We Provide Answers to the Most Common IT Questions We Get

How can I protect my customer's confidential data? Will cloud-based services work for me? Am I protected from a potential disaster? Find answers to these questions and more in our FAQs. If your pressing questions are not answered here, give us a call to make an appointment with one of our IT experts.

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  • How can I tailor my IT services to meet the needs of my business?

    IT Technology Choices for Small and Medium BusinessesBusinesses face a wide range of IT challenges, and failure to select the right options can have costly consequences. Your IT provider should provide a reliable platform for your customers, but also have the necessary measures in place to protect information and prevent downtime—all while working within your specific business requirements and budget. ATI’s management solutions are highly customizable, making us the optimal choice for insurance companies, banks, and other businesses.

    Common IT Considerations for Small to Medium Businesses

    The right IT solutions will be those that allow you to grow at your own pace, charge only for the resources you need, and perform interventions if an adverse event were to occur. The more flexibility your provider has, the better the chances that your needs will be met if you choose to scale operations up or down.

    Business owners typically need basic IT services such as:

    • Colocation. The purchase and maintenance of IT hardware can place a drain on your resources, especially for small businesses with few employees. Conveniently located in the DC-area, our two data centers have redundant power and cooling, connectivity with multiple carriers, and industry-standard security measures.
    • Cloud hosting and deployment. If your company relies on any services delivered either over the internet or a dedicated cloud network, you will need someone to host and oversee your cloud platform. Our skilled technical staff can create a customized, scalable hosting plan for your infrastructure through private clouds, Software as a Service (SaaS), or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for a fully-managed virtual platform.
    • Managed services. A managed IT service gives owners the ability to focus on their daily business operations while the provider prevents potential technical problems. ATI is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and wide area network (WAN) provider, and our vulnerability and patch management teams regularly audit systems and implement security solutions before they become problems.
    • Disaster recovery. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) offers the peace of mind that your business-critical systems will remain online in the event of a natural disaster or any other emergency.

    The professionals at ATI Solutions can evaluate your needs and help you determine which storage and service options are right for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • What are the special IT considerations for banks?

    Secure Financial InstitutionCustomers using online banking have seen a technological boom from financial organizations, making it easier to do business with the click of a button. A bank’s online platform must be user-friendly and available to customers 24/7, but also has to have security measures that meet state and federal standards for data protection.

    Risks of Failing to Secure Your Financial Institution’s Online Platform

    Financial institutions face not only all of the online security risks of other businesses, but also the added hazard of being a prime target for cyberattacks. Cybercriminals are constantly looking to exploit weaknesses in security systems, making it vital for banks and other financial institutions to consistently improve and implement new defense measures.

    Financial institutions that do not have adequate network security and deployment are placing themselves at risk of:

    • Theft of protected information. Banks have a duty to protect sensitive financial information, including customers' and employees’ personal identifiable information (PII). Data such as bank account numbers and balances, Social Security numbers, addresses, lending statements, and payment card numbers can all be sold on the black market and be used for identity theft.
    • Penalties and fines. Each nation is responsible for controlling the security of financial information in its banks. Financial service providers operating in the U.S. are required to comply with numerous statutes and regulations pertaining to data collection and protection, as well as state or provincial regulations regarding the security of sensitive information. Failure to implement these controls can result in significant fines for bank owners and officers.
    • Mistaken transmission of sensitive information. Financial institutions may have adequate security of their hardware, but use applications and third-party providers with undiscovered vulnerabilities. Email clients, file sharing services, and cloud storage systems can allow the transmission of protected data outside the bounds of a secure network (where opportunistic cybercriminals can easily access it).
    • Loss of reputation. Even if a data loss event occurred because of an unknown glitch or an external entity, a financial institution will inevitably be associated with the event—especially if a strong data loss recovery system is not in place. The failure to implement data loss and recovery that meets industry standards ultimately results in a loss of reputation that can permanently halt operations.

