Tag Archives: cloud services

Addressing Data Residency with AWS

Post Syndicated from Min Hyun original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/addressing-data-residency-with-aws/

Whitepaper image

AWS has released a new whitepaper that has been requested by many AWS customers: AWS Policy Perspectives: Data Residency. Data residency is the requirement that all customer content processed and stored in an IT system must remain within a specific country’s borders, and it is one of the foremost concerns of governments that want to use commercial cloud services. General cybersecurity concerns and concerns about government requests for data have contributed to a continued focus on keeping data within countries’ borders. In fact, some governments have determined that mandating data residency provides an extra layer of security.

This approach, however, is counterproductive to the data protection objectives and the IT modernization and global economic growth goals that many governments have set as milestones. This new whitepaper addresses the real and perceived security risks expressed by governments when they demand in-country data residency by identifying the most likely and prevalent IT vulnerabilities and security risks, explaining the native security embedded in cloud services, and highlighting the roles and responsibilities of cloud service providers (CSPs), governments, and customers in protecting data.

Large-scale, multinational CSPs, often called hyperscale CSPs, represent a transformational disruption in technology because of how they support their customers with high degrees of efficiency, agility, and innovation as part of world-class security offerings. The whitepaper explains how hyperscale CSPs, such as AWS, that might be located out of country provide their customers the ability to achieve high levels of data protection through safeguards on their own platform and with turnkey tooling for their customers. They do this while at the same time preserving nation-state regulatory sovereignty.

The whitepaper also considers the commercial, public-sector, and economic effects of data residency policies and offers considerations for governments to evaluate before enforcing requirements that can unintentionally limit public-sector digital transformation goals, in turn possibly leading to increased cybersecurity risk.

AWS continues to engage with governments around the world to hear and address their top-of-mind security concerns. We take seriously our commitment to advocate for our customers’ interests and enforce security from “ground zero.” This means that when customers use AWS, they can have the confidence that their data is protected with a level of assurance that meets, if not exceeds, their needs, regardless of where the data resides.

– Min Hyun, Cloud Security Policy Strategist

Early Challenges: Managing Cash Flow

Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/managing-cash-flow/

Cash flow projection charts

This post by Backblaze’s CEO and co-founder Gleb Budman is the eighth in a series about entrepreneurship. You can choose posts in the series from the list below:

  1. How Backblaze got Started: The Problem, The Solution, and the Stuff In-Between
  2. Building a Competitive Moat: Turning Challenges Into Advantages
  3. From Idea to Launch: Getting Your First Customers
  4. How to Get Your First 1,000 Customers
  5. Surviving Your First Year
  6. How to Compete with Giants
  7. The Decision on Transparency
  8. Early Challenges: Managing Cash Flow

Use the Join button above to receive notification of new posts in this series.

Running out of cash is one of the quickest ways for a startup to go out of business. When you are starting a company the question of where to get cash is usually the top priority, but managing cash flow is critical for every stage in the lifecycle of a company. As a primarily bootstrapped but capital-intensive business, managing cash flow at Backblaze was and still is a key element of our success and requires continued focus. Let’s look at what we learned over the years.

Raising Your Initial Funding

When starting a tech business in Silicon Valley, the default assumption is that you will immediately try to raise venture funding. There are certainly many advantages to raising funding — not the least of which is that you don’t need to be cash-flow positive since you have cash in the bank and the expectation is that you will have a “burn rate,” i.e. you’ll be spending more than you make.

Note: While you’re not expected to be cash-flow positive, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about cash. Cash-flow management will determine your burn rate. Whether you can get to cash-flow breakeven or need to raise another round of funding is a direct byproduct of your cash flow management.

Also, raising funding takes time (most successful fundraising cycles take 3-6 months start-to-finish), and time at a startup is in short supply. Constantly trying to raise funding can take away from product development and pursuing growth opportunities. If you’re not successful in raising funding, you then have to either shut down or find an alternate method of funding the business.

Sources of Funding

Depending on the stage of the company, type of company, and other factors, you may have access to different sources of funding. Let’s list a number of them:

Customers

Sales — the best kind of funding. It is non-dilutive, doesn’t have to be paid back, and is a direct metric of the success of your company.

Pre-Sales — some customers may be willing to pay you for a product in beta, a test, or pre-pay for a product they’ll receive when finished. Pre-Sales income also is great because it shares the characteristics of cash from sales, but you get the cash early. It also can be a good sign that the product you’re building fills a market need. We started charging for Backblaze computer backup while it was still in private beta, which allowed us to not only collect cash from customers, but also test the billing experience and users’ real desire for the service.

Services — if you’re a service company and customers are paying you for that, great. You can effectively scale for the number of hours available in a day. As demand grows, you can add more employees to increase the total number of billable hours.

Note: If you’re a product company and customers are paying you to consult, that can provide much needed cash, and could provide feedback toward the right product. However, it can also distract from your core business, send you down a path where you’re building a product for a single customer, and addict you to a path that prevents you from building a scalable business.

Investors

Yourself — you likely are putting your time into the business, and deferring salary in the process. You may also put your own cash into the business either as an investment or a loan.

Angels — angels are ideal as early investors since they are used to investing in businesses with little to no traction. AngelList is a good place to find them, though finding people you’re connected with through someone that knows you well is best.

Crowdfunding — a component of the JOBS Act permitted entrepreneurs to raise money from nearly anyone since May 2016. The SEC imposes limits on both investors and the companies. This article goes into some depth on the options and sites available.

VCs — VCs are ideal for companies that need to raise at least a few million dollars and intend to build a business that will be worth over $1 billion.

Debt

Friends & Family — F&F are often the first people to give you money because they are investing in you. It’s great to have some early supporters, but it also can be risky to take money from people who aren’t used to the risks. The key advice here is to only take money from people who won’t mind losing it. If someone is talking about using their children’s college funds or borrowing from their 401k, say ‘no thank you’ — even if they’re sure they want to loan you money.

Bank Loans — a variety of loan types exist, but most either require the company to have been operational for a couple years, be able to borrow against money the company has or is making, or be able to get a personal guarantee from the founders whereby their own credit is on the line. Fundera provides a good overview of loan options and can help secure some, but most will not be an option for a brand new startup.

Grants

Government — in some areas there is the potential for government grants to facilitate research. The SBIR program facilitates some such grants.

At Backblaze, we used a number of these options:

• Investors/Yourself
We loaned a cumulative total of a couple hundred thousand dollars to the company and invested our time by going without a salary for a year and a half.
• Customers/Pre-Sales
We started selling the Backblaze service while it was still in beta.
• Customers/Sales
We launched v1.0 and kept selling.
• Investors/Angels
After a year and a half, we raised $370k from 11 angels. All of them were either people whom we knew personally or were a strong recommendation from a mutual friend.
• Debt/Loans
After a couple years we were able to get equipment leases whereby the Storage Pods and hard drives were used as collateral to secure the lease on them.
• Investors/VCs
Ater five years we raised $5m from TMT Investments to add to the balance sheet and invest in growth.

The variety and quantity of sources we used is by no means uncommon.

GAAP vs. Cash

Most companies start tracking financials based on cash, and as they scale they switch to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). Cash is easier to track — we got paid $XXXX and spent $YYY — and as often mentioned, is required for the business to stay alive. GAAP has more subtlety and complexity, but provides a clearer picture of how the business is really doing. Backblaze was on a ‘cash’ system for the first few years, then switched to GAAP. For this post, I’m going to focus on things that help cash flow, not GAAP profitability.

Stages of Cash Flow Management

All-spend

In a pure service business (e.g. solo proprietor law firm), you may have no expenses other than your time, so this stage doesn’t exist. However, in a product business there is a period of time where you are building the product and have nothing to sell. You have zero cash coming in, but have cash going out. Your cash-flow is completely negative and you need funds to cover that.

Sales-generating

Starting to see cash come in from customers is thrilling. I initially had our system set up to email me with every $5 payment we received. You’re making sales, but not covering expenses.

Ramen-profitable

But it takes a lot of $5 payments to pay for servers and salaries, so for a while expenses are likely to outstrip sales. Getting to ramen-profitable is a critical stage where sales cover the business expenses and are “paying enough for the founders to eat ramen.” This extends the runway for a business, but is not completely sustainable, since presumably the founders can’t (or won’t) live forever on a subsistence salary.

Business-profitable

This is the ultimate stage whereby the business is truly profitable, including paying everyone market-rate salaries. A business at this stage is self-sustaining. (Of course, market shifts and plenty of other challenges can kill the business, but cash-flow issues alone will not.)

Note, I’m using the word ‘profitable’ here to mean this is still on a cash-basis.

Backblaze was in the all-spend stage for just over a year, during which time we built the service and hadn’t yet made the service available to customers. Backblaze was in the sales-generating stage for nearly another year before the company was barely ramen-profitable where sales were covering the company expenses and paying the founders minimum wage. (I say ‘barely’ since minimum wage in the SF Bay Area is arguably never subsistence.) It took almost three more years before the company was business-profitable, paying everyone including the founders market-rate.

