ASPnix Monthly Newsletter – September 2009

Here at ASPnix we have come up with some ideas to help you guys keep up on current and upcoming events. We will be sending newsletters like this each month to provide you with the most up-to-date information on our services, upcoming specials, upgrades and any other information within ASPnix.

This month really marked the launch of the ASPnix 3.0 hosting services with a new and improved and vastly updated control panel, improved and dedicated billing system, new mail server version with many improvements and optional services, and the upgrade of our SmarterStats web stats monitoring service.

Massive Network Upgrades!

This month we will be performing a major upgrade to the ASPnix hosting network. This upgrade will provide us with a multi-provider backbone infrastructure, higher network throughput, and better latency across multiple providers. Our new multi-provider network provides our network with connections to the outside work beyond the Level 3 network. This will also provide us with better redundacy incase the unthinkable happens.

These new providers include:

  • Level 3 Communications
  • Time Warner
  • XO Communications
  • Cogent
  • And others!

Our network upgrade will also introduce new routing hardware to insure that you get the fastest possible connection to our servers network, this hardware will also allow us to provide a network with 100% uptime.

More information about this upgrade will be announced in our blog, and community forums!

Microsoft Hyper-V Upgrade

We will be upgrading all Hyper-V systems to the latest Server 2008 R2 release. This release of Server 2008 is built on the same Windows NT kernel as Windows 7, making it faster and more stable then the initial Server 2008 build. Server 2008 R2 also ships with an upgraded IIS 7 dubbed v7.5. The new IIS7.5 provides better stability, improvements with FASTCGI, and core upgrades.

Server 2008 R2 also has better IO handling, decreased boot times, better processor management for better performance.

New Control Panel Launched

If you have loaded our control panel you have undoubtedly noticed that we upgraded our control panel system to Parallels Helm 4. This control panel marks another milestone in the ASPnix 3.0 services along with a few other upgrades and additions we will discuss later.
Helm 4 was a highly anticipated control panel with several thousand development hours and is a leading control panel for the Windows hosting platform. Helm 4 was rewritten from the ground up in Microsoft’s .NET Framework, a completely new network engine to allow Helm to communicate across the world to any server in any datacenter, and a new module / API to allow for a completely customized hosting control panel solution.
We adopted Helm 4 as our new hosting control panel solution for many reasons:

  • We have been with the Helm control panel solutions since day 1.
  • New API / module system promises the ability to control anything anywhere.
  • Many new features that with Helm 3 was simply not possible.
  • More advanced billing system for reseller clients.
  • Support for newer services natively rather than in compatibility mode.
  • Adding Helm 4 like features in Helm 3 was simply not feasible as ASP and COM has its limitations (especially with newer services)

We do understand that Helm 4 has bugs, issues , and missing features like the Full Trust add-on that our Helm 3 had (this was also a custom add-on), but we are working on these and they will be available soon!

New Billing System Launched

Rather than sticking with Helm’s built in billing system (it is a very nice billing system for a control panel) we decided to go with a dedicated billing system called WHMCS. This new system provides us with many new features that we have longed for including automated domain registrations, transfers and renewals, and automated billing. We had many complaints that our old billing system (Helm 3) did not do automated billing, this has been extinguished with WHMCS as it supports automated credit card billing, and PayPal subscriptions. This system also provides you as a client to manage your registered domains (if they were registered through WHMCS), all your services under 1 billing account (if you have more than 1 hosting service with us). This new system also has a very advanced fraud detection and prevention system in place to help weed out the naughty orders, thus keeping our prices low!
As with all upgrades and new services there will be kinks here and there, if you find one please report it to us!

Mail Servers Upgraded

This month we have upgraded our mail servers to the new and highly anticipated SmarterMail v6! With this upgrade has come many new features and improvements that you as a client and us as your provider have been wanting now for a long time! What sort of features?

  • Microsoft ActiveSync support (This is available now for purchasing) More info below.
  • Super high 97% spam blocking rate out-of-the-box
  • New antivirus engine with higher performance for faster mail delivery and server loads.
  • Message archiving system compliant with HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley
  • Advanced Outlook synchronization
  • Better POP3 performance to enhance download speeds.
  • Mailbox migration wizard to aid in importing mail objects from other mail servers.
  • Mailing lists have the ability for automated removal of subscribers on bounced messages.
  • Mailing lists now include unsubscribe links
  • Preview message attachments

There are many, many more features, bug fixes, and enhancements that are part of v6 you can view the full list here
So what is Microsoft’s ActiveSync? Simply put it is a way to push content between your desktop and your Windows Mobile or iPhone handheld device. Synchronize emails, calendars, events, and contacts automatically! This technology also uses less battery life and resources then traditional methods like POP and IMAP. The technology available in SmarterMail is available only for Windows Mobile devices and Apple’s iPhone.

How can I get ActiveSync? ActiveSync is available for $10 USD per month per email account or mailbox you wish to ActiveSync with.

SmarterStats Upgraded

This one has been a long time coming and a much needed upgrade as SmarterStats v3 has not been updated or touched in almost a year. SmarterStats v4 brings many improvements, and features to the table including:

  • View IIS logs from web interface.
  • All charts are now outputted with Microsoft’s Silverlight.
  • Higher level of statistics drill down to now including city names.
  • Redesign in Microsoft’s .NET v3.5 Framework
  • AJAX based call-backs for improved performance without popups.
  • Enhanced and updated browser recognition, including Google’s Chrome, Apple’s iPhone and others.
  • Improved efficiency by caching browser and spider types.

And again, much more has been added and improved, for the full list see here