Thursday, January 15, 2015

MBS Datacenter Maintenance Window Announcement (1/16/2015)

In the tradition of Tim Allen's Home Improvement character, we need to add more power to our rack! To date we have been on a 20amp circuit, and are changing over to a 30amp circuit. The circuit's been installed for us, so it's just a matter of putting new power distribution units (PDUs) in our rack and moving all of the equipment's plugs to them.

We decided to do this 'live' to test our power redundancy strategy. Because we have designed full redundancy into our rack's power (two circuits with all devices being plugged into both), we anticipate zero downtime for our clients. But we thought we should let 'em know-- just in case!

We plan to begin the cutover at about 3pm Pacific time (6pm Eastern, etc) on Friday, January 16th.

We chose Friday hoping that it would minimize the possible impact on the more than 100 servers we host and those who depend on them. If you are one of our hosted clients, please let your user community know of the planned maintenance window so they can anticipate it. And we welcome your prayers!

Thank you again for the privilege we have of serving you and your team! We are very thankful to be partners with you in ministry.

New Article: All Data Is Vulnerable

I just released a new article for publication addressing how vulnerable our data is, and some simple steps to improve that. Here's the opening paragraph:
Sony. The US government. The news is often filled with 'the latest' cyberattack. It seems like all of our data is vulnerable. What should we do about it? What can we do about it?

I put a copy of the article on our website, and you can read it for free; just click here!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Article: Protection from Ransomware

There’s a lot of talk going around about the newest type of malware called ransomware. I just released an article for publication that addresses how to make certain you are protected from this potentially costly nuisance, and you can see a copy of it on our website here:

I hope you find it helpful!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2015 Standard Mileage Rates Announced by IRS

Today the IRS announced the 2015 Standard Mileage Rates for 2015. They are:
  • Business Miles:  $ .575  (up from $ .56 in 2014)
  • Medical & Moving Miles:  $ .23 (down a half-cent from 2014)
  • Charitable Miles:  $ .14 (unchanged)

Friday, November 14, 2014

MBS' Recommended Backup Strategies

A client recently asked why we spec the backup solutions we do. It was a great question!

First, let me say that anytime you get ten network engineers in a room and ask for the best way to do something, you'll likely get at least ten different answers. That doesn't mean they're all wrong, just that based on each one's experience a particular strategy has become their preference.

MBS' Recommended Backup Strategies
We did some fairly heavy research not too long ago on the subject of backup systems. There are lots of possibilities, but we found that tape was still preferred by most of corporate America that had small-to-medium sized networks-- and even some very large systems like digital media archives.

Here's what we learned:
  • Large networks rely on SAN devices (Storage Area Networks) in larger onsite and offsite datacenters, and their replication capabilities make backups unnecessary. Those devices typically cost a minimum of $25-$30 thousand each, and larger units cost six figures. (Some people try to accomplish SANs on the cheap using Drobo and Buffalo drives, but they're unreliable; in our opinion they're not enterprise grade.) For our largest clients we recommend using SAN devices.
  • Online backup is good for restoring single files or folders, but is inadequate for restoring entire servers in a disaster. And disaster recovery is something that must be planned for. This is the strategy we only recommend for our friends' home computers.
  • External hard drives seem like a good idea except that they have many moving parts that, when transported offsite (which should happen often as part of the disaster recovery plan), can-- and often do-- fail. The manufacturers will replace them under warranty, but without any data on them; not good if that happens during a disaster recovery scenario. We never recommend this strategy.
  • Tape technology continues to move forward in development. Our clients typically only need LTO5 or LTO6 (Linear Tape-Open) specs (1.5tb and 2.5tb native capacities), but LTO7 - LTO10 are slated for release. I'll be surprised if they get there, however, because an organization with that much data will usually be at the size where they're investing in SANs.
MBS' Datacenter
In our datacenter we use SANs that send their backups to another enterprise-grade device called a NAS (for Network Attached Storage) that has large capacity. We use that strategy in the datacenter because we're not there to change tapes on a daily basis.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2015 ChMS Article Posted!

Every year I get the privilege of writing an article that lists the leaders of the church and donor management software providers. There are a few other similar ChMS selection tools available, but this annual article is the most referenced tool out there! Perhaps because of its comprehensive simplicity. Perhaps because of its objectivity. Definitely because of The Lord's favor.

The Church Network (formerly NACBA) is the publisher, and they do a great job with it! It's also published by other publications and associations, and I post a copy on my firm, MBS's website.

If you'd like to see a copy of the article, here's a link to it on MBS's website:!

Monday, November 3, 2014

iOS 8.1

Apple released iOS 8, then iOS 8.0.1, then iOS 8.0.2. And that was good.

Then they released iOS 8.1, and it was very good! I recommend upgrading as soon as you can! And if you've got an iPhone 6 or 6+ or one of the newest iPads, you get to enjoy secure purchase transactions via their excellent Apple Pay app! (see for more info on Apple Pay)