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Imagine you’re in the middle of the peak season, marketing campaigns are in full swing and orders are pouring in. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Unless the database suddenly stops working that is. Perhaps an inattentive colleague accidentally deletes it. Or maybe the disk array fails – it doesn’t matter in the end, the result is the same. Orders start falling into a black hole. You have no idea what someone bought and for how much, let alone where to send it to them. Of course, you have a database backup, but the file is quite large and it can take several hours to restore.

Now what?

Roll up your sleeves, start pulling the necessary information manually from email logs and other dark corners. And hope that nothing escapes you. But those few hours of recovery will be really long and incredibly expensive. Some orders will certainly be lost and you will be catching up with the hours of database downtime for a few more days.

Standard database backup (and why recovery takes so long)

Standard backup, which most larger e-shoppers are used to, is carried out using the so-called “dump” method, where the entire database is saved as a single file. The file contains sequences of commands that can be edited as needed. This method is very simple to implement. Another advantage is that the backup can be performed directly on the server on which the database is running.

However, a significant disadvantage of the dump is the time needed to restore the database from such a backup. This applies especially to large databases. As each command must be reloaded separately from the saved file into the database, the whole process can take several hours. At the same time, you can only restore the data that was contained in the last dump – you will lose the latest entries in the database that have not yet been backed up. The result is an unpleasant scenario described in the introduction – a lot of manual work and lost sales.

Premium backup with Point-in-time recovery

In order for our clients to avoid similar problems, we offer them premium database backups. This service allows for very fast recovery of databases, to the state just before the moment of failure. We achieve this by combining snapshot backups with binary log replication.

How does it work exactly?

We create an asynchronous replica from the primary database to the backup server. On this backup server, we make a backup using a snapshot. In parallel, we continuously copy binary logs to the backup server, which record all changes in the primary database. In the event of an accident, the logs will help us determine exactly when the problem occurred. At the same time, thanks to them, we have records of operations that immediately preceded the accident and are not backed up by a snapshot.

By combining these two methods, we can – in case of failure – quickly restore the database to its original state (so-called Point-in-time recovery, recovery to a point in time).

First, we restore the latest backup snapshot and copy it to the primary server from the backup server. Subsequently, for binary logs, we identify the place where the destructive operation took place and use them to restore the most recent data.

The speed of the whole process can be as much as 10 times higher than recovery from a dump. It is limited only by the write speed to the disk and the network connection. With a database of around 100 GB, the length of the entire process will be in the order of dozens of minutes.

What is needed for implementation?

Unlike the classic dump backup, which you can perform directly on the primary server, you need a backup server for the premium option. This server should have similar performance as the production server. The size of the storage is also important: we recommend about twice the volume of the disk with the primary database. This capacity should allow snapshots to be backed up for at least the last 48 hours (if you opt for hourly backups).

We will be happy to recommend the ideal storage volume for your database – book a free consultation at consultation@vshosting.eu –⁠ it depends on the frequency of backups, the number of changes in your database, and other factors.

Premium backup also depends on the choice of database technologies. Due to the use of binary logs, it can only be implemented in relational databases such as MariaDB or PostgreSQL. NoSQL databases do not have a transaction log and are therefore not compatible with this method.

Another condition is a more conservative database setup on the backup server. The repository must always be consistent in order to take snapshots using ZFS. Upgrades that prioritize database performance over consistency cannot be used on the backup server. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a faster storage option than on the primary server, where a higher performance setting that reduces consistency is feasible.

Is the premium database backup for you?

If you can’t afford to lose any data in your business, let alone run for hours without a database, our premium backup with Point-in-time recovery is right for you. An example of a project that will benefit the most from this service is an online store with large databases, which would cost thousands of euros. In this case, an investment in the backup server needed for premium backup will pay off very quickly.

Conversely, if you have a smaller database with just a few changes per hour, you’re probably perfectly fine opting for a standard dump backup.

If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to advise you free of charge: consultation@vshosting.eu.


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But your cargo will probably sink, and you will scramble to try and save as much of it as possible. To avoid this, we recommend that you prepare in advance for the expected fluctuations in infrastructure load. Among the most demanding e-commerce events are Christmas and Black Friday.

Online stores are traditionally preparing for Christmas in the summer. That’s when it’s time to think not only about marketing campaigns to attract as many customers as possible but also about the technical background that needs to withstand their influx to the website. The key is to know the average traffic to your site. And what the last season was like. Once you have this comparison, you can simply calculate roughly how much increase you can expect this year.

But what if you do even better than last year? That would be great but be prepared for this very desirable option. We recommend having an extra infrastructure capacity of approx. 20% on top of your estimate from the calculation above. However, it is always best to consult your hosting provider directly about tailor-made capacity reserves.

How to calculate the necessary capacity

For a simple calculation of infrastructure capacity, it is sufficient to compare the expected numbers with the current data. If you assume that the application will scale linearly, you can simply use last year’s high season increase in traffic compared to the average traffic in the first half of the year. Use that percentage increase combined with this year’s traffic and you’ll find out what system resources you’ll need this time around.

The advantages of this method are its speed and minimal cost. However, it is only a rough approximation. A more accurate alternative would be the so-called performance test. During this process, we simulate large traffic using an artificial load, while monitoring which components of the infrastructure become bottlenecks. This method also reveals configuration or technological limitations. However, it is fair to mention that performance tests are time-consuming as well as highly specific depending on the technologies used. For small and medium-sized online stores, they can therefore be unnecessarily expensive.

Pro tip: For example, the popular Redis database is single-threaded, so when the performance of a single core becomes saturated, it has reached its maximum at that point, and it doesn’t matter that the server has dozens of free cores available. Simply because such an application cannot use them.

Getting technical: 4 things to watch

CPU – beware of misleading CPU usage graphs if hyperthreading is enabled. The graph aggregating performance across all processor cores then greatly distorts the available performance. Although hyper thread theoretically doubles the number of cores, it practically doesn’t add twice the power. If you see values above 50% on such a graph, you are very close to the maximum… This is typically somewhere between 60 and 70%, depending on the type of load.

RAM – RAM usually does not grow linearly. For example, for databases, some memory allocations are global and others are separate for each connection. It often gets forgotten that the RAM cannot get completely full. If it does, all you need is a small allocation requirement, and the core kills the process that the memory required.

