Steadfast Blog

Steadfast Financial Networks

Posted in Our Customers on January 3rd, 2011

My name is Ryan Hayes and I am Director of Business Development at Steadfast Networks. In an earlier post Karl mentioned the launch of Steadfast Financial Networks. We've received some questions in response to a recent New York Times article on high-frequency trading, so I'd like to take some time to discuss computers and finance in general, Steadfast's involvement with the financial industry, and explain what this acquisition means for our business overall.

Computers and finance have a long history going back to at least the 1970s when the New York Stock Exchange introduced a computerized ordering system to speed up execution and meet the demands of increased exchange volume. The 1980s saw a large growth in computerized trading, with many of the algorithmic trading and cash management strategies like those of Ed Seykota being among the most successful. The 1990s and 2000s saw an explosion in computer-based trading with firms like Renaissance Technologies taking in billions of dollars a year. It's clear that computers in finance are here to stay. And while there are critics of the effect that computerized trading has had on the volatility of stock markets and market stability, it's difficult to deny that they've been a net benefit to the industry and to the economy at large: not only increasing profit potential, but also increasing available liquidity on the markets and allowing orderly, error-free processing of trillions of dollars worth of transactions that we see on modern equities and commodities exchanges and which contribute to the overall functioning of our economy.

Our involvement with financial firms, and in particular with high-speed trading started in the late 2000s when we noticed increased demand for our colocation offerings from financial firms. Since this demand has kept up and experiencing first hand the frequent complexity of working with third parties, we decided to supplement our existing offering with trading-specific services including market data, consulting, and expanded colocation and IP transport offerings in New York and Europe. We discussed with a number of existing firms about partnering, but in the end decided that it was best—for us and our customers—to do things our own way, which is why we acquired Radius IT and formed Steadfast Financial Networks.

Overall, our goal is to expand our footprint in enterprise and professional IT infrastructure services and the Financial Networks division is an integral part of this. This works organically with our existing goals of expanding our IP transit and transport network and colocation presence around the world and will benefit all of our customers. We continue to aggressively invest in all areas of our business and will have some new product offerings out soon to supplement our existing line up of hosting products. At Steadfast, we have no aspiration to be “yet another hosting provider”, but seek out unique opportunities that work with our overall goals, work to the advantage of our customers, and allow us to increase the quality of our products. Steadfast Financial Networks is another step in that direction.

Steadfast Financial Networks service offerings:

Information on Steadfast's acquisition of Radius IT:

Recent New York Times article on high-speed trading:

We've decided it was about time to revamp our drive offerings as our solid state drives have proven to be extremely popular, while others have fallen out of favor. I'll start with the bad news, we're no longer offering 150GB or 300GB 10k RPM SATA drives (Raptors) due to low demand and poor reliability. We are still offering the 74GB drives, but only for as long as we have them in stock. If you're currently using these drives, don't worry, we still have spares around in case of a drive failure.

Then, on the plus side, we are now offering larger 600GB 15k RPM SAS (SA-SCSI) drives and 2TB SATA drives to keep up with the changes there, but the main additions are the new lines of solid state drives (SSD), focusing on having some more affordable options. We're still sticking solely with Intel drives, as we've been extremely happy with their performance and reliability. We've tested various other brands, and none of the others we've tested seem to be ready for a server environment like the Intel drives are. The new Intel SSD offerings are from the Intel X25-M and X25-V series, which are basically the same, an Intel X25-V 40GB drive for only $15 a month (making it a free upgrade option as a primary drive on most of our servers) and the Intel X25-M 160GB drive at $50 per month, allowing you to have more SSD capacity at a reasonable price point. These MLC based drives still perform very well, but not quite to the extent of the SLC Intel X25-E drives we've been offering. On reads you should see similar performance, but the X25-E will have over twice the write performance, which is critical in heavy write environments, which can be the case with many databases. In addition, the lifespan of the X25-E is significantly longer (~70 years with 100GB in writes per day) due to the SLC technology and enterprise nature of the drive, while the X25-M and X25-V (5+ years in same scenario) should still have ample lifespans in most environments, it can still be an additional concern.

If you're interested in more data on these SSD drives and how they compare in head-to-head performance we recommend the following articles &

These drives can be purchased immediately with any of our dedicated server offerings, Dedicated Servers with Basic Management, Fully Managed Dedicated Servers, and Discount Dedicated Servers

IPv6: The Time Has Come

Posted in Networking on December 22nd, 2010

You've probably heard of IPv6 by now if you're watching Internet technology at all, but even with new urgency to its deployment, there aren't many people saying much about it. There's a big problem with that.