    ATI Solutions has provided IT services to community banks for over 20 years, and can implement financial infrastructure that is compliant with regulations and scalable to you your bank’s growing needs. Contact us today to get more information about the storage and service options in our D.C. data centers, or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • What are hypervisors?

    Cloud computing allows businesses to run many different online environments from the same physical hardware. One “host” machine can run millions of “guest” virtual machines (VMs), each one with the ability to run entire operating systems and perform all of the functions of a physical computer. A hypervisor is software, firmware, or hardware that controls the guest operating systems and manages the activities on all of the virtual machines.

    Understanding the Different Kinds of Hypervisors

    Hypervisors, also called virtual machine managers, separate a computer’s applications and operating system from its physical hardware. The hypervisor allows multiple virtual environments to exist on the same physical machine while remaining isolated from one another. With more virtual machines and fewer physical machines, having a large infrastructure becomes drastically more affordable. One of the most important benefits of hypervisors is that if one of the many VMs crashes or is corrupted, recovery is quick and easy since it only affects that one VM, leaving the rest of your virtual infrastructure unscathed.

    There are two types of hypervisors: type-1 or type-2. Type-1 hypervisors, known as “native” or “bare metal” hypervisors, run directly on the host's hardware to control the hardware and manage guest operating systems. Type-2, also called “hosted” hypervisors, run on a conventional operating system with the guest operating systems running as a process on the host. The hypervisor layer separates the guest operating systems from the host systems, while running all of the virtualization processes.

    Benefits of using our industry-standard hypervisors as part of a fully-managed virtual platform include:

    • Extending the capabilities of existing servers and hardware
    • Easily scalable technology for more or less virtual machines
    • More efficient use of bandwidth and memory
    • Allowing businesses to test new software and debug programs without disrupting the existing platform
    • Improved security and reliability
    • Lower costs

    The professionals at ATI can evaluate your needs and help you determine which storage and service options are right for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • Why should I choose ATI over Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

    ATI Web Services Word CloudBusiness owners often consider Amazon Web Services (AWS) when they begin transitioning their business to the cloud. As a large provider of web services, AWS can offer cloud computing at a relatively low cost. However, many independent providers offer the same products and services, with the added benefit of keeping your operations close to home.

    Choosing Between ATI and Amazon Web Services

    ATI Solutions offers the same flexibility and scalability of major cloud providers with the addition of having a full-service staff of technicians on-site and ready to help clients implement the platform and deployment options that work for them. Since we offer multiple levels of cloud deployment that allow you to maintain as much control of your online processes as you’re comfortable with, your customers enjoy a quality online experience, and you have the peace of mind that your business will remain up and running at optimal levels 24/7.

    At ATI, our technical staff can help with a variety of cloud deployment concerns, including:

    • What if my business needs change suddenly? – ATI’s hosting options are tailored to each individual client we serve, and we recognize that your cloud computing requirements must be flexible. You will not be limited to a set amount of bandwidth or storage, and can quickly access additional computing resources as you need them—and with our “pay as you grow” pricing, you will only be charged for the resources you use.
    • Will I have to get all new software? – Our services support multiple operating systems and programming languages, allowing you to select the programs and development platforms that are most beneficial to your business. In addition to deciding which services you want to use, you can also select the manner in which they will be implemented.
    • What if an adverse event occurs? – Our servers are configured to switch mission-critical operations to offsite secure alternative servers in the event of a power outage or other service interruption. We have multiple redundancies in place to ensure minimal end-user disruption.
    • What if I need help? – Our technicians are available around the clock to provide intervention in the case of an emergency as well as help you discover better and more efficient ways to serve your customers.

    The professionals at ATI can evaluate your needs and help you determine which storage and service options are right for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • What is 2N redundancy?

    Data centers are responsible for providing reliable and uninterrupted service for their customers around the clock. Unfortunately, these facilities are not infallible, and will always be susceptible to sudden power interruptions caused by weather, equipment failure, or sudden loss of municipal utilities. Since an unplanned outage can cost a company thousands or even millions of dollars in just a few minutes, many data centers offer multiple redundancies to prevent downtime.

