Web hosting is just the beginning
At Signal, we host the websites we design and build, and we offer a complete set of technical services to keep our websites running smoothly. Years ago we found the only way to deliver the highest levels of performance and customer service was to take full responsibility for hosting and the ongoing maintenance of our clients' web enterprises.
There're a few exceptions to this rule, but if we design it, we usually host it. And if we host it, we almost certainly designed it. Over the years this practice has expanded into a full suite of Managed Services we provide to our clients.
Signal Managed Services encompass all aspects of Internet technical services. For most of our clients we assume responsibility for everything related to their web domain including: website hosting, email hosting, site security, spam/virus filtering, traffic stats, domain hosting and DNS. Most clients have Signal manage their domain registrations in our domain registry.
Our approach is simple: We try to control and manage as much of the continuum of web presence as possible so we're the single contact point for problems. By taking responsibility for as large a set of variables as we can, Signal tries to eliminate confusion and finger pointing between vendors. This is particularly useful when there's a problem.
Signal web servers are virtual machines operating in a cloud environment with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable computing capacity in the Internet cloud. With AWS, Signal can requisition and deploy enormous computing power, storage, and other services, and gain access to an expanding suite of elastic IT infrastructure services as our clients require them.
Amazon EC2's web service interface allows Signal to obtain and configure capacity in response to changing customer demands. It provides Signal with complete control of computing resources and lets us run on Amazon's proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing Signal to quickly scale capacity — up and down — as computing requirements change.
Security is a full-time job
Signal employs the highest levels of security for customer sites, with options for PCI-compliant encrypted secure transactions, digital IDs, and password-protected areas as required. All servers are protected by firewalls and an intrusion detection system; SSL encryption is employed across the board; all credit card data is encrypted in transit and on disk for PCI and HIPAA compliance; and service availability is monitored 24x7.
- All staff passwords rotated regularly
- Security patches are monitored and applied as soon as advisable
- Servers are managed over VPN with secure protocols
- System logs are collected in a central location
- Logs and log summaries are routinely reviewed
- Service availability is routinely monitored
- All credit card data is encrypted in transit and on disk
- Server changes and upgrades are planned and managed
- All events that impact our servers are logged
We plan for failure so everything we do at Signal, we do in duplicate. Whether it's servers that constantly back each other up in the EC2 cloud, or multiple data paths that ensure connectivity to our rack under all circumstances, or dual-power supplies that guard against common electrical failure in the facility, or even our dual locations in Vermont and in the cloud, everything we do with customer data is executed redundantly with the possibility of failure constantly in mind.
This means all Signal website data is replicated up to the minute using snapshotting/replication of data volumes. Dual backups are performed nightly, one is stored in Amazon, one in Montpelier. Daily copies of backups are kept for a month, monthly copies for up to a year.
We take email very seriously
Email was the original "killer app" of the Internet, and it's no less today. For most people, email is the center of their professional universe. While it's deceptively simple in principle, email is now a mission-critical service. At Signal we think if mail is going to perform such an important service, it has to work perfectly, every time.
We offer our clients our extremely reliable BlueSignalz mail system that most users say is the best they've ever used. We also provide a convenient web-based mail interface so our clients can check their mail from any computer. We back up this with our "single contact" tech support, so our clients never have to struggle alone with configuration problems. To this we add industry-leading spam and virus filtering on all our mail accounts, so spam is kept under close control, and hackers are kept at bay.