Cash Flow Forecasting

When raising funding it’s helpful to think of milestones reached. You don’t necessarily need enough cash on day one to last for the next 100 years of the company. Some good milestones to consider are how much cash you need to prove there is a market need, prove you can build a product to meet that need, or get to ramen-profitable.

Two things to consider:

1) Unit Economics (COGS)

If your product is 100% software, this may not be relevant. Once software is built it costs effectively nothing to deliver the product to one customer or one million customers. However, in most businesses there is some incremental cost to provide the product. If you’re selling a hardware device, perhaps you sell it for $100 but it costs you $50 to make it. This is called “COGS” (Cost of Goods Sold).

Many products rely on cloud services where the costs scale with growth. That model works great, but it’s still important to understand what the costs are for the cloud service you use per unit of product you sell.

Support is often done by the founders early-on in a business, but that is another real cost to factor in and estimate on a per-user basis. Taking all of the per unit costs combined, you may charge $10/month/user for your service, but if it costs you $7/month/user in cloud services, you’re only netting $3/month/user.

2) Operating Expenses (OpEx)

These are expenses that don’t scale with the number of product units you sell. Typically this includes research & development, sales & marketing, and general & administrative expenses. Presumably there is a certain level of these functions required to build the product, market it, sell it, and run the organization. You can choose to invest or cut back on these, but you’ll still make the same amount per product unit.

Incremental Net Profit Per Unit

If you’ve calculated your COGS and your unit economics are “upside down,” where the amount you charge is less than that it costs you to provide your service, it’s worth thinking hard about how that’s going to change over time. If it will not change, there is no scale that will make the business work. Presuming you do make money on each unit of product you sell — what is sometimes referred to as “Contribution Margin” — consider how many of those product units you need to sell to cover your operating expenses as described above.

Calculating Your Profit

The math on getting to ramen-profitable is simple:

(Number of Product Units Sold x Contribution Margin) - Operating Expenses = Profit

If your operating expenses include subsistence salaries for the founders and profit > $0, you’re ramen-profitable.

Improving Cash Flow

Having access to sources of cash, whether from selling to customers or other methods, is excellent. But needing less cash gives you more choices and allows you to either dilute less, owe less, or invest more.

There are two ways to improve cash flow:

1) Collect More Cash

The best way to collect more cash is to provide more value to your customers and as a result have them pay you more. Additional features/products/services can allow this. However, you can also collect more cash by changing how you charge for your product. If you have a subscription, changing from charging monthly to yearly dramatically improves your cash flow. If you have a product that customers use up, selling a year’s supply instead of selling them one-by-one can help.

2) Spend Less Cash

Reducing COGS is a fantastic way to spend less cash in a scalable way. If you can do this without harming the product or customer experience, you win. There are a myriad of ways to also reduce operating expenses, including taking sub-market salaries, using your home instead of renting office space, staying focused on your core product, etc.

Ultimately, collecting more and spending less cash dramatically simplifies the process of getting to ramen-profitable and later to business-profitable.

Be Careful (Why GAAP Matters)

A word of caution: while running out of cash will put you out of business immediately, overextending yourself will likely put you out of business not much later. GAAP shows how a business is really doing; cash doesn’t. If you only focus on cash, it is possible to commit yourself to both delivering products and repaying loans in the future in an unsustainable fashion. If you’re taking out loans, watch the total balance and monthly payments you’re committing to. If you’re asking customers for pre-payment, make sure you believe you can deliver on what they’ve paid for.

Summary

There are numerous challenges to building a business, and ensuring you have enough cash is amongst the most important. Having the cash to keep going lets you keep working on all of the other challenges. The frameworks above were critical for maintaining Backblaze’s cash flow and cash balance. Hopefully you can take some of the lessons we learned and apply them to your business. Let us know what works for you in the comments below.

The post Early Challenges: Managing Cash Flow appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Wanted: Sales Engineer

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/wanted-sales-engineer/

At inception, Backblaze was a consumer company. Thousands upon thousands of individuals came to our website and gave us $5/mo to keep their data safe. But, we didn’t sell business solutions. It took us years before we had a sales team. In the last couple of years, we’ve released products that businesses of all sizes love: Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage and Backblaze for Business Computer Backup. Those businesses want to integrate Backblaze deeply into their infrastructure, so it’s time to hire our first Sales Engineer!

Company Description:
Founded in 2007, Backblaze started with a mission to make backup software elegant and provide complete peace of mind. Over the course of almost a decade, we have become a pioneer in robust, scalable low cost cloud backup. Recently, we launched B2 – robust and reliable object storage at just $0.005/gb/mo. Part of our differentiation is being able to offer the lowest price of any of the big players while still being profitable.

We’ve managed to nurture a team oriented culture with amazingly low turnover. We value our people and their families. Don’t forget to check out our “About Us” page to learn more about the people and some of our perks.

We have built a profitable, high growth business. While we love our investors, we have maintained control over the business. That means our corporate goals are simple – grow sustainably and profitably.

Some Backblaze Perks:

  • Competitive healthcare plans
  • Competitive compensation and 401k
  • All employees receive Option grants
  • Unlimited vacation days
  • Strong coffee
  • Fully stocked Micro kitchen
  • Catered breakfast and lunches
  • Awesome people who work on awesome projects
  • Childcare bonus
  • Normal work hours
  • Get to bring your pets into the office
  • San Mateo Office – located near Caltrain and Highways 101 & 280.

Backblaze B2 cloud storage is a building block for almost any computing service that requires storage. Customers need our help integrating B2 into iOS apps to Docker containers. Some customers integrate directly to the API using the programming language of their choice, others want to solve a specific problem using ready made software, already integrated with B2.

At the same time, our computer backup product is deepening it’s integration into enterprise IT systems. We are commonly asked for how to set Windows policies, integrate with Active Directory, and install the client via remote management tools.

We are looking for a sales engineer who can help our customers navigate the integration of Backblaze into their technical environments.

Are you 1/2” deep into many different technologies, and unafraid to dive deeper?

Can you confidently talk with customers about their technology, even if you have to look up all the acronyms right after the call?

Are you excited to setup complicated software in a lab and write knowledge base articles about your work?

Then Backblaze is the place for you!

Enough about Backblaze already, what’s in it for me?
In this role, you will be given the opportunity to learn about the technologies that drive innovation today; diverse technologies that customers are using day in and out. And more importantly, you’ll learn how to learn new technologies.

Just as an example, in the past 12 months, we’ve had the opportunity to learn and become experts in these diverse technologies:

  • How to setup VM servers for lab environments, both on-prem and using cloud services.
  • Create an automatically “resetting” demo environment for the sales team.
  • Setup Microsoft Domain Controllers with Active Directory and AD Federation Services.
  • Learn the basics of OAUTH and web single sign on (SSO).
  • Archive video workflows from camera to media asset management systems.
  • How upload/download files from Javascript by enabling CORS.
  • How to install and monitor online backup installations using RMM tools, like JAMF.
  • Tape (LTO) systems. (Yes – people still use tape for storage!)

How can I know if I’ll succeed in this role?

You have:

  • Confidence. Be able to ask customers questions about their environments and convey to them your technical acumen.
  • Curiosity. Always want to learn about customers’ situations, how they got there and what problems they are trying to solve.
  • Organization. You’ll work with customers, integration partners, and Backblaze team members on projects of various lengths. You can context switch and either have a great memory or keep copious notes. Your checklists have their own checklists.

You are versed in:

  • The fundamentals of Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems. You shouldn’t be afraid to use a command line.
  • Building, installing, integrating and configuring applications on any operating system.
  • Debugging failures – reading logs, monitoring usage, effective google searching to fix problems excites you.
  • The basics of TCP/IP networking and the HTTP protocol.
  • Novice development skills in any programming/scripting language. Have basic understanding of data structures and program flow.
  • Your background contains:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or the equivalent.
  • 2+ years of experience as a pre or post-sales engineer.
  • The right extra credit:
    There are literally hundreds of previous experiences you can have had that would make you perfect for this job. Some experiences that we know would be helpful for us are below, but make sure you tell us your stories!

  • Experience using or programming against Amazon S3.
  • Experience with large on-prem storage – NAS, SAN, Object. And backing up data on such storage with tools like Veeam, Veritas and others.
  • Experience with photo or video media. Media archiving is a key market for Backblaze B2.
  • Program arduinos to automatically feed your dog.
  • Experience programming against web or REST APIs. (Point us towards your projects, if they are open source and available to link to.)
  • Experience with sales tools like Salesforce.
  • 3D print door stops.
  • Experience with Windows Servers, Active Directory, Group policies and the like.
  • What’s it like working with the Sales team?
    The Backblaze sales team collaborates. We help each other out by sharing ideas, templates, and our customer’s experiences. When we talk about our accomplishments, there is no “I did this,” only “we”. We are truly a team.

    We are honest to each other and our customers and communicate openly. We aim to have fun by embracing crazy ideas and creative solutions. We try to think not outside the box, but with no boxes at all. Customers are the driving force behind the success of the company and we care deeply about their success.

