29 November 2013
22 November 2013
Flexible billing periods
Until yesterday we've always worked with monthly billing. This means that each of our customers received one invoice each month for subscription fees of the upcoming month. We've had numerous requests for longer billing periods, to reduce the load on their accountant or just for the convenience of paying upfront for a longer period.
It's now possible to select a custom billing period. Existing customers can modify their billing period in the Tilaa dashboard. New customers can select their preferred billing period during signup. Available billing periods are: 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years. Changes made to the billing period will be effective immediately and will apply to new invoices for existing subscriptions and new orders.
Recurring American Express payments
In addition to recurring Visa and MasterCard payments our payment processor now also supports recurring American Express payments. If you want payments to be processed automatically instead of manually you can update your credit card authorization in the Tilaa dashboard.
Daily direct debit processing (Dutch customers only)
Until yesterday we've only been able to do one direct debit batch per month. We can now submit a direct debit batch each day and failed direct debit charges are processed automatically by our system from now on. This improvement alone paves the way for other future enhancements, such as a flexible billing day-of-the-month and a customizable term of payment.
We currently only support Dutch direct debit. Unfortunately SEPA direct debit for customers in other EU countries is currently not yet possible. We hope to have this feature available in the first half of 2014, but payment processor and bank implementations are unfortunately mostly unfinished to date.
Switch between recurring payment authorizations
If you've authorized us for multiple different credit cards and/or (Dutch) bank accounts you can easily switch between them for recurring payments. In the future we will further enhance this by allowing you to (optionally) select multiple recurring payments options to allow us to fall back to a different card or account if the first recurring payment attempt failed.
If you have any questions regarding billing (or anything else), don't hesitate to contact us!
26 September 2013
In the past 6 months we did a major network overhaul. In this post we'll outline a couple of the improvements we made and the things we've done to enable future growth of the Tilaa network.
We did a core network upgrade, allowing us to connect more racks and servers to our network while increasing bandwidth. Each of our server racks now has multiple 10GbE connections to our core network.
We've migrated from 3rd party MPLS links to our own dark fiber for inter-DC connectivity, provided by Relined. This increases our network independence and allows us to easily increase inter-DC bandwidth or provision independent network paths by using WDM (Wavelength-division multiplexing) equipment. We have multiple 10GbE inter-DC connections in use which can be further extended in the future when required.
We've added a new Tier 1 provider for transit connectivity: Tata communications (AS6453). This is an additional to our Tier 1 transit connectivity from NTT (AS2914). Together these two transit connections provide us with superb connectivity to practically all corners of the earth (well, the ones that matter ;).
We've upgraded our peering connections to the AMS-IX and NL-IX internet exchanges to 10GbE and have added a lot of direct peering sessions with other networks over the last months (and will of course continue to add more in the future).
We've also upgraded our Openpeering partial transit package from NL-transit to EU-transit, which further improves our network paths and reduces network latency to lots of networks we don't have direct peering sessions with through other internet exchanges (such as DE-CIX and LINX) and private interconnects (UPC, KPN, etc).
All our links to the internet are now at least 10GbE.
Additional prefix (/19)
Some of you may be aware that the RIPE region has run out of IPv4 space. If not, I highly recommend you read the Wikipedia article on the topic of IPv4 address exhaustion. What it boils down to is that networks are unable to obtain new IPv4 addresses. This is not currently an imminent problem for a lot of providers, because they often either have a large pool of IPv4 space available or they just don't grow that much anymore. Unfortunately we don't have that luxury: Our current remaining pool of IPv4 addresses is shrinking and at our current rate of growth we'll run out of them somewhere next year.
The IPv6 protocol that is designed to replace IPv4 has been fully deployed by only a small fraction of ISP's (of which we are one), which means that providing IPv4 connectivity to our clients will be required for the foreseeable future until at least 90% of internet users have access to IPv6 connectivity. We estimate that it will take at least 3 to 5 years to get there. It would definitely help if the large access providers (in the case of the Netherlands: UPC, Ziggo, KPN) would deploy IPv6 to their end customers. If they take the lead I'm sure others will quickly follow.
Until then we have to ensure we have enough IPv4 space to continue to grow after 2014. Therefore we've bought /19 IPv4 space from another company, which holds 8192 IP addresses. Whether or not this is enough to get to the point where IPv6 connectivity is common remains to be seen.
