09 July 2014

CentOS 7 is available

Last monday, the CentOS project released the 64-bit version of CentOS-7.

Some new things in this release are systemd, improved support for XFS, and better integration for Docker.

Please give the image a try.

06 June 2014

Now available: Multiple server snapshots

Today we announce the general availability of server snapshots. A snapshot is a consistent point-in-time copy of the disk of your Tilaa VPS, which can be used for disaster recovery, cloning or as a backup solution.

Snapshots are stored off-site by default to ensure your data is safe in the case of a host crash or complete data-center failure. It's possible to choose between an offline snapshot (where your VPS is shutdown before taking a snapshot to ensure data consistency) or an online snapshot (where your VPS keeps running during the snapshot). Each VPS includes one free snapshot. You can create as many snapshots as you like and restore them to any of your servers.

This feature has been requested a lot over the years and will enable new types of use cases. For example, you can now easily rollback to a known-good situation after a failed operating system upgrade or even switch between multiple operating systems for testing and development without having to reinstall and reconfigure all of your applications.

New endpoints have been added to the RESTful Tilaa API to list, view, rename, delete, create and restore snapshots, which makes automating deployment of a large number of similar servers on the Tilaa platform a breeze.

As always, feedback will be much appreciated. Enjoy!

03 April 2014

General availability of the Tilaa API

We're proud to announce that as of today we provide an easy to use RESTful API, which can be used to list, order, resize/reinstall, manage and cancel virtual machines (VPS) on the Tilaa platform!
The API can be used to simplify making changes to a large amount of virtual machines and to build reselling platforms, command-line interfaces and mobile/desktop clients.
Some project ideas for those with spare time on their hands:
So have fun and code away! Should you have trouble integrating this API or have some general feedback, drop us a line! :)

27 February 2014

Roles and permissions

Over the years we've had several requests from customers for a finer grained permission system. More specifically, customers wanted to be able to separate account privileges between technical and financial roles, so that an accountant wouldn't receive swap notifications and a technical administrator wouldn't receive invoices and payment confirmations, for example.

We've heard you! Today we've deployed our new permission framework, which allows for finer grained control on what each user account is allowed to do and which emails that user receives. All new and existing user accounts have 'Administrator' privileges by default.

At the moment we have the following roles and permissions defined:

Role Manage accounts Place orders Manage servers Payments Invoices Receives email
Administrator Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes All
Technical administrator No No Yes No No Tech related
Technical user No No Yes, except modifications No No Tech related
Financial admin No No No Yes Yes Finance related

Should a need arise for a new type of role it can be easily added, so if you have a specific requirement for a new type of role, don't hesitate to ask and we'll consider implementing it!

29 November 2013

Windows 2012 R2 available

Microsoft released Windows 2012 R2 on October the 17th.
We now have an image available for the Standard edition.

To see what's new in Windows 2012 R2, have a look at this article

22 November 2013

Billing changes

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

Overview of network changes

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.

Core 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.

Internet connectivity

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.

Tilaa starts project for ISO9001, ISO27001 and PCI-DSS certification

Tilaa wants to underline that it's taking data security and quality insurance very seriously. That why we've started a project to certify for ISO 27001 (Information security) , PCI-DSS (Payment industry data security) and ISO 9001 (Quality assurance). The goal is to get certified for these standards in the first half of 2014.

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
12. Compliance

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

New product: Native SSD VPS

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

Relined launches point-of-presence at TDCG, Tilaa first using customer


Press release:

The Datacenter group, the most energy efficient data center in Holland and winner of the code of conduct award 2012, announced today that a point of presence will be built by Relined at both locations in Amsterdam and in Delft. This commitment not only emphasizes the carrier-neutral position of TDCG, but also provides their (potential) customers greater choice for lower prices.

Additionally TDCG is very pleased to have carrier Relined in their data center because they value their customers’ needs. This is also apparent from the extensive network Relined in the Netherlands, with their key area in and around Amsterdam. “Growth in demand drives us to expand our number of PoP’s”, says Talat Sahin, account manager of Relined.  Tilaa, hosting provider specialized in Virtual Private Servers en Clouds, is the first customer from TDCG to choose Relined. TDCG linked these two parties through their unique Technology Partner Program. Due to good cooperation with Tilaa, Relined can build a redundant connection from TDCG to their network. Thanks to the redundant connection of this PoP, the high availability of services can be guaranteed.

This is exactly why Tilaa chooses for Relined: “We choose Relined because they have a network of high quality  fiber. In addition, one of the crucial factors was that Relined offers the opportunity to reach TDCG via two entirely separate paths and thus Tilaa can realize a redundant connection with her other data center location, ”stated Gerben van Ven, owner at Tilaa. Furthermore, the open communication and willingness of the partners to help find solutions pleases all three parties in this collaboration.

03 July 2013

Fedora 19 images available

Fedora 19, alias Schrödinger's Cat, was just released.
More info about what's new in F-19 can be found in the release notes.

We have the 64bit and 32bit images available.

17 June 2013

Unlimited data traffic!

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.

Enjoy!

23 May 2013

New feature: html5 based video display

We spent a bit of time lately on freshening up our website and Dashboard. Those of you who use a laptop with a Retina display will notice that it looks a bit, well, sharper. Next on our list of improvements was the replacement of the Video Display feature, which was based on Java. To be more specific, it was a heavily patched version of the TigerVNC viewer. You needed to have a Java JRE installed and browser plugin installed, and it had all kinds of other issues.

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

Rescue mode

We've just implemented a much requested feature, the ability to boot your VPS from a rescue cd.
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

Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) images now available

The new stable Debian release, 7.0 (Wheezy) was announced yesterday. We have the 64bit and 32bit images already available.
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

Improved telephone support

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

Modified opening hours and billing run

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
We operate from the Europe/Amsterdam timezone (CET).

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

New ArchLinux images

I've just uploaded new Archlinux images based on the 2012.12.01 iso

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

Significant price reduction!

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.

What changed?

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

IPv6 is now fully supported!

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.