Monday, May 28, 2012

Effective & Efficient Hotel network management using QNO L7 router


Effective & Efficient Hotel network management using QNO L7 router



Network administrator often face problems regarding managing their network and utilizing the network hardware resources to deliver better bandwidth management.

As we all know that L7 router four main functions are online behavior management, VIP priority channeling, internet line binding and QoS broadband management. This router is very suitable for hotel’s network management.

In order to guarantee the stability of internet, effectiveness, and hotel guest’s smooth internet browsing experience, what are the requirements and necessary steps to take to fulfill these criteria?

One of the small hotels, about 50 to 100 rooms, 50 PCs using intranet, has two ISP lines, one is a 2M ADSL, the other is a 10M fiber optics. How can QNO router features minimize internet lag issues and utilize broadband usage to its maximum?


The problems

Staff
When it comes to work efficiency, the hotel staff will always put the blame on slow internet connection. They are unable to finish their research or communicate with customers and colleagues due to some staff’s selfish bandwidth usage. They will either watch online shares or speculate the stock market, downloading their favorite dramas, or streaming mp3 music. Their online activity exposed to the risk of virus attacks, and slows down other people’s internet connection.

Network admins usually allow these activities during off working hours, but when there’s a need for prioritized internet usage, the network admin is unable to allocate bandwidth for the prioritized user. For example, CEO having video conference with clients, but the off working hour’s internet usage by the staff leeched the CEO’s bandwidth.

Customer
As for customer, guest room has no restriction over internet usage, however peer to peer downloading such as BT and Thunder (Xun Lei)  will have restricted bandwidth allocation. Guest also wants smooth internet browsing, smooth instant messaging, and the VIP rooms need seamless, secured VoIP. At the same time ensuring the whole hotel network is available for everyone else’s usage.

The solutions


QNO duo core router’s multi WAN

It can separately manage office’s internet and customer’s internet; 2M line can be used to fulfill staff’s office bandwidth usage, 10M line is provided for the customer’s internet bandwidth. It also can assign VLAN to achieve effective management of bandwidth allocation according to different floors in the hotel.

Online behavior management

It can block sites that contain pornography, excessive violence, drugs, cult religion, and other illegal contents. L7 online behavior management has a black and white list, where the hotel network management can add more sites to the black list, or allow staffs to browse certain website, and assign browsing schedule so that during working hours no one is allowed to browse the internet, hence improve their productivity.


Internet Line binding

For hotel’s platinum or diamond level VIP guest, the router can assign the VIPs to enjoy prioritized privilege and secured broadband usage, so that there won’t be any internet lag issues which affect by other user’s bandwidth usage. Using line binding feature to provide high bandwidth service to customer is like selling a train ticket, or a flight ticket to reach the same destination. This feature can differentiate the quality service received by normal member and gold card member.


QoS broadband management

For hotel guest room’s broadband management, router’s QoS broadband management, combined with QNO’s featured “Smart QoS”, any kind of internet application service can be identified to its core, allowing webmaster to limit or block bandwidth allocation to users who abusing it. For example, under unrestricted browsing, the user that uses p2p downloads, is able to browse the internet, and hold VoIP conference at the same time with sufficient bandwidth because the allocation of bandwidth has been assigned accordingly to its internet application service.

PPPoE

To have better control in bandwidth allocation and their internet user, network administrator can generate individual pass with ID and password for each hotel room guest. This pass can be assigned for different usage validity, from a day to a specific time to avoid unauthorized user to freely use the internet connection.


Conclusion

With the popularity of the hotel building in depth information infrastructure, network management becomes important. Due to the increasing usage of internet in hotel network management, it also increases the use of traffic and online behavior management. A multi-functional product will allow the management to achieve their objectives with lesser effort. QNO L7 router is simple to use, detailed managing, and able to constantly automatically update its database.

I believe that network management in various regions of the country will make tens of thousands of hotel follow the L7 network management trend.









source: translated from http://www.enet.com.cn/article/2012/0515/A20120515110592.shtml

Friday, May 18, 2012

Zero Downtime

Zero Downtime 


"In a 1998 report from IBM Global Services, unavailable systems are estimated to have cost American businesses $4.54 billion in 1996, due to lost productivity and revenues." 

