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      GratITude: Going Above and Beyond Prevents a COVID-19 Outbreak

      Today, we’re continuing our GratITude Series, highlighting the hard-working members of our data center and IT teams in essential roles powering a connected world. Their dedication enables our thousands of global customers to successfully operate their businesses in good times and in times of immense challenge. None of us could do what we do without them, and here we’ll share their stories.

      Agility and adaptability have been the name of the game for data center operators when it comes to keeping up business as usual during the pandemic. As restrictions start to lift in the U.S. and a semblance of normalcy returns, we’d be remiss in not recognizing the hard work of INAP’s dedicated data center ops teams to keep our customers online while staying safe and healthy. Policies were put in place to keep both staff and customers safe, but when an unknowingly COVID-19 positive customer entered INAP’s flagship Phoenix data center, a dedicated supervisor stepped up to keep his team safe from exposure. Read on to learn how INAP handled the situation to keep our data center and customers operating at peak performance.

      A Typical Day in the Data Center

      Lawrence Welsch
      Lawrence Welsch, Data Center Operations Supervisor at INAP’s flagship Phoenix data center.

      Data Center Operations Supervisor Lawrence Welsch joined INAP three years ago, just as the company was opening our flagship Phoenix data center. He began his work life as a cable technician at just 11 years old, when he began helping his dad in the field. At 20, he became a foreman at an install company that worked on builds for companies like Walmart and Staples. Welsch made his way to INAP after spending 13 years working for Acuative, a third-party Sysco vendor.

      Welsch brought those years of experience to the Phoenix data center. On a typical day, he covers various aspects of data center operations, everything from shipping and receiving t

      o cleaning. When he arrives on site, Welsch runs a pass down with his team, ensuring everything is in order and checking in on the work orders submitted by customers.

      Much of his time is spent quoting jobs and building out drawings for potential customer space, working with customers off-site at INAP’s remote areas throughout the market and working with INAP’s vendors for the site. And, as with most jobs, he spends time answering a lot of emails.

      There’s no end to the work, especially to keep customers online and performing at the highest level. But throughout the pandemic, and especially for a 24 hour+ period in January 2020, the workday was anything but typical.

      Preventing a COVID Outbreak

      Setting strong COVID-19 policies to keep staff and visitors safe in the data center was not a cut and dry process. In the initial weeks of the pandemic, the news on the virus and the local regulations around it continued to shift. INAP management worked with any incoming regulations and adapted and tweaked policies as needed with the input of the teams on the ground in the data centers.

      “We had a good amount of support from upper management,” said Welsch. “They worked with us to try to eliminate potential threats from entering the facility and put out notifications accordingly.”

      INAP locked down all biometric readers and disabled them, beefing up security for a visual and a verbal login to prevent the virus from being spread via touch. There was a mask mandate and the number of people coming to visit the site was limited. The INAP team onsite helped prevent unnecessary customer visits, but small groups of visitors were allowed on site for essential work.

      Even with the strictest policies in place, an unknowingly positive customer came to work in the data center, exposing on site staff members to the virus. The news of this exposure came in the middle of Welsch’s shift.

      “We made sure that anyone who was near this employee got sent home,” Welsch recalls. “We locked down the facility and I cleaned it head to toe myself. Security went through and cleaned all the areas that might’ve been potentially infected outside of the containment zone. We even called up an in-house cleaning company to come in and do a sterilization spray throughout the facility.”

      Welsch then called his wife to bring him an overnight bag and a blow-up mattress. He ended up staying onsite for about 29 hours straight to ensure his team did not have to come in and risk exposure. “The longer the wait, the better,” he said.

      These actions eliminated much of the threat. The unexposed team members stayed secure in the bullpen, or office, where they could monitor the building’s systems and answer phone calls and emails as needed.

      Welsch never ended up contracting the COVID-19.

      Above and Beyond at INAP’s Flagship Phoenix Data Center

      This isn’t the first time that Welsch has gone above and beyond in his role at INAP.

      “He continually steps up to work additional hours outside of his normal schedule to cover extra shifts, including weekends where we have to have an engineer on site 24/7,” said Greg Cash, Senior Director, Data Center Operations. “This is a 24/7 market and when we have a limited amount of data center engineers available for shift coverage, his willingness to go above and beyond is incredible.”

      Cash notes that Welsch covers the Phoenix market for all the other partner locations INAP supports Welsch has also consistently supported one of INAP’s largest customers and has been instrumental in helping the site stay in compliance.

      INAP Phoenix data centers

      “Lawrence has become a real go-to and has shown that he takes his site supervisor role very seriously and cares about the facility and the staff,” said Cash. “He puts in the extra hours and leads by example.”

      It’s because of hardworking and dedicated team members like Lawrence Welsch that INAP can ensure our customers’ needs are met and exceeded. We could not succeed without employees who are willing to go above and beyond to allow our customers to meet their goals and continue to innovate, even in unusual and challenging times.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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      IT Professionals Find Optimism Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

      INAP’s Senior Vice President, Product & Technology, Jennifer Curry, appeared as a guest on a recent episode of TechStrong TV, a web series produced by the editors of and Digital Anarchist. Curry discusses INAP’s latest research about the pandemic’s impact on IT infrastructure strategies, the prominence of security solutions in 2021 and the importance of visibility in managed services.