The operating system typically uses the memory reserve as a disk cache, which has a positive effect on performance. If caching is not sufficient, disk operation needs to increase.

Disks – Low disk speeds are a common reason that some operations are slow or completely inoperable at high loads. Whether the solution is sufficient will be shown only at high load or during a performance test. This load can be reduced by more intensive caching, which requires more RAM. It is also possible to solve the situation, for example, by upgrading from SATA / SAS SSD to NVMe disks.

It is also necessary to consider capacity because it can also affect overall performance. All filesystems using COW (copy-on-write) – for example, the ZFS we use, or file systems such as btrfs or WAFL – need extra capacity to run. All of these file systems share an unpleasant feature: when about 90% of the capacity becomes occupied, performance starts to degrade rapidly. It is important not to underestimate this – in times of heavy load, more data is often created and capacity is consumed faster.

Network layer – especially important for cluster solutions, where servers communicate a lot with each other and the speed for internal communication can easily become insufficient. It is also appropriate to consider redundancy – the vshosting~ standard is the doubling of the network layer with the help of LACP technology. So, for example, we make one 2GE interface from 2x 1GE. This creates a capacity of 2GE, but in practice, it is not appropriate to use up more than 1GE, because at that moment we are losing redundancy on the server.

Even the fact that the solution uses a 10GE interface does not mean that such a solution will suffice under all circumstances. All it takes is a small developer error when a simple query transfers a large amount of unnecessary data to the database (typically select * from… and then takes the first X lines in the application) and it is easy to deplete even such a large bandwidth.

Can we help evaluate your infrastructure capacity? Email us at consultation@vshosting.eu.


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We made major upgrades to the infrastructure of one of the biggest e-commerce projects in the Czech Republic and Slovakia: GymBeam. And they’re not just some minor improvements – we exchanged all the hardware in the application part of their cluster and installed the extra powerful servers (8 of those bad boys in total). 

How did the installation go, what does it mean for GymBeam, which advantages do EPYC servers provide, and should you be thinking of this upgrade yourself? You’ll find out all that and more in this article. 

What’s so epic about EPYC servers?

Until recently, we’ve been focusing on Intel Xeon processors at vshosting~. These have been dominating (not only) the server product market for many years. In the last couple of years, however, the significant improvement in portfolio and manufacturing technologies of the AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) company caught our attention.

This company newly offers processors that offer a better price/performance ratio, a higher number of cores per CPU, and better energy management (among other things thanks to a different manufacturing technology – AMD Zen 2 7nm vs. Intel Xeon Scalable 14nm). These processors are installed in the AMD EPYC servers we have used for the new GymBeam infrastructure.

AMD EPYC servers processors

They are the most modern servers with record-breaking processors with up to 68 cores and 128 threads (!!!). Compared to the standard Intel Xeon Scalable, where we offer processors with a maximum of 28 cores per CPU, the volume of computing cores is more than double.

The EPYC server processors are manufactured using the 7 nm process and the multiple-chipsets-per-case method, which allows for all 64 cores to be packed into a single CPU and ensure a truly noteworthy performance.

How did the installation go

The installation of the first servers based on this new platform went flawlessly. Our first step was a careful selection of components and platform unification for all of the future installations. The most important part at the very beginning was choosing the best possible architecture of the platform together with our suppliers and specialists. This included choosing the best chassis, server board, peripherals including the more powerful 20k RPM ventilators for sufficient cooling, etc.  We will apply this setup going forward on all future AMD EPYC installations. We were determined for the new platform to reflect the high standard of our other realizations – no room for compromise. 

EPYC server platform

As a result, the AMD EPYC servers joined our “fleet” without a hitch. The servers are based on the chassis and motherboards from the manufacturer SuperMicro and we can offer both 1Gbps and 10Gbps connection and connection of hard disks both on-board and with the help of a physical RAID controller according to the customer’s preferences. We continue to apply hard drives from our offer, namely the SATA3 // SAS2 or PCI-e NVMe. Read more about the differences between SATA and NVMe disks.

Because this is a new platform for use, we have of course stocked our warehouse with SPARE equipment and are ready to use it immediately should there be any issue in production.

Advantages of the hardware for GymBeam’s business

The difference compared to the previous processors from Intel is huge: besides the larger number of cores, even the computing power per core is higher. Another performance increase is caused by turning on the Hyperthreading technology. We turn this off in case of the Intel processors due to security reasons but in case of the AMD EPYC processors, there’s no reason to do so (as of yet anyway). 

The result of the overall increase in performance is, firstly, a significant acceleration in web loading due to higher performance per core. This is especially welcomed by GymBeam customers, for whom shopping in the online store has now become even more pleasant. Speeding up the web will also improve SEO and raise search engine “karma” overall.

In addition to faster loading, GymBeam gained a large performance reserve for its marketing campaigns. The new infrastructure can handle even a several-fold increase in traffic in the case of intensive advertising.

Last but not least, at GymBeam they can now be sure they are running on the best hardware available 🙂

Would you benefit from upgrading to the EPYC servers?

Did the mega-powerful EPYC processors catch your interest and you are now considering whether they would pay off in your case? When it comes to optimizing your price/performance ratio, the number one question is how powerful an infrastructure your project needs.

It makes sense to consider AMD EPYC processors in a situation where your existing processors are running out of breath and upgrading to a higher Intel Xeon line would not make economic sense. That limit is currently at about 2x 14core – 2x 16core. Intel’s price above this performance is disproportionately high at the moment.

Of course, the reason for the upgrade does not have to be purely technical or economic – the feeling that you run services on the fastest and best the market has to offer, of course, also has its value.


vshosting~

As the popular SEO joke goes, when you need to hide something really well, you put it on the second page of Google search results. That you can very easily end up in even better-concealed places due to your hosting provider is not quite as well known, though. 

The search algorithms of Google and other search engines are strictly confidential. However, many of the factors that can kick you out of the coveted first page have been well documented by SEO experts. Typically they are low-quality texts on the website, content copied from elsewhere, or unseemly SEO practices.

The effect of hosting quality is often neglected. But it influences your SEO quite a bit and from three main angles: speed, outages, and location.

1) Website speed

The faster your website loads, the better your search engine ranking becomes. Of course, top-notch website speed alone will not ensure the first spot in the results for you. On the other hand, there’s no way you’ll make it to the top without it. Combined with other SEO strategies, speeding up your site will help you climb the Google result ladder. 

