.

Here’s exactly how we build your systems right the first time:

Step 1: Capturing

Going through a scoping document we look at the resources you currently need, go over growth projections, technologies you plan to use. This process provides the background knowledge necessary to find the right size.

Step 2: Presenting

We present the planned environment, optimized from your feedback, and jointly agree on the best environment that solves your problems and applies best practices.

Step 3: Solutioning

Our solution architects draft the best fit environment for your workloads accounting for size, type, anticipated growth, and life-cycle best practices.

Step 4: Building

A deeper dive into the customer’s configuration begins. As system administrators on both sides build out the configuration information the hardware is assembled. Each phase is inspected by quality control and thoroughly tested to ensure the system is built right from the start.

Step 5: Delivering

Your team is introduced to our team, controls, portals, and user management. All support documentation is presented and a QBR process is determined.

Build The System Right

It is GigeNET’s policy to build the system right from the start. By building the system properly, we eliminate a lot of the conflict found with hosted IT. Customers are not given needless upgrades, the amount of errors is greatly reduced, and the efficiency of the system is maximized. It also greatly reduces our support staff’s workload.

How well do we design our systems? Our support runs at 20% capacity. To fill that other 80% of the work day we have them train and pick up certifications. Our support techs have the time and knowledge to solve your toughest problems.

Ready to build it right?

You can’t reach your site and you are starting to panic. Quickly, you log into your hosting provider’s ticketing system and type out, “OMG! Site Down! Help, Help, Help!

Now, before you click Submit on that ticket, take a moment to go through a simple checklist that may help resolve the issue sooner, and possibly with less embarrassment.

Falls Within the Scope of Support

Your scope of support will vary depending upon your hosting provider and your support plan. Typically, a hosting provider will provide hardware support, network connectivity, and OS provisioning as a baseline.

Colocation clients, however, are typically responsible for their own hardware. Hands on support is available at an hourly rate, and simple requests (“please power cycle server 8”) are often handled pro bono.

When the issue moves beyond hardware, connectivity, and supplied power, your support plan (or lack of a plan) can come into play. Like many providers, we provide a number of plans, each tailored towards your specific needs. However, there are limits to what we support, even with our most comprehensive plans.

For example, our support team may have some knowledge in the topic, but we are neither DBAs nor developers. We will not manage your databases, nor will we debug your scripts.

Local Issue?

Is the issue localized to just your computer? Just your office? Is there a power outage in your building? Is your computer online?

Being localized doesn’t necessarily remove the need to submit a support ticket, but it does lessen the urgency of the request. This type of information will greatly assist in troubleshooting the issue.

Some issues that would result in a localized issue are:

  • Localized issues that call for a support ticket

    • Blocked IP address
      • Support can assist you in getting your IP unblocked or whitelisted
      • Knowing your public IP will help — simply google “what’s my IP?”
    • Transit problem
      • Support may be able to track down a segment of the route between you and your server that is suffering from some outage or delay
      • Traceroutes or MTRs can greatly help identify the problem area, allowing support to open a ticket with the affected upstream transit provider
  • Localized issues that don’t call for a support ticket

    • Local network down
      • You’ll need to contact your in-house IT staff or your ISP
    • Local Power outage
      • This should be self-evident…


Take a moment to re-read what you are typing into your ticket. Is your request intelligible? Sometimes, when panic sets in, you can find yourself banging out 1s when you think you’re adding exclamation marks for emphasis.

While you think you’re conveying something like, “Hello, we are experiencing an outage on server 4 for client C137. Please investigate and bring the server back online” it reads more like, “OMG! Server Down!!11!!! Hepl, Hepl, Hepl!!11!”

Is the problem clearly explained? A lot of time is wasted in the initial back-and-forth with support getting the simple facts straight — time that can be saved by submitting a clear, intelligible initial support request. Detailing the problem, and in appropriate cases, explaining how to reproduce it can speed things up greatly.

Keep in mind, while you may be intimately familiar with the ins and outs of your server and how the services interact, the support team at the other end deals with hundreds of setups, each with their own peculiarities. Reminders of any quirks or unusual adaptations of your setup will be greatly appreciated. Additionally, typos in URLs, usernames, passwords, etc. can take precious time to detect and correct, all the while postponing resolution of the issue at hand.

Client/Server Information Included

Along the same vein as providing intelligible, correct information is providing helpful and contextual information.

Before making changes to your system, we need to know that you are who you say you are. Make sure you are contacting us from an email account that is listed on your account and one that has permissions to make that type of request you are about to submit.