Over a decade ago, Internet architects realized that the current Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) used for identifying systems on the Internet was limited. With the massive expansion of the Internet in the 1990s, the number of addresses available would simply run out in the not-too-distant future. To deal with this problem, they developed and standardized a replacement known as Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)... in 1998. Where IPv4 provided 32-bit addresses, which amount to 2^32 or about 4.3 billion unique numbers, IPv6 was designed with 128-bit addresses, or about 340 undecillion (that's 36 zeroes) unique numbers.

The problem? IPv6 was seen as unnecessary by the vast majority of the network operators at the time. A relatively small portion of the IPv4 address space was allocated in 1998 and there was a lot of reserved address space that could still be used if needed, so there was almost no movement whatsoever on implementing IPv6. This trend continued through the early 2000s. Organizations like the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and American Registry for Internet Numbers, the institutions responsible for keeping track of assignments of IP addresses, had run the numbers and projected that less than a decade remained before the IPv4 space would fill up. They began programs to try to educate network operators accordingly. With few using IPv6, software developers saw little benefit in IPv6 implementation, so IPv4-only software continued to be prevalent.

Years passed with little change until very recently. In the past few years, an increasing number of software vendors and network operators have gotten the message. Many providers began to investigate IPv6 internally and some started upgrading their infrastructure to support IPv6. Most operating systems and a lot of open source software by this time included IPv6 support, but few ISPs provided access via IPv6, so it went relatively unused and untested.

The most urgency began this year. It was reported in August 2010 that IANA had only 14 top level IPv4 allocations remaining, then 12 in October, and 7 in November. The IANA policy automatically distributes one allocation to each of the five world regions once only five allocations remain. This means there are only two allocations IANA has left to give out before the rest get allocated automatically. At that point, the regional organizations that manage usage, such as ARIN, will have no way to obtain new allocations as they deplete what they have left. Eventually it will become very hard to obtain IPv4 addresses. This event is projected by many to occur during 2011.

Wide deployment at this stage is largely expected to be a scramble to get software and hardware in compliance as soon as organizations discover they can no longer obtain IPv4 addresses or can only do so at a premium. Statistics aggregated by Hurricane Electric indicate that as of today only 8% of networks implement any form of IPv6 connectivity, and 17% of top level domain providers lack infrastructure available via IPv6.

Steadfast Networks recognizes that in order to ensure our customers are ready for the day IPv4 ceases to be sustainable, we must make IPv6 connectivity available to all our customers. We would be misrepresenting ourselves to say we are an early adopter or pioneer, because a few started all the way back in the late 1990s. We began serious planning for IPv6 approximately 2 years ago, and began offering IPv6 to customers in March of 2009. We set a goal to ensure that basic IPv6 connectivity would be extended by default to all dedicated server customers by Q1 of 2011 and we're delivering on that goal today.

We've published a knowledgebase article which explains how IPv6 works and what you can do to make sure your servers are ready to host IPv6 content. Steadfast Networks' support of IPv6, however, does not go far enough. You and we need to encourage hosting control panel vendors, network providers and ISPs to realize the importance of IPv6 and to make it an immediate priority. Our article linked above also provides information to contact control panel vendors accordingly.

If you're ready to get started, you can get an address for your dedicated server today before the rush begins.

Steadfast Now on Skype

Posted in Our Customers on December 17th, 2010

Now that we have updated our PBX system, we have integrated our PBX with Skype. Just download Skype, if you don't have it already, and call our username steadfastnetworks, you can click our username there to add us to your contact list, and you can call us, from anywhere in the world, at no charge. This should be quite convenient to our international users who no longer need to make an international call to reach us, but it will also help those of you who simply prefer to use Skype instead of the phone. Now you really have no excuse to contact us when you have any questions for us!

If you have any issues with Skype please contact our network operations department,, with the report. You can then still use our ticket system, email, or our standard phone numbers for submitting a ticket.

Skype Me!

I am proud to announce that Steadfast Networks is now a part of the Illinois Technology Association. The Illinois Technology Association (ITA) is a driving force behind the growth of Illinois' vibrant technology industry. ITA’s agenda is simple – grow technology companies by fostering deep collaboration among the diverse industry all in support of developing the ecosystem necessary to foster the success of member companies. All the while tirelessly advocating for the industry to raise the awareness of Illinois as a leading technology community.

ITA's philanthropic arm, the Illinois Technology Foundation, is earnestly involved in the Chicago Academy for Advanced Technology (CAAT). The CAAT is a Chicago high school, run in collaboration with the Center for Polytechnical Education, the City of Chicago, private sector leaders, and entrepreneurs. ITA mentors students in the program through an established program providing a minimum of monthly meetings and guidance. The students, who have shown an interest and ability in technology, are supported and encouraged to continue their education in technology, building the future of the technology industry leadership in Illinois.

Overall, we feel our membership in this organization will help in improve the IT environment in Illinois and innovation throughout Illinois through fostering entrepreneurship and helping to develop our next generation of IT workers. We are proud to help with these types of activities and are happy to be a more active member of the Illinois IT community.

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