Why is that? Website speed isn’t just some abstract Google metric. Slow loading is the leading cause of website visitor’s leaving. That leads to worsening metrics such as bounce rate and time spent on the site which in turn causes bad “search engine karma” and pushes you further down in the search results. 

In our experience, 3 seconds are a good benchmark. If it takes your site longer to load, your hosting might be at fault. Find out from your provider whether it’s caused by low performance, sharing resources with other users, or due to a suboptimal location of servers that store your data (we’ll get back to the location issue in a second). 

For more tips regarding increasing website speed, check out our dedicated article.

Tip: Not sure how fast your website is? We recommend the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google. It gives you the option to measure the speed of both the desktop and mobile versions of your website. 

2) Outages

Hosting outages are an unpleasant affair from start to finish – starting with unrealized sales, followed by loss of customer trust, and topped off with damaged SEO. That’s why we recommend you avoid them altogether by choosing a reliable hosting provider

Wait a second – what do outages have to do with SEO? Unfortunately, quite a bit. For example, Google penalizes websites that have been down for a while. Thus you’re risking a drop in your search result position. Getting back up is no easy task so prevention is key. 

3) Location

The location in which the servers storing your data are placed is closely related to the speed of your website and therefore also SEO. It is primarily about how great the distance is between the servers and the visitor to your site. The longer the distance your data has to travel, the longer it takes for it to reach the user. If the distance is, say, 500 kilometers and your hosting provider uses quality operators, everything works great.

However, if you have servers in ServerPark in Prague and a visitor to your site is sitting at a Starbucks in Los Angeles, they may be unpleasantly surprised by the slow loading. The ideal solution in this case is the so-called CDN, which periodically caches the content of your website (i.e. stores it in locations that are closer to site visitors). The result is a significant acceleration of your site loading time and thus an improved position in search results.

When choosing a CDN, focus on where the provider has the so-called pops. That is for which locations it is able to ensure the fast delivery of your content. For example, vshosting~ has pops all over Europe and North America.

Top SEO is not just about keywords and interesting content. You also need the support of a quality hosting partner to reach the top of the search. Make sure your SEO efforts are not sabotaged by poor hosting quality.



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DevOps and containerization are among the most popular IT buzzwords these days. Not without reason. A combination of these two approaches happens to be one of the main reasons why developer work keeps getting more efficient. In this article, we’ll focus on 9 main reasons why even your project could benefit from DevOps and containers. 

A couple of introductory remarks

DevOps is a composition of two words: Development and Operations. It’s pretty much a software development approach that emphasizes the cooperation of developers with IT specialists taking care of running the applications. This leads to many advantages, the most important of which we will discuss shortly.

Containerization fits into DevOps perfectly. We can see it as a supportive instrument of the DevOps approach. Similar to physical containers that standardized the transportation of goods, software containers represent a standard “transportation” unit of software. Thanks to that, IT experts can implement them across environments with hardly any adjustments (just like you can easily transfer a physical container from a ship to a train or a truck).

Top 9 DevOps and container advantages

1) Team synergies

With the DevOps approach, developers and administrators collaborate closely and all of them participate in all parts of the development process. These two worlds have traditionally been separated but their de facto merging brings forth many advantages. 

Close cooperation leads to increased effectiveness of the entire process of development and administration and thus to its acceleration. Another aspect is that the cooperation of colleagues from two different areas often results in various innovative, out of the box solutions that would otherwise remain undiscovered. 

2) Transparent communication

A common issue not only in IT companies is quality communication (or rather lack thereof). Everybody is swamped with work and focuses solely on his or her tasks. However, this can easily result in miscommunication and incorrect assumptions and by extension into conflicts and unnecessary workload. 

Establishing transparent and regular communication between developers and administrators is a big part of DevOps. Because of this, everyone feels more like a part of the same team. Both groups are also included in all phases of application development. 

3) Fewer bugs and other misfortunes

Another great DevOps principle is the frequent releasing of smaller parts of applications (instead of fewer releases of large bits). That way, the risk of faulty code affecting the entire application is pretty much eliminated. In other words: if something does go wrong, at least it doesn’t break the app as a whole. Together with a focus on thorough testing, this approach leads to a much lower number of bugs and other issues.

If you decide to combine containers with DevOps, you can benefit from their standardization. Standardization, among other things, ensures that the development, testing, and production environments (i.e. where the app runs) are defined identically. This dramatically reduces the occurrence of bugs that didn’t show up during development and testing and only present themselves when released into production. 

4) Easier bug hunting (and fixing)

Eventual bug fixes and ensuring smooth operation of the app is also made possible by the methodical storage of all code version that’s typical for DevOps. As a result, it becomes very easy to identify any problem that might arise when releasing a new app version.

If an error does occur, you can simply switch the app back to its previous version – it takes a few minutes at the most. The developers can then take their time finding and fixing the bug while the user is none the wiser. Not to mention the bug hunting is so much easier because of the frequent releases of small bits of code. 

5) Hassle-free scalability and automation

Container technology makes scaling easy too and allows the DevOps team to automate certain tasks. For example, the creation and deployment of containers can be automated via API which saves precious development time (and cost). 

When it comes to scalability, you can run the application in any number of container instances according to your immediate need. The number of containers can be increased (e.g. during the Christmas season) or decreased almost immediately. You’ll thus be able to save a significant amount of infrastructure costs in the periods when the demand for your products is not as high. At the same time, if the demand suddenly shoots up – say that you’re an online pharmacy during a pandemic – you can increase capacity in a flash. 

6) Detailed monitoring of business metrics

DevOps and containerization go hand in hand with detailed monitoring, which helps you quickly identify any issues. Monitoring, however, is also key for measuring business indicators.  Those allow you to evaluate whether the recently released update helps achieve your goals or not. 

For example: imagine that you’ve decided to redesign the homepage of your online store with the objective of increasing the number of orders by 10 %. Thanks to detailed monitoring, you can see whether you’re hitting the 10 % goal or not shortly after the homepage release. On the other hand, if you made 5 changes in the online store all at once, the evaluation of their individual impact would be much more difficult. Say that the collective result of the 5 changes would be the increase of order number by 7 %. Which of the new features contributed the most to the increase? And don’t some of them cause the order number to go down? Who knows.