    If this all sounds like you:

    1. Send an email to [email protected] with the position in the subject line.
    2. Tell us a bit about your Sales Engineering experience.
    3. Include your resume.

    The post Wanted: Sales Engineer appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

    Spectre and Meltdown Attacks Against Microprocessors

    Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/01/spectre_and_mel_1.html

    The security of pretty much every computer on the planet has just gotten a lot worse, and the only real solution — which of course is not a solution — is to throw them all away and buy new ones.

    On Wednesday, researchers just announced a series of major security vulnerabilities in the microprocessors at the heart of the world’s computers for the past 15-20 years. They’ve been named Spectre and Meltdown, and they have to do with manipulating different ways processors optimize performance by rearranging the order of instructions or performing different instructions in parallel. An attacker who controls one process on a system can use the vulnerabilities to steal secrets elsewhere on the computer. (The research papers are here and here.)

    This means that a malicious app on your phone could steal data from your other apps. Or a malicious program on your computer — maybe one running in a browser window from that sketchy site you’re visiting, or as a result of a phishing attack — can steal data elsewhere on your machine. Cloud services, which often share machines amongst several customers, are especially vulnerable. This affects corporate applications running on cloud infrastructure, and end-user cloud applications like Google Drive. Someone can run a process in the cloud and steal data from every other users on the same hardware.

    Information about these flaws has been secretly circulating amongst the major IT companies for months as they researched the ramifications and coordinated updates. The details were supposed to be released next week, but the story broke early and everyone is scrambling. By now all the major cloud vendors have patched their systems against the vulnerabilities that can be patched against.

    “Throw it away and buy a new one” is ridiculous security advice, but it’s what US-CERT recommends. It is also unworkable. The problem is that there isn’t anything to buy that isn’t vulnerable. Pretty much every major processor made in the past 20 years is vulnerable to some flavor of these vulnerabilities. Patching against Meltdown can degrade performance by almost a third. And there’s no patch for Spectre; the microprocessors have to be redesigned to prevent the attack, and that will take years. (Here’s a running list of who’s patched what.)

    This is bad, but expect it more and more. Several trends are converging in a way that makes our current system of patching security vulnerabilities harder to implement.

    The first is that these vulnerabilities affect embedded computers in consumer devices. Unlike our computer and phones, these systems are designed and produced at a lower profit margin with less engineering expertise. There aren’t security teams on call to write patches, and there often aren’t mechanisms to push patches onto the devices. We’re already seeing this with home routers, digital video recorders, and webcams. The vulnerability that allowed them to be taken over by the Mirai botnet last August simply can’t be fixed.

    The second is that some of the patches require updating the computer’s firmware. This is much harder to walk consumers through, and is more likely to permanently brick the device if something goes wrong. It also requires more coordination. In November, Intel released a firmware update to fix a vulnerability in its Management Engine (ME): another flaw in its microprocessors. But it couldn’t get that update directly to users; it had to work with the individual hardware companies, and some of them just weren’t capable of getting the update to their customers.

    We’re already seeing this. Some patches require users to disable the computer’s password, which means organizations can’t automate the patch. Some antivirus software blocks the patch, or — worse — crashes the computer. This results in a three-step process: patch your antivirus software, patch your operating system, and then patch the computer’s firmware.

    The final reason is the nature of these vulnerabilities themselves. These aren’t normal software vulnerabilities, where a patch fixes the problem and everyone can move on. These vulnerabilities are in the fundamentals of how the microprocessor operates.

    It shouldn’t be surprising that microprocessor designers have been building insecure hardware for 20 years. What’s surprising is that it took 20 years to discover it. In their rush to make computers faster, they weren’t thinking about security. They didn’t have the expertise to find these vulnerabilities. And those who did were too busy finding normal software vulnerabilities to examine microprocessors. Security researchers are starting to look more closely at these systems, so expect to hear about more vulnerabilities along these lines.

    Spectre and Meltdown are pretty catastrophic vulnerabilities, but they only affect the confidentiality of data. Now that they — and the research into the Intel ME vulnerability — have shown researchers where to look, more is coming — and what they’ll find will be worse than either Spectre or Meltdown. There will be vulnerabilities that will allow attackers to manipulate or delete data across processes, potentially fatal in the computers controlling our cars or implanted medical devices. These will be similarly impossible to fix, and the only strategy will be to throw our devices away and buy new ones.

    This isn’t to say you should immediately turn your computers and phones off and not use them for a few years. For the average user, this is just another attack method amongst many. All the major vendors are working on patches and workarounds for the attacks they can mitigate. All the normal security advice still applies: watch for phishing attacks, don’t click on strange e-mail attachments, don’t visit sketchy websites that might run malware on your browser, patch your systems regularly, and generally be careful on the Internet.

    You probably won’t notice that performance hit once Meltdown is patched, except maybe in backup programs and networking applications. Embedded systems that do only one task, like your programmable thermostat or the computer in your refrigerator, are unaffected. Small microprocessors that don’t do all of the vulnerable fancy performance tricks are unaffected. Browsers will figure out how to mitigate this in software. Overall, the security of the average Internet-of-Things device is so bad that this attack is in the noise compared to the previously known risks.

    It’s a much bigger problem for cloud vendors; the performance hit will be expensive, but I expect that they’ll figure out some clever way of detecting and blocking the attacks. All in all, as bad as Spectre and Meltdown are, I think we got lucky.

    But more are coming, and they’ll be worse. 2018 will be the year of microprocessor vulnerabilities, and it’s going to be a wild ride.

    Note: A shorter version of this essay previously appeared on CNN.com. My previous blog post on this topic contains additional links.

    A New AWS Government, Education, and Nonprofits Blog Post: “AWS Achieves Full Empanelment for the Delivery of Cloud Services by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology”

    Post Syndicated from Craig Liebendorfer original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/a-new-aws-government-education-nonprofits-blog-post-aws-achieves-full-empanelment-for-the-delivery-of-cloud-services-by-indias-ministry-of-electronics-and-information-technology/

    AWS Security by Design image

    AWS recently announced that Amazon Internet Services Private Limited (AISPL), an Indian subsidiary of the Amazon Group that undertakes the resale and marketing of AWS Cloud services in India, has achieved full Cloud Service Provider (CSP) empanelment and successfully completed the Standardization Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) audit from the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for cloud services delivered from the AWS Asia Pacific (Mumbai) Region.

    With this certification, AISPL joins a list of approved providers that meet predefined government standards of quality, availability, and security. With 52 global security certifications, attestations, assurance programs, and quality audits already achieved, such as ISO 9001, SOC1, SOC2, and SOC3, AWS is the first global cloud service provider to earn this status in India.

    To read the full blog post, see AWS Achieves Full Empanelment for the Delivery of Cloud Services by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

    – Craig

    Now Open – AWS China (Ningxia) Region

    Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/now-open-aws-china-ningxia-region/

    Today we launched our 17th Region globally, and the second in China. The AWS China (Ningxia) Region, operated by Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology Co. Ltd. (NWCD), is generally available now and provides customers another option to run applications and store data on AWS in China.

    The Details
    At launch, the new China (Ningxia) Region, operated by NWCD, supports Auto Scaling, AWS Config, AWS CloudFormation, AWS CloudTrail, Amazon CloudWatch, CloudWatch Events, Amazon CloudWatch Logs, AWS CodeDeploy, AWS Direct Connect, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon EC2 Systems Manager, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon EMR, Amazon Glacier, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Amazon Kinesis Streams, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), AWS Support API, AWS Trusted Advisor, Amazon Simple Workflow Service (SWF), Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, and VM Import. Visit the AWS China Products page for additional information on these services.

    The Region supports all sizes of C4, D2, M4, T2, R4, I3, and X1 instances.

    Check out the AWS Global Infrastructure page to learn more about current and future AWS Regions.

    Operating Partner
    To comply with China’s legal and regulatory requirements, AWS has formed a strategic technology collaboration with NWCD to operate and provide services from the AWS China (Ningxia) Region. Founded in 2015, NWCD is a licensed datacenter and cloud services provider, based in Ningxia, China. NWCD joins Sinnet, the operator of the AWS China China (Beijing) Region, as an AWS operating partner in China. Through these relationships, AWS provides its industry-leading technology, guidance, and expertise to NWCD and Sinnet, while NWCD and Sinnet operate and provide AWS cloud services to local customers. While the cloud services offered in both AWS China Regions are the same as those available in other AWS Regions, the AWS China Regions are different in that they are isolated from all other AWS Regions and operated by AWS’s Chinese partners separately from all other AWS Regions. Customers using the AWS China Regions enter into customer agreements with Sinnet and NWCD, rather than with AWS.

    Use it Today
    The AWS China (Ningxia) Region, operated by NWCD, is open for business, and you can start using it now! Starting today, Chinese developers, startups, and enterprises, as well as government, education, and non-profit organizations, can leverage AWS to run their applications and store their data in the new AWS China (Ningxia) Region, operated by NWCD. Customers already using the AWS China (Beijing) Region, operated by Sinnet, can select the AWS China (Ningxia) Region directly from the AWS Management Console, while new customers can request an account at www.amazonaws.cn to begin using both AWS China Regions.

