Archive for the ‘Soluto Updates’ Category

Awesome news – We’re joining Asurion!

Hi all,

Tomer here, Soluto’s founder and CEO.

We’re very excited to announce that we’re joining Asurion, the most successful technology protection company in the world. Asurion, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, is the largest provider of support services for mobile devices, PCs and a wide range of consumer electronics.

We founded Soluto almost 6 years ago with the vision of making people happier with their technology. During this time we built an advanced technological solution using big data, crowd-sourcing analytics and device behavioral insights, creating an IT management service, beautifully designed for people. Today, Soluto is helping millions around the world to get the most out of their devices, support others and give them a hand in better understanding technology.

When we started talking to Asurion we were thrilled to find a company that shares our vision – bringing happiness to people and their technology. Partnering with the leading wireless companies, retailers and service providers, Asurion provides premier support solutions to help people understand and use technology better. We’re lucky to start a new journey as part of the incredible Asurion team and we can’t wait to touch and improve the lives of Asurion’s 280M customer base and make our shared vision a world-wide reality.

On this happy day I would first and foremost like to thank you, our users. You’ve been part of this journey together with us, and a great motivator.
As we’re joining a strong, positive force in the world, we feel this journey is just the beginning and great things are still to come. And don’t worry – Soluto will remain available for everyone so you can continue to enjoy our service as you did before :)

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the amazing Soluto team for building such an innovative, powerful and beautiful service -

Omri Haim, Merav Oren, Boaz Shetzer, Omer Baki, Anat Zelichover, Asaf Kotzer, Ilya Kogan, Oded Welgreen, Ofer Padan, Einat Kovenski, Jessica Swiatlo, Maya Shoval, Or Yagel, Doron Bashan, Dan Klausner, Mark Mininberg, Yshay Yaacobi, Jonathan Rauch, Omri Bruchim, Amir Pupko, Rotem Slootzky, Elad Aviv, Zahi Cohen, Amir Yonatan, Tal Harari, Asaf Rosen, Amitay Lev, Michal Ronen, Rotem Lanir, Bill Orr, Eliya Kaplan, Alon Spindel, Nir Soffer and Daniel Ratzabi.

Tonight – we celebrate!
Tomorrow – we’re back to working hard on building the best service in the world.

Yours,
Tomer Dvir

Soluto Team

Yes, we also like chocolate snacks

As Android recently has passed 1B devices activated, and a new chocolate bar was announced, we wanted to give you a sneak peek to our kitchen and let you see what’s cooking.

As always, we’ll be eagerly looking for early alpha users. If you’re interested in taking part just send us an email to android-is-coming@soluto.com, we’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Best,
The Soluto Team

New in Soluto – Support Windows Servers

We built Soluto to make it easy to manage devices from anywhere. Last month, we successfully launched our iOS support product into the market — and PCs, iPads, and iPhones around the world are now being managed better than ever with Soluto. Today, we’re proud to announce the latest and greatest in our growing arsenal of products: Server support. Soluto for Servers will give you the opportunity to manage Windows servers easily, from anywhere and all in one place with the rest of your devices.

Ready to try it? It’s easy to set up and you’ll be managing your servers within minutes. Also, to give you a preview, we’ve asked some of our trial customers why they like it. Here are their top 5 reasons:

1. Smart Real-time Alerts

Get real-time email alerts. For example, we’ll alert you when your disk space is running out or when your server’s CPU is overloaded for too long and more.

2. Remote access

Access your server from anywhere, anytime. Easily perform actions and maintenance jobs, even on-the-go, from your mobile device’s browser.

3. Weekly Performance reports

Receive weekly performance reports on CPU, RAM and I/O usage. Check your server’s performance trends, up time and identify activity peaks and busy days.

4. Monitoring

You can monitor your server’s health and hardware status, check current disk space, hardware specifications and install Windows Updates.

5. All devices in one place

Whether you have PCs, iPhones, iPads or Windows servers – you can manage all of them together from the same dashboard, and from any browser.

We look forward to hearing your feedback, add a server now!

Best,
The Soluto Team

Soluto’s data set – one of the largest in the technology world

In Mary Meeker’s presentation (http://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/kpcb-internet-trends-2013) on internet trends in 2013, she listed three companies that stand out in terms of data collected: Israel-based Waze, the GPS navigational app that was just acquired by Google for 1 billion dollars, has 48 million users, and records 1 billion miles driven per month; JawboneUP, the fitness bracelet, which analyzes billions of steps per day and 700k hours of sleep; and Yelp, the customer review site, which boasts 102 million users and 39 million user-generated reviews.

