Posts tagged huge
Why A Framework Process Is The Best Way to Build Out Huge Ecommerce AdWords Account Structures by @AndrewLolk
I love working with AdWords and big ecommerce sites. What I like about it is that it makes the revenue slip in easily and at an immediate low cost. In the past couple of weeks I have resigned from an old Client I used to work with back in 2010. It’s a big ecommerce site [...]
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Facebook is planning to build a massive data center in Altoona, Iowa, the company said on Tuesday. That’s right, Altoona, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines.
With more than a billion users around the world to support and just three wholly owned data centers (Forest City, North Carolina; Prineville, Oregon; Luleå, Sweden, with the latter two still being built out) Facebook may have needed another location. (The company has also stashed servers in at least two co-location facilities owned by other companies, on both the East and West Coasts.) But why Altoona, Iowa?
According to The Des Moines Register, which deserves credit for breaking the story on Monday, Altoona officials sold Facebook on four key selling points:
- The site sits on the nexus of an interstate fiber optic system, providing connectivity to the rest of the nation.
- A power substation sits within half a mile of the campus.
- Transportation access.
- Environmental stability.
The last is an increasingly important consideration. Data-center providers that went down during Superstorm Sandy in New York last year learned that lesson well; hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters can bring a cloud services down just as effectively as a power outage.
A Facebook blog post, meanwhile, cited “an abundance of wind-generated power” as well as proximity to “a great talent pool that will help build and operate the facility” as reasons for building in Altoona. Apparently, Des Moines and Ames are the new Silicon Valley and Boston when it comes to technical skills. The new facility will break ground this summer and begin serving traffic in 2014, Facebook said. According to the Register, Facebook’s facility “will join what’s becoming a data center corridor of sorts in Altoona. LightEdge was built in 2006, and Enseva will break ground this spring.”
Facebook hasn’t confirmed the size of its new data center, but the Register earlier this month claimed that planning documents put it at 1.4 million square feet and said Monday the total investment could hit $1.5 billion. That’s about four times the size of the company’s Prineville facility – and 50% larger than Apple’s $1 billion investment in its new data center in Maiden, North Carolina.
“In the coming years, as our service continues to grow and people share and connect in more ways, we need to make sure that our technical infrastructure also continues to scale,” Facebook’s Jay Parikh said in the blog post. “Our goal is not just to deliver you a fast, reliable experience on Facebook every day – we also want to help make connectivity a universal opportunity. Our data centers are essential for making that happen.”
How Facebook “Hacks” Its Data Centers
Facebook has put almost as much technology effort into its data centers as its core services. Earlier this year, Facebook disclosed that its Luleå facility would be entirely built on hardware constructed by no-name server manufacturers using designs developed by the Open Compute Project, which shuns “vanity” hardware sold by traditional server vendors like Dell and Hewlett-Packard in an effort to minimize cost. Rather than pay top dollar for the most sophisticated and powerful equipment, this kind of “open source hardware” approach adds capacity by just adding ever more cheap, generic servers.
(See also Can Servers Save PC Manufacturers? Sadly, No.)
Facebook also has been a pioneer in using natural or ambient cooling its data centers. Traditionally, data centers place servers on raised floors cooled by mechanical “chillers,” or air conditioners, that push away heat from the servers to keep them running properly.
Facebook’s Prineville facility uses a combination of evaporated water and ambient air to cool the servers without the need for energy-hogging chillers; its Swedish site uses the frigid near-Arctic air to do the same thing. (Google, meanwhile, is building a data center in Hamina, Finland, which pumps water – and exchanges heat – from a nearby canal.) Although Facebook hasn’t disclosed how its Altoona servers will be cooled, it’s likely to employ some form of evaporative cooling.
Last week, Facebook was the first to offer a near-real-time look at the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) — the all-important batting average of a data center’s energy efficiency — of both its Prineville and Forest City facilities. A few years ago, a PUE of 1.8 was considered average; the Prineville facility’s PUE now regularly pushes below 1.10, close to the 1.0 ideal.
Lead image via Facebook.
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Eight tips for dealing with on-site SEO on huge websites
Ecommerce currently makes up a whopping 43% of Argos' business and is predicted to surpass 50% by 2015, so managing the company's search strategy is an incredibly important job. At Brighton SEO on Friday Argos' search marketing manager Dan …
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Depending on who you believe, the week long Spamhaus-Cyberbunker cyberattack we covered Wednesday was either a threat to the Internet itself or hyped up by an overzealous security vendor. Either way, it was still serious business.