    Jeff;

     

     

    What’s the Best Solution for Managing Digital Photos and Videos?

    Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/discovering-best-solution-for-photo-video-backup/

    Digital Asset Management (DAM)

    If you have spent any time, as we have, talking to photographers and videographers about how they back up and archive their digital photos and videos, then you know that there’s no one answer or solution that users have discovered to meet their needs.

    Based on what we’ve heard, visual media artists are still searching for the best combination of software, hardware, and cloud storage to preserve their media, and to be able to search, retrieve, and reuse that media as easily as possible.

    Yes, there are a number of solutions out there, and some users have created combinations of hardware, software, and services to meet their needs, but we have met few who claim to be satisfied with their solution for digital asset management (DAM), or expect that they will be using the same solution in just a year or two.

    We’d like to open a dialog with professionals and serious amateurs to learn more about what you’re doing, what you’d like to do, and how Backblaze might fit into that solution.

    We have a bit of cred in this field, as we currently have hundreds of petabytes of digital media files in our data centers from users of Backblaze Backup and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. We want to make our cloud services as useful as possible for photographers and videographers.

    Tell Us Both Your Current Solution and Your Dream Solution

    To get started, we’d love to hear from you about how you’re managing your photos and videos. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, your experiences are valuable and will help us understand how to provide the best cloud component of a digital asset management solution.

    Here are some questions to consider:

    • Are you using direct-attached drives, NAS (Network-Attached Storage), or offline storage for your media?
    • Do you use the cloud for media you’re actively working on?
    • Do you back up or archive to the cloud?
    • Did you have a catalog or record of the media that you’ve archived that you use to search and retrieve media?
    • What’s different about how you work in the field (or traveling) versus how you work in a studio (or at home)?
    • What software and/or hardware currently works for you?
    • What’s the biggest impediment to working in the way you’d really like to?
    • How could the cloud work better for you?

    Please Contribute Your Ideas

    To contribute, please answer the following two questions in the comments below or send an email to [email protected]. Please comment or email your response by December 22, 2017.

    1. How are you currently backing up your digital photos, video files, and/or file libraries/catalogs? Do you have a backup system that uses attached drives, a local network, the cloud, or offline storage media? Does it work well for you?
    2. Imagine your ideal digital asset backup setup. What would it look like? Don’t be constrained by current products, technologies, brands, or solutions. Invent a technology or product if you wish. Describe an ideal system that would work the way you want it to.

    We know you have opinions about managing photos and videos. Bring them on!

    We’re soliciting answers far and wide from amateurs and experts, weekend video makers and well-known professional photographers. We have a few amateur and professional photographers and videographers here at Backblaze, and they are contributing their comments, as well.

    Once we have gathered all the responses, we’ll write a post on what we learned about how people are currently working and what they would do if anything were possible. Look for that post after the beginning of the year.

    Don’t Miss Future Posts on Media Management

    We don’t want you to miss our future posts on photography, videography, and digital asset management. To receive email notices of blog updates (and no spam, we promise), enter your email address above using the Join button at the top of the page.

    Come Back on Thursday for our Photography Post (and a Special Giveaway, too)

    This coming Thursday we’ll have a blog post about the different ways that photographers and videographers are currently managing their digital media assets.

    Plus, you’ll have the chance to win a valuable hardware/software combination for digital media management that I am sure you will appreciate. (You’ll have to wait until Thursday to find out what the prize is, but it has a total value of over $700.)

    Past Posts on Photography, Videography, and Digital Asset Management

    We’ve written a number of blog posts about photos, videos, and managing digital assets. We’ve posted links to some of them below.

    Four Tips To Help Photographers and Videographers Get The Most From B2

    Four Tips To Help Photographers and Videographers Get The Most From B2

    How to Back Up Your Mac’s Photos Library

    How to Back Up Your Mac’s Photos Library

    How To Back Up Your Flickr Library

    How To Back Up Your Flickr Library

    Getting Video Archives Out of Your Closet

    Getting Video Archives Out of Your Closet

    B2 Cloud Storage Roundup

    B2 Cloud Storage Roundup

    Backing Up Photos While Traveling

    Backing up photos while traveling – feedback

    Should I Use an External Drive for Backup?

    Should I use an external drive for backup?

    How to Connect your Synology NAS to B2

    How to Connect your Synology NAS to B2

    The post What’s the Best Solution for Managing Digital Photos and Videos? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

    Say Hello To Our Newest AWS Community Heroes (Fall 2017 Edition)

    Post Syndicated from Sara Rodas original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/say-hello-to-our-newest-aws-community-heroes-fall-2017-edition/

    The AWS Community Heroes program helps shine a spotlight on some of the innovative work being done by rockstar AWS developers around the globe. Marrying cloud expertise with a passion for community building and education, these heroes share their time and knowledge across social media and through in-person events. Heroes also actively help drive community-led tracks at conferences. At this year’s re:Invent, many Heroes will be speaking during the Monday Community Day track.

    This November, we are thrilled to have four Heroes joining our network of cloud innovators. Without further ado, meet to our newest AWS Community Heroes!

     

    Anh Ho Viet

    Anh Ho Viet is the founder of AWS Vietnam User Group, Co-founder & CEO of OSAM, an AWS Consulting Partner in Vietnam, an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, and a cloud lover.

    At OSAM, Anh and his enthusiastic team have helped many companies, from SMBs to Enterprises, move to the cloud with AWS. They offer a wide range of services, including migration, consultation, architecture, and solution design on AWS. Anh’s vision for OSAM is beyond a cloud service provider; the company will take part in building a complete AWS ecosystem in Vietnam, where other companies are encouraged to become AWS partners through training and collaboration activities.

    In 2016, Anh founded the AWS Vietnam User Group as a channel to share knowledge and hands-on experience among cloud practitioners. Since then, the community has reached more than 4,800 members and is still expanding. The group holds monthly meetups, connects many SMEs to AWS experts, and provides real-time, free-of-charge consultancy to startups. In August 2017, Anh joined as lead content creator of a program called “Cloud Computing Lectures for Universities” which includes translating AWS documentation & news into Vietnamese, providing students with fundamental, up-to-date knowledge of AWS cloud computing, and supporting students’ career paths.

     

    Thorsten Höger

    Thorsten Höger is CEO and Cloud consultant at Taimos, where he is advising customers on how to use AWS. Being a developer, he focuses on improving development processes and automating everything to build efficient deployment pipelines for customers of all sizes.

    Before being self-employed, Thorsten worked as a developer and CTO of Germany’s first private bank running on AWS. With his colleagues, he migrated the core banking system to the AWS platform in 2013. Since then he organizes the AWS user group in Stuttgart and is a frequent speaker at Meetups, BarCamps, and other community events.

    As a supporter of open source software, Thorsten is maintaining or contributing to several projects on Github, like test frameworks for AWS Lambda, Amazon Alexa, or developer tools for CloudFormation. He is also the maintainer of the Jenkins AWS Pipeline plugin.

    In his spare time, he enjoys indoor climbing and cooking.

     

    Becky Zhang

    Yu Zhang (Becky Zhang) is COO of BootDev, which focuses on Big Data solutions on AWS and high concurrency web architecture. Before she helped run BootDev, she was working at Yubis IT Solutions as an operations manager.

    Becky plays a key role in the AWS User Group Shanghai (AWSUGSH), regularly organizing AWS UG events including AWS Tech Meetups and happy hours, gathering AWS talent together to communicate the latest technology and AWS services. As a female in technology industry, Becky is keen on promoting Women in Tech and encourages more woman to get involved in the community.

    Becky also connects the China AWS User Group with user groups in other regions, including Korea, Japan, and Thailand. She was invited as a panelist at AWS re:Invent 2016 and spoke at the Seoul AWS Summit this April to introduce AWS User Group Shanghai and communicate with other AWS User Groups around the world.

    Besides events, Becky also promotes the Shanghai AWS User Group by posting AWS-related tech articles, event forecasts, and event reports to Weibo, Twitter, Meetup.com, and WeChat (which now has over 2000 official account followers).

     

    Nilesh Vaghela

    Nilesh Vaghela is the founder of ElectroMech Corporation, an AWS Cloud and open source focused company (the company started as an open source motto). Nilesh has been very active in the Linux community since 1998. He started working with AWS Cloud technologies in 2013 and in 2014 he trained a dedicated cloud team and started full support of AWS cloud services as an AWS Standard Consulting Partner. He always works to establish and encourage cloud and open source communities.

    He started the AWS Meetup community in Ahmedabad in 2014 and as of now 12 Meetups have been conducted, focusing on various AWS technologies. The Meetup has quickly grown to include over 2000 members. Nilesh also created a Facebook group for AWS enthusiasts in Ahmedabad, with over 1500 members.

    Apart from the AWS Meetup, Nilesh has delivered a number of seminars, workshops, and talks around AWS introduction and awareness, at various organizations, as well as at colleges and universities. He has also been active in working with startups, presenting AWS services overviews and discussing how startups can benefit the most from using AWS services.

