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      Bare Metal Cloud: Key Advantages and Critical Use Cases to Gain a Competitive Edge


      Cloud environments today are part of the IT infrastructure of most enterprises due to all the benefits they provide, including flexibility, scalability, ease of use and pay-as-you-go consumption and billing.

      But not all cloud infrastructure is the same.

      In this multicloud world, finding the right fit between a workload and a cloud provider becomes a new challenge. Application components, such as web-based content serving platforms, real-time analytics engines, machine learning clusters and Real-Time Bidding (RTB) engines integrating dozens of partners, all require different features and may call for different providers. Enterprises are looking at application components and IT initiatives on a project by project basis, seeking the right provider for each use case. Easy cloud-to-cloud interconnectivity allows scalable applications to be distributed over infrastructure from multiple providers.

      Bare Metal cloud is a deployment model that provides unique and valuable advantages, especially compared to the popular virtualized/VM cloud models that are common with hyperscale providers. Let’s explore the benefits of the bare metal cloud model and highlight some use cases where it offers a distinctive edge.

      Advantages of the Bare Metal Cloud Model

      Both bare metal cloud and the VM-based hyperscale cloud model provide flexibility and scalability. They both allow for DevOps driven provisioning and the infrastructure-as-code approach. They both help with demand-based capacity management and a pay-as-you-go budget allocation.

      But bare metal cloud has unique advantages:

      Customizability
      Whether you need NVMe storage for high IOPS, a specific GPU model, or a unique RAM-to-CPU ratio or RAID level, bare metal is highly customizable. Your physical server can be built to the unique specifications required by your application.

      Dedicated Resources
      Bare Metal cloud enables high-performance computing, as no virtualization is used and there is no hypervisor overhead. All the compute cycles and resources are dedicated to the application.

      Tuned for Performance
      Bare metal hardware can be tuned for performance and features, be it disabling hyperthreading in the CPU or changing BIOS and IPMI configurations. In the 2018 report, Price-Performance Analysis: Bare Metal vs. Cloud Hosting, INAP Bare Metal was tested against IBM and Amazon AWS cloud offerings. In Hadoop cluster performance testing, INAP’s cluster completed the workload 6% faster than IBM Cloud’s Bare Metal cluster and 6% faster than AWS’s EC2 offering, and 3% faster than AWS’s EMR offering.

      Additional Security on Dedicated Machine Instances
      With a bare metal server, security measures, like full end-to-end encryption or Intel’s Trusted Execution and Open Attestation, can be easily integrated.

      Full Hardware Control
      Bare metal servers allow full control of the hardware environment. This is especially important when integrating SAN storage, specific firewalls and other unique appliances required by your applications.

      Cost Predictability
      Bare metal server instances are generally bundled with bandwidth. This eliminates the need to worry about bandwidth cost overages, which tend to cause significant variations in cloud consumption costs and are a major concern for many organizations. For example, the Price Performance Analysis report concluded that INAP’s Bare Metal machine configuration was 32 percent less expensive than the same configuration running on IBM Cloud. The report can be found for download here.

      Efficient Compute Resources
      Bare metal cloud offers more cost-effective compute resources when compared to the VM-based model for similar compute capacity in terms of cores, memory and storage.

      Bare Metal Cloud Workload Application Use Cases

      Given these benefits, a bare metal cloud provides a competitive advantage for many applications. Feedback from customers indicates it is critical for some use cases. Here is a long—but not exhaustive—list of use cases:

      • High-performance computing, where any overhead should be avoided, and hardware components are selected and tuned for maximum performance: e.g., computing clusters for silicon chip design.
      • AdTech and Fintech applications, especially where Real-Time Bidding (RTB) is involved and speedy access to user profiles and assets data is required.
      • Real-time analytics/recommendation engine clusters where specific hardware and storage is needed to support the real-time nature of the workloads.
      • Gaming applications where performance is needed either for raw compute or 3-D rendering. Hardware is commonly tuned for such applications.
      • Workloads where database access time is essential. In such cases, special hardware components are used, or high performance NVMe-based SAN arrays are integrated.
      • Security-oriented applications that leverage unique Intel/AMD CPU features: end-to-end encryption including memory, trust execution environments, etc.
      • Applications with high outbound bandwidth usage, especially collaboration applications based on real-time communications and webRTC platforms.
      • Cases where a dedicated compute environment is needed either by policy, due to business requirements or for compliance.
      • Most applications where compute resource usage is steady and continuous, the application is not dependent on PaaS services, the hardware footprint size is considerable, and cost is a limiting concern.