7) Faster and more agile development

All of the above results in significant acceleration of the entire development process – from writing the code to its successful release. The increase in speed can reach 60 % or even more (!). 

How much efficiency DevOps will provide (and how much savings and extra revenue) depends on many factors. The most important ones are your development team size and the degree of supportive tool use – e.g. containers, process automation, and the choice of flexible infrastructure. Simply put, the bigger your team and the more you utilize automation and infrastructure flexibility, the more efficient the entire process will become. 

8) Decreased development costs 

It is hardly a surprise that faster development, better communication and cooperation preventing unnecessary work, and fewer bugs lead to lowering development costs. Especially in companies with large IT departments, the savings can reach dozens of percent (!).

Oftentimes the synergies and higher efficiency show that you don’t need to have, say, 20 IT specialists in the team. Perhaps just 17 or so will suffice. That’s one heck of a saving right there as well.

9) Happier customers

Speeding up development also makes your customers happy. Your business is able to more flexibly react to their requests and e.g. promptly add that new feature to your online store that your customers have been asking for. Thanks to the previously mentioned detailed monitoring, you can easily see which of the changes are welcomed by your users and which you should rather throw out of the window. This way, you’ll be able to better differentiate yourself from the competition and build up a tribe of fans that will rarely go get their stuff anywhere else. 

Key takeaways

To sum it all up, from a developer’s point of view, DevOps together with containers simplify and speed up work, improve communication with administrators, and drastically reduce the occurrence of bugs. Business-wise this translates to radical cost reductions and more satisfied customers (and thus increased revenues). The resulting equation “increased revenues + decreased costs = increased profitability” requires no further commentary. 

In order for everything to run as it should, you’ll also need a great infrastructure provider – typically some form of a Kubernetes platform. For most of us, what first comes to mind are the traditional clouds of American companies. Unfortunately, according to our clients’ experience, the user (un)friendliness of these providers won’t make things easier for you. Another option is a provider that will get the Kubernetes platform ready for you, give you much needed advice as well as nonstop phone support. And for a lower price. Not to toot our own horn but these are exactly the criteria that our Kubernetes platform fits perfectly. 

Example of infrastructure utilizing container technology – vshosting~


vshosting~

How do you recognize a great hosting provider from a sub-par one? To quote one of our colleagues: “It’s damn hard.”

Unfortunately, many of you will only learn the true qualities of your hosting provider when things get tough. A great hosting company solves problems proactively, quickly and nonstop. (And most of the issues it manages to quench before they fully manifest.) That’s why a lot of people only change their hosting provider after some very bad experience.

However, by then the inability of a hosting company will have usually cost you considerable money. Plus when looking for a new hosting provider, you know little more than before. The only improvement is that you can remove your existing provider from a long list of options.

Damn hard, yet not impossible

To determine a hosting provider’s quality is truly difficult but there are some indicators that can help you decide nonetheless. Award plus points to all hosting companies with their own data center, those who have support staff directly in the data center, 24/7, and to those providers that are happy to prepare a customized solution for you. 

On the other hand, if a hosting company is renting space in someone else’s data center hundreds of miles away from its headquarters, we recommend you rule it out at once. How will they fix your server if something goes wrong? The same goes for a provider with support staff that only work on weekdays from 9-5. It is well known that bugs and other problems notoriously rear their ugly head at 2 am on Saturdays. Ideally, just before Christmas.

Similarly, if a provider tries to squeeze your unique online project into one of their cookie-cutter solutions and doesn’t want to hear about customization, we recommend you run for the hills.

All of these markers can help you narrow down the list of potential providers. Unfortunately, it’s often not enough to make a final decision. Besides, there are also such companies that will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Then it becomes very difficult for you to figure out what’s the truth and what isn’t.

How to size up an intangible product

Hosting is a virtual service that you can’t just look at and evaluate. Therefore, some providers can promise you wonderful things that you’ll have difficulty verifying. For this reason, we recommend you go beyond the above-mentioned research and visit the company’s headquarters and data center.

Look into the data center itself, the backup elements they use, and even how many people are manning the support. It’s also essential whether the support staff are experienced professionals or whether it’s obvious they’re just some random students. Focus also on how the company manages server monitoring (does it allow them to discover a problem before it fully manifests itself?). All of this will help you judge how well the hosting provider takes care of servers entrusted to them. 

This tactic will further help you narrow down the list of potential hosting companies to the highest quality ones. You’re still not out of the woods, though. Many aspects are hard for you to gauge and clever salespeople can manage to hide a few skeletons under the data center floorboards. Therefore, it’s time to focus on quality indicator number one: references.

References, references, references

You’ve probably heard that in real estate what matters most are three things: location, location, location. Well, when it comes to hosting, it’s all about references. Thanks to them you can accurately estimate whether the given company can provide even more complicated solutions, whether they can customize infrastructure to your project and whether they’re a good fit for your business at all. 

Try to find out if your potential hosting providers have large and well-known companies that require customized complex infrastructure among their clients (such as Pilulka.cz). If so, it’s a great indicator that the hosting company can manage even extensive projects and won’t have a problem tailoring the hosting solution to your needs – no matter the size of your business. To give you an idea: at vshosting~, we host both the largest Czech projects with clusters composed of tens of servers and respectable clients who only have a single cloud server.

At the same time, focus on reference clients that have a business model similar to yours. Do you sell clothes online? Then you’ll be interested to know which hosting provider has e. g. Trenýrkárna.cz as a client. Do you run a digital agency? In that case, you’ll want to host with a company that provides infrastructure for e.g. Blueghost. And so on – you get the idea.

It is also important whether the hosting provider has experience with the technologies you use in your application. Therefore, ask also about concrete clients that chose the same technologies as yourself. Do you, for example, run a highly loaded MySQL database and need someone to take care of it, optimize it and ensure its operation in a high availability mode? That’s our daily bread at vshosting~ – we even take care of MySQL databases with terabytes of data in volume! 

But how can you rule out those companies that have no qualms about putting up a bunch of impressive logos on their website without actually having those companies as clients? Simple: ask for contact information of these clients and verify the references. Respectable hosting companies will have no problem giving them to you. On the other hand, if a company gives you a bunch of excuses about why they can’t give you their clients’ contact info, that’s a serious red flag.