 A note to Mary Meeker: you missed the other big Israeli data company, Soluto :)
Not only is our data set one of the largest in the technology world, but we know how to aggregate, normalize, and analyze it in real-time to offer people all over the world a way to better manage their technology.

Every day, we have more than 500k active devices connecting to our service. Every day, those devices generate 400 million data points. That amounts to over 100 billion data points to analyze and store in our PC Genome. Further, since we recently added iOS devices, our data doesn’t just include Microsoft, but is providing a better understanding of the tech ecosystem and is evolving in leaps and bounds. We will soon release products for servers and Android devices further expanding our data set.

When the human genome was decoded, 3 billion base pairs were analyzed over ten years. Today that process can be achieved in less than one week. Companies collecting similarly large amounts of data will be poised to make the most of these huge advancements in the ability to analyze a lot of data quickly. Even just recently, Soluto’s PC Genome revealed some fascinating questions about how Oracle manages Java. And more is certainly to come.

What questions would you like to see answered by Soluto?

Soluto’s data raises questions about how Oracle manages Java

What's in the box? When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010 they also acquired, by default, one of its properties: Java, that is installed on roughly 70% of web browsers.

Java has been a hot issue in the press lately, not least because of Google and Oracle’s ongoing battle (referred to as “the world series of IP cases” by one U.S. federal judge) over whether Google’s Android operating system is infringing on Java-related patents and copyrights owned by Oracle. If appeals continue, the verdict may even be decided by the Supreme Court.

Soluto has always been Team Google in this case (mainly related to open source issues, and keeping APIs free of copyright protection so better software can be developed).
And now, Soluto has uncovered some disconcerting information for consumers about how Oracle runs its Java unit. One is reminded of Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto.

Every time a user is asked to update or install Java, Oracle bundles the Ask.com toolbar with the installation in a way showen by Ed Bott of ZDNet to be highly deceptive. We recently pulled some data from our database showing that from all Ask.com installations, 40% are caused by a Java update or install. And 30% of all Soluto users have or had the Ask.com toolbar installed on their browsers.

Why is this a problem? The toolbar takes over the browser’s default search provider and replaces it with the Ask.com search engine. Ask’s search is clearly inferior to Google’s search, giving users lower-grade search results and bombarding the user with banner ads, video ads, and in general a poor experience. It also tries to hijack the default homepage and depending on the browser – it often succeeds. Yet both Oracle and IAC make money from this installation. By our back-of-the-napkin estimate, Oracle probably makes a few hundred million dollars, and IAC makes money every time visitors click on paid ads.

The fact 59% of Soluto users choose to disable Ask.com toolbar for their customers shows how hated a piece of software this is. We believe most of the remaining 41% simply haven’t gotten to it yet.

Does Oracle fleece its customers for revenues in other ways? After two alarming quarters to shareholders, in which Oracle underperformed analysts’ expectations due to declining software license sales and cloud subscription sales, Oracle is clearly under pressure to keep profits up. Or is this simply mismanagement and more evidence that Oracle is on its way out among the elite group of tech heavyweights today?

Stay tuned for more interesting data,
The Soluto Team

We’ve just launched our business offering! (and could use your help)

Hi,

This is Tomer, founder and CEO of Soluto. We have some cool news to share and we could really use your support in spreading it around.

Earlier today, after several crazy weeks, we finally launched our new service for IT managers in small businesses and IT service providers. The new service includes some awesome new features such as remote access, chat, asset management and extended reports, and can really help IT pros become more productive and provide a better service.

Don’t worry – Soluto still has a free version, and nothing will change for existing users.

If you would like to enjoy our new features, upgrade to Pro. It’s totally worth it… and you will make us very happy :)

Wondering how you can help (and even win an iPad mini)? If you know anyone who might enjoy our new stuff, or works in IT, share Soluto them. To show our appreciation we’ll be drawing an iPad mini among those whose friends actually join and add PCs. For that to work, please share from here (you have to be a Soluto user).

Live long and prosper,

The Soluto Team

Soluto Holiday Trivia Winner

We’re happy to finally announce Chi Keung from Hong Kong as the winner of the Soluto holiday trivia.

Chi Keung is the tech support of his family, and prior to using Soluto he says he was always taking the blame for the slow boot time of their PCs, and was constantly searching for the cause of it.  Now that he uses Soluto he’s able to see a clear list of apps running on each PC he supports, and then delay or remove these apps which saves his family members lots of time.  Plus, Soluto saves him the hassle of investigating the causes of a slow boot, and helps him to explain the whole picture to his family members too.