While much of the Internet disruption may have in fact been localized to Europe, and also potentially caused by tampering with underwater telecom cables in the Mediterranean, big DDoS attacks — that is, distributed denial-of-service assaults that aim to knock target computers off the Internet — are real, and have been on the rise since 2010.
Dan Holden, the director of ASERT, Arbor Networks‘ security engineering and response team, has been monitoring DDoS attacks for more than 12 years. In 2012 his company released a Worldwide Infrastructure Report that reports attack sizes have been peaking at around 100Gbps (check out this detailed look at the report here). This week’s attack was more than 300Gbps — way above the norm, in other words.
That’s because the attackers actually co-opted part of the Internet’s basic infrastructure — the Domain Name System, or DNS — in such a way as to greatly amplify the firehose stream of data they were directing at target computers.
Here’s how they work, according to Carlos Morales, Arbor Networks’ vice president of global sales engineering and operations:
Attackers send DNS queries to a [DNS server] on the Internet but use the victim address as the source of the query. When the response goes back, a response that is usually multiple times the size of the initial query, the response goes to the victim. Multiple this by hundreds of thousands of requests from bots on the Internet spoofing the one victim address and you get a very large flood of traffic to the victim machine.
Holden says DNS is becoming an increasingly popular target for DDoS. As many as 27 million DNS servers across the Internet are “open” in a way that allows them to be hijacked this way.
That means that while this week’s attack may not have knocked us Americans off of the Web, the amount of localized disruption overseas was definitely large enough to cause serious reverberations. This may not have been the Web’s D-Day, but these could definitely be the opening salvo of a hacker blitzkrieg. Let’s hope the ISPs and powers that be don’t Neville Chamberlain it.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
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The Internet is groaning today under the load of a huge cyberattack — one of the worst on record — that’s clogged some of its most vital systems. And while you might be inclined to blame Spamhaus or Cyberbunker, two European outfits at the center of this online dustup, almost no one is talking about the real villains here: the world’s Internet service providers.
First, some background on Spamhaus vs. Cyberbunker. Yes, that sounds like the lineup at a punk-rock show, but it’s actually a virtual battle that began when the anti-spam group Spamhaus added the Dutch web hosting company Cyberbunker to a blacklist used to fight spam. That apparently stung the outlaws at Cyberbunker, which prides itself on hosting anything but “child porn and anything related to terrorism.”
Seemingly insulted, on March 19 Cyberbunker allegedly launched a major distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — that is, one that aims huge streams of data at target Web servers in an attempt to knock them offline — against Spamhaus. When that failed, the attackers pivoted to a much more serious attack, one that exploited a vulnerability in the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). And in so doing, they almost broke the Internet.
Dissing the DNS
DNS is a core service that translates URLs like readwrite.com into the numerical Internet addresses used by computers (18.104.22.168 in the case of ReadWrite). Without it, traffic on the Internet goes nowhere.
In this case, the Spamhaus attackers turned to what’s called a DNS amplification attack — one that basically tricks DNS servers into directing a huge flood of traffic at a target. This is relatively easy because many network providers and ISPs have left DNS servers (also called “resolvers”) open and unprotected, meaning that they’ll respond to requests from anywhere on the Internet.
All an attacker needs to do is to send a stream of forged DNS requests that appear to come from their target’s computers. Open DNS resolvers do the rest, responding with automated messages that are much larger than the initial requests. The security company Cloudfare, which has assisted Spamhaus in its current fight, wrote that attackers can use DNS amplification to boost their initial DDoS data flood by a factor of 50 or more.
Which is exactly what the Spamhaus attackers appear to have done.
Why Your ISP Sucks
The big problem here, as you’ve probably already figured out, is that so many network operators have left their DNS resolvers open. It’s relatively trivial to configure resolvers to filter out and ignore forged requests, but relatively few network operators have done so. The Open DNS Resolver Project, an Internet community initiative aimed at blocking this vulnerability, has catalogued more than 25 million open DNS resolvers around the world.
“If ISPs had fixed those issues, [which are] relatively simple, and [involve] very little cost, this kind of attack would have been impossible,” Rodney Joffe, a senior vice president at the Virginia security firm Neustar, told me.
Sam Erdheim, a senior security strategist at the network security company AlgoSec, says ISPs should be doing more to block certain IP addresses and identify and monitor network traffic better “before these threats impact the networks of the ISP’s customers.” These are what’s called DDoS signatures, and enabling them allows ISPs to track and trace the source of attacks.