    Differences Between N+1, 2N, and 2N+1 Redundancy

    Redundancy is the duplication of critical components of a system in order to provide a reliable backup in case of sudden failure. Data centers typically offer some form of redundancy for power, ensuring that the customer’s systems and devices will continue to operate with no noticeable effect to the user in an outage. However, not all data centers’ redundancy systems are equal.

    The most common redundancy options in carrier facilities include:

    • N+1. An N+1 system, also known as parallel redundancy, offers alternate, redundant components capable of handling 100 percent of the work needed to supply power to the customer’s equipment in case of component failure. Although this system contains redundant equipment, it may run on a shared main power source, so it is not a multi-independent, redundant system.
    • 2N. A 2N system offers not one, but two uninterruptible alternate sources of power, offering seamless transitions between sources to continuously support the customer’s systems and equipment. In addition, the power sources are run separately, fully independent of each other, and go through a fully redundant path to eliminate any single points of failure. 2N systems are more reliable than N+1 systems because they offer at least two options for power in the event of failure, and can be regularly maintained, independently, and be used in the event of an extended power outage. Our Chantilly location offers 2N redundancy for data loss and downtime prevention.
    • 2N+1. A 2N+1 configuration is the highest common tier of downtime prevention, and offers double the amount of power needed to run all client systems and devices. Additionally, each power source has separate, parallel, fully redundant components that can seamlessly power all necessary systems. All this means that if one component from one main power source used in the path fails, there is a backup component which can fully take on its role. This applies to all the components in each separate path from the main power sources.

    The professionals at ATI can evaluate your needs and help you determine which service options are right for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • What does "facility is carrier neutral" mean?

    Carrier-Neutral Data CenterThere are two different ways to provide internet service in a colocation center: carrier-specific and carrier-neutral. Carrier-specific facilities have already chosen the carrier that will provide internet services, and it is the only option available to their clients. In a carrier-neutral facility, the data center is not tied to any one provider, and instead allows clients to choose between a variety of telecommunications and internet service providers.

    Benefits of Carrier-Neutral Data Centers

    Carrier neutrality can be a major asset for companies that want to get the most out of their data center services. Even if a business does not require carrier neutrality in its early days, it can be frustrating and expensive to make the switch to a neutral data center in the future.

    Carrier-neutral data centers offer customers many benefits such as:

    • Better value. Since the data center accommodates a variety of providers, these providers will increasingly offer benefits to remain competitive in the market. Several companies vying for your business allows you to choose the perfect combination of all the services and options you might want to meet your current and future needs.
    • Lower prices. A carrier-specific center might not allow clients to choose their network, hardware, or even software vendors, charging you for a one-size-fits-all service costing you exponentially more long term. Multiple carriers in a single data facility helps you negotiate the prices down not only of your main carrier’s services but of your secondary carrier’s services as well.
    • Flexibility. Clients in a carrier-specific facility will be limited to the bandwidth and network options provided by that data center’s specific carrier, while those in neutral facilities can select service levels that will guarantee their required amount of uptime. They can also either scale up or scale down their required services with much more ease, even have the possibility to switch to a different carrier later on if needed.
    • Protection. Carrier diversity is necessary for redundant systems, and is invaluable when it comes to cyberattacks, service outages, and data loss events. If one internet connection fails, an alternative carrier can instantly continue to provide support for vital systems, while interconnectivity between providers can continuously backup and transfer files to protect against data loss. In a carrier-neutral facility, you also get a say in exactly how you want your configurations for redundancy set up.

    The professionals at ATI can evaluate your needs and help you determine which storage and service options are right for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • What is a DDoS attack?

    DDos Attack on a BusinessA distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack occurs when multiple computer systems attack a website or server, flooding the network with messages or connection requests. The attack overloads the system, severely slowing it down or even completely crashing it, resulting in a denial of service for legitimate users. These attacks can prevent users from performing their daily duties and operations, potentially costing your company millions of dollars and putting your company at risk of many other types of attacks.

