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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  • What is the Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Report?

    Discussing a Service Organization Control ReportService Organization Control (SOC) reports were introduced in 2011 as a way of auditing providers on security and availability of their services. The SOC 2 report evaluates an organization’s information systems relevant to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, or privacy to prevent unauthorized access of sensitive information. If the auditor issues a clean SOC 2 report, the data provider may be trusted as a secure hosting company. Overall, this ensures that the client and their assets are as protected as possible.

    Criteria in the Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Report

    SOC 2 reports are vital to maintaining the security of financial transactions and other highly-sensitive data transmissions. ATI combines the best practices and compliance with industry standards in our SOC 2 hosting. This allows clients and customers to enjoy secure access to protected information.

    The five principles of a SOC 2 report include:

    • Security. Systems and information must have physical and logical protection against unauthorized access and unauthorized disclosure of information. Security should address any potential damage to systems that could compromise the integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of information or systems.
    • Availability. Systems and information must be operationally available for use as committed or agreed upon between the client and the provider.
    • Processing integrity. Processing must be valid, complete, accurate, timely, and authorized to meet the client’s objectives.
    • Confidentiality. Information designated as confidential must be adequately classified and protected as agreed upon between the client and the provider.
    • Privacy. Personal information must be collected, used, retained, transferred, disclosed, and disposed of as agreed upon between the client and the provider.

    ATI Solutions is happy to consult with business owners about the services offered in our data centers. 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 is Nutanix?

    Nutanix Complex Cloud Computing PlatformJust as you rely on a computer to run programs and store information, data centers have different methods of managing data and software. The infrastructure used in a data center must meet industry standards while also having the ability to respond quickly to changes. Our data centers primarily rely on Nutanix infrastructures for high performance, security, and ease of use.

    What Benefits Does Nutanix Offer My Business?

    Nutanix is a software-based solution that allows IT departments to build and operate complex cloud computing platforms. While companies such as Facebook and Google spent millions building their own infrastructure for their mass scale applications, Nutanix makes cloud computing available to companies that do not have the level of resources that multinational corporations do. Nutanix products are built on hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) technology by combining storage, computing power, and virtualization into one package.

    We partner with Nutanix to provide everything you need in a cloud computing platform, including:

    • Infrastructure. Nutanix products include both software and hardware, offering turnkey appliances that deliver cloud building for businesses of all sizes. We work with many vendors and implement Nutanix software on a variety of hardware, giving clients more flexibility to choose the size and make-up of their infrastructure.
    • Efficiency. A virtual platform uses hypervisors to run multiple hundreds of virtual computers on a single physical machine. This results in added reliability and huge cost savings for hardware and staffing. The system size and complexity can increase dramatically while still maintaining back-end manageability; this allows one administrator to oversee thousands of servers with the same amount of effort as if it were just one.
    • Scalability. ATI works with you to provide you with an idea of realistic projected growth and helps you determine how much or how little of Nutanix’s services you’ll need. Nutanix services are completely scalable, allowing companies to purchase only the amount of computing, storage, and memory they need. Applications may be built, deployed, or redesigned quickly, allowing your customers to enjoy the highest level of service as your business grows.

    ATI Solutions is proud to partner with vendors that meet our high standards, and would be happy to consult with business owners about the services offered in our data centers. 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.

     

  • Could my business benefit from IT consulting?

    Data Center Consulting and System DesignAs the success of a business increases, so do the demands and expectations of its customers. Unfortunately, owners who rely on outdated or inefficient technologies can suffer significant financial losses as customers seek a better experience elsewhere. Technology changes rapidly, and all businesses should evaluate their information technology (IT) needs and systems regularly—and IT consulting makes it easy for business owners to get the guidance they need for the best end-user experience.

    Advantages of IT Consulting and System Design for Your Business

    Technology consulting allows businesses to make smart IT decisions that will benefit them both now and well into the future. At ATI, our diverse mix of backgrounds and vocational experience allows us to provide recommendations tailored to your business objectives, operational budget, and specific IT needs.

    Consulting can be customized at each level of service, including:

    • Scope and planning. We begin by meeting with operating officers to determine the scope of the specific project or business platform, discuss timeframe and cost constraints, make growth projections, and any special concerns or roadblocks to implementing new systems. We perform an analysis of current technology and provide options of potential new technologies to make operations as efficient as possible while maintaining compliance under federal privacy and protection requirements.
    • System design and integration. Once you have chosen your preferred systems and providers, we ensure that all processes and systems work together seamlessly for customer satisfaction. We can also implement automation of time-consuming business processes to make the most of employee work time.
    • Support. Businesses who do not have a full-time chief technology officer or a diversely skilled IT staff are at particular risk of losses when an adverse event occurs. Our expert consultants can fulfill this critical role, acting as your help desk, as your onsite IT staff or remote hands if you decide to take advantage of our many Data Center services, and offering a secondary base of operations if you experience a sudden interruption or data loss event.

    At ATI Solutions, we understand that one size does not fit all. That is why we design, build, and maintain scalable solutions using technologies that best meet your specific IT business objectives. 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 redundant CRAHs?