      Is Bare Metal Your Best Fit?

      Bare Metal cloud provides many benefits when compared to virtualization-based cloud offerings.

      Bare Metal allows for high performance computing with a highly customizable hardware resources that can be tuned up for maximum performance. It offers a dedicated compute environment with more control on the resources and more security in a cost-effective way.

      Bare metal cloud can be an attractive solution to consider for your next workload or application and it is a choice validated and proven by some of the largest enterprises with mission-critical applications.

      Interested in learning more about INAP Bare Metal?

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      Layachi Khodja


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      How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips)


      Search engines can make or break websites. Getting your site to show up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) often isn’t enough. You also have to get people’s attention, so they’ll click on your links over the hundreds of other options.

      At their core, meta descriptions give potential visitors an overview of what kind of content they can expect. They tend to be just a few lines long, so small differences in the way you write your meta descriptions can be enough to boost your click-through rate significantly.

      In this article, we’re going to talk about what meta descriptions are, why they’re necessary, and what elements they should include. Then we’ll walk you through five tips to ensure that your meta descriptions hit home every time. Let’s get to it!

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      An Introduction to Meta Descriptions

      Meta descriptions are the snippets of text you see underneath the title within SERPs, as in the example below.

      Two examples of meta descriptions.

      The main goal of a good meta description is to give you an idea of what the page is all about. Naturally, titles also play a vital role here, but there’s only so much information you can fit into a single headline.

      Meta descriptions provide you with up to a couple of sentences to expand on your page’s content. You can either write them yourself or have search engines generate them automatically based on each user’s search query.

      As convenient as having search engines do the work for you sounds, however, we strongly recommend that you write your own meta descriptions. That way, you get full control over what shows up on the SERPs and on social media sites while also increasing your chances of engaging users.

      Let’s take a look at some meta description examples for a specific line of shoes. You can tell the meta description below was generated automatically, and it doesn’t give you much to go on.

      An example of an unoptimized meta description.

      Here’s another result for the same product search, this one using a stronger meta description.

      An example of an optimized meta description.

      It’s important to understand that meta descriptions only give you a limited number of characters to play with. On desktops, that can be up to 158 characters, whereas mobile users will only see 120 of them. Roughly speaking, that means you get about two lines of text.

      Why Meta Descriptions Are Important

      Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about competition. You compete against every other site that appears within the results pages for a given search, each hoping to get the lion’s share of the clicks.

      When it comes to the SERPs, several factors determine how many views your links get, including:

      • The title you use
      • Whether it’s a rich snippet or not
      • If it appears within an answer box
      • The position of your pages
      • Your meta descriptions

      Out of all those factors, you get full control over three of them: your title, schema markup, and meta descriptions. It’s only logical that you should optimize those elements as much as possible.

      If you take another look at the previous section, you’ll notice just how much of a difference a good meta description can make. Letting search engines generate yours will often result in descriptions that look like gibberish.

      What to Include in a Meta Description

      Two lines of text aren’t much, but more often than not, it’s enough to cover a few key elements. Most often, this should include:

      • What your page is about
      • How it can benefit the reader

      If a meta description is too vague, then you’re not selling users on the idea of visiting your website. You’ll still get clicks, of course, but not as many as you might have otherwise.

      Let’s say, for example, that you wanted to write a meta description for this article. Here’s a not-so-good example:

      Have you ever wondered what meta descriptions are? Wonder no more, because we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

      While it hits on the article’s primary topic, it doesn’t do a good job of previewing the page’s actual content. Now let’s give it another go, keeping in mind the fundamental elements we want to include:

      Meta descriptions are key to any site’s SEO. In this article, we’ll break down why and help you optimize your own descriptions. Read on to find out more!