While that wouldn’t stop attacks, Erdheim said, it would be possible to identify them earlier and to cut off traffic from a questionable source before it bogs down users.
How To Stop The Suckage
DNS resolvers are becoming an increasingly popular target for hackers. Dan Holden, a security official at Arbor Networks, told me that in a recent Arbor survey, a full quarter of respondents said they’d experienced serious DDoS attacks on their DNS servers in 2012 — double the number who acknowledged similar attacks in the previous year.
Fixing DNS vulnerability would be an ideal way to stop these attacks, says security expert Dan Kaminsky, who has helped shore up previous DNS problems. But he’s skeptical that this will ever happen.
“If only everyone on the Internet made major changes at the same time, this wouldn’t have happened,” Kaminsky told me via email. Short of that, he said, the answer may lie in straightforward police work:
We stop DDoS by getting as close as possible to the source and doing something about it there, or by doing nothing and tolerating it. I prefer the former, in this case, by perhaps finding the person almost certainly responsible.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
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Searching for the NCAA March Madness bracket? Search for [ncaa bracket] or [march madness] on Google and you’ll see a giant box above the organic results dedicated to the latest scores and schedule – all leading to additional Google searches.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
Huge Site SEO: Optimizing for the Long, Long Tail
Search Engine Journal
The biggest obstacle in my search for SEO nirvana has been the lack of an industry blog focused on huge site SEO. When I hear people talk about dealing with 1,000 pages as if it is a lot, I cry a little on the inside. They don't know how good they have it.
View full post on SEO – Google News
The biggest obstacle in my search for SEO nirvana has been the lack of an industry blog focused on huge site SEO. When I hear people talk about dealing with 1,000 pages as if it is a lot, I cry a little on the inside. They don’t know how good they have it. What is [...]
View full post on Search Engine Journal
App by app, Google is creeping onto my iPad. Days after overhauling Gmail and pushing out improvements to Drive, the company has given iOS 6 one of the things users wanted most: a native YouTube app for the iPad and iPhone 5. Compared to the old, pre-iOS 6 version, this is a huge step up.
The interface matches the new visual language Google has been including across all of its major Web and mobile products lately. It’s a clean layout with the same, more modern-looking typography that we’ve seen in its other recently-updated iOS apps. The navigation is hidden until you slide it out by tapping the menu button in the upper left.
Better Video Discovery
It looks nice, but by far the biggest improvement is the app’s renewed focus on video discovery. Finding and subscribing to users and channels is the easiest it has ever been on the iPad, either on the old native version or the lackluster, tablet-friendly Web app Google initially slapped up. The app’s search function – which accepts both text and voice inputs – breaks down results into videos and channels, making it easier to not only find the video you were looking for, but subscribe to more videos like it. The more channels you subscribe to, the more active your YouTube home feed will be and the more
ad revenue Google will make fun you will have watching entertaining videos.
YouTube’s new iPad app fits in nicely with the service’s ongoing quest to carve out its role in the future of TV. This app is definitely an improvement in that regard. I AirPlayed it to my HDTV via the Apple TV box and found that the experience translates pretty well to the bigger screen. Finding content is easier, and a growing selection of the videos published to YouTube are of a higher, TV-esque quality.
How YouTube Could Better Snag My Attention
There’s still room for improvement, though. If YouTube really wants to keep my attention while I’m on the couch, its iPad app should support continuous playback so I’m not left hunting and pecking for new content to watch every time a video ends. If I’ve subscribed to a channel (or have selected a video that happens to be part of a playlist), it’s a safe assumption I want to see more, or at least that YouTube wouldn’t be rude to ask if that’s the case once a video is finished playing.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I sit down on the couch with my iPad and Apple remote in hand, there are a few apps that dominate my attention. Netflix, Hulu Plus and, to a lesser extent, Amazon Instant Video are where I get most of my movies and TV shows. For Web video, Boxee’s universal, Instapaper-style “watch later” button is invaluable, and ShowYou is about as good as social video discovery gets on the iPad. So there’s a lot of competition in my device’s “Entertainment” folder.
But I definitely could see myself spending a lot more time with YouTube thanks to this update.