    Nilesh is Red Hat Linux Technologies and AWS Cloud Technologies trainer as well.

     

    To learn more about the AWS Community Heroes Program and how to get involved with your local AWS community, click here.

    Backing Up WordPress

    Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backing-up-wordpress/

    WordPress cloud backup
    WordPress logo

    WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) for websites, with almost 30% of all websites in the world using WordPress. That’s a lot of sites — over 350 million!

    In this post we’ll talk about the different approaches to keeping the data on your WordPress website safe.


    Stop the Presses! (Or the Internet!)

    As we were getting ready to publish this post, we received news from UpdraftPlus, one of the biggest WordPress plugin developers, that they are supporting Backblaze B2 as a storage solution for their backup plugin. They shipped the update (1.13.9) this week. This is great news for Backblaze customers! UpdraftPlus is also offering a 20% discount to Backblaze customers wishing to purchase or upgrade to UpdraftPlus Premium. The complete information is below.

    UpdraftPlus joins backup plugin developer XCloner — Backup and Restore in supporting Backblaze B2. A third developer, BlogVault, also announced their intent to support Backblaze B2. Contact your favorite WordPress backup plugin developer and urge them to support Backblaze B2, as well.

    Now, back to our post…


    Your WordPress website data is on a web server that’s most likely located in a large data center. You might wonder why it is necessary to have a backup of your website if it’s in a data center. Website data can be lost in a number of ways, including mistakes by the website owner (been there), hacking, or even domain ownership dispute (I’ve seen it happen more than once). A website backup also can provide a history of changes you’ve made to the website, which can be useful. As an overall strategy, it’s best to have a backup of any data that you can’t afford to lose for personal or business reasons.

    Your web hosting company might provide backup services as part of your hosting plan. If you are using their service, you should know where and how often your data is being backed up. You don’t want to find out too late that your backup plan was not adequate.

    Sites on WordPress.com are automatically backed up by VaultPress (Automattic), which also is available for self-hosted WordPress installations. If you don’t want the work or decisions involved in managing the hosting for your WordPress site, WordPress.com will handle it for you. You do, however, give up some customization abilities, such as the option to add plugins of your own choice.

    Very large and active websites might consider WordPress VIP by Automattic, or another premium WordPress hosting service such as Pagely.com.

    This post is about backing up self-hosted WordPress sites, so we’ll focus on those options.

    WordPress Backup

    Backup strategies for WordPress can be divided into broad categories depending on 1) what you back up, 2) when you back up, and 3) where the data is backed up.

    With server data, such as with a WordPress installation, you should plan to have three copies of the data (the 3-2-1 backup strategy). The first is the active data on the WordPress web server, the second is a backup stored on the web server or downloaded to your local computer, and the third should be in another location, such as the cloud.

    We’ll talk about the different approaches to backing up WordPress, but we recommend using a WordPress plugin to handle your backups. A backup plugin can automate the task, optimize your backup storage space, and alert you of problems with your backups or WordPress itself. We’ll cover plugins in more detail, below.

    What to Back Up?

    The main components of your WordPress installation are:

    You should decide which of these elements you wish to back up. The database is the top priority, as it contains all your website posts and pages (exclusive of media). Your current theme is important, as it likely contains customizations you’ve made. Following those in priority are any other files you’ve customized or made changes to.

    You can choose to back up the WordPress core installation and plugins, if you wish, but these files can be downloaded again if necessary from the source, so you might not wish to include them. You likely have all the media files you use on your website on your local computer (which should be backed up), so it is your choice whether to back these up from the server as well.

    If you wish to be able to recreate your entire website easily in case of data loss or disaster, you might choose to back up everything, though on a large website this could be a lot of data.

    Generally, you should 1) prioritize any file that you’ve customized that you can’t afford to lose, and 2) decide whether you need a copy of everything in order to get your site back up quickly. These choices will determine your backup method and the amount of storage you need.

    A good backup plugin for WordPress enables you to specify which files you wish to back up, and even to create separate backups and schedules for different backup contents. That’s another good reason to use a plugin for backing up WordPress.

    When to Back Up?

    You can back up manually at any time by using the Export tool in WordPress. This is handy if you wish to do a quick backup of your site or parts of it. Since it is manual, however, it is not a part of a dependable backup plan that should be done regularly. If you wish to use this tool, go to Tools, Export, and select what you wish to back up. The output will be an XML file that uses the WordPress Extended RSS format, also known as WXR. You can create a WXR file that contains all of the information on your site or just portions of the site, such as posts or pages by selecting: All content, Posts, Pages, or Media.
    Note: You can use WordPress’s Export tool for sites hosted on WordPress.com, as well.

    Export instruction for WordPress

    Many of the backup plugins we’ll be discussing later also let you do a manual backup on demand in addition to regularly scheduled or continuous backups.

    Note:  Another use of the WordPress Export tool and the WXR file is to transfer or clone your website to another server. Once you have exported the WXR file from the website you wish to transfer from, you can import the WXR file from the Tools, Import menu on the new WordPress destination site. Be aware that there are file size limits depending on the settings on your web server. See the WordPress Codex entry for more information. To make this job easier, you may wish to use one of a number of WordPress plugins designed specifically for this task.

    You also can manually back up the WordPress MySQL database using a number of tools or a plugin. The WordPress Codex has good information on this. All WordPress plugins will handle this for you and do it automatically. They also typically include tools for optimizing the database tables, which is just good housekeeping.

    A dependable backup strategy doesn’t rely on manual backups, which means you should consider using one of the many backup plugins available either free or for purchase. We’ll talk more about them below.

    Which Format To Back Up In?

    In addition to the WordPress WXR format, plugins and server tools will use various file formats and compression algorithms to store and compress your backup. You may get to choose between zip, tar, tar.gz, tar.gz2, and others. See The Most Common Archive File Formats for more information on these formats.

    Select a format that you know you can access and unarchive should you need access to your backup. All of these formats are standard and supported across operating systems, though you might need to download a utility to access the file.

    Where To Back Up?

    Once you have your data in a suitable format for backup, where do you back it up to?

    We want to have multiple copies of our active website data, so we’ll choose more than one destination for our backup data. The backup plugins we’ll discuss below enable you to specify one or more possible destinations for your backup. The possible destinations for your backup include:

    A backup folder on your web server
    A backup folder on your web server is an OK solution if you also have a copy elsewhere. Depending on your hosting plan, the size of your site, and what you include in the backup, you may or may not have sufficient disk space on the web server. Some backup plugins allow you to configure the plugin to keep only a certain number of recent backups and delete older ones, saving you disk space on the server.
    Email to you
    Because email servers have size limitations, the email option is not the best one to use unless you use it to specifically back up just the database or your main theme files.
    FTP, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV
    FTP, SFTP, SCP, and WebDAV are all widely-supported protocols for transferring files over the internet and can be used if you have access credentials to another server or supported storage device that is suitable for storing a backup.
    Sync service (Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive, OneDrive)
    A sync service is another possible server storage location though it can be a pricier choice depending on the plan you have and how much you wish to store.
    Cloud storage (Backblaze B2, Amazon S3, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace)
    A cloud storage service can be an inexpensive and flexible option with pay-as-you go pricing for storing backups and other data.

    A good website backup strategy would be to have multiple backups of your website data: one in a backup folder on your web hosting server, one downloaded to your local computer, and one in the cloud, such as with Backblaze B2.

    If I had to choose just one of these, I would choose backing up to the cloud because it is geographically separated from both your local computer and your web host, it uses fault-tolerant and redundant data storage technologies to protect your data, and it is available from anywhere if you need to restore your site.

    Backup Plugins for WordPress

    Probably the easiest and most common way to implement a solid backup strategy for WordPress is to use one of the many backup plugins available for WordPress. Fortunately, there are a number of good ones and are available free or in “freemium” plans in which you can use the free version and pay for more features and capabilities only if you need them. The premium options can give you more flexibility in configuring backups or have additional options for where you can store the backups.

    How to Choose a WordPress Backup Plugin

    screenshot of WordPress plugins search

    When considering which plugin to use, you should take into account a number of factors in making your choice.

    Is the plugin actively maintained and up-to-date? You can determine this from the listing in the WordPress Plugin Repository. You also can look at reviews and support comments to get an idea of user satisfaction and how well issues are resolved.

    Does the plugin work with your web hosting provider? Generally, well-supported plugins do, but you might want to check to make sure there are no issues with your hosting provider.

    Does it support the cloud service or protocol you wish to use? This can be determined from looking at the listing in the WordPress Plugin Repository or on the developer’s website. Developers often will add support for cloud services or other backup destinations based on user demand, so let the developer know if there is a feature or backup destination you’d like them to add to their plugin.

    Other features and options to consider in choosing a backup plugin are:

    • Whether encryption of your backup data is available
    • What are the options for automatically deleting backups from the storage destination?
    • Can you globally exclude files, folders, and specific types of files from the backup?
    • Do the options for scheduling automatic backups meet your needs for frequency?
    • Can you exclude/include specific database tables (a good way to save space in your backup)?

