Moments from the Customer Barbeque
In the third week of August each year, hundreds of internet subscribers convene at the PEAK office in Corvallis to meet and greet the team that provides their internet service. This event is the Customer Appreciation Barbeque, an annual gathering that gives PEAK employees the opportunity to give thanks for customer patronage and to provide a personable, human aspect to the service purchased from PEAK.
Providing a centralized source for surge filtered and redundant electricity, the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) is easily the most critical infrastructure component of a data center. This critical disposition makes an upgrade to a data center a complex and tedious task, especially when maintaining uptime is crucial.
PEAK’s engineers have been planning and evaluating an upgrade to a new UPS to replace the aging unit currently in place. After careful consideration, a unit was selected that will occupy less space in the data center and provide more capacity for equipment. The process to upgrade to this new unit will start early in the morning and be finalized several hours later, as the plan dicatates.
General steps involved with this upgrade include:
• Starting back-up generator and transferring all services from data center to the generator.
• Moving UPS equipment into data center in a staging position.
• Ensuring all phases on current UPS are ready for back feed. Bypass current UPS and shut it down.
• Initialize new equipment and switch power cables from old unit to the new unit.
• Remove the old UPS and position the new UPS into new space.
• Complete start-up procedures on new UPS unit and transfer load from temporary bypass circuit.
• Shut down generator and transfer load from generator to city grid power.
Originally scheduled for late August, an equipment inventory issue forced a delay in the UPS upgrade project. The next available timeframe is coming up this month, October 8th and 9th. This project will resume along with the originally laid plans and no outage is expected.
Summer is starting to show signs of emerging and I hope you have all had an opportunity to enjoy this long overdue good weather. The summer season marks the beginning of a string of local events that PEAK supports and participates in, from county fairs to country music concerts and local art festivals. We encourage you to partic- ipate as well; you can find a calendar of all these events on the PEAK blog. Take a look and don’t miss out.
April proved to be a busy month for all of us at PEAK Internet. We just finished the first fiscal quarter and are already immersed in the projects coming up for the rest of the year. We also had people traveling all over the country attending conferences, staying up to date on all the best practices in our industry.
The changing broadband marketplace
What did we learn and what are what are we working on? It is apparent that the broadband marketplace is changing and new technologies are emerging that will bring an increasing amount of your home-based services direct to your internet-enabled devices. If you can, envision a world where your broadband connection delivers not only internet, television, and telephone, but also home security/surveillance, power consumption information, and a host of other home applications via cloud computing delivery. I feel PEAK is well positioned to offer all these services in coordination with our affiliates in telephone and electric cooperatives. As always, look for these partnerships to provide the best value along with local service.
One recurring theme from all the travels of the last month was the evolution of video and how the user experience continues to change. Specifically, at a DirecTV dealer conference last month, we learned about all the new functionality being added to their already feature-rich TV platform. The most notable additions include a Multiple Room Viewing option that allows content to be viewed throughout the household, from one HDDVR set. This service aug- ments the multiple television household and increases the ease of access to stored program- ming. Secondly, DirecTV is expanding its OnDemand movie offering with the addition of DirecTV Cinema, a movie service similar to Netflix. There are many more newsworthy announcements from the DirecTV conference readable on the blog.
Video is obviously a critical component of PEAK’s service offering and one that we want to get right. DirecTV has been a valuable add-on offered by PEAK for nearly two years and I hope all of you that are interested take advantage of the exclusive discounts we are able to provide. ESPN 3 (formerly ESPN 360) has been a success to this point and offers sports fans an online portal to thousands of live sporting events. In addition to these two options, internally we have been testing several Over-The-Top (OTT) video OnDemand services in search of the right complement or replacement for tra- ditional television service. We are hoping to have a service available to you later this year, but before we make a bold dash in any direc- tion, I would like to get your input. What type of video services are you interested in? What type of platform do you prefer and what are you willing to pay, if anything? Please help us out by taking a quick survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3RYJXBH that will give us some general direction in the world of video.
PEAK giving back
Lastly this month, I would like to note the following organizations that PEAK spon- sored or provided financial assistance to in the first quarter of year. They are: The Children’s Miracle Network, Santiam Spokes, The Diabetic Youth Foundation, The Monroe Community Library, and the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. Personally, I have also joined the Safe Haven Humane Society’s, “Imagine the Possibilities,” fund raising committee to raise funds for a new facility in Albany.