      Check out Curry’s segment with Charlene O’Hanlon of MediaOps below:

      Curry spoke on findings from INAP’s third-annual State of IT Infrastructure Management report, noting that IT professionals now feel their colleagues view them as essential due to the pandemic. In the previous year’s survey, IT pros reported feeling bogged down by mundane tasks and lacked the time to champion innovations for their organizations.

      “The feeling among IT staff is optimistic about their place inside the company,” Curry said. “[Infrastructure demand] was unprecedented and it afforded a lot of optimism and creativity—opportunity for folks to showcase a different side of IT and where we fit.”

      Even as the world returns to some sense of “normal,” IT will continue to find optimism in the call for innovation. There will be less of a focus on scale as sights shift to how infrastructure is pulled together and how people will interact with it moving forward. Curry noted that there will especially be an emphasis for security solutions to protect hybrid infrastructures.

      “Security is a layered approach,” said Curry. “It’s not one and done. It’s not one solution. It’s layers against those different components of the infrastructure.”

      Network, data and OS security figured prominently as an area that companies need help managing, with 35 percent of survey respondents noting this as a vital quality of infrastructure solutions since the beginning of the pandemic. Service providers can help build layers of security to ensure infrastructure solutions are safe and compliant.

      Curry noted that cybersecurity strategies will become more and more complex as a company’s attack surface grows and data collected at the edge goes back to the core. Providers will bring their expertise from working with so many different clients and environments to figure out the best methods to protect and secure that data and infrastructure.

      “One of the really critical items for CTOs, IT directors and application managers will be the visibility into everything going on that they’re not controlling,” Curry said. “You want to know. You want to be confident and want to see what your partners are doing.”

      In November of 2020, INAP furthered its efforts to achieve unprecedented managed cloud visibility with the latest release of its Intelligent Monitoring service, which is now available for Bare Metal and Dedicated Private Cloud customers.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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      Cyber Threats Don’t Shut Down for COVID-19

      Today we are pleased to welcome guest blogger Tony Bradley, Senior Manager of Content Marketing for Alert Logic, INAP’s trusted managed security partner and expert in cloud security for financial services customers.
      – Wendy Williams, Product Manager, INAP

      Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are living in a different world now than the one we had at the beginning of 2020. Everything has changed in terms of how businesses communicate and operate, but some things haven’t changed. In spite of the dramatic shift in the world in general, it is still business as usual for cyber attacks and cybersecurity.

      Everything Has Changed for Companies

      Companies of all sizes and across all industries have been forced to find ways to remain productive and keep the business going while suddenly working with an entirely remote workforce.

      What does that mean from a cybersecurity perspective? It means that users who were previously sitting in an office using company-issued computers connected to a company-managed network are now getting their work done on a random collection of personal and business devices connected to the public internet over their home Wi-Fi networks. The complexity of the environment has skyrocketed, and the exposed attack surface has expanded exponentially.

      Cyber Attacks Are on the Rise

      As challenging as things have been this year for businesses and individuals, the reality is that cyber attackers don’t care about the COVID-19 pandemic, or whether you’re quarantined or not. On the contrary, the chaos and confusion of the sudden shift to working remote and the expansion of the attack surface represent a major opportunity for attackers to exploit.

      Most users are more exposed on their home networks and lack the filters and security controls that exist on a corporate network. The unprecedented situation we are facing has changed standard processes and methods of communication, making it more difficult to determine what is legitimate and what seems suspicious. Employees are also anxious for information and more likely to click on links or open attachments they shouldn’t. As a result, attackers have ramped up phishing, ransomware and business email compromising attacks.

      The Need for Visibility and Vigilance

      It is more important than ever for organizations to have visibility of all endpoints and all activity. That means increasing visibility to encompass the dramatically expanded attack surface, including personal endpoints connected to remote networks. Increased focus on suspicious activity on cloud platforms and cloud-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications is also necessary.

      It’s also critical to understand that attackers don’t have business hours. Not only is it always the middle of the day somewhere on the planet, but many attacks—at least the initial exploit that gets attackers through the door—are automated and run around the clock. Organizations need to be vigilant, and that means having security experts monitoring endpoints and activity 24/7 to identify and respond to suspicious or malicious activity.

      Value of MDR

      Businesses have enough to worry about, and very few have the tools or people necessary for effective cybersecurity. This is especially true given the COVID-19 pandemic and expanded attack surface of users connecting from personal devices and home networks. The best strategy is to stay focused on the core strengths of the company and satisfying customers, while engaging with a trusted partner to provide the cybersecurity visibility and vigilance you need.

      Working with a managed detection and response (MDR) provider enables an organization to get the protection and peace of mind they need. INAP and Alert Logic have a strong partnership and provide deep, focused cybersecurity expertise to keep your networks and data safe and give you confidence in your cybersecurity even during these unprecedented times.

      Tony Bradley

      About the Author

      Tony Bradley is Senior Manager of Content Marketing for Alert Logic. Tony worked in the trenches as a network administrator and security consultant before shifting to the marketing and writing side of things. He is an 11-time Microsoft MVP in security and cloud and has been a CISSP-ISSAP since 2002. Tony has authored or co-authored a dozen books on IT and IT security topics, and is a prolific contributor to online media sites such as Forbes and

      Wendy Williams
      • Product Manager, Private Cloud and Security Services


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