Any businesses that relies on a system will have to anticipate that it will be unavailable for a while. However, how good is the system depends on the time of unavailability, how fast can it recover from it. What are the technical knowledge and other resources required to get the system available again.

For Michaelsoft DDS, the diskless network solution, have prepared few steps to prevent the system from unavailability. We always advice customers to purchase two servers to prevent system unavailability. From our recommendation, for maximum performance, each server will have 6 hard disk, 3 for Linux server, 3 for client PC's OS and software applications. The combination of the hard disk can be a 2+2, 3+2, 4+2 depending on the business needs.

The first 3 hard disk totaling up to 1.5 TB, stores the files to run the Linux server operating system, the rest of it to support mass number of workstation's read/write, and also to store their personal files. The next 3 hard disk is to store the client workstation's OS and software applications, such as word processors, image editing, movie maker, Auto CAD, and many more.


In the event of virus attack

If the client workstation was attacked until the system freeze, just a quick restart will solve the problem, as the temporary storage of virus will be removed. Client workstation was configured to boot it's OS and applications from the server.

In the event of network virus attack

No matter how many times restarting on the client workstation, the virus from other workstation will be spread through the network. This happens because of the server is infected with virus. The solution is to find out which server has receives updates and installation recently, and rollback to it's previous restore point.

In the event where applications is faulty or corrupted

If the applications failed to boot from the server, the installation of the application has encounter a problem, therefore it has to be re-installed or rollback.

To re-install, one of the workstation will be logged in as 'super workstation' where administrative work can be done, to re-install the application. This process involves logging into one of the client workstation, transfer the installation files from another computer through network sharing (plugging USB into the super work station will be exposed to the possibility of virus infection) and complete the installation of the application. Once the application has been installed onto the server, other client workstation will be able to run application. Or else, rollback to it's previous restore point.

Instead of the conventional way, cloning the installed files through network takes a lot of time. Diskless network solution is able to deploy the application in a single installation process.


In the event of re-installing the whole server

In the event where the hard disk in the server was found faulty, among the 3 hard disk, the 1st will usually be the most heavy duty, and it's the highest chance of being faulty, due to it's usage for booting the server and client workstations. This hard disk will be replaced, and the installation of the server has to be re-done again. The installation of the Linux server takes about 5 minutes using either the optical disk, or USB to install. To get the server up and available, the configuration takes about another 15 minutes, to get the client workstation's IP address booted from the server. While doing the installation, the other server which is still running will keep the system alive and provide as a host to duplicate the files to the new server. 


Conclusion
In a business, a downtime means a loss. By having at least two server, the system can achieve zero downtime.




Reference
http://www.dis.uniroma1.it/~irl/docs/availabilitytutorial.pdf

Friday, May 11, 2012

Survivor's Guide to Run a Cybercafe business


Survivor's guide to run a cybercafe business


In Malaysia market, most of the cyber cafe owners are familiar with a few solution providers. These big guns have experienced the harshness of the industry, where they have to find additional innovative value adding service to their sales inventory.

Michaelsoft DDS is one the cybercafé solution provider, and its customer have been in the business for more than 3 years. In this market, not much of the cybercafé will survive more than 3 years, due to business knowledge, technical knowledge, and management skill.

"You can easily tell the difference between cheap and expensive goods and services." 

They both fulfill different needs. Michaelsoft DDS aims to help cybercafé to sustain their business in the longer run. Cybercafe owner would have met different type of solution provider, and some of the cybercafé owners don't know what they want for their business, forced to close their business and invest their salvaged capital into some other industry.

The initial cost and on-going maintenance cost. 
Most of the cybercafés didn't choose the right solution to handle on-going maintenance cost. Setting up was easy, but to maintain was really horrendous. 

1. Use diskless network solution
In cybercafé, diskless network solution can extend the lifespan of client PCs, able to boot faster, has better performance than disk solution, and reduces operation cost (electricity, maintenance, staffing, license, antivirus, game deployment). Last but not least, it's relatively easy to set up. Michaelsoft DDS also provides add-on services to make sure cybercafé owners has the competitive advantage to continuously sustain and improve their business.

