30 Mar 2016

We're moving servers

We're migrating Azexis Cloud to a new more sophisticated home and we've built a powerful robot to help us do it. 

Today we're happy to announce the launch of Azexis' new hosting platform. Since February we've been building and refining a virtualised network of servers on our own hardware stack in a Manchester data centre. However, preparations for the move have been almost a year in the making.

Azexis launched its cloud hosting platform in 2013 with Rise - a sister company to Fasthosts. Rise was subsequently taken over by Outsourcery, but the new owner's focus diverged, disappointingly, from our own. We don't mind saying that it's been difficult to find a new provider who grasped the requirements of our existing systems, and the significant architectural challenges for Evance 5 (more on that coming in April). Therefore, we're delighted to have partnered with HA247 who have enthusiastically helped us design, configure and build a cutting-edge server platform on our own dedicated hardware stack.

What about the robot?

The last time we migrated our servers was painstaking, laborious and took almost eight months. Not wanting to repeat the same woes, we've spent the last three weeks building a robot to reduce the strain and help us migrate existing websites from server-to-server. 

New database cluster

One of the largest changes to our solution is the decision to move from a dedicated MySQL instance to a MariaDb database cluster. Whilst this will improve database reliability most customers' websites utilise a handful of databases that are not currently compatible. Resolving any such incompatibilities will be addressed automatically by our robot prior to migrating your site.

Your new server

We have provisioned a more powerful server for your website, with four times the processing power and greater memory. Initial benchmarks of the server greatly outperform its predecessor and we shall be paying close attention to performance, which has been a key concern for us. Additionally, subscribers to the core Evance platform will enjoy further service announcements and upgrades soon.

Why have we not load balanced our new servers? Unfortunately we had to implement an environment suitable for all customers. Although we were able to load balance the database cluster we could not reliably load balance all websites, across multiple web servers due to architectural constraints. With that said, we are already building a load balanced environment on the same server stack and will be implementing a load balanced environment once all sites have been migrated. However, only Evance subscribers to the core software will receive this upgrade. 

Email & DNS services

In November we announced that we would be ceasing Email and DNS services on our servers. The migration process to our new platform will not include email or DNS. This is only applicable to you if you are still utilising our servers for POP3 or IMAP email accounts, or host your DNS settings on our servers. You will be contacted by an account manager to make alternative arrangements if you're affected.  

Backup changes

There are changes to the way our backup system works. We shall continue to backup sites on a daily basis for disaster recovery. However there will be changes to our accident recovery system, which we shall be publishing soon. 

Changes to SSL - no more TLS 1.0

We take security very seriously and disabling support for older security methods is part of our commitment to upcoming PCI Compliance requirements. However the changes will affect some of your site visitors over HTTPS. We shall be posting an additional more in-depth article about these changes, but the key demographics of concern for you are likely to be:

Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10
Windows 7 or newer

Supported but not by default. Visitors over HTTPS will need to modify their browser to see your website. 

Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10
Windows Vista, XP and earlier

Not supported. Users with these configurations will not be able to view your website over HTTPS.  

Note: Additional information about SSL will be made in more depth in a separate article.  

IP address changes

Our sever IP Addresses are changing. Other than with your DNS settings, this will impact anyone who has third party accounts that rely on our IP Address. This includes anyone with a SagePay account. We will ensure that your SagePay account is modified prior to migrating your website to avoid payment interruptions on your e-commerce website. 

FTP accounts

We shall not initially be migrating FTP accounts. This will have a short term impact on some of our customers who rely on FTP accounts to upload files. This is due to security changes to our platform.

Minimising impact to you

We have designed semi-automated migration robot that minimises both the downtime of your website and reduces potential data disparity whilst your DNS propagates. The process allows us to gracefully migrate your data and files between servers without damaging your live site. Successful migrations will see a small site performance degradation until DNS has propagated. In the event of a failed migration, we are able to reverse the process within a few minutes until a successful migration is achieved. We shall be executing the largest site migrations and those with highest traffic during off-peak hours to further minimise potential data disparity. 

When will we start?

Due the current strain on our existing infrastructure we shall begin migrations effective immediately. Your account manager will be in touch with you as soon as possible with any changes you will need to be aware of or may need to act upon. 

  Tagged by topic: Cloud , Hosting , Security , Service Update

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