    Data Center CoolingRunning servers and hardware around the clock generates a considerable amount of heat in data centers, and each one must invest in adequate cooling to protect its clients’ machines. While data center operators may use a variety of cooling methods, our DC area colocation centers use multiple computer room air handlers (CRAH) to prevent interruptions due to overheating.

    Common Methods for Controlling Temperature and Humidity in Data Centers

    Servers and hardware can take considerable power to cool, as a single rack of servers can easily generate over 100 degrees. Most data centers run at temperatures around 68 degrees, keeping the machines cool enough to work while maintaining optimal climate control.

    Cooling methods used in computer rooms and colocation centers include:

    • Air conditioning units. Air conditioning, a system that blows air over a cooling coil filled with refrigerant, has been used in many forms to keep electrical systems cool. However, simpler units are being phased out in favor of more modern CRAC and CRAH units.
    • CRAC units. Computer room air conditioning (CRAC) systems work similarly to air-conditioning units, but are able to maintain a set temperature, air distribution, and humidity level. In most cases, the cool air is dispensed through an elevated floor, forming cold aisles that move through the racks. The picks up heat, forming hot aisles at the rear of the racks, then returns to the CRAC intakes above the floor.
    • CRAH systems. A computer room air handler (CRAH) differs from a CRAC unit because the air is cooled over a cooling coil filled with chilled water instead of using mechanical refrigeration. CRAHs are able to modulate fan speed to maintain a set static pressure, keeping both temperature and humidity stable. Our two facilities offer N+1 or 2N redundancy for cooling and power, complete with built-in CRAHs, a multi-stack chiller plant, and hot aisle containment for high-density accommodation.

    ATI Solutions has a variety of highly-customizable IT interventions and deployment options that can be scaled up or down according to your business’ 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 is MPLS technology?

    Multiprotocol Label Switching MPLSMulti-protocol label switching (MPLS) is a way to make IP routing over the internet faster and more efficient. In networks without MPLS, an internet router receives an information packet with a destination IP address, but no instructions on how that packet should be sent to its destination. Each time the packet contacts a new router, the router will make an independent decision on where the packet will be forwarded next, which can cause a noticeable lag in high-quality or time-sensitive applications.

    How Multi-Protocol Label Switching Makes Online Processes Easier

    MPLS improves routing delivery and response by establishing predetermined routes for different types of packets. Instead of forwarding a packet based on its final destination, MPLS systems “map out” the most efficient route for the type of information being sent, then sends it to the next point on the map to reach the final router. This ultimately makes the process much faster.

    Generally speaking, routing through MPLS works by:

    • Assigning FEC. The first time a packet enters the network, it is assigned to a specific forwarding equivalence class (FEC) based on its final destination and file type.
    • Attaching a label. A short bit sequence called a label is attached to the packet containing the additional forwarding information that the router did not have. The label is removed at the final destination router.
    • Streamlining the network. Each router in the network is configured to process packets of a specific FEC type. As a result, once the labeled packet is sent to its next destination, each router can route the traffic without analyzing the packet’s information or performing additional IP lookups because of the label.
    • Improving consistency. MPLS networks have the ability to route and label packets grouped by certain characteristics, such as the point of transmission and the type of application. This allows packets carrying real-time information, such as voice over IP (VoIP) or videos, to be sent using low-latency routes across the network to be delivered without interruption.

    ATI Solutions has a variety of highly-customizable IT interventions and deployment options that can be scaled up or down according to your business’ 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.

     

  • 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 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.

     

  • 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.

     

  • What is patch management?

    Do You Know What Patch Management Is?Patch management consists of grading new patches, testing them, and pushing them out. Patching plays a crucial part in businesses staying up-to-date with the newest versions of all the software they use on a day-to-day basis. Patching can correct known issues without installing new programs from square one. The system will remain secure and navigable without any disruption to the user when patches are implemented correctly.

    Importance of Patch Management for Businesses

    A patch is a piece of code that is created to be integrated into an existing software program. Software providers often release patches as new “updates” or “versions” which can improve functionality, performance, provide bug fixes, and prevent security breaches. Installing a Windows update or upgrading to the newest version of an iPhone app are examples of patch deployment. Without good patch management, a company could have a vulnerability in its software that a hacker could take advantage of—which could lead to stealing private information or bringing down the entire system.

    Software developers will typically release new patches when:

    • The developer has received reports of successful hacking in one of their applications
    • The developer’s coding and testing team discovered a glitch before it could be exploited
    • The developer has found a better way to implement or strengthen security
    • The developer has improved user interface on one or more applications

    Software and applications cannot exist in a vacuum. They will need to be updated regularly—in most cases, every few weeks—in order to function as intended. As businesses may neglect to install patches or fail to identify weaknesses in their systems, patch management is a necessary part of any IT service.

    Our team is proud to offer patch management for all Microsoft releases, as well as third-party software programs. We also identify potential security threats before they can be exploited, implement emergency patches for disaster recovery, and provide you with a report detailing any potential vulnerabilities. Contact our family-owned DC-area data center today to get more information about how we can serve your needs or set up an appointment to tour our Chantilly facility.