References in the hosting business simply serve as insurance that whatever it is providers promise you, they can also deliver. 


vshosting~

At vshosting~, we make it our mission to not only provide our clients with top-notch hosting services but also to advise them well. In the 14 years that we’ve been on the market, we’ve seen quite a lot already. Therefore, we have a pretty good idea about what works and what spells trouble. One of the key (and very costly) issues we see time and again is a shared infrastructure for both development and production. This tends to be the case even with large online projects that risk losing enormous amounts of money should something go awry.

Considering how big a risk shared dev and production environment poses, something going awry is a matter of time. Why is this so dangerous? And how to set up your infrastructure so that you eliminate the risks? We put together the most important points. 

Development vs. production environment 

Development (and testing) environment should just and only serve new software and feature development or its testing. This encompasses not only the changes in your main application but also e.g. updates of your software equipment on the server. In the dev environment, developers should be able to experiment without worrying about endangering production.

The production environment, on the other hand, is where the app runs for everyone to see. For instance, an online store, where customers browse and search for items, add them to carts and pay for orders. Production is simply all that is visible for your average user plus all the things in the background that are key for app operation (e.g. databases, warehousing systems, etc.).

But most importantly: the production environment is where the money is made. Therefore, we should keep our distance from it and play it soothing classical music. As any problem in production rapidly translates into lost revenue.

Risks posed by A shared infrastructure

If you don’t separate development from production, it can easily happen that your developers will release insufficiently tested software, which will in turn damage or break the entire application. In other words: your production will go down. Should you be sufficiently unlucky, it will take your developers several hours or even days to fix the app. If your app is a large online store, this translates into tens of thousands of euros in lost revenue. Not to mention the extra development expenditures.

Such a situation becomes especially painful if it occurs during a time of high traffic on your website. In the case of online stores, this is typically the case before Christmas – take a look at how much would just an hour-long outage cost you. It’s not just Christmas, though – take any period of time you spend investing in e.g. a TV commercial. This is a very expensive endeavor and cannot be simply turned off because your online store is down.

Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed way too many nightmarish situations like this. This is why we recommend all our clients develop software in a separate environment and only after testing it in a testing environment release it into production. The same can be said for expanding the software equipment of their production servers. Only by thoroughly testing outside of production can you avoid discovering a critical bug in production on a Friday night just before Christmas.

Inside a separated development environment, you can deploy new app versions (e.g. an update online store) risk-free. There you can also test everything well before deployment to production. It will also allow you to update server components to their new versions (DB, PH, etc.) and test their compatibility and function. Only when you are certain everything works the way it should, can you move it to production. All in all, you’ll save yourself lots of trouble and cut costs to boot.

How to separate development from production

When choosing a hosting solution, take the issue of separating development and production into consideration. Ideally, you should run development and testing on a separate server and production should “live” on another one (or on a cluster of servers). At vshosting~, we’re happy to offer you a free consultation regarding the best solution for your project – just drop us a line.

We’ll help you design appropriate configuration for your development and testing environment so that it fully reflects that of production but at the same time doesn’t cost you a fortune in unused performance you don’t need. As the development environment receives little traffic, it doesn’t have to be as robust. For example, if your production consists of a cluster of three powerful servers, one smaller virtual one will likely be just enough for your development purposes. We recommend using the cloud for development because it’s typically the most cost-efficient option.

If you opt for one of our managed hosting services, we’re even happy to create the development environment for you. Simply put, we’ll “clone” your production and adjust it in such a way, that the environment remains identical but its performance is not unnecessarily high. That way, you’ll get all the benefits of separating development from production and save time and money while at it. Then, you’ll be able to make all your changes in development and, only after successful testing, transfer them to production.


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It’s no secret that servers aren’t exactly the most attractive topic, passionately discussed at e-commerce conferences. The hottest trends in full-text search optimization or tips for most efficient social media campaigns are much more en vogue.

Then there’s the core business itself, to which every e-shopper dedicates the bulk of their time. Considerations regarding server infrastructure quality and the reliability of the entire hosting solution rarely make it to the tightly packed schedule.

Underestimating hosting pays bitter dividends

Why worry about the details of your hosting solution anyway? It does work somehow.

Well, if you’ve been in the world of e-commerce for a while, you’re likely painfully aware that “it” sometimes doesn’t work. At all. As chance would have it, this tends to happen during the least convenient times. Such as just before Christmas when your pricey marketing campaigns are in full swing and everybody shops like their lives depend on it. If your e-shop goes down then, nobody will care how wonderful your products are. Even if your full-text reads your customers’ minds and your social media campaign makes thousands swoon, it’ll all have been for naught.

„Experience shows that hosting and the technology behind it (infrastructure, servers) are just as important in e-commerce as logistics or customer support,“ says Damir Špoljarič, CEO of vshosting~

As our CEO, Damir Špoljarič, discussed in a recent interview (Czech only – sorry) – infrastructure is absolutely essential in e-commerce and one shouldn’t underestimate it.

Unfortunately, on top of servers’ lack of sex appeal, most e-shop owners aren’t primarily technically oriented and tend to delegate tech stuff to developers. They often offer to take care of hosting as well, which sounds great – because hey, one less thing to worry about. But developers aren’t hosting experts and too often opt for a less than ideal solution. Therefore, we recommend entrusting your hosting solution to specialists with relevant experience. After all, you wouldn’t want a bunch of Linux admins coding your new e-shop either, would you?

In addition, many hosting providers strive to cut down prices as much as possible, which leads them to compromise on quality and in turn raises the risk of an outage. Such risk, however, proves difficult to imagine – calculating how much I save by opting for a cheaper solution, on the other hand, is a piece of cake. As a result, many e-shoppers take the “as cheap as possible” route. They only get to quantify the risk they took when the cheap hosting faults show in lost revenues.

Christmas in e-commerce: easily half of the yearly revenues

Outages happen most often when the servers are under most pressure – the Christmas season is a textbook example of that. Unsurprisingly, at that time it’s also least convenient because most sales in e-shops take place before Christmas. Based on the data from e-shop infrastructure providers, Shoptet and Shopsys, for many e-shops the revenues during the time between 1.9. and 23.12. may even exceed half their total yearly revenues. Both companies entrusted their infrastructure to vshosting~, which is therefore ready for seasonal traffic fluctuations and their data is unaffected by any outages as a result.


