Know the importance of software upgradation

Upgrade - street sign illustration in front of blue sky with clouds.

Upgrade – street sign illustration in front of blue sky with clouds.

Needs for Software Upgradation

The given points will help to  you why keeping your software up-to-date is an important consideration, especially when running a website or server. And how it affects usability, security and compatibility with other software. When the message comes of software upgradation, you choose the ever tempting remind me later, but we all know what that means.

These are some important reasons for the purpose of software upgradation.

Security Vulnerabilities

First and foremost, updates keep you safe from known security holes. This is especially important when there is a new release available for software you use, because most change logs and update notes reveal previously-known exploits that have already been patched. Public knowledge of these exploits leaves your application easy prey for malicious users who are out to exploit these now known issues. Of note are website Content Management Systems (CMSs) such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal simply because of their common use. Not securing these by updating leaves your system open to compromise making your software vulnerable.

Better Functionality

Updating your software will frequently provide feature and speed enhancements. For example, recent updates to WordPress have been improved with the addition of contextual searches, user theme management, and even the ability to manage multiple sites from one control panel. And updates to look forward to include improved stability and even MySQL functionality!

Squashing Bugs

When you begin working on a brand new piece of software or are operating on the most updated CMS, you are at the highest functionality available. As more of the software users begin providing feedback and through the continuation of development of the software, bugs start to appear. This is where updates come into play, to fix the bugs and provide more efficient software.

Maintaining the health of your website is crucial and it is as simple as pressing update next time that pop-up notification is blinking at you. For more information on how Cloud Sites is the right partner for you, visit our site here.

Professional-grade web hosting service providers continually upgrade their hosting infrastructure, and an outdated CMS or website code may not operate properly with the patches implemented by the host. As such, maintaining the health of your website code is crucial, and one easy step is updating your underlying CMS as soon as updates are made available.

Image Courtesy

Make checklist for server maintenance


Server Maintenance Checklist

Just like any other computer, servers need periodic maintenance. Here are a twelve things to check on a regular basis to keep your system running smoothly. This is just a quick check list. It is not meant to be exhaustive or explain how to do these things, but keeping tabs on these items can reduce server issues. These are just some of the things we do as part of our server management work.

12 Server Maintenance Tips

1. Verify your backups are working. Before making any changes to your production system, be sure that your backups are working. You may even want to run some test recoveries if you are going to delete critical data. While focused on backups, you may want to make sure you have selected the right backup location.

2. Check disk usage. Don’t use your production system as an archival system. Delete old logs, emails, and software versions no longer used. Keeping your system free of old software limits security issues. A smaller data footprint means faster recovery should a disk fail. If your usage is exceeding 90% of disk capacity, either reduce usage or add more storage. If your partition reaches 100%, your server may stop responding, database tables can corrupt and day can be lost.

3. Check RAID Alarms. If you are using RAID (and you should be), check that your RAID’s error notification system is configured properly and works as expected. Most RAID levels tolerate only a single disk failure. If you miss a RAID notification, a simple disk replacement could turn into a catastrophic failure.

4. Update your OS. Updates for Linux systems are release almost daily. Many of these fix important security issues. At rackAID, we update systems daily (sometimes even more frequently). If you do not have a management service or auto-updates enabled, be sure to review your OS for any critical security updates. Get on the mailing list for your OS so you know when critical security patches are released. If you have a kernel update, you will need to reboot your server unless you use a took like Ksplice.

5. Update your Control Panel. If you are using a hosting or server control panel, be sure to update it as well. Sometimes this means updating not only the control panel itself, but also software it controls. For example, with WHM/cPanel, you must manually update PHP versions to fix known issues. Simply updating the control panel does not also update the underlying Apache and PHP versions used by your OS.

6. Check application updates. Most security issues we investigate are due to outdated web applications. After you have updated your server, be sure to review the web applications and update them as well.

7. Check remote management tools. If your server is co-located or with a dedicated server provider, you will want to check that your remote management tools work. Remote console, remote reboot and rescue mode are what I call the 3 essential tools for remote server management. You want to know that these will work when you need them.

8. Check for hardware errors. You may want to review the logs for any signs of hardware problems. Overheating notices, disk read errors, network failures could be early indicators of potential hardware failure. These are rare but worth a look, especially if the system has not been working within normal ranges.

9. Check server utilization. Review your server’s disk, CPU, RAM and network utilization. If you are nearing limits, you may need to plan on adding resources to your server or migrating to a new one.

10. Review user accounts. If you have had staff changes, client cancellations or other user changes, you will want to remove these users from your system. Storing old sites and users is both a security and legal risk. Depending on your service contracts, you may not have the right to retain a client’s data after they have terminated services.

11. Change passwords. I recommend changing passwords every 6 to 12 months, especially if you have given out passwords to others for maintenance.

12. Check system security. I suggest a periodic review of your server’s security using a remote auditing tool such as Nessus. Regular security audits serve as a check on system configuration, OS updates and other potential security risks. I suggest this at least 4 times a year and preferably monthly.

Image Courtesy

Vital steps for providing IT services

servicesSteps to Defining an IT Service

IT service definition is an most important step in service management, but it is often left to last. No wonder so many initiatives meet with limited success. No wonder so many initiatives meet with limited success. If you do not get this fundamental step right, the odds are that your entire initiative will go down in flames. However, while all of these books and technology areas use the word service and purport to manage IT services, none of them describes the nuts and bolts of how to define a service.

These are the necessary step for performing IT services:

Step 1: Select an Enterprise Product and Identify Supporting Services
The first step in the process is to select an enterprise product and identify the IT service(s) that support the delivery of this product to end-customers. Your enterprise product is the primary enterprise output, what is sold to customers.

Step 2: List All Related IT Systems
The second step is to create a list of all IT systems relating to the support of the enterprise product. These are NOT hardware or software. Rather, they are often major applications that help sell, provision, service, and support your enterprise product. They often combine people, product, and process resources and their name is usually not technical, but rather, functional. Examples include CRM or ERP, or even “email” or phones.

Step 3: Mark IT Services as CFS or RFS
The next step in the process is to identify the services as either CFS or RFS. Remember that enterprise products are composed of and/or supported by CFSs and customers acquire CFSs from IT. In contrast, RFSs are used only inside of IT to build CFSs. Not all IT systems can be classified as CFS or RFS. Some are resources, and some are functional  such as the Help Desk or Service Desk

Also note that a CFS can be an RFS, and vice versa, depending on how the consumer of the service gets the service from IT. For example, an application hosting service might be a CFS to a customer who just wants hosting and it might be an RFS in a CFS to a web-hosted application provider.

Step 4: Map RFS to CFS
The next step is to map RFSs to CFSs. Remember that more than one RFS is typically used to deliver a CFS. Resources create RFSs, and RFSs create the CFS. Think of RFSs as the glue between the resources and the CFS. Remember that users and customers are generally unaware of an RFS. It is common to have one RFS used by many CFSs. For example, consider the IT systems responsible for database backup or storage. These systems contribute to most other IT services, including other RFSs.

Step 5: Identify the Resources that Make Up the Resource Facing Services
Resources are investments made to produce CFSs and RFSs. Examples of resources include radios, servers, towers, networks, call centers, etc. Resources are individual items such as hardware, software, people, etc. that combine as a system. Many RFSs and by extension CFSs share resources. Do not be surprised to see the same resources and RFS used several times.

Image Courtesy