2. Choosing the right hardware for diskless network environment
When running diskless network, balancing the load on server and client PCs are important, in order to extend the lifespan of each hardware, the cybercafé owner must make sure that the servers, routers, client PCs is able to handle moderate to heavy duty usage, and must not overload the hardware.

It is not advisable to use low spec or unknown brand hardware to handle heavy duty loads, as it will exhaust it's lifespan even faster and possibly causes downtime unexpectedly. Therefore, the model, the warranty and it's specification should meet the requirements of the business for moderate to heavy duty usage. 

3. Look for reliable and suitable service provider
To prevent cybercafé from service disruption, it's best to choose solution that doesn't require frequent visit or troubleshooting from technicians. Which means, if the solution keeps giving problems that needs technicians to fix the problem, this causes downtime to business, and creates dissatisfaction among customers. When this happens, revenue and customer's trust on the cybercafé will be lost.

Therefore, consult other solution providers to find out which one suits their business needs. Michaelsoft DDS emphasize on providing stable, genuine, cost-effective, reliable, hassle free and innovative solutions to customers.

4. Beware of hidden charges
Beware of the pricing, cybercafé owners are advised to double check the price, such as the TOTAL set up price and its monthly charges. Some of the solution provider did not mention clearly about the total number of servers and additional hardware needed for the business.

Solution provider that aims to earn quick cash will urge cybercafé owners to pay a sum of money to run the business first. Soon after when the hardware starting to wear out because of overloading, they will ask the cybercafé owner to invest another sum of money to upgrade or buy a new unit to replace.

5. Choose Michaelsoft's Auto Game Update
Deployment of games. It's best to see the game update is done within a blink of an eye.  Michaelsoft DDS Game Menu, with it's Auto Game Update, the game is installed instantly when the remote game server is updated. There won't be any error in system registry when installed or require any remote assistant through internet to install the games.

6. Use Linux Server Operating System
Cybercafe owners are encouraged to run their business in a legal way. Besides being raid by police or local councils, there are risks involved if doing otherwise. The most common issue would be during the event of virus attack. Servers that run Windows OS will be most likely attacked by virus, and causes downtime to cybercafé. Unlike Michaelsoft DDS who uses Linux OS to run the server. Linux platform, are immune to Windows viruses, even if the client PC that infected with Windows virus, and spreads into the network, the Linux server is not affected by it. This acts as last defense against virus attacks. 

In the most extreme event where the whole server OS has to be re-installed. Re-installing OS would take some time, Michaelsoft DDS's Linux OS would only take 15 minutes to be ready, and configured. However Windows OS would take at least 30 minutes to be ready, but without configurations. Besides there's no licensing fee needed for Linux OS as it's a free and open source software.

Another advantage of using Linux OS to run the server is that it can fully utilize the RAM installed, and able to run 64 bit Windows 7 in the diskless network environment, delivering the most ideal gaming experience to customers.

Conclusion
Michaelsoft DDS wish to help customers to sustain their business, because Michaelsoft DDS's mission is:

"To be the partner of choice for leading educational institutions, government and enterprises by assisting the creation of IT advantage while maintaining our innovation, reliability and cost-effectiveness by the introduction of Diskless Technology and rapid development of new application solutions to meet our customers' growing needs." 

Visit our Facebook or Contact us directly at enquiry@michaelsoft.com.my


Friday, May 4, 2012

Why some of the cybercafe closed down?

Why some of the cybercafe closed down?



The following article is about the problems identified by Michaelsoft DDS, who has been a cybercafe solution provider for five years and counting, they shared a few common problems that breaks a cybercafe business.

"I want to open a cyber cafe."
"Do you have money? Cuz I wanna open a cyber cafe too, I need some extra capital."
"No, I got no money."
"Hey, if you don't have capital for opening a cyber cafe, how do you still intend to open one?"
"I have technical knowledge to manage your cyber cafe."
"Oh... why not join me for opening one, but you'll need to pay a sum of money for your share in the business though."

Partners or Staff's Credibility 

Cybercafe operator, do not consist of one person. They had partners to overcome the financial issues and technical issues. Usually there's some partners who contribute the most for finance, the others, for technical. This itself is a problem. How much can you trust your partner on handling the operations when you're not around to manage it or know how to manage it?