    How a DDoS Attack Occurs

    Typically, an intruder begins a DDoS attack by invading a target computer or system through a security vulnerability or email virus. This is done by exploiting a known issue (such as a bug in a recent software update), opening an email with a virus, or bypassing security systems by something as simple as guessing a weak network password. Once the intruder has access, he or she can use the compromised devices to flood the target with bogus requests and traffic, forcing it offline.

    There are three main kinds of DDoS attacks:

    • Network-centric attacks (also called volumetric attacks) cause a denial of service by taking up all of the available bandwidth until it critically slows the system down or completely crashes it.
    • Protocol attacks (also known as state exhaustion attacks) exploit flaws in the transport layer, overloading the available resources in the targeted systems such as firewalls, load balancers, and servers.
    • Application layer attacks use bugs and vulnerabilities in the applications and software to inundate all available applications or databases with application requests, making it impossible for legitimate requests to get through.

    DDoS Attacks are Constant Threats to Business Owners

    Once an intruder has control of one system, he or she can use the internal network connection to identify other vulnerable systems and infect them with malware or control them remotely. The first compromised computer, known as the DDoS master, is used to gain control of others in the system—causing a network of infected systems commonly referred to as “bots.” The intruder then has full command of the network of bots, which can consist of hundreds of thousands of individual terminals, networks, or access points. Once fully compromised, your business can no longer perform its daily operations, causing your company to lose revenue and possibly customers altogether. This also puts you at risk of extortion, since the attacker can maintain your system shutdown for hours or even days. The attacker can also overwhelm your equipment to the point of permanently damaging it, requiring your company to purchase expensive new equipment. DDoS attacks often also act as distractions, allowing attackers to carry on with much more severe and detrimental cyber-crimes.

    DDoS attacks are a constant threat to business owners, but the right protection and recovery protocols can significantly reduce or eliminate the impact on your commercial enterprise. At ATI, our managed IT services and patch management enables us to rapidly deploy emergency patches for Microsoft servers and workstations and third-party software, helping to avoid attacks before they occur. If your system has suffered a DDoS attack, our Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) can provide third-party server hosting and cloud resources to restore your operations as quickly as possible.

    The professionals at ATI can evaluate your needs and help you determine which storage and service options are right for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • How is my data being protected?

    Protecting Your Virtual and Physical DataSo many business owners oppose outsourcing their technical processes and critical hardware because they do not want to risk a security breach or create extensive downtime. While these risks are very real, they are minimized considerably with the right fail-safes and data protection procedures. ATI Solutions is a high-availability data center, utilizing reliable systems and components that will keep your virtual platform operational around the clock.

    Our Physical and Virtual Data Protection Services

    Our technicians and engineers understand that any compromise to your systems can directly affect your ability to retain and serve your customers. Whether you have entrusted us with your hardware, your virtual platform, or the full range of your IT services, it is our goal is to provide you with continuous and secure operations that can be scaled up or down to meet the needs of your business.

    Our data centers offer the following protection methods:

    • Redundancy. We have multiple redundant systems and components to eliminate downtime, all of which are maintained by onsite personnel and are regularly tested. Our Chantilly location offers 2N redundancy for power and cooling, while our Rockville location has N+1 configuration for power and cooling.
    • Failover. We configure servers to switch mission-critical operations to a secure alternative server so that in a scenario where a sudden adverse event occurs (such as a power outage, natural disaster, or equipment failure) all function will seamlessly be transferred. This process allows operations to continue without disruptions to the user experience.
    • Hardened security system. Our data centers use industry-standard privacy measures such as 24/7 security surveillance monitoring, CCTV with 365-day retention, and multi-factor access control system with biometrics, security PINs, and access card readers.
    • Immediate intervention. Our business continuity team performs emergency and preventive services, helping you respond to an emergency and maintain your presence with as little interruption as possible.