 Chi Keung says, “It’s very convenient to set up a new computer with Soluto too: Install the software, and pick all useful software on the list, and everyone’s happy :)”

Congratulations Chi Keung on winning an iPad mini!

Click here to try it yourself!

An Apology from the Soluto Team

Last Thursday we went into about 62 hours of unexpected downtime. No matter how you tried to reach Soluto, you got to an “Under Maintenance” message.

Many people were hurt by this and many contacted us complaining they cannot support their business customers, friends, or family members. Two groups were especially affected by the downtime: business customers using Soluto to provide professional support to customers or co-workers, and those who educated the people they help to regularly use F8 to ask their PC questions (as those questions weren’t sent during the downtime).

Emotions ranged from sending us “get well” cards with pink hearts to nasty sarcastic comments. We get it. People using Soluto expect it to be up all the time to serve their own PC needs, their family’s PC needs, or their business customers’ PC needs.

So first and foremost, we’re sorry. This is unacceptable, and it’s certainly not the way we wanted  to start 2013.

The downtime was caused by technical issues our cloud service provider experienced. In a nutshell – in order to provide our service, Soluto runs on hundreds of Internet servers that we “rent” in a large data center in the US. On Thursday, that data center went down and it took us with it.

We’re learning and analyzing this event and we’re taking serious measures to make sure such events either do not happen in the future or have much softer effects on the people using Soluto.

Again, we apologize for this downtime. We hope you’ll stick with us :)

Below we’ve included a much deeper technical analysis of what happened. If you’re into tech you may find it interesting. If you’re not, beware – it may be extremely boring for you:

If you consider yourself a tech geek or even mildly interested in technology, we’d like to explain a bit about what happened, and what measures we’re taking to prevent or reduce the effect of such future events.

Let’s start by talking a bit about Soluto’s high level architecture. Soluto has 4 main pieces:

1. An agent application installed on PCs.
2. A web application through which you can manage PCs.
3. A container for all the data gathered from PCs, so it can be served to those users through the web (there’s no personal data here, only technical aspects of the PCs).
4. A database where data from different PCs is analyzed and crunched together to reach smart conclusions and recommendations about PC issues.

These relationships are roughly illustrated below:

This is naturally a gross simplification. The rectangles titled “specific PC data” and “aggregated data” each comprise of tens of different types of servers and hundreds or thousands of different types of data elements, mostly residing in key-value tables and BLOBs. Soluto currently runs on >400 servers (and growing) and writes about 100,000,000 data points every day to the cloud infrastructure. When there’s a spike in traffic, we immediately add as many servers as required. When there’s a slow day, we reduce the number of servers.

When designing our architecture, we had to choose a cloud service provider to host our servers. More specifically, we wanted to go with a cloud provider with platform-as-a-service capabilities.

There were two realistic alternatives for us:
1. Amazon Web Services
2. Microsoft Azure

Amazon is the clear leader in this market, established and experienced, used by the likes of Dropbox, Netflix and Instagram. However, we decided to go with Microsoft Azure due to various reasons, most important of which was our belief that we could develop our solution much faster on top of it. Sure, choosing Azure was a risk because it was a less mature platform than Amazon. But we knew the people running and leading the technical side of Azure personally, and we knew they are top people. In addition, we got lots of help from Microsoft by being added to their BizSpark One program: we got both great pricing and the highest level of support.

This decision paid off big time – we implemented the entire complex server architecture very quickly and it has been serving the people using Soluto for over a year now.

Now’s a time to mention a key point about being a start-up. Our most precious resource is product development time. We can buy everything else. We prioritize our work by the hour, to move as fast as possible to improve our service. Whatever we execute is always measured against what we could have otherwise executed.

We could have obviously spent time building various mechanisms to make sure that whatever happens to Azure, we’ll be able to provide our service (the extreme example would be creating a fully redundant deployment in Amazon). But that’s not the startup way. Because by doing so, we wouldn’t have created hundreds of features for our users at the same time. And for well over a year, we hadn’t experienced severe downtime except for a single case of several hours in February, but once a year is acceptable.

And then came last Thursday. What happened was that the “storage service” in Azure’s main data center went down. Machines running code could still run code, but they could not access the data. And our service is all about access to data. So, for example, when you browsed to your Soluto account, the machine responding to your browser’s request was alive, but it could not fetch your PC’s data. If you clicked on the Soluto tray again – your PC’s agent was able to reach our web service, but the web service could not reach your PC’s data. Since we didn’t have any access to the data ourselves, we could not even move parts of it to somewhere else.