As always, if you have any questions or comments please let me know. Have a great month and remember to honor your mothers on May 9th!
It’s great to see the sun shining and plants blooming, these are truly signs that spring is here in Oregon. Spring brings to mind many different activities — for some it marks a break from school, for others a time to clean the house and perhaps a family vacation. At PEAK, spring marks a time for us to celebrate another year of success and to honor our standout employees at the annual PEAK awards banquet. Each year our annual awards banquet is a time for PEAK’s employees to get together and celebrate as an organization. Our goal is to honor those employees that best exemplify our ideals of quality service and those that innovate within their position. We have over forty employees at PEAK and we need each one of them to help carry this organization forward. Each year I’m proud of what our award recipients have achieved to make PEAK a better Internet service provider. There’s no doubt that some of you might recognize some of the award recipients from various interactions. Gary Held, one of our longest tenured Technical Support Representatives, won the prestigious Employee of the Year award. Newcomer David Regan, won the Rookie of the Year award. David, a Systems Administrator, has been diligently working on our email operations, including the Red Condor migration and soon the move to a new email platform. Alan Batie was awarded the President’s Award, a special honor I specifically choose each year. In addition to these honorees, we also had Quality of Service candidates awarded at our ceremony for outstanding service.
Customer Survey Results We finally wrapped up the customer satisfaction survey this month. From an overall standpoint, I am glad to report that the majority of respondents reported the quality of service PEAK is providing as either “Excellent” or “Good.” I am also very happy to report that in a general sense, feedback indicates that our service is regarded to be improving, which implies sentiments that customers appreciate the effort we put into the daily tasks of providing Internet.
We’re not taking these results for granted and understand that with the good comes the bad. There is some great constructive criticism from the survey that will allow us to be proactive in areas where we need to serve customers better. Regarding these constructive criticisms, look for upgrades to the web email platform in the near future and also the option for an online payment interface. I also acknowledge comments regarding the need for better spam filtering. These are the issues that constantly plague Internet providers in general and we are not immune. I do, however, promise that PEAK will be constantly working to remedy these issues. This is what makes PEAK different, the promise to continue working on issues and to remain transparent with our communications.
I have one last observation from the survey regarding additional services PEAK should refine or offer in the next year. From the list of options there were five selections that stood out in importance and it was reassuring to see our priorities match up almost identically with the feedback. In fact, for many of the selections we already have offerings in place. The email client overhaul is well underway and a television over broadband offering is currently being tested. Additionally, if you currently have a ClearAccess modem at your residence, managed wireless and a hardware firewall are already available. This is truly insightful and we’re pleased to see the alignment between customer feedback and our strategic initiatives.
Have a great Easter!
The first few weeks of the year were a flurry of activity. I mentioned last month all the different objectives we had for 2010 and now we’re in full stride. This month I have several great announcements and updates from all areas of our organization, who are working hard to bring you the best service possible.
You’ll notice a few of these changes right now with this newsletter. I hope you like the new design which resembles the website and the current PEAK brand more closely. The new layout also incorporates the PEAK blog which is one of the main ways we will be conveying information and updates moving forward. We’re hopeful this will leverage the inherent interactive elements of the blogging software to create dialogue around topics we write about. We look forward to hearing your comments.
On that note, we have several updates this month and initiatives we’ll be working towards over the next month. I would like to mention each one briefly in my letter to you, but please check out our blog for more in-depth information and dialogue.
Stay tuned for a big upgrade to the spam filtering service offered by PEAK. This month we will be upgrading to a new system called Red Condor. We made this decision because spam has become a major consideration for providing a satisfactory email platform and while our current system has performed well, I believe we can do better for our customers. The Red Condor system will be going into production early this month and I believe you will find it to be an improvement. If you have questions or comments, please visit our informational post on the blog.
Another big announcement comes from our DSL modem vendor, Clear Access. In early February they will be releasing new firmware for their equipment, enabling new functionality designed to help you manage your home network. In other words, with a Clear Access modem you will have a portal to help control and configure many of the devices or services you commonly use at your home or business. We’ll be running a series of reviews on these features as they roll into production, so stay tuned.
Have a great February! Don’t forget your special someone on Valentine’s Day on the 14th and remember President’s Day follows immediately this year on the 15th.