ISO 27001 (Information security):
A standard developed by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), that ensures a implementation of a information security management system (ISMS). ISO 27001 is seen as an international benchmark for the level of data security within a company. ISO 27001 uses a topdown, risk-based approach and will contain:
1. Risk assessment
2. Security policy
3. Organization of information security
4. Asset management
5. Human resources security
6. Physical and environmental security
7. Communications and operations management
8. Access control
9. Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance
10. Information security incident management
11. Business continuity management
PCI-DSS (Payment Industry Data Security Standard):
This standard is developed by four major credit card companies, (MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover) and is intended to protect cardholders against misuse of their personal information. PCI-DSS has 6 main objectives.
1. To have a completely secure network
2. Securely store credit card and cardholder information
3. Protection agains malicious software and viruses
4. System access control and restriction
5. Network monitoring
6. Implementation and documentation of strict security policies
ISO 9001 (Quality Management):
A standard developed by the International Organization of Standardization. (ISO) The goal of this standard is to ensure customer satisfaction trough deliverance of quality products and services.
The upcoming weeks we will do an internal audit with Noordbeek BV, a company specialized in IT audit services for these standards.
24 July 2013
We're proud to announce that as of today we offer virtual private servers with native SSD storage! This new product is especially useful in case you require exceptional I/O performance, such as for database servers, for which our standard product just doesn't cut it (even though we provide excellent performance there as well).
Just like our HDD servers we use a hardware RAID-10 set for optimal performance and redundancy. Our SSD servers can provide up to 100.000 random read and 80.000 random write operations per second (4k). We've made sure to use enterprise SSD's with exceptionally high endurance levels to prevent them from wearing out too soon and have proper monitoring in place to ensure we are alerted long before they actually do.
Just so that we're clear: This is not SSD caching, this is real 100% native SSD. A lot of our competitors who offer SSD VPS actually only do SSD caching. That means that on the backend your data is still stored on "spinning rust" and the SSD's are used to offload the HDD's somewhat. It can certainly improve performance and reduce disk latency, but it really can't compete with real SSD storage. When you're comparing a Tilaa SSD VPS with our competitors, make sure you understand that distinction ;)
Providing high I/O performance was one of our last challenges to be able to compete directly with dedicated server offerings. Now that we offer SSD storage there is no reason to use dedicated servers anymore (at least in our opinion).
It's of course possible to order both SSD and HDD servers and combine them into one private cloud. Our SSD offering runs on exactly the same platform and has exactly the same features.
If you're already a Tilaa customer and would like to migrate your existing VPS to SSD storage, please contact our support desk. Since our SSD servers are in a different pod (point of delivery) your VPS will have to be assigned a new IP address. Your data will remain intact, but the network settings of your VPS will need to be reconfigured.
Thanks for listening!
19 July 2013
03 July 2013
17 June 2013
Over the last few years the cost of internet traffic (both transit and peering) and high bandwidth routing and switching technology has been steadily decreasing. Broadband connections are becoming faster and cheaper (at least over here in the Netherlands). So we wondered: Why would you have unlimited data transfer for your home or office broadband connection and not for your server? That doesn't seem fair at all.
So we thought it was about time we removed any remaining traffic restrictions on our platform. Inbound internet traffic has already been free for the last 6 months and from now outbound internet traffic will be free as well. This means that from now on each customer will be able to enjoy unlimited internet traffic by default for their servers at Tilaa! Each VPS has 1 gigabit connectivity to the internet and we won't shape nor filter any traffic. Because of this change, customers who have ordered a VPS with additional traffic in the past will now automatically have lower pricing for their VPS as well.
In addition we have made some option and pricing changes to our configurator. Disk space and RAM are cheaper than ever before! Please note that if you would like to enable new pricing you have to modify the specifications of your existing VPS manually. The most visible change is that the minimum RAM option has been increased to 512Mb and the minimum disk option has been increased to 20GB. Over the years we've had numerous of support requests from customers who had issues with their VPS, which were caused by swapping/paging (causing bad performance) or a completely filled up filesystem. Pricing is now also low enough that we thought those smallest options don't make much sense anymore, since you just can't be very productive with just 256Mb of RAM or 10GB of disk space. Existing customers will of course be able to continue using those specifications and we won't force an upgrade.
23 May 2013
Well, not anymore, because today we replaced it with a much more modern version, which uses your browsers Websocket and Canvas support to render a VNC display. It's based on the excellent NoVNC. One major advantage is that it works over an encrypted connection on port 443, which most firewalls allow. Another one is that you don't need to install any plugins. It works in all reasonably modern browsers, and on mobile devices too. If you're still using IE9, it has a Flash fallback, so make sure you have Flash 10 installed.
16 May 2013
The rescue environment is based on SystemRescueCD
The rescue mode is useful for things like resetting root passwords, doing filesystem checks and recovery, offline scanning for virusses, and copying files from your VPS to another location.