      This is short and to the point, and we even had enough characters left over to include a simple Call to Action (CTA). It may not win any literary awards, but it will get the job done.

      How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips)

      At this point, you know the basics of what a meta description should include. However, if you want your descriptions to really hit home, here are five tips to help you optimize them further.

      1. Use Relevant Keywords

      If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the concept of keywords. Ideally, you’ll use them organically throughout all of your content, and that includes metadata such as your descriptions.

      Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing a recipe and you want to optimize it for the search term “how to cook a healthy lasagna.” That’s an easy to term to work into a meta description:

      Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. Let’s go over a recipe you can cook in under two hours!

      Including keywords within your meta descriptions is a smart SEO practice. It gives search engines a better idea of what your content is all about. However, as always, make sure to work those meta keywords in organically. That means not stuffing your descriptions full of keywords; make your description still reads like something a human (not a bot) would write.

      2. Don’t Obsess Over the Character Count

      So far, most of the examples we’ve shown you have come in well under the maximum character count for the major search engines. You want to get some mileage out of your meta descriptions, but in practice, obsessing over the character count isn’t as serious as you might think.

      To build on our earlier example of a healthy lasagna recipe, you could easily expand on its description to cover more information:

      Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook faster and feed up to four people.

      That example goes over the character limit for both desktop and mobile meta descriptions in Google. In practice, it would get cut off and look something like this:

      Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook …

      That snippet still provides plenty of information, so you don’t necessarily need to change it. What matters is that you include the essential details early on, so whatever does get cut off is just supplementary information.

      3. Optimize for Rich Snippets

      Most search results look pretty dull — a sea of titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. However, in some cases, your results will look a bit more lively.

      Three examples of carbonara recipes with rich snippets.

      Those are examples of rich snippets. To create them, you add structured data markup to your pages, providing more information on what their content includes. Search engines can recognize that information and structure your results accordingly.

      This practice offers two key benefits:

      1. Your pages will look more engaging within the SERPs.
      2. You get to add a ton of extra information to your results, without needing to count characters.

      For a real example, let’s take a look at the results for “how to cook a healthy lasagna.”

      Two healthy lasagna recipes with rich snippets.

      Two of the top results are featured snippets. Without even clicking on them, you can see an image, cooking time, rating, and even the number of calories in the recipe.

      Keep in mind that not all types of content lend themselves well to rich snippets. However, they’re pretty easy to implement, once you know how to add the right structured data markup to your pages.

      4. Avoid Duplicates

      When it comes to meta descriptions, there are two kinds of potential duplicates. It’s good practice to avoid both of them:

      1. Mimicking other sites’ descriptions
      2. Having several of your pages use the same description

      Overall, duplicate content is almost always bad news when it comes to SEO. Moreover, it can hurt your click-through rate if you have several pages competing for the same search terms.

      For practical purposes, there’s no reason all of your pages shouldn’t have unique meta descriptions. If it takes you more than a couple of minutes to write one, then you’re probably overthinking it.

      5. Use Interesting Words

      Most meta descriptions are pretty boring, at least linguistically speaking. The need to cover so much information in such a limited space doesn’t lend itself well to innovation.

      One way to make your meta descriptions stand out is by using compelling language. To do that, take a look at what other websites are writing for the keywords you want to rank for. Let’s say, for example, that you’re looking for a cast iron pizza recipe.

      A lot of the content will be similar, which means their meta descriptions will share elements as well. However, not all descriptions are equally effective.

      Some examples of cast iron pizza recipes.

      Some of our favorite hits from the above example include the words ‘crispy,’ ‘buttery,’ and ‘chewy.’ There are five results here, but the first and last stand out due to their word choices.

      Think about it this way — if you’re staring at that page trying to decide which recipe to follow, you’ll probably pick the one that sounds more delicious. At that stage, you don’t know how good the recipe will be, so your only indicators are the title tag, picture, and word choice in the meta description.

      Search Result Focus

      When you boil it down, SEO is a competition. You’ll never be the only website within a niche, so you need to look for ways to make your pages stand out in the SERPs. Fortunately, an informative, unique meta description is a great way to catch potential visitors’ eyes.