Please specify the server that is having the issue — especially if there are multiple servers under your account. Providing login information and the SSH port (if non-standard) is also greatly appreciated.

Have there been any recent changes? Was the server very recently rebooted, possibly introducing updates that were previously installed and just waiting for the server to be power cycled in order to take effect? Has any new software been installed?

Keep Calm and Carry On

In the world of computers and The Internet, outages and failures are an unavoidable reality. When they happen, your best bet is to Keep Calm and provide as much assistance to your support team as possible.

Beyond addressing the immediate issue, we would be more than happy to discuss options with you for making your site more resilient to outages with GigeNET’s managed services. Depending on the outcome of the current issue, now may be the perfect time to add some redundancy to your services.

If we’re restoring your site after a failed hard drive (the most common hardware issue we see), why not restore it to a mirrored set of hard drives (called RAID1) so that the next time a hard drive fails, your site doesn’t go with it?


Have a question? chat with our specialists.

Fastest Route Network

Internet traffic uses a routing protocol called BGP (Border Gateway Protocol). BGP routes traffic through the most direct path. A direct path uses the least amount of devices (has the lowest amount of “hops”). Each device adds to the possibility of packet loss and congestion. Therefore, BGP reduces both packet loss and congestion. On paper, this produces an optimized route.

In practice, however, anyone who has driven in thick traffic knows that the most direct route is not always the best. In fact, in times of increased congestion, a temporary detour, no matter how long the distance, can be the shortest amount of time.

How is GigeNET’s Network Better?

GigeNET’s network looks at route characteristics such as latency, packet loss, stability, and the number of devices between our customers’ servers and their destinations across the Internet. Network routes are continually queried and benchmarked to find the fastest path across the Internet.

This represents a constant and automated cycle with thousands of queries a minute. The result is routing that provides the absolute fastest times just over 99% of the time.

Our network is prized in industries that require breakneck speeds including VPNs and Game Server Hosting. In both industries, a millisecond of latency can directly equate to millions of dollars lost.

Learn more about how our network dynamically avoids speed problems.

12 Essential System Administration Cheat Sheets

Albert Einstein, a man not known for his lack of learning, once said that we should never learn what we can look up in a book.

While it’s often efficient to have all the commands and options we need at our fingertips, sometimes the effort of cramming all that arcana into our brains isn’t worth the time when everything we need is a quick Google away.

System administrators have to get to grips with an enormous body of knowledge if they’re going to effectively manage servers and all the multitude of different applications that they run. They’re masters of the minutia, but even system administrators can’t hope to remember everything that they’ll need day-to-day, never mind committing the commands they use rarely but regularly to memory.

The cheat sheet is one of the secret weapons of system administrators everywhere. These concise collections of commands and options mean that so long as you have a good understanding of what’s possible and which tools have what capabilities, it’s fine if the precise details escape you now and then.

Here are 12 cheat sheets that every system administrator should have bookmarked for easy reference.

  1. Basic Command Line Tools
    This is a simple guide to the most common commands of the most used tools on the Linux command line.
  2. OpenSSH
    SSH is a crucial tool for system administrators, allowing them to securely access servers. This cheat sheet details the most pertinent configuration options for the SSH server, the most commonly used client options, and how to use public key authentication with SSH
  3. Bash
    Everything you need to know about everyone’s favorite shell (well, almost everyone).
  4. Vim Commands
    While not always everyone’s favorite editor, once you have Vim’s commands down, it’s very efficient and you’ll find it on almost every Linux box.
  5. MySQL
    Still the world’s most popular open source SQL database, MySQL knowledge is a must for sys admins. These cheat sheets detail MySQL functions, data types, and provide sample queries.
  6. The Find Command
    Find is an extraordinarily powerful tool, but if you’re anything like me, keeping track of all of the options doesn’t come naturally.
  7. Regular Expressions
    If you’re going to find what you’re looking for, either on the command line or in text files, an understanding of regular expressions is vital.
  8. IPv6
    Most of us have IPv4 subnetting down, but we can use a brush up on its younger sibling’s construction.
  9. Ports
    It’s always useful to have a complete guide to what the most common ports are reserved for.
  10. RAID
    Get your RAIDs muddled up? Not any more! This cheat sheet details the drive counts and benefits of each of the RAID types.
  11. .htaccess
    A handy outlining of the configuration options most commonly used to control the behavior of the Apache web server.
  12. Netcat
    Netcat is a vital tool for diagnosing networking problems.

Have a question? Ask our experts.