All Posts By

Bart Thomas

AWS Reinvent 2016: Embiggen your business with Amazon Web Services

By | Cloud Computing, General | One Comment

Three weeks ago, Amazon Web Services ran their annual love-fest in Las Vegas and it was quite a remarkable week. On arrival, attendees (all 32,000+ of them) were given a shiny new Alexa Echo Dot, Amazon’s latest entrant into the growing market for voice controlled, AI-based smart assistants, a segment that includes Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. Amazon have now made it clear that they’re taking Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning very seriously, with four brand new, developer-focussed AI related services (Polly, Rekognition, Lex and MXNet) announced during the week. The free Alexa Echo Dots yet another incentive for developers to start building apps that make use of (and ultimately contribute to) Amazon’s efforts in this space. The week was brought to a close with a spectacular party,…

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Digital Transformation, AWS, Agile, DevOps and MicroServices. Oh My!

By | General | No Comments
Accelerating software delivery has been an important organisational goal for well over a decade, and the new software economy is making it even more so. As I'm sure you've noticed, digital disruption is very real. The past few years has seen profound change across many established industries (with repercussions felt across tens, if not hundreds of thousands of businesses), and it's clear that we're only just getting started. Established companies have to resist the temptation to perpetuate "business as usual", instead remodelling their businesses to create and serve the new kinds of value demanded by customers in a digital world. And if the incumbents don't do it, a new entrant into your market will. "The traditional core competencies of existing companies often become less like industry-defending fortresses and more like deadweight." - Digital to the Core. Mark Raskino and...
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AWS discount vouchers? We can do better than that!

By | General | No Comments

If you’re looking to reduce your AWS spend, read on. It’s no secret that the range of cloud services offered by providers such as Amazon Web Services brings many benefits to your business. Despite this, complex usage pricing and a huge range of services (around 60 at this stage!) means that it can be challenging controlling your costs. While many organisations move to the cloud expecting to save money, depending on how you’ve set things up you may find you’re spending more than you expected to. And while AWS discount vouchers sadly aren’t really a thing – Anchor has a few simple ways to reduce your AWS costs. You can get a quick fix with the “AWS Caretaker” service – simply link Anchor as your billing provider and you’ll immediately benefit from our volume discounts. We should be able to…

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Fleet for Magento – new release available

By | General | No Comments

The Fleet team continue to release new features and improvements to our Magento-as-a-Service platform, Fleet. The highlights for this week’s release include performance improvements, support for custom health checks and improved usage reporting. Support for custom health checks. Added warning when loading a third release into an environment. Fleet cron fragments (under /etc/cron.d/) are now readable by the deploy user. Weekly Fleet usage reports now sent. Autoscaling history now exposed as a log. NewRelic license can now be unset if it was previously set. Performance improvements to env describe. Version number (–version) now has meaningful output. Please see the Fleet changelog for more information about this and previous releases. As always, to take advantage of the new features you simply need to create a new release. Any changes at the environment…

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5 steps to prevent your website getting hacked

By | General | One Comment

I want to clear this up right from the start. No matter how security conscious you are, your website can always be hacked. In fact, if security isn’t really on your radar and you’re not already taking steps to keep your website (and the underlying application stack) patched and up to date, then it is almost certain that your site will get hacked—and soon. The thing is, it’s not just your data at risk if your site is hacked. You also run the risk of Google dropping it like a hot potato (meaning you’ll be removed from Google’s search index) if the hackers use it to distribute malware; a common tactic the bad guys will use to harvest credit card and personal data from people. In today’s digital world, getting…

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Merry Christmas from all of us at Anchor!

By | General | No Comments

2014 has been another amazing twelve months for Anchor, as well as our partners and customers. As you can see, there are now more heads than ever in our seasonal cartoon — and that’s before you count the half-dozen wonderful SysAdmins on our US support team! Anchor continues to grow rapidly to support our exciting future plans, and stand ready for an even stronger 2015. We’re continually looking for new ways to improve our services, so I’m pleased to say we have plenty of exciting developments due to launch in early next year, designed to make working with Anchor even more frictionless and rewarding. These include the full release of our OpenStack cloud and the launch of a new automated infrastructure service called Fleet that promises to change forever how…

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OpenStack – the open cloud

By | Cloud Computing | No Comments

No one likes vendor lock-in. It’s an artificial limitation on technology, designed to benefit the vendor, not the customer. The restrictions may seem insignificant on day one, when the technology may appear to be the best option currently available. But the world keeps spinning and technology keeps evolving, until you’re stuck with a platform that cannot appropriately adapt to suit your new situation without considerable expense. The big, proprietary public cloud vendors of today didn’t invent vendor lock-in, but they certainly know how to work it to their advantage. Cloud Computing isn’t owned by anyone. Companies locked into a proprietary cloud service lose the flexibility  needed to make good business decisions; making vendor lock-in a real threat to your competitive advantage. What might put you ahead one day can hold you back the…

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Why OpenStack matters

By | Cloud Computing | 2 Comments

I’m excited about OpenStack. “But you’re a cloud computing nerd anyway,” you say. “Why should we care?” I’ve worked in a few cloud businesses over the years in both London and Sydney, watching cloud computing evolve from niche technology to mainstream buzzword. So, yes I can get disproportionally excited about things that may seem boringly technical and nerdy to others. You’re probably not that interested in the capabilities of an Intel 12 core Xeon E5-2697v2 CPU, for example. But I think OpenStack is different, and something all businesses should be aware of, because it’s going to change the way you manage your business data and hosting. This open source cloud platform is on the cusp of disrupting the cosy, established world of the proprietary cloud providers, just as they themselves…

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Using a custom domain name with Gmail

By | General | 9 Comments

We’re often asked about email hosting here at Anchor. We used to offer it with our shared web hosting plans but it doesn’t really make sense for us to provide email hosting anymore, given the immense capabilities of hosted services such as Gmail and our focus on building and managing cloud hosting solutions. “But wait! I don’t want a Gmail address!” You don’t have to. If you want to use a custom domain name with Gmail, it’s relatively simple to configure Gmail to use a domain name that you already own — no-one ever need know that Google is providing the service. Instead of using “yourname@gmail.com” you can use “yourname@yourdomainname.com” yet continue to use the awesomely powerful Google Apps infrastructure! Why would I want to use Gmail instead of having <your current email host> provide my…

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Cloud Servers – cheap, fast & reliable?

By | Company News, General, Technical | One Comment

One of the things the cloud has taught us over the past few years is to expect outages. Lots of them. Many of those outages have been pretty big! This is because in the world of public cloud (aka. Infrastructure as a Service), running servers in reliable, physical data centres has been replaced with a new concept; that of running cloud servers in Availability Zones. Which is fine, so long as you understand the implications and can configure your website or application to operate optimally in this type of environment. Don’t get me wrong, cloud servers have a lot going for them. It’s just that while they solve many problems, they also introduce a few biggies of their own and you really should be across the pros and cons before jumping on the…

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