      Are you looking for a hosting plan that can handle all the traffic your improved meta descriptions will send your way? Check out our shared hosting options!



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      How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success


      Designing a website is easier than it has ever been. Long gone are the days of manual coding and restrictive print-based layouts. Today, almost anyone can create a gorgeous, responsive, functional site in minutes — as long as you know where to start.

      Fortunately, the basics of website design are relatively easy to understand if you apply some common sense and careful planning. Your goal should always be to create a site that’s not just visually striking but is also easy to navigate and use.

      In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of designing a website and show you how to get started with six key tips. We’ll also introduce you to the Remixer website builder and demonstrate how you can use this tool to create a site quickly and easily.

      1. Plan Your Design Thoroughly

      Before you do anything, you’ll need a concrete and thorough plan. At this stage, you should clearly define your goals and expectations for your site and outline what you hope to accomplish with it.

      Here are just a few of the questions you’ll want to have clear answers to:

      1. Is the site personal or commercial?
      2. Do you want it to make money and if so, how?
      3. Will you be using advertisements or affiliate marketing?
      4. How much traffic are you expecting?

      Put your thoughts and ideas down on paper and start drawing up a plan. We mean that literally, by the way. A smart method of planning your site is to create sketches of how you want it to look and operate. You should also take everyone’s ideas into account if you’re working with other designers or collaborators.

      By the end of your planning phase, you should have a blueprint of the site’s top-level framework. This includes a plan for its user interface (UI), sidebars, and other page elements, as well as an idea of how navigation will work. Doing this first will make it much easier to bring your vision to life.

      2. Create Your Site’s Visual Identity

      When you’ve got an idea of what the structure of your site will be, it’s time to look at its appearance. You’ll need to choose the fonts and typography you’ll want to use. If you’re working from an established brand identity, consider how your choices match up to offline materials. It’s also worth exploring how well the fonts you choose work with multiple languages and how effectively they scale up and down on differently-sized screens.

      You’ll also need to decide on a color scheme. Again, if you’re creating a site based on a brand with an established visual identity, you’ve done most of the hard work already. Otherwise, picking a color scheme requires you to consider color theory and ensure your choices are accessible.

      Thinking about the ‘feel’ you want your site to have can make this decision easier. Colors represent different emotions and meanings, after all. For example, red is typically seen as an aggressive and impulsive color, while green is associated with health and the environment. You should take time to choose your colors carefully since they can help you create a cohesive visual identity.

      3. Consider the Layout and Navigation

      If you planned ahead as we discussed earlier, this step will be a lot easier. You’ve already considered how navigation will work on your site. It’s now time to dig deeper and think about your visitor’s journey.

      The visitor’s journey refers to the possible paths that people can take on your website. In other words, you’ll need to consider how users will access other parts of the site from any given page. After all, you won’t always have control over how users first arrive on your site, so you can’t just rely on a homepage to serve as your hub. Navigation needs to be available across your site, and it has to be accessible and easy-to-use.

      You also need to plan out the layout of each page carefully. To do this, ask yourself what each page on your site is trying to achieve. For example, if you want people to fill out a contact form, you’ll need a strong CallTo-Action (CTA) button. Your CTA should always be prominent and clear.

      Every element on a page should be designed to promote the overall goal. It’s best to start simple and add elements over time to ensure you aren’t adding unneeded information or features.

      4. Pay Attention to the Details

      When you’ve completed the overall design and layout of your site, it’s time to shrink your scope and focus on the details. These are the seemingly minor things that create the general look and feel of your site, such as buttons, menus, image placements, and so forth.

      Treat each component on your site as a stand-alone object and give it proper attention. This is the kind of precise work that can seem excessive but will greatly help to refine your site overall. Your goal should be to make the final product better than the sum of its parts, and spending appropriate time and effort on those parts is the best strategy.

      One way you can make your site ‘pop’ is by adding engaging elements like microinteractions. We’ve previously discussed that these are a popular trend — and for good reason. They help make your site feel more interactive and living since it’s able to respond to the user in small ways.