The customers of e-shops on Shoptet made approximately 21 million orders last Christmas. That is almost three-quarters of all the orders made there that year. In the case of Shopsys, which is used by somewhat larger e-shops on average compared to those on Shoptet, Christmas orders comprised between 34 and 49 percent of the total yearly numbers. The data suggests that the smaller the e-shop, the more significance the Christmas season holds for it. Underestimating hosting can thus backfire especially unpleasantly for them. Unfortunately, it is the smallest e-shops that tend to compromise on hosting the most.

E-shop Christmas according to Shoptet

E-shop down: how much money are you losing?

Every e-shopper understands that a web outage translates into money lost. But how much? Would it even pay off to invest in a more robust hosting solution?

Using Shopsys data, we’ll show how much of its revenue an average large, medium and smaller e-shop loses in the event of an hour-long or even a day-long outage. A typical outage “only” takes a few hours but longer ones that exceed a full day may also occur. 

Large e-shops

The category of large e-shops at Shopsys includes e-shops with annual revenue exceeding CZK 1 billion. Their average large e-shop at Shopsys has annual revenue of 1.1 billion CZK. According to the available data, a typical large e-shop will earn around 425 million CZK – almost 40% of total annual revenue – during the Christmas season alone.

Effect of Christmas on large e-shops

If during the Christmas season, i.e. in the period 1.9. – 23.12., even an hour-long web outage occurs, the revenue lost amounts to 155 000 CZK on average. If the e-shop ends up down for the entire day, it will lose 3,720,000 CZK on average.

Medium e-shops

Medium e-shops on Shopsys are those with revenues in the hundreds of millions CZK. The average yearly revenue of a medium e-shop on Shopsys is 400 million CZK but ca. 155 million, i.e. 39 % of that is earned during the Christmas season.

Effect of Christmas on medium e-shops

Potential losses from non-realized orders given an hour-long outage thus amount to 57 000 CZK – or up to 1 400 000 CZK in the event of a day-long outage.

Small e-shops

The annual sales of smaller e-shops at Shopsys are in the tens of millions CZK and the average annual sales are about 60 million CZK. The Christmas season accounts for 45 % of total sales, i.e. 27 million CZK.

Effect of Christmas on small e-shops

A smaller e-shop can, therefore, lose around 10 000 CZK in the event of an hour-long outage, an all-day outage will rack up losses of 240 000 CZK. Despite those numbers being much lower than in the case of larger e-shops, proportionally the impact of an outage is much higher on smaller e-shops because the holiday season is so important for their business.

Which category does your e-shop fall into? Try to estimate, how much would just an hour-long outage cost you. Compared to how much you save by opting for a less reliable hosting solution, it’s likely that the very real possibility of an outage and the resulting losses far exceed your savings. 

Not to mention it’s not just about lost revenue…

Lost revenue is just the beginning

If you invest intensively in an advertising campaign, which is typical during the Christmas season, an “e-shop down” will cause losses twice: firstly, you lose the money from people who want to buy from you, and secondly, you throw your advertising investment out the window.

And don’t even get us started on the loss of customer trust, damage to the brand or negative SEO effects. Nowadays, customers quickly put an e-shop that is down even for a moment into the “I’m not coming back here” category. The impression of the unreliability of your e-shop is immediately reflected in your brand perception too.

Last but not least, an e-shop outage affects your SEO – e.g. Google penalizes websites that have been down for some time. Therefore, you’re risking falling down in organic search results and every SEO expert will confirm that getting back up takes a lot of work.

Solution: choosing a high-quality provider

The answer to the above-mentioned horror stories seems obvious – just pick out great hosting. But how? The “hosting solution quality” is a rather inconceivable concept so how can you tell that your provider is the one that doesn’t compromise on infrastructure?

To be honest: it’s really hard to tell. Because paper doesn’t blush and some providers are willing to promise you the world and the cancellation of gravity to boot. Nonetheless, there are a few quality indicators around: references, recommendations, and a couple of well-formulated questions. Simply put: ask around.

Ask hosting providers about their clients. Are there any well-known companies among them? Are any of them from your industry? Get their contact information and verify the references. A reputable company will give you that information – if they try to talk their way out of it, watch out.

Take a look at vshosting~ references

Ask your friends from your industry about their providers. What is their experience with them? How long have they been using them? Would they recommend their services? There’s nothing better than a brutally honest review from someone you trust.

And lastly: ask your potential providers about their expertise. What proven experience do they have with projects similar to yours? How do they deal with traffic spikes? How quickly can they deal with unexpected issues in the middle of the night? What if there’s a hardware malfunction at 3 am on a Saturday? 

Ask us anything

Why 50 % of Czech and Slovak e-commerce hosts at vshosting~

Half of all the Czech and Slovak e-shops have entrusted their infrastructure to us. We dare to say this is no coincidence. At vshosting~, we have extensive experience even with the most demanding e-commerce projects – be it companies such as Shoptet and Shopsys that provide background for thousands of e-shops, or well-known projects like Pilulka or Notino. 

Check out our references

Because we’ve been providing hosting for e-commerce projects for over 13 years, we’ve accumulated a lot of know-how. All servers are running in our very own modern datacenter that meets demanding security standards. As a result, we have the entire process under control: from hosting solution design and migration to daily operation and optimization.

Our infrastructure is prepared for seasonal traffic changes as well as unpredictable spikes so the fact that there are five times as many people on your website before Christmas won’t faze us in the least. We also ensure resistance to the malfunction of any part of the hosting solution – you won’t have to worry about infrastructure at all and just focus on your core business. 

All our servers have redundant connections, power supplies, and other features. We have doubled all the elements within the data center and backed up the network connection many times. At the same time, in case of a problem, we guarantee a response within 60 seconds – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Right in the data center, we have qualified technicians and admins who immediately solve unexpected situations, nonstop. Even in the middle of the night, we have experts in the data center ready for customer support – you call them directly, there are no call centers or middlemen.

Have questions for us? Let us know.


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“That hosting partner of ours isn’t worth much – our website even goes down a few times a year – but most of the time, everything works somehow. Most importantly, we don’t want to migrate anywhere!”

