XILO Communications Ltd. : Blog

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Our blog includes company news, recent announcements and upcoming service changes.

VAT Rate Changes - 20% (from 17.5%)

Due to the recent announcement by the Chancellor, we will be increasing the rate of VAT that we charge as from 4th January 2011.

Any UK or EU customer that was subject to VAT at 17.5% will notice the new rate change on invoices generated/due on or after 4th January 2011.

Pricing on our site is exclusive of VAT and the appropriate rate of VAT will be applied for the invoice however, where indicated, any pricing that includes VAT is based from the VAT exclusive rate and will also increase.

As with the last change, we mirrored the change on both the increase and decrease of the VAT rate. At present, the Chancellor has not announced if this will decrease, or when.

The majority of customers will not need to take any further action, however, there are a small number of UK and EU customers that have active standing orders that will need to be amended. We will be contacting those customers before January.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact us via My XILO.

Seasons Greetings and Christmas Opening Hours

As this year draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

During the festive season, our telephone support hours will be open as follows with normal service resuming on Monday 4th January.

Thursday 24th December - 10am - 1pm
Friday 25th December - Closed
Saturday 26th December - Closed
Sunday 27th December - Closed
Monday 28th December - Closed
Tuesday 29th December - 10am - 5pm
Wednesday 30th December - 10am - 5pm
Thursday 31st December - 10am - 1pm
Friday 1st January - Closed

Our on-call engineer will be available for managed servers or enhanced care broadband lines. The support centre will be manned throughout the festive season including Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s day to answer any emails or tickets that are raised.

Once again, have a lovely Christmas and New Year, from the team at XILO.

Affiliate / Refer-a-friend Scheme Updated

We are pleased to announce that we have updated our referral scheme.

Our referral scheme now includes larger payouts for shared and reseller hosting, as well as virtual and dedicated servers.

We are now offering up to £100 per referral by simply recommending XILO. You can also view what you can earn on our new affiliate page.

Existing customers can generate their own unique referrer link by going to My XILO and clicking the affiliate link on the right.

Referral payments are credited to an account after 60 days and can be withdrawn after £50 has been accumulated. Payment is via Cheque or BACS in GBP Sterling. Accounts must remain active to accumulate referrals and withdraw credit.

High Availability Hosting and Virtual Environments at XILO

Over the last few months, we’ve been busy testing various solutions to deliver high availability and scalable hosting solutions.

You’ve probably seen the term cloud hosting banded around. Many companies now use it to keep your storage ‘in the cloud’. However, how is this different from before when they’d store your information, such as emails and files you have received to information and data you have uploaded? The answer is, it’s not very different at all.


Cloud Hosting?! What if it rains?

The information is still stored on an internet connected server (or servers), somewhere in the world. It’s all ‘in the cloud’, as it’s all on the internet. On network diagrams, the internet has been depicted as a cloud for many years.

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Uptime for us, is one of the top priorities in providing services to our clients. Over the years, downtime has been minimal with our yearly uptime equating to over 99.99% across all of our services (this equates to 52 minutes of downtime a year).

Many of our servers use a control panel such as cPanel or Plesk which isn’t scalable at all. You can farm out DNS records and authoritative servers to alternate locations, which we do, but this is no use if the actual server hosting the content, or mailboxes for example, is having issues. We have even setup secondary mail servers to capture mail in case the primary mail exchanger (MX) is down. This will store and forward the mail when the primary comes back online without generating temporary error messages to the sender.

In the event that a server needs to be rebuilt, it can take time and this can lead to sites not working until the server is restored to service. In our 6 year history, we only had to do this once or twice which is testament to how reliable our server hardware and platform are, as well as how stringent our security is.


Which Solution?

We’ve reviewed nearly every solution under the sun, to match a set criteria for the service we want to offer. We currently use OpenVZ, which works very well for us and we will continue to offer it for standard virtual servers.

In addition to this, we have also watched the industry to see what others are doing, how they perform and what problems have been encountered.

Xen appears to be a popular choice amongst many companies and when used with SAN storage, can provide near instant recovery to another node within the same grid. Scaling your application would simply be a case of deploying another node to the grid which could be time consuming if there are multiple nodes that you need to configure each time you expand.

Virtuozzo is the paid-for version of OpenVZ with several improvements in recent releases not included within the open source version of VZ. At the time of looking at this solution, there was no storage apart from the machine that housed the machines so fail over would take time and would depend on the host node being available.

OpenVZ for the same reason as Virtuozzo was ruled out from our ‘high availability’ solution.

VMware is also another popular choice and has proved to be a very reliable and scalable package but support during our time using the software, as well as trying to get pricing and other implementation information was not readily available which was a major concern.


What does this provide?

Our cloud allows us to provide hosting solutions with high availability built right in to the core of the service. It also allows us to scale the appliances across many nodes which could total hundreds of CPU cores, gigabytes of memory and storage space. Much more than can be offered with services from other vendors using Xen or VZ single-nodes.

Many popular software services can be built on the platform in such a way that should a surge in demand for your application, site or service occur; resources can be added very quickly allowing you to deal with such a surge.

This also delivers true SaaS (software as a service) including helpdesk and CRM applications such as Cerberus or SugarCRM. It’ll be hosted on our network, in the cloud and data stored on our fully redundant IP SAN. If one of the nodes fails, any affected part of your application is started elsewhere without any manual intervention.

We will also allow us to offer some of the first virtual appliances with IPv6. We already have a large IPv6 range allocated by RIPE and are looking to start testing this at a later stage which is something we cannot offer with our existing VZ based solutions.

Over time, we will be testing and looking into multi-site database replication for ultimate peace of mind and additional ‘cloud’ locations such as Manchester, Amsterdam and America.

WARNING: Domain Renewal Group - Scam

We’ve received several reports this evening, all within the space of 2 hours about letters and emails from a company called ‘Domain Renewal Group’.

The communication from this company implies that your domain name is due for renewal soon (often with the wrong expiry date) and encourages you to renew your domain with them so that it does not expire.

We urge any customers who receive such notifications from ‘Domain Renewal Group’ to simply ignore and/or delete the message. If you have registered your domain through us, you would only ever pay us directly, not an unknown third party.

We will email you 60 days prior to the domain expiry date and the format of the email will be similar to the emails we send for invoices and support tickets. We never send invoices or reminders through the post.

Also, domains are only ever paid and managed via our site at https://my.xilo.net/ and you should not pass your login information to any one, under any circumstances - even our staff.

Google shows that our customers are not the only ones!

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