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The Nexus 4 didn’t surprise me a bit. It is the fastest, brightest, sturdiest Android phone I’ve ever used. The display is big and brilliant. The camera is pretty sharp. Battery life is good. Phone geeks might bemoan the lack of LTE, but I thought it was fast enough. If you want the Android fan’s Android phone, this is it.
I test phones by taking them along with my everyday life. My phone is my most-used device, because I like to be out and about in the world, exploring, taking pictures, learning about my surroundings and meeting up with people. All around, the Nexus 4 did fine for me. It was excellent at some things, just okay at others, with no major flaws. Overall, I’m glad to be going back to my iPhone 5, but I did enjoy the experiment.
The Nexus 4 is Google’s first official partnership with Korean manufacturer LG. This phone is a good deal. With a honkin’ big 4.7-inch, HD screen, 2GB of RAM and a faster processor than the iPhone 5, it’s a steal at $299 for an 8GB, unlocked version, $349 for 16GB – and that’s with no contract! (The 16GB version is $199 with a 2-year T-Mobile contract.) And it’s actually higher-tech than other, more expensive phones on the market. Not only is it blindingly fast, it also supports wireless inductive charging (not included). It does lack fast LTE connectivity though, which should raise the hackles of phone junkies and speed freaks.
It runs on GSM/HSPA+ networks, and the only U.S. network partner is T-Mobile (though you can also use it on AT&T networks). I found the connection to be adequate for my purposes. It took about 10 seconds to download the 3MB Speedtest.net app, and I got a speed of 8.5 MBPS down, 663 KBPS up in downtown San Francisco. Not great, but it didn’t make me impatient in normal use.
The Android 4.2 Experience
There are some things I loved about the experience, thanks to the new features of Android 4.2. The new version of Android has an awesome camera interface that allows you to focus, adjust and switch modes on screen by tapping and holding, and otherwise there’s nothing but the view on screen. It also has built-in Instagram-style filters for after you shoot. You can swipe right to get to the camera roll, then back left to keep shooting.
There’s also an amazing new mode called Photo Sphere. This is now my favorite feature of Android. It blows away the iOS 6 panorama mode. Photo Sphere displays a simple, blank 3D world, and then it gives you blue dots to hit with the center of your camera. You slowly pan all the way around you, and it captures as you go, then stitches all your photos together into a 3D bubble you can pan around. It’s not perfect, but it’s very cool. It’s just like Street View. In fact, you can submit Photo Sphere shots to Google Maps when you’re done.
It also has a “little planet” mode, building in one of my favorite little tricks people have built off of Google Maps, which lets you turn a panoramic view of a place into a little mini world like this:
Google’s voice search continues to amaze me. When you ask a question to which Google knows the answer in its Knowledge Graph of concepts, it pulls up a beautiful, informative card and speaks the answer to you.
New in 4.2, Google Voice Search can also now pull out answers from Web pages and show them to you in a sentence, even if Google didn’t know the answer beforehand. It’s incredibly helpful. Once, inadvertently, I said “Thank you” to the phone.
Alongside the Nexus, I used my iPhone to test all the same voice queries on the Google Search app for iOS as well as Siri. The Google app results were exactly the same. Siri usually got it, too, but presented the information less attractively, and it sometimes had to fall back on Google for answers about facts or places.
I also enjoyed the new typing mode, which lets you slide your thumb along the letters and predictively guesses the words, as an alternative to tap-typing. Sorry, Swype; you got Sherlocked. Android director of product management Hugo Barra says that this is all in-house code. Google just liked Swype’s idea and built it in.
Why The Nexus 4 Is Not For Me
Despite those neat Android features, this is not the phone I want. I think it’s ridiculously big. It’s not at all comfortable for me to use with one hand. I’m still looking to find a phone that feels better than an iPhone to me, but I never have. The iPhone 5 is my ideal shape, size, weight and texture. It’s big enough to display lots of information, but it’s small enough to be easy to use. These monstrous Android phones just feel clumsy to me.
Then there’s all the stuff about Android I just find cheesy: the vibrating touches and corny 3-D icons. And it’s so dark and geeky and full of menus. Yes, you can change all this with settings and skins and mods, but that’s radically not the point. I’m not going to choose a phone operating system I have to labor over if there’s one that works for me right out of the box. Yes, I understand that Android has widgets. This is a matter of personal choice, and I just don’t like it as much.
But if you like your first impression of the Nexus 4, you won’t be disappointed. It’s great at being what it is. It goes on sale in the U.S. on November 14.
Photo credit: Eliot Weisberg. City photos by Jon Mitchell
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