The biggest obstacle to switching from the current hosting provider to a better one is almost always migration. The dreaded data transfer from one hosting solution to another is without exception accompanied by an outage and quite a few risks. Moreover, it is often the case that when contemplating migration, the necessity to make changes to the client’s application is discovered, without which the migration cannot move forward (i.e. the application wouldn’t work properly after migrating it to the new solution).  All in all, web migration is no picnic. 

But what about the risks that go along with not migrating? Many don’t even consider them since “everything works” but these invisible dangers are often much larger and their potential consequences much more severe.

Let’s take a look at the main anti-migration arguments, how we address those at vshosting~, and what dangers go along with preserving the status quo at all costs. 

Application or technology changes 

The number one factor deterring from web migration is most often the necessity to make application or technology changes. This is a usual requirement for migration given the current application runs on outdated technology or is incompatible with the new hosting solution. 

The necessity of such change unequivocally presents extra workload for the client’s development team that needs to update the app or learn to work with a different technology.  This might be further complicated by the fact that some clients don’t have a development team at their disposal which happens to be quite common among smaller projects. 

On the other hand, the outdatedness or inadequacy of the technologies used is in no way merely an obstacle to migrating to another hosting provider. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, a hindrance to further growth of the internet project, a risk for its security and more.  Therefore, it is advisable to implement the recommended applicational and technological changes regardless of migration. After they have been put in place, switching over to virtually any provider will have become a piece of cake.  

Outdated technologies

An application using a no longer supported or utterly obscure technology often proves to be an obstacle to migration. For example,  an app written in PHP 5.2 is essentially un-migratable because it lacks compatibility with virtually any of the current technologies. It is, therefore, necessary to update it to a more recent, fully supported version. 

Application changes are no picnic, that’s for sure, and they cost a lot of developer time. On the other hand, running an application using outdated technology is exceptionally dangerous – migration or no migration. For instance, PHP 5.2 is no longer supported and eligible for neither security updates or bug fixes. Aside from incompatibility with modern hosting solutions, such application is then vulnerable to various security attacks and hacks. Considering the current GDPR legislation, this presents a risk of fines that can be catastrophic for the business (fine value of up to 4 % of revenue). Besides, outdated applications don’t tend to be prepared to deal with a significant rise in traffic so if you wish to further grow your business, updating your app is unavoidable either way. 

Simply put: if an application cannot be migrated, it pays off to thoroughly consider why that is and to fix the problem. Since with extremely high probability, something is terribly wrong. Regardless of migration and hosting, serious risks endanger your business. 

Compatibility with the hosting solution

Another common scenario is the necessity to shift towards a new technology that will be compatible with the newly selected hosting solution. This typically happens in the event of a client deciding to migrate from simple, non-redundant infrastructure to a cluster or if he aims to move towards a scalable solution but his application is not prepared for scaling.

An example would be migration from a single database server to a database cluster, where we recommend to our client to switch to Galera from a single node to ensure ideal functionality. Galera is the perfect solution for a cluster and will prove to be an advantage for the client in the long run. However, his developers will have to learn to work with a new technology, which is rarely a welcome situation. 

Service windows and other inconveniences

A further source of worry when it comes to migration is the necessity of a certain service window, where the client’s app simply doesn’t run. This step cannot be circumvented and in the case of large projects can even encompass an entire night. Even the toughest e-shoppers feel distressed by the idea.

At vshosting~, we do everything in our power to make the outage as short as possible. Unfortunately, the entire process has its technological limitations that are set in stone. For this reason, it is key to schedule the service window so that the impact on the client’s business is as small as possible. Furthermore, we thoroughly test the new hosting solution before the migration itself to prevent the emergence of complications that would prolong the out-of-operation period. 

What if something goes wrong?

migration complications

Migration is a complicated process and there is a lot of room for making mistakes. In consequence, it is important to only switch over to providers who have extensive migration experience. Those can minimize the potential risks via thorough analysis and diligent testing of the new hosting infrastructure. And should something go sideways nonetheless, they’re capable of rapidly solving the situation. 

A good example can again be the migration from a single node database to e.g. a 3-node one. Should the balancing among the nodes not work perfectly after migration, experienced administrators are able to temporarily direct the database solution to a single node. As a result, the application can function without any issues and the administrators have time to get to the bottom of the balancing issue in the background. When all is resolved, they switch the database over to the 3-node solution.

In emergency cases, there is always the option of doing a rollback, that is returning everything to its original, pre-migration state. Based on our experience, however, it is more effective to try and solve the given problem as quickly as possible (e.g. by an emergy change of server settings as in the database example above) and finish migrating. The problem, which tends to be of the application sort, can be addressed after that. Unsurprisingly, even here we recommend choosing an experienced hosting provider who is capable of dealing with such unexpected situations in an agile manner. 

At vshosting~, you don’t need to fear migration 

Migration to vshosting~ is no reason for concerns – we have an experienced team of professionals directly in our datacenter who migrate internet projects on a daily basis. When it comes to very large migrations, we conduct dozens of those each year. Thanks to our extensive know-how, we are able to prevent the vast majority of potential risks and make sure everything runs smoothly. 

Before the migration itself, we thoroughly analyze and test the application – we are, among other things, able to evaluate the performance of the entire solution using specialized tests. Based on the initial analysis, we provide recommendations regarding application changes to the client and point out what to pay attention to, what to change, and what to steer clear of. 

Moreover, we design hosting solutions individually and customize them to the needs of each application. The new solution is then thoroughly tested including its compatibility with the client’s app and its synchronization with all implemented systems (e.g. the warehousing system, CMS, redaction system, etc.). Thanks to that, the new solution gets tweaked to perfection before we even start with the migration.

In specific cases, for instance, when the client has no IT team of his own, we are even capable of conducting the entire migration process for him (although only in cases where no application changes are necessary). The client then needs to put in only minimal effort: to test the functionality of the new solution, to agree to migration start and so on.

To minimize the impact of migration on the client’s business, we carefully plan its date and time together with him. Because our experienced administrators and technicians are present in the datacenter nonstop, we have no problem whatsoever with conducting the migration in the middle of the night, any day of the week.

Should complications arise, preventative measures notwithstanding, we very quickly identify their causes and solve the problem because our experts monitor dozens of the web’s parameters, 24/7. 


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Are you considering launching your very own e-shop? Then you have a couple of decisions ahead of you, that will either make the future expansion of your business easier or a hell of a lot more complicated. 