Some businesses close down because of partnership, they had doubts in each other's credibility. Those partner who's good at technical is able to siphon the money into his own pocket without being traced. Even the cashier also take advantage of the billing system. For example, some of the customer who paid a package rate of $10 for 10 hours who left before the timer is up, say he played only 6 hours, the remaining 4 hours were given to other customer and the cashier charged him for $2 per hour, therefore the cashier has siphoned $8 out of that PC. 

Some billing system had loophole, hack-able by customer, cyber cafe owners who always opt for software that is free, or cracked version will have lesser revenue. Even paid version will also be hacked as well, this  probably happens when the owner stored his million dollar bank account somewhere in the cybercafe.



"No one is hardworking! Even the boss also slack sometimes!!"


Staff's working attitude

Some business have staffs that is not committed to their work. When the boss is not around, they will be slacking. Lack of supervision or managing will allow them to do whatever they want. 

How will this make a cybercafe business fall?

When a customer want's to complain about their computer, the staff is ignorant about it. That pisses off the customer right away. This dissatisfied customer will never come back anymore, unless he has no choice but to come back. Competitor wishes that you had more dissatisfied customer so they can earn more profit. 

If the staff acknowledges the problem, he will fix it when he has the "time". However, why is there a complain about the computer in the first place? 
  • Games were not up to date. Staff didn't update the game when they had the time.
  • Games were not working. Staff didn't install the game properly or the link to the game server were inaccurate.
  • Games were not listed in the game menu or desktop. Staff didn't install the game AT ALL.



"Cheap stuffs ain't good quality."


Software Choices

The receptionist who take advantage of the billing system case above was a good example. Although there are software that is cheap, or even free, but they come with risk. Some business suffered loss due to downtime caused by 
  • using cracked version of software or freeware
  • update cracked version software
  • installing new software due to outdated version of cracked software
  • installing new software due to "no more support" freeware
  • installing new software due to UNSTABLE or BUGGY freeware
If the business is willing to take the risk to use such 'troublesome' software, in the long run, it will ruin the business image. These freeware, or cracked version can be hack easily, as they are not fully stable, when a billing system is hacked, potential profit will be gone as well. 

Customer don't have the patient to deal with such unstable software, for example game menu that doesn't work, billing system that always crash and loses revenue records, and miscalculated charges.

Imagine the money that you could have earned went to someone else's pocket. 



"There's no loyal customer in cyber cafe business. If there's a cheaper rate cyber cafe, why spend more for the same type of service?"


Maintenance and Upgrades 

Some business close down because they didn't maintain or upgrade their hardware to satisfy the need of the   gamer. It became competitor's opportunity to open a new cybercafe and capture all those dissatisfied  customer. Once the competitor maintained their performance, there's hardly any chance the customer will return to the cyber cafe which they visit before. Unless it's full house at the competitor's place, but the leftovers from competitor were not able to feed those cybercafe who still have lousy machines. That is why some of the competitor when they are able to open a cybercafe, they will make sure that they are able to open a BIGGER one to 'eat' other cybercafe's dissatisfied  customer.


In an area with a lot of competition, the best way to beat all the other cyber cafe competitors is to offer better service than the rest, at the same rate, and be BIG. Crowned as the big boss in the area, with the same rate, customer can get better gaming experience. Why spend more for crappy, lag, century old wooden machines that doesn't satisfy customer's gaming need when there's a cyber cafe who can offer EXCELLENT service at the same rate?

Who doesn't like to play with a computer that is FAST, monitor screen which is LCD and BIG, has internet speed that is as SMOOTH as silk tofu, razor SHARP precision of mouse, and SNAPPY keyboard. Good ambiance, such as lighting, decorations, air condition, background music, and friendly staff plays a part in becoming a good cyber cafe.


Conclusion (Solution) 

Next week, there will be an article about "Survivor's guide to run a cybercafe business." It will solve all the above mentioned problems. Solution used by most survivors that will reduce staff's maintenance, upgrading,   troubleshooting work, and reduce or remove billing software's problems.