    WordPress Backup Plugins Review

    Let’s review a few of the top choices for WordPress backup plugins.

    UpdraftPlus

    UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular backup plugins for WordPress with over one million active installations. It is available in both free and Premium versions.

    UpdraftPlus just released support for Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage in their 1.13.9 update on September 25. According to the developer, support for Backblaze B2 was the most frequent request for a new storage option for their plugin. B2 support is available in their Premium plugin and as a stand-alone update to their standard product.

    Note: The developers of UpdraftPlus are offering a special 20% discount to Backblaze customers on the purchase of UpdraftPlus Premium by using the coupon code backblaze20. The discount is valid until the end of Friday, October 6th, 2017.

    screenshot of Backblaze B2 cloud backup for WordPress in UpdraftPlus

    XCloner — Backup and Restore

    XCloner — Backup and Restore is a useful open-source plugin with many options for backing up WordPress.

    XCloner supports B2 Cloud Storage in their free plugin.

    screenshot of XCloner WordPress Backblaze B2 backup settings

    BlogVault

    BlogVault describes themselves as a “complete WordPress backup solution.” They offer a free trial of their paid WordPress backup subscription service that features real-time backups of changes to your WordPress site, as well as many other features.

    BlogVault has announced their intent to support Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage in a future update.

    screenshot of BlogValut WordPress Backup settings

    BackWPup

    BackWPup is a popular and free option for backing up WordPress. It supports a number of options for storing your backup, including the cloud, FTP, email, or on your local computer.

    screenshot of BackWPup WordPress backup settings

    WPBackItUp

    WPBackItUp has been around since 2012 and is highly rated. It has both free and paid versions.

    screenshot of WPBackItUp WordPress backup settings

    VaultPress

    VaultPress is part of Automattic’s well-known WordPress product, JetPack. You will need a JetPack subscription plan to use VaultPress. There are different pricing plans with different sets of features.

    screenshot of VaultPress backup settings

    Backup by Supsystic

    Backup by Supsystic supports a number of options for backup destinations, encryption, and scheduling.

    screenshot of Backup by Supsystic backup settings

    BackupWordPress

    BackUpWordPress is an open-source project on Github that has a popular and active following and many positive reviews.

    screenshot of BackupWordPress WordPress backup settings

    BackupBuddy

    BackupBuddy, from iThemes, is the old-timer of backup plugins, having been around since 2010. iThemes knows a lot about WordPress, as they develop plugins, themes, utilities, and provide training in WordPress.

    BackupBuddy’s backup includes all WordPress files, all files in the WordPress Media library, WordPress themes, and plugins. BackupBuddy generates a downloadable zip file of the entire WordPress website. Remote storage destinations also are supported.

    screenshot of BackupBuddy settings

    WordPress and the Cloud

    Do you use WordPress and back up to the cloud? We’d like to hear about it. We’d also like to hear whether you are interested in using B2 Cloud Storage for storing media files served by WordPress. If you are, we’ll write about it in a future post.

    In the meantime, keep your eye out for new plugins supporting Backblaze B2, or better yet, urge them to support B2 if they’re not already.

    The Best Backup Strategy is the One You Use

    There are other approaches and tools for backing up WordPress that you might use. If you have an approach that works for you, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.

    The post Backing Up WordPress appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

    Surviving Your First Year

    Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/startup-stages-surviving-your-first-year/

    Surviving Your First Year

    This post by Backblaze’s CEO and co-founder Gleb Budman is the fifth in a series about entrepreneurship. You can choose posts in the series from the list below:

    1. How Backblaze got Started: The Problem, The Solution, and the Stuff In-Between
    2. Building a Competitive Moat: Turning Challenges Into Advantages
    3. From Idea to Launch: Getting Your First Customers
    4. How to Get Your First 1,000 Customers
    5. Surviving Your First Year

    Use the Join button above to receive notification of new posts in this series.

    In my previous posts, I talked about coming up with an idea, determining the solution, and getting your first customers. But you’re building a company, not a product. Let’s talk about what the first year should look like.

    The primary goals for that first year are to: 1) set up the company; 2) build, launch, and learn; and 3) survive.

    Setting Up the Company

    The company you’re building is more than the product itself, and you’re not going to do it alone. You don’t want to spend too much time on this since getting customers is key, but if you don’t set up the basics, there are all sorts of issues down the line.

    startup idea board

    Find Your Co-Founders & Determine Roles

    You may already have the idea, but who do you need to execute it? At Backblaze, we needed people to build the web experience, the client backup application, and the server/storage side. We also needed someone to handle the business/marketing aspects, and we felt that the design and user experience were critical. As a result, we started with five co-founders: three engineers, a designer, and me for the business and marketing.

    Of course not every role needs to be filled by a co-founder. You can hire employees for positions as well. But think through the strategic skills you’ll need to launch and consider co-founders with those skill sets.

    Too many people think they can just “work together” on everything. Don’t. Determine roles as quickly as possible so that it’s clear who is responsible for what work and which decisions. We were lucky in that we had worked together and thus knew what each person would do, but even so we assigned titles early on to clarify roles.

    Takeaway:   Fill critical roles and explicitly split roles and responsibilities.

    Get Your Legal Basics In Place

    When we’re excited about building a product, legal basics are often the last thing we want to deal with. You don’t need to go overboard, but it’s critical to get certain things done.

    1. Determine ownership split. What is the percentage breakdown of the company that each of the founders will own? It can be a tough discussion, but it only becomes more difficult later when there is more value and people have put more time into it. At Backblaze we split the equity equally five ways. This is uncommon. The benefit of this is that all the founders feel valued and “in it together.” The benefit of the more common split where someone has a dominant share is that person is typically empowered to be the ultimate decision-maker. Slicing Pie provides some guidance on how to think about splitting equity. Regardless of which way you want you go, don’t put it off.
    2. Incorporate. Hard to be a company if you’re not. There are various formats, but if you plan to raise angel/venture funding, a Delaware-based C-corp is standard.
    3. Deal With Stock. At a minimum, issue stock to the founders, have each one buy their shares, and file an 83(b). Buying your shares at this stage might be $100. Filing the 83(b) election marks the date at which you purchased your shares, and shows that you bought them for what they were worth. This one piece of paper paper can make the difference between paying long-term capital gains rates (~20%) or income tax rates (~40%).
    4. Assign Intellectual Property. Ask everyone to sign a Proprietary Information and Inventions Assignment (“PIIA”). This document says that what they do at the company is owned by the company. Early on we had a friend who came by and brainstormed ideas. We thought of it as interesting banter. He later said he owned part of our storage design. While we worked it out together, a PIIA makes ownership clear.

    The ownership split can be worked out by the founders directly. For the other items, I would involve lawyers. Some law firms will set up the basics and defer payment until you raise money or the business can pay for services out of operations. Gunderson Dettmer did that for us (ask for Bennett Yee). Cooley will do this on a casey-by-case basis as well.

    Takeaway:  Don’t let the excitement of building a company distract you from filing the basic legal documents required to protect and grow your company.

    Get Health Insurance

    This item may seem out of place, but not having health insurance can easily bankrupt you personally, and that certainly won’t bode well for your company. While you can buy individual health insurance, it will often be less expensive to buy it as a company. Also, it will make recruiting employees more difficult if you do not offer healthcare. When we contacted brokers they asked us to send the W-2 of each employee that wanted coverage, but the founders weren’t taking a salary at first. To work around this, make the founders ‘officers’ of the company, and the healthcare brokers can then insure them. (Of course, you need to be ok with your co-founders being officers, but hopefully, that is logical anyway.)

    Takeaway:  Don’t take your co-founders’ physical and financial health for granted. Health insurance can serve as both individual protection and a recruiting tool for future employees.

    Building, Launching & Learning

    Getting the company set up gives you the foundation, but ultimately a company with no product and no customers isn’t very interesting.

    Build

    Ideally, you have one person on the team focusing on all of the items above and everyone else can be heads-down building product. There is a lot to say about building product, but for this post, I’ll just say that your goal is to get something out the door that is good enough to start collecting feedback. It doesn’t have to have every feature you dream of and doesn’t have to support 1 billion users on day one.

    Launch

    If you’re building a car or rocket, that may take some time. But with the availability of open-source software and cloud services, most startups should launch inside of a year.

    Launching forces a scoping of the feature set to what’s critical, rallies the company around a goal, starts building awareness of your company and solution, and pushes forward the learning process. Backblaze launched in public beta on June 2, 2008, eight months after the founders all started working on it full-time.

    Takeaway:  Focus on the most important features and launch.

    Learn & Iterate

    As much as we think we know about the customers and their needs, the launch process and beyond opens up all sorts of insights. This early period is critical to collect feedback and iterate, especially while both the product and company are still quite malleable. We initially planned on building peer-to-peer and local backup immediately on the heels of our online offering, but after launching found minimal demand for those features. On the other hand, there was tremendous demand from companies and resellers.

    Takeaway:  Use the critical post-launch period to collect feedback and iterate.

    Surviving

    “Live to fight another day.” If the company doesn’t survive, it’s hard to change the world. Let’s talk about some of the survival components.