    The professionals at ATI can evaluate your needs and help you determine which storage and service options are right for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • How much space will I need in a colocation center?

    Server Space in a Colocation CenterYou are ready to take your network to the next level, but you are not sure if a colocation provider is the best option. A colocation center can provide the power, cooling, bandwidth, and security necessary to store your servers and to keep your network up and running; however, there are monthly fees and rental costs needed to do so. As a result, you should carefully consider what your current needs, growth objectives, and the many options you have before you buy.

    Types of Server Space Available in a Colocation Center

    Data centers use a standardized measurement system when it comes to classifying server space. A (U) is the term used to measure storage space in racks, and the standard physical measurement of one rack unit (U) is 44.45 mm or 1.75 inches in height. From there, the amount of space used by a business can vary from inches to several thousand square feet depending on the scale and complexity of its network infrastructure.

    Because space is offered in many different ways in a data center, below are some of the common rental options and their distinct advantages:

    • Racks. In a colocation center, servers, network devices, and other hardware are mounted in a frame called a rack, making it easy to replace failed components. A standard rack is 19" wide, can accommodate several U in height, and each server rack shelf is positioned to provide optimized cooling. Data centers may allow customers to rent quarter, half, or full racks.
    • Cabinets. A cabinet is an enclosure that acts as an outer shell or casing on a rack, which is locked and kept secure by the colocation provider. Fundamentally, all cabinets serve the same purpose. However, they can physically vary from being a separate enclosure installed around a rack, a larger enclosure meant to closely house multiple full racks, or even a “one-piece” design where the racks and the cabinet are one unit. Depending on security preferences, a customer may require an entire cabinet or share a single cabinet with other customers.
    • Suites. Customers who require either higher security, extensive storage, or both may store their servers in large locked areas, commonly referred to as suites. A suite can be a large metal cage, a locked transparent room, or a secure confined area composed of privacy paneling. Suites house several or hundreds of cabinets depending on the desired square footage.

    If you are anticipating rapid growth, it may be a good idea to invest in one of these storage options now to avoid the headaches of a massive data center migration later on. ATI offers secure server storage in one of our two DC-area data centers, both of which offer critical systems monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.

     

  • What cloud infrastructure plan is right for my business?

    Do You Know the Hosting Options for Cloud ComputingOnce you have decided to invest in cloud computing, you will need to consider who will be responsible for hosting and maintaining your infrastructure. Large corporations may host their own platforms onsite, but this is often not feasible for small- or medium-sized businesses who do not want to devote a large portion of their resources to the IT department. Fortunately, third-party hosting services can take on as much or as little of the hosting and deployment necessary for your virtual environment.

    Hosting Options for Cloud Computing

    In most cases, businesses have three options for the deployment of a virtual platform: hosted infrastructure, hybrid infrastructure, and private infrastructure. Each one carries significant advantages, and can be scaled to meet the changing needs of business operations. The following is a brief overview:

    • Hosted. A hosted cloud is owned and maintained by a service provider, with the hardware necessary to deploy the cloud in an offsite location. The business pays a monthly subscription fee, and the provider manages all of the applications and services.
    • Hybrid. In a hybrid system, part of the infrastructure is hosted by a provider and part is hosted by the business. This system can involve many different combinations of solutions depending on the individual needs of each business. One of the benefits of a hybrid solution is that it allows companies to migrate into the cloud slowly, keeping sensitive systems onsite and using hosted clouds for less critical applications.
    • Private. A private infrastructure is optimal for businesses who want to keep their servers and equipment onsite. The hardware is kept on the company’s premises, and the service provider is responsible for deploying and maintaining the cloud platform.

    Many different factors can impact the choice of an infrastructure plan, including the type of industry, client base, and scale of operations. The professionals at ATI can evaluate your needs and help you determine which cloud computing plan is ideal for you. Contact us today to get more information about how our data centers can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.