When booted into rescue mode your VPS is connected to the internet, so you can access it with ssh like you're used to.
There's more information, including screenshots, at https://support.tilaa.com/entries/23767322-How-can-I-boot-a-VPS-into-rescue-mode
06 May 2013
This release includes a newer kernel (3.2), PHP 5.4 and MySQL 5.5 among other things.
More details can be found in the announcement
26 April 2013
It's (again) been a long time since our last blog post. Needless to say we've been extremely busy helping new and existing clients and generally improving our services and support. There are some interesting things we're working on, but more on that later. In any case, we'll try to blog more often!
Today we've deployed our new interactive voice reponse system (IVR) which helps us to better streamline support by telephone. Our primary telephone number is +31 85 2100 500. Some of the highlights:
- We now have a call waiting queue. Until today, had there been an incident with large impact it could potentially be difficult to get through to our support desk, because too many clients would try to reach us simultaneously. Now, when our support desk is saturated with calls, you will be put on hold until one of us is ready to answer your call.
- Our IVR will notify you when we are having maintenance or if there is unscheduled downtime. This will save some frustration when you're in our call waiting queue while your websites are down, wondering what is going on.
- From now on you can call Tilaa 24 hours a day when there is a problem with the availability of the Tilaa network or hardware. Outside of our opening hours we might ask you for a PIN code if you call us from an unknown phone number or if you disabled the caller id of your phone. You can find the PIN code for your customer account in the Tilaa dashboard. If you don't want to waste any time during an incident, make sure our IVR recognizes your phone number. To do so, simply add your phone number to your user account.
- If you're entitled to 24/7 software support this is also the number to call. You are entitled if you have a 24/7 software SLA. Please take a look at this post to find out which level of support Tilaa can offer you. The Tilaa dashboard will display your current 24/7 support entitlement.
Those are just some of the IVR features we have implemented. We hope you like it!
22 December 2012
During the next week we will have slightly modified opening hours:
- Tue, December 25th (1st Christmas day): 10:00AM - 05:00PM
- Wed, December 26th (2nd Christmas day): 10:00AM - 05:00PM
- Mon, December 31th (New Years eve): 09:00AM - 05:00PM
- Tue, January 1st (New Years day): 10:00AM - 05:00PM
Monitoring of our platform will of course be uninterrupted and continue 24/7.
We normally have our billing run on the 25th of the month. Because this conflicts with 1st Christmas day we will shift our billing run to the 24th.
We wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
20 December 2012
This was long overdue since upgrading older ArchLinux versions to systemd became a bit hard to do.
Please give them a try and let us know how they work and if anything could be improved.
30 November 2012
We are proud to announce that we're introducing a significant price reduction for our virtual private servers, effective immediately! Our new pricing is available for both new and existing customers.
Pricing for RAM memory and disk space have dropped significantly, sometimes up to 75%.
We've also added the possibility to modify CPU capacity in our VPS configurator, so our customers can choose the exact amount of CPU resources that they need.
To create more openness and transparency you will see the exact amount of CPU resources that has been reserved for your VPS. You can incrementally increase the amount of CPU resources when required. Our configurator displays how much CPU cores and the capacity on those cores that the VPS will get. We calculate and display the total amount of Ghz from that combination as well. For example, 4 CPU cores running at 2.4Ghz with a capacity limit of 80% will give you 4 x 2.4 x 0.8 = 7.68 Ghz of total CPU capacity.
We've also changed the way we handle network traffic. As of today all inbound network traffic will be completely free. We only keep a quota on outbound network traffic towards the internet. (Traffic between Tilaa VPS instances was already free and that will remain the case.)
Pricing for network traffic has significantly dropped as well. If you're likely to exceed the included outbound network quota it's now also possible to order extra network traffic upfront. Traffic that has been bought upfront is much cheaper than traffic over quota that has to be paid for afterwards.
How can existing customers activate new pricing?
The new pricing model is not applied by default, because the ratio between VPS components has slightly changed as well: Our new lower pricing includes less CPU resources and outbound data traffic by default. That way customers will get good value with our default pricing and can order extra CPU resources or traffic to get exactly the amount of resources they require, without paying for resources they don't need.
In case you would like to have the new pricing, go to the Tilaa VPS dashboard, look for the block called 'Server size' and click the button 'Change'. The configurator will show the price difference between the current and the new selection. If you don't make any modifications to the VPS and click 'Update settings' in step 4 the new pricing will be activated immediately. It's of course possible to make changes to the VPS components there as well if you wish.