      You should also work on avoiding common mistakes, such as bad font rendering and poor color contrast. These are the kinds of issues that are easy to miss if you don’t get up-close with the individual components of your site. For that reason, make sure you give them the attention they require.

      5. Prototype and Share Your Design

      Prototyping is an important part of the design process. A prototype is simply a demo version of your site that you can share with others. It can be presented as images or you can create a static HTML representation of how each page is meant to look with little-to-no functionality.

      Creating a prototype is an important way to give others an idea of what the site will look like when it’s done. If you’re working for a client, they will naturally want an overview of your plans and the chance to suggest changes. You should, therefore, show them a prototype early on so they can provide feedback. This will save you time down the line, as they won’t be surprised or displeased with your work when it’s nearing completion.

      One thing to remember: site builders make creating a site so quick and easy that you often don’t need a separate prototype. You’ll be able to quickly put together a new idea and solicit feedback from others without creating a demo (more on this later).

      6. Challenge Yourself and Be Willing to Experiment

      Finally, remember that web design is a creative endeavor, and you should always be willing to challenge yourself. This applies when you’re creating your first website or your 50th. For example, you can consider new ways of approaching a particular design goal. Maybe you’ll experiment with different color schemes, images, or a more accessible navigation layout.

      This step is more important than it might seem. Not only will it help you to grow as a creator, but it will also give you an extra incentive to find new solutions. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Giving yourself a challenge in each new project is an excellent way to keep yourself focused and invested in your work.

      One smart way to get started is by finding inspiration in recent design trends. You can consider how you can implement those trends yourself or even improve on them.

      How to Design a Website With Remixer

      When it comes time to put the tips we’ve discussed into practice, you’ll need the right tool for the job. With that in mind, allow us to introduce Remixer. This is a website builder that requires no coding and enables you to create your site using an intuitive visual editor.

      The best thing about Remixer is that it enables anyone, regardless of experience, to create a website using the basics we’ve outlined throughout this article. With Remixer, you don’t need to know your way around HTML, CSS, PHP, or any other coding language to create functional and visually-striking websites.

      To start using Remixer, you just need to sign up for a free account. When you have signed in, you can start creating your site in two ways. The first is to choose a theme.

      When you hover over a theme, you can either preview it or select it as your starting point. This will open the Remixer editor, which we’ll look at soon. However, you can also choose the Create option in the upper right-hand corner. This will instead give you the choice of three different types of website.

      After you select one, you’ll be able to choose your site’s color palette. Remember to consider color psychology when making your decisions. You can select an option to see a preview of how it will look.

      Next, you can click on the Choose Images link in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. This will enable you to select a series of stock images to use on your site. You will be able to replace these later, so consider them more as a guide for yourself as you design your site’s appearance.

      Finally, you’ll select Choose Fonts to proceed to the next step. As you might imagine, this is where you’ll pick the fonts to use on your site. Find and select a font pair that matches the visual identity you’ve settled on.

      When you’re happy with your choices, click Preview Site. You’ll now be shown a snapshot of how your site will look. To preserve your preferences, select Save and edit this site. This will open your site in the Remixer editor, where you can edit its layout and content freely.

      Remixer is a click-to-edit builder. So to make any changes, you just need to click on an element on the page. For example, to update text, you just need to select it and make changes right in the editor.

      Other elements, such as images, can be changed with the menu on the left. Select the element you want to manage, and relevant settings will appear in this menu.

      To add new elements to the page, click the New buttons, which appear between existing sections. This will expand a selector, where you can pick the element you want to add to the page.

      At this point, you can freely make changes to your site. Every edit will be shown in real-time so it’s easy to experiment and see how your changes will affect the final result. As long as you remember the tips we’ve discussed throughout this article, you should be only a short time away from creating an excellent website with all the functionality you require!

      Need a Beautiful Website?

      Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.

      Ready to Design Your Site?

      Even if you’ve never touched a line of code in your life, you can still create a great-looking, functional website. All it takes is understanding the basics of what makes a successful site and using an intuitive tool like the Remixer website builder to put it all into practice.



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