In the first hour we were not really sure what went wrong, because even Azure’s service dashboard was unavailable (it’s served from the same data center that went down). But as time progressed and we were able to contact people within Microsoft, we understood there’s a severe problem with the storage service and people are working over the weekend to resolve it.

One of the worst things about this downtime is that Microsoft didn’t know how long it would take to resolve the issue, and as a result we didn’t either. Deducing from our knowledge about Amazon downtimes, we assumed it would take a couple of hours, at most a day. It took much longer. In retrospect, had we known it would take so long, we would have taken various steps to ease the effect of the downtime for our users, but we were optimistic. Too optimistic.

Some people have asked us “why don’t you backup your data so it’s available in other data centers?”. Well, Azure has an option to pay about 30% more and get what’s called “geo-replication”, which means the data is backed up and can be restored in a different data center. Are you thinking to yourselves “those cheap bastards saved on geo-replication?” – well, you’re wrong. We do pay for it. But the issue is, that restoring an entire service from a backup is a process that takes Microsoft longer than the downtime we had. We were not aware of that fact beforehand, and now we treat the geo-replication as something very different from what we used to.

So what are we going to do?

First, we are going to start migrating some of the more critical elements of our architecture to a redundant solution, some of which will probably reside on both Azure and Amazon. In addition, we’re refactoring some of our service to be storage-independent. That process will take time. As we’re still learning the results and effects of the downtime, we will surely come up with additional improvements in the near future.

We have always been big believers of transparency, we hope the information here helps clarify the situation. If you have further questions you’re welcome to contact us at info@soluto.com.

The Soluto Team

 

Happy Holidays from Soluto

In the spirit of the holiday, we’d like to thank all those who participated in Soluto Holiday Trivia. We hope you had some fun and discovered new, useful things about Soluto too.

For those who are curious about a few of the trivia answers, when the Soluton didn’t back up his files, the dog ate his family photo album, and the character pictured below appears in Soluto’s “Hello 1984”. And since you’re probably spending a lot of time with your extended family this holiday season, you might be wondering where you meet your extended family in Soluto: when you invite them to start using Soluto so you can support their PC.

We’ll be announcing the winner of the iPad mini in the upcoming week on our Facebook page, so stay tuned.

We’d like to wish those who celebrate a wonderful Christmas, and all of our users warm holiday wishes. We’re very happy to have you as part of the Soluto family, and hope that if you’ve spent this past year supporting your relatives and friends, you’ll use this holiday season as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones rather than with their PCs.

If you’re not yet supporting someone get started now. It’s the perfect free gift for your non-techie friend or family member, and a way to make giving tech help much easier for you.

Best holiday wishes,
The Soluto Team

We’re excited to announce the Microsoft Surface winners!

Back in October, we welcomed Windows 8 to the world and wanted to help you enjoy the new OS to the fullest – on a Microsoft Surface tablet. We gave you 3 ways to win and now, after weeks of suspense, we are excited to finally introduce the Surface winners.

 

1. Soluto Giveaway Winner: Lars

Recent university graduate, Lars, is a techie in every sense of the word. He spends his time reading computer science news, tinkering with home electronics, and staying up-to-date on all things tech. When it comes to computers, Lars is the go-to guy for family and friends. He helps them keep their PCs running well with the help of Soluto, as he eagerly awaits the first day of his first job since graduating. Good luck, Lars!

 

 

2. Facebook Winner: Debbie

Loving mother and doting grandmother, Debbie loves spending time with her family. On any given day you can find Debbie at her computer keeping in touch with distant relatives online, or enjoying some crocheting and cross stitching too. Debbie is looking forward to the holidays so she can spend even more quality time with her family. Happy Holidays, Debbie!

 

 

3. Windows 8 Tips & Tricks Winner: Vladimir

Vladimir is a skilled programmer who spends much of his time on his computer making useful programs for his school. But it’s not all about programming. Vladimir also finds time to play tennis, chess (virtually, that is), and, of course, study. After all, he is a straight A student. Well done!

Check out Vladimir’s winning Windows 8 tip on the Windows 8 Tips and Tricks page.

 

 

Thanks to everyone who participated and congrats to all the winners!

Want to try your luck again? Play our 12 Day Holiday Trivia for a chance to win an iPad mini. The trivia ends December 20th, so be sure not to miss it.