Take a look whether it pays off to use a ready-made e-shop solution or if it’s better to have it custom made. We’ll also cover why you shouldn’t underestimate hosting and how to select the best hosting provider. 

What is an e-shop?

An e-shop is not only what the customer sees on their screen. In the background, many processes are unfolding, that affect the quality of customer experience and thus the profitability of the e-shop. Among other things, an e-shop consists of a piece of code that forms the entire e-shop application. However, even the server this application runs on is a part of the e-shop, as well as connectivity and last but not least the human factor. 

Complex approach to e-shops

At vshosting~, we look at every e-shop holistically: the client hands us his e-shop application (i.e. the code) and we analyze it thoroughly. We are looking for weaknesses in the application, that could pose problems, for example, when the e-shop is experienced heavy traffic as a result of an intensive marketing campaign.

Based on our findings, we provide the client and their developers with possible recommendations on what to improve on the application side, while minimizing the weaknesses by designing the most appropriate hosting solution and architecture on our side.

After the migration to our managed solution, we take care of all operations related to hosting and server infrastructure. The client can focus only on his business and can always rely on that his e-shop not only runs but that it runs quickly and safely.

E-shop creation: ready-made vs. own solution

The beginning e-shop owner asks himself a simple question: where do I get the e-shop? Nowadays, the options are plentiful but the primary choice is between opting for a ready-made e-shop solution (e.g. from Shopsys or Shoptet) and having the e-shop custom developed.

Ready-made e-shop advantages

  • low price 
  • perfectly suitable in the beginning 
  • stable solution
  • no need for deep technical knowledge
  • simple implementation
  • fast realization (a functional e-shop in a matter of minutes)
  • the provider deals with legislation too (GDPR etc.)

Custom made e-shop advantages

  • more suitable for a quick expansion
  • individualization as needed
  • option to use many plug-ins
  • choice from a wide array of frameworks
  • code ownership

So is a ready-made solution better or should you opt for a custom made e-shop? As they say: it depends.

You need to consider whether you want to have a smaller e-shop (a ready-made solution is great here) or whether you have a vision of rapid international expansion (the ready-made solution not such a great idea anymore). It is also important how specific your e-shop design and functionality requirements are – if very specific, you’ll need to go with a custom design. Should you choose to have your e-shop custom-designed, you also need to take into account that you’ll have to be more invested in the technical side of things and legal stuff. Unsurprisingly, a custom solution is also more expensive. 

E-shop hosting options 

If you choose to use a ready-made e-shop solution, your worries about choosing hosting end there (which does not mean that hosting can’t cause trouble for you), because the e-shop solution provider will include hosting in the overall package. However, you cannot avoid choosing a hosting solution and provider if you decide to have your e-shop custom-made.

When it comes to hosting, you can pretty much choose from four options: web hosting, VPS (virtual private server), dedicated server or managed server. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Web hosting

Web hosting is a beginner’s classic because it is the most affordable solution with very fast and easy implementation. It is shared hosting, where, for example, 100 projects share a single server. The disadvantage is that heavy traffic directed to any of the other 99 projects can adversely affect your e-shop’s performance and you can’t do anything about it at all. Webhosting does not provide any (or only small) guarantees and does not have ultra-fast (or ultra-professional) support. Therefore, for an e-shop or any other slightly more demanding website that is intended to sell something, web hosting cannot be recommended.

VPS

In the case of a virtual private server, your e-shop has dedicated hardware parameters, ie. you don’t share resources with anyone. The price is a little higher than in the case of web hosting, but in exchange, you get much better control over performance, more flexibility and even the option of hosting management. Therefore, in our experience, VPS is perfectly suitable when you’re just starting out with your e-shop.

Dedicated server

If you need more performance than a VPS can provide, it pays to invest in your own dedicated physical solution: a dedicated server. With a dedicated server, you have full control over its performance, and the unit of power will cost you less at that level of volume than it would with a VPS.

Managed server

A managed server is basically a dedicated server along with complete solution management. If you don’t want to deal with your own DevOps, just focus on your business and still be sure your e-shop runs smoothly at all times, a managed solution is the best choice.

Server management

If you have e-shop custom-made, you can come across an offer from the developer studio that they will also manage it (including hosting). In our experience, this is not optimal, with rare exceptions, because the solution management is not the main activity of the creator of the application, who tries to simplify it as much as possible. In contrast, a hosting provider that is primarily focused on managing your server solution has the highest security as a priority.

For this reason, at vshosting~, we recommend separating the application creator (developer studio, etc.) from the server solution manager (a company specializing in hosting).

How to choose the best hosting provider

Choosing the right hosting provider is more important than many e-shoppers think. Many of them make decisions only based on price, and after the first outage they find out that all of the money saved and much more gets “paid” in lost profits.

Of course, price matters, but besides it, we recommend that you pay attention to references from other e-shoppers when choosing a hosting provider. Another important factor is the contractual guarantees of individual providers – do they guarantee 99%+ availability? fast reaction times in case of a problem? quick server repair if something goes wrong?

The level of support is also not negligible – it can be easily accessible nonstop but if the phone gets picked up by a temporary worker who knows about servers about as much as he does about the aerodynamics of the blue jay, it may not be very useful to you. At vshosting~, we are well aware of this and that is why our senior administrators and technicians are always available directly in our datacenter.

Last but not least, it is also advisable to ask how the hosting provider is prepared to deal with outages. Because if something is for sure, it is that each server breaks down at a certain point.

Outages can be prevented in many cases. For those unexpected and unpreventable outages, solving them as fast as possible is essential. It is important that your hosting provider of choice implemented appropriate internal processes, built redundancy directly into the solution (backup servers, etc.), and uses correct software architecture and network security (i.e. protection against cyberattacks).

The takeaways

1) decide in the beginning what you’re aiming to achieve with your e-sho

2) no e-shop should use web hosting

3) separate the developers and managers of your e-shop

4) when choosing a hosting provider, look into references and contractual guarantees


We have successfully assisted with migrations for hundreds of clients over the course of 16 years. Join them.

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    Simply leave your details. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

  2. Free solution proposal

    A no commitment discussion about how we can help. We’ll propose a tailored solution.

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    We’ll create the environment for a seamless migration according to the agreed proposal.

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