23 November 2012
I'm on a blogging spree today, so I might as well announce that we now fully support IPv6!
We've supported basic IPv6 connectivity for years as a beta feature, but it wasn't fully supported until now. We've silently launched IPv6 support on our website a couple of weeks and are now ready to announce it to the general public:
- Each VPS already got a router advertised IPv6 address by default, but they are now displayed in the Tilaa dashboard as well.
- DNS AAAA and PTR (reverse DNS) records for IPv6 addresses can now be modified on the Tilaa dashboard as well.
- Each customer has one additional /96 allocation per site from which they can assign extra IPv6 addresses.
- All IPv6 addresses out of that /96 can be used on any VPS on that site belonging to the same customer account, so can be used in cluster configurations, for example.
- One or more extra IPv6 addresses can be requested through the Tilaa dashboard and will be assigned immediately. (You can of course modify AAAA and PTR records for those addresses as well.)
We will add some articles to our knowledge base about how to configure extra IPv6 addresses on a VPS in the next couple of months. In the meantime, please contact our support team if you have trouble assigning or configuring IPv6 addresses on your VPS.
Due to popular demand we have implemented PayPal express checkout support: You can now order a VPS and make a payment directly through PayPal!Move website to .com
We've decided to move our main website from www.tilaa.nl to www.tilaa.com. Even though we are a Dutch company, we provide our services to an international target group. We thought a .com domain would be more appropriate.New support portal
We've switched to a new support system, powered by Zendesk. The new support system is hosted on support.tilaa.com. It features a knowledge base, a forum, you can view your ticket history and submit new tickets. This new tool should help us better manage our support flows and provied our clients with more self service support tools.
The last 6 months we have made some notable improvements to our network. We thought you might appreciate some background information.
So one thing we already publicly announced earlier is that we're now directly connected to the AMS-IX. Since the 1st of October we also have a dedicated port on the NL-IX. Presence on these two internet exchanges has resulted in peerings with most Dutch internet service providers, a lot of the bigger EU internet service providers and some international carriers, resulting in lower latencies, less hops and reduced dependence on transit carriers.
Another big project we've recently finished is replacing all of our HP ProCurve top of rack switches with EX-series switches from Juniper networks, which improves manageability, performance, stability and allows for port trunking over multiple switches (virtual chassis) to further improve bandwidth and network redundancy for our virtualization hosts.
In the background we've also been busy with redesigning our network core to divide up our ethernet broadcast domains into smaller layer 2 chunks and only use layer 3 routing in our network core. This prevents MAC and ARP tables from growing out of control, dramatically reduces ARP/broadcast traffic and unicast flooding and makes debugging network issues a lot easier.
We've also improved our out of band VPS firewalls to drop more unwanted traffic, prevent common types of network attacks and misconfiguration of a VPS's from causing any harm for our other clients. We are currently in the process of carefully rolling them out on all our virtualization hosts.
All these projects combined have resulted in a very stable network ready to facilitate our growth in the years to come.
12 October 2012
As of today Tilaa supports fully automated provisioning of the recently released 2012 edition of Microsoft Windows. You can now also order a Windows 2012 VPS through our VPS configurator. Some notable changes compared to 2008 R2:
- Most features that were previously only bundled with the Enterprise edition are now included in the Standard edition.
- There are no more Web and Enterprise editions. The only edition that remains is the Standard edition.
Pricing for the Standard Edition license is just € 5.95 a month. We don't support an in-place upgrade from 2008 R2 towards 2012. If you currently have a 2008 R2 VPS and would like to start using 2012 you can simply re-install your VPS. But before you do, make sure you've got a backup of all your data!
We've also added support for the Standard Core edition, which is essentially Standard edition without the full desktop GUI. This edition can be useful if you centrally manage your Windows servers and want to save some RAM.
For a full overview of Windows 2012 new features and changes, please look here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831769.aspx
13 July 2012
We have configured BGP sessions to the AMS-IX route servers, which provides about 50.000 IPv4 and 6.000 IPv6 routes to other AMS-IX members or about 15% of the global routing table. We will slowly add more peering sessions to other AMS-IX members over time.
What does this all mean? Basically it means that for a lot of routes there are less hops (routers) to pass. This in turn results in lower latency to the Tilaa network, which in turn results in faster loading webpages.
We also have increased redundancy and bandwidth to handle the traffic for our fast growing customer base and are less reliant on (relatively expensive) transit traffic.
If there are network engineers out there who want to peer with us on the AMS-IX, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (especially if you're working for a big Dutch or European ISP :)!