    Consider What You As A Founding Team Want & How You Work

    Are you doing this because you hope to get rich? See yourself on the cover of Fortune? Make your own decisions? Work from home all the time? Founder fighting is the number one reason companies fail; the founders need to be on the same page as much as possible.

    At Backblaze we agreed very early on that we wanted three things:

    1. Build products we were proud of
    2. Have fun
    3. Make money

    This has driven various decisions over the years and has evolved into being part of the culture. For example, while Backblaze is absolutely a company with a profit motive, we do not compromise the product to make more money. Other directions are not bad; they’re just different.

    Do you want a lifestyle business? Or want to build a billion dollar business? Want to run it forever or build it for a couple years and do something else?

    Pretend you’re getting married to each other. Do some introspection and talk about your vision of the future a lot. Do you expect everyone to work 20 or 100 hours every week? In the office or remote? How do you like to work? What pet peeves do you have?

    When getting married each person brings the “life they’ve known,” often influenced by the life their parents lived. Together they need to decide which aspects of their previous lives they want to keep, toss, or change. As founders coming together, you have the same opportunity for your new company.

    Takeaway:  In order for a company to survive, the founders must agree on what they want the company to be. Have the discussions early.

    Determine How You Will Fund Your Business

    Raising venture capital is often seen as the only path, and considered the most important thing to start doing on day one. However, there are a variety of options for funding your business, including using money from savings, part-time work, friends & family money, loans, angels, and customers. Consider the right option for you, your founding team, and your business.

    Conserve Cash

    Whichever option you choose for funding your business, chances are high that you will not be flush with cash on day one. In certain situations, you actually don’t want to conserve cash because you’ve raised $100m and now you want to run as fast as you can to capture a market — cash is plentiful and time is not. However, with the exception of founder struggles, running out of cash is the most common way companies go under. There are many ways to conserve cash — limit hiring of employees and consultants, use lawyers and accountants sparingly, don’t spend on advertising, work from a home office, etc. The most important way is to simply ensure that you and your team are cash conscious, challenging decisions that commit you to spending cash.

    Backblaze spent a total of $94,122 to get to public beta launch. That included building the backup application, our own server infrastructure, the website with account/billing/restore functionality, the marketing involved in getting to launch, and all the steps above in setting up the company, paying for healthcare, etc. The five founders took no salary during this time (which, of course, would have cost dramatically more), so most of this money went to computers, servers, hard drives, and other infrastructure.

    Takeaway:  Minimize cash burn — it extends your runway and gives you options.

    Slowly Flesh Out Your Team

    We started with five co-founders, and thus a fairly fleshed-out team. A year in, we only added one person, a Mac architect. Three months later we shipped a beta of our Mac version, which has resulted in more than 50% of our revenue.

    Minimizing hiring is key to cash conservation, and hiring ahead of getting market feedback is risky since you may realize that the talent you need will change. However, once you start getting feedback, think about the key people that you need to move your company forward. But be rigorous in determining whether they’re critical. We didn’t hire our first customer support person until all five founders were spending 20% of their time on it.

    Takeaway:  Don’t hire in anticipation of market growth; hire to fuel the growth.

    Keep Your Spirits Up

    Startups are roller coasters of emotion. There have been some serious articles about founders suffering from depression and worse. The idea phase is exhilarating, then there is the slog of building. The launch is a blast, but the week after there are crickets.

    On June 2, 2008, we launched in public beta with great press and hordes of customers. But a few months later we were signing up only about 10 new customers per month. That’s $50 new monthly recurring revenue (MRR) after a year of work and no salary.

    On August 25, 2008, we brought on our Mac architect. Two months later, on October 26, 2008, Apple launched Time Machine — completely free and built-in backup for all Macs.

    There were plenty of times when our prospects looked bleak. In the rearview mirror it’s easy to say, “well sure, but now you have lots of customers,” or “yes, but Time Machine doesn’t do cloud backup.” But at the time neither of these were a given.

    Takeaway:  Getting up each day and believing that as a team you’ll figure it out will let you get to the point where you can look in the rearview mirror and say, “It looked bleak back then.”

    Succeeding in Your First Year

    I titled the post “Surviving Your First Year,” but if you manage to, 1) set up the company; 2) build, launch, and learn; and 3) survive, you will have done more than survive: you’ll have truly succeeded in your first year.

    The post Surviving Your First Year appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

    The Things Pirates Do To Hinder Anti-Piracy Investigations

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-things-pirates-do-to-hinder-anti-piracy-outfits-170909/

    Dedicated Internet pirates dealing in fresh content or operating at any significant scale can be pretty sure that rightsholders and their anti-piracy colleagues are interested in their activities at some level.

    With this in mind, most pirates these days are aware of things they can do to enhance their security, with products like VPNs often get discussed on the consumer side.

    This week, in a report detailing the challenges social media poses to intellectual property rights, UK anti-piracy outfit Federation Against Copyright Theft published a list of techniques deployed by pirates that hinder their investigations.

    Fake/hidden website registration details

    “Website registration details are often fake or hidden, which provides no further links to the person controlling the domain and its illegal activities,” the group reveals.

    Protected WHOIS records are nothing new and can sometimes be uncloaked by a determined adversary via court procedures. However, in the early stages of an investigation, open records provide leads that can be extremely useful in building an early picture about who might be involved in the operation of a website.

    Having them hidden is a definite plus for pirate site operators, especially when the underlying details are also fake, which is particularly common practice. And, with companies like Peter Sunde’s Njalla entering the market, hiding registrations is easier than ever.

    Overseas servers

    “Investigating servers located offshore cause some specific problems for FACT’s law-enforcement partners. In order to complete a full investigation into an offshore server, a law-enforcement agency must liaise with its counterpart in the country where the server is located. The difficulties of obtaining evidence from other countries are well known,” FACT notes.

    While FACT no doubt corresponds with entities overseas, the anti-piracy outfit has a history of targeting UK citizens who are reportedly infringing copyright. It regularly involves UK police in its investigations (FACT itself employs former police officers) but jurisdiction is necessarily limited to the UK.

    It is possible to get overseas law enforcement entities involved to seize a server, for example, but they have to be convinced of the need to do so by the police, which isn’t easy and is usually reserved for more serious cases. The bottom line is that by placing a server a long way away from a pirate’s home territory, things can be made much more difficult for local investigators.

    Torrent websites and DMCA compliance

    “Some torrent website operators who maintain a high DMCA compliance rate will often use this to try to appease the law, while continuing to provide infringing links,” FACT says.

    This is an interesting one. Under law in both the United States and Europe, service providers are required to remove infringing content from their systems when they are notified of its existence by a rightsholder or its agent. Not doing so can render them liable, if the content is indeed infringing.

    What FACT appears to be saying is that sites that comply with the law, by removing infringing content when asked to, become more difficult targets for legal action. It sounds very obvious but the underlying suggestion is that compliance on the surface is used as a protective mechanism. No example sites are mentioned but the strategy has clearly hindered FACT.

    Current legislation too vague to remove infringing live sports streams

    “Current legislation is insufficient to effectively tackle the issue of websites illegally offering coverage of live sports events. Section 512 (c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) states that: upon notification of claimed infringement, the service provider should ‘respond expeditiously’ to remove or disable access to the copyright-infringing material. Most live sports events are under two hours long, so such non-specific timeframes for required action are inadequate,” FACT complains.

    Since government reports like these can take a long time to prepare, it appears that FACT and its partners may have already found a solution to this particular problem. Major FACT client the Premier League now has a High Court injunction in place which allows it to block infringing streams on a real-time basis. It doesn’t remove the content at its source, but it still renders it largely inaccessible in the UK.

    Nevertheless, FACT calls for takedowns to be actioned more swiftly, noting that “the law needs to reflect this narrow timeframe with a specified required response period for websites offering such live feeds.”

    Camming content directly from cinema screen to the cloud

    “Recent advancements in technology have made this a viable option to ‘cammers’ to avoid detection. Attempts to curtail and delete illicitly recorded film footage may become increasingly difficult with the emergence of streaming apps that automatically upload recorded video to cloud services,” FACT reports.

    Over the years, FACT has been involved in numerous operations to hinder those who record movies with cameras in theaters and then upload them to the Internet. Once the perpetrator has exited the theater, FACT has effectively lost the battle, but the possibility that a live upload can now take place is certainly an interesting proposition.

    “While enforcing officers may delete the footage held on the device, the footage has potentially already been stored remotely on a cloud system,” FACT warns.

    Equally, this could also prove a problem for those seeking to secure evidence. With a cloud upload, the person doing the recording could safely delete the footage from the local device. That could be an obstacle to proving that an offense had even been committed when a suspect is confronted in situ.

    Virtual currencies

    “There is great potential in virtual currencies for money launderers and illicit traders. Government and law enforcement have raised concerns on how virtual currencies can be sent anonymously, leaving little or no trail for regulators or law-enforcement agencies,” FACT writes.

    For many years, pirates of all kinds have relied on systems like PayPal, Mastercard, and Visa, to shift money around. However, these payment systems are now more difficult to deploy on pirate services and are more easily traced, even when operators manage to squeeze them through the gaps.

    The same cannot be said of bitcoin and similar currencies that are gaining in popularity all the time. They are harder to use, of course, but there’s little doubt accessibility issues will be innovated out of the equation at some point. Once that happens, these currencies will be a force to be reckoned with.

    The UK government’s Share and Share Alike report, which examines the challenges social media poses to intellectual property rights, can be downloaded here (pdf)

    Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

    The First AWS Regional Financial Services Guide Focuses on Singapore

    Post Syndicated from Jodi Scrofani original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/the-first-aws-regional-financial-services-guide-focuses-on-singapore/

    Financial Services image

    To help Financial Services clients address Singapore’s regulations on financial institutions in a shared responsibility environment, AWS has published the AWS User Guide to Financial Services Regulations and Guidelines in Singapore. This first-ever AWS Financial Services guide is the culmination of the work AWS has done in the last year to help customers navigate the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s 2016 updated guidelines about cloud services.

    This new guide examines Singaporean requirements and guidelines, providing information that will help you conduct due diligence on AWS with regard to IT security and risk management. The guide also shares leading practices to empower you to develop your own governance programs by using AWS.

    The guide focuses on three top considerations for financial institutions operating in Singapore:

    • Outsourcing guidelines – Conduct a self-assessment of AWS services and align your governance requirements within a shared responsibility model.
    • Technology risk management – Take a deeper look at where shared responsibility exists for technology implementation and perform a self-assessment of AWS service responsibilities.
    • Cloud computing implementation – Assess additional responsibilities to ensure security and compliance with local guidelines.

    We will release additional AWS Financial Services resource guides this year to help you understand the requirements in other markets around the globe. These guides will be posted on the AWS Compliance Resources page.

    If you have questions or comments about this new guide, submit them in the “Comments” section below.

    – Jodi

    CockroachDB 1.0 released

    Post Syndicated from ris original https://lwn.net/Articles/722382/rss

    CockroachDB 1.0 has been released. “CockroachDB is a cloud-native SQL database for building global, scalable cloud services that survive disasters. But what does “cloud-native” actually mean? We believe the term implies horizontal scalability, no single points of failure, survivability, automatable operations, and no platform-specific encumbrances.

    To realize these product goals, development over the past year has focused on three critical areas: distributed SQL to support small and large use cases alike and scale seamlessly between them; multi-active availability for always-consistent high availability; and flexible deployment for automatable operations in virtually any environment.”

    Open Sourcing Athenz: Fine-Grained, Role-Based Access Control

    Post Syndicated from mikesefanov original https://yahooeng.tumblr.com/post/160481899076

    yahoocs:

    By Lee Boynton, Henry Avetisyan, Ken Fox, Itsik Figenblat, Mujib Wahab, Gurpreet Kaur, Usha Parsa, and Preeti Somal

    Today, we are pleased to offer Athenz, an open-source platform for fine-grained access control, to the community. Athenz is a role-based access control (RBAC) solution, providing trusted relationships between applications and services deployed within an organization requiring authorized access.

    If you need to grant access to a set of resources that your applications or services manage, Athenz provides both a centralized and a decentralized authorization model to do so. Whether you are using container or VM technology independently or on bare metal, you may need a dynamic and scalable authorization solution. Athenz supports moving workloads from one node to another and gives new compute resources authorization to connect to other services within minutes, as opposed to relying on IP and network ACL solutions that take time to propagate within a large system. Moreover, in very high-scale situations, you may run out of the limited number of network ACL rules that your hardware can support.

    Prior to creating Athenz, we had multiple ways of managing permissions and access control across all services within Yahoo. To simplify, we built a fine-grained, role-based authorization solution that would satisfy the feature and performance requirements our products demand. Athenz was built with open source in mind so as to share it with the community and further its development.

    At Yahoo, Athenz authorizes the dynamic creation of compute instances and containerized workloads, secures builds and deployment of their artifacts to our Docker registry, and among other uses, manages the data access from our centralized key management system to an authorized application or service.

    Athenz provides a REST-based set of APIs modeled in Resource Description Language (RDL) to manage all aspects of the authorization system, and includes Java and Go client libraries to quickly and easily integrate your application with Athenz. It allows product administrators to manage what roles are allowed or denied to their applications or services in a centralized management system through a self-serve UI.

    Access Control Models

    Athenz provides two authorization access control models based on your applications’ or services’ performance needs. More commonly used, the centralized access control model is ideal for provisioning and configuration needs. In instances where performance is absolutely critical for your applications or services, we provide a unique decentralized access control model that provides on-box enforcement of authorization.  

    Athenz’s authorization system utilizes two types of tokens: principal tokens (N-Tokens) and role tokens (Z-Tokens). The principal token is an identity token that identifies either a user or a service. A service generates its principal token using that service’s private key. Role tokens authorize a given principal to assume some number of roles in a domain for a limited period of time. Like principal tokens, they are signed to prevent tampering. The name “Athenz” is derived from “Auth” and the ‘N’ and ‘Z’ tokens.

    Centralized Access Control: The centralized access control model requires any Athenz-enabled application to contact the Athenz Management Service directly to determine if a specific authenticated principal (user and/or service) has been authorized to carry out the given action on the requested resource. At Yahoo, our internal continuous delivery solution uses this model. A service receives a simple Boolean answer whether or not the request should be processed or rejected. In this model, the Athenz Management Service is the only component that needs to be deployed and managed within your environment. Therefore, it is suitable for provisioning and configuration use cases where the number of requests processed by the server is small and the latency for authorization checks is not important.

    The diagram below shows a typical control plane-provisioning request handled by an Athenz-protected service.

    image

    Athenz Centralized Access Control Model

    Decentralized Access Control: This approach is ideal where the application is required to handle large number of requests per second and latency is a concern. It’s far more efficient to check authorization on the host itself and avoid the synchronous network call to a centralized Athenz Management Service. Athenz provides a way to do this with its decentralized service using a local policy engine library on the local box. At Yahoo, this is an approach we use for our centralized key management system. The authorization policies defining which roles have been authorized to carry out specific actions on resources, are asynchronously updated on application hosts and used by the Athenz local policy engine to evaluate the authorization check. In this model, a principal needs to contact the Athenz Token Service first to retrieve an authorization role token for the request and submit that token as part of its request to the Athenz protected service. The same role token can then be re-used for its lifetime.

    The diagram below shows a typical decentralized authorization request handled by an Athenz-protected service.

    image

    Athenz Decentralized Access Control Model

    With the power of an RBAC system in which you can choose a model to deploy according your performance latency needs, and the flexibility to choose either or both of the models in a complex environment of hosting platforms or products, it gives you the ability to run your business with agility and scale.

    Looking to the Future

    We are actively engaged in pushing the scale and reliability boundaries of Athenz. As we enhance Athenz, we look forward to working with the community on the following features:

    • Using local CA signed TLS certificates
    • Extending Athenz with a generalized model for service providers to launch instances with bootstrapped Athenz service identity TLS certificates
    • Integration with public cloud services like AWS. For example, launching an EC2 instance with a configured Athenz service identity or obtaining AWS temporary credentials based on authorization policies defined in ZMS.

    Our goal is to integrate Athenz with other open source projects that require authorization support and we welcome contributions from the community to make that happen. It is available under Apache License Version 2.0. To evaluate Athenz, we provide both AWS AMI and Docker images so that you can quickly have a test development environment up and running with ZMS (Athenz Management Service), ZTS (Athenz Token Service), and UI services. Please join us on the path to making application authorization easy. Visit http://www.athenz.io to get started!

    More Than One Dozen AWS Cloud Services Receive Department of Defense Impact Level 4 Provisional Authorizations in the AWS GovCloud (US) Region

    Post Syndicated from Chad Woolf original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/more-than-one-dozen-aws-cloud-services-receive-department-of-defense-impact-level-4-provisional-authorizations-in-the-aws-govcloud-us-region/

    AWS GovCloud (US) Region logo

    Today, I am pleased to announce that the AWS GovCloud (US) Region has received Defense Information Systems Agency Impact Level 4 (IL4) Provisional Authorization (PA) for more than one dozen new services. The IL4 PA enables Department of Defense (DoD) customers to operate their mission-critical and regulated workloads in the AWS GovCloud (US) Region, with data up to the DoD Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide IL4.

    The new AWS services added to the authorization include advanced database, low-cost storage, data warehouse, security, and configuration automation solutions that will help organizations with IL4 workloads increase the productivity and security of their data in the AWS Cloud. For example, with AWS CloudFormation you can deploy AWS resources by automating configuration processes. AWS Key Management Service enables you to create and control the encryption keys that you use to encrypt your data. With Amazon Redshift, you can analyze all your data by using your existing business intelligence tools and automate common administrative tasks to manage, monitor, and scale your data warehouse.

    For a list of frequently asked questions, see AWS DoD Compliance page. For more information about AWS security and compliance, see the AWS Security Center and the AWS Compliance Center.

    – Chad