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Onega upgrades internal network

As we expand here at Onega, we have invested in upgrading our own internal infrastructure. With 7 people in the company at time of writing and an expanding client base; we are working to eliminate any possible single points of failure from our own internal networks, systems and processes.

To this end, we have upgraded our internal network and firewalls, implementing two new Watchguard X750e firewalls. These have been placed one at our Trinity Buoy Wharf Office, and the other at our hosting facility at TelecityRedbus. Alongside our new hardware, we have also installed a second ADSL Internet connection into the office, running on our own ADSL Max 8 Mbps service. With the new firewalls running Watchguard's latest V9 release of the Fireware Pro operating system, we have taken advantage of the featureset available and configured our network connectivity to balance over the two internet connections. Our VPN tunnels are configured for failover so as to provide further resilience. Two older units were replaced in doing so, which will now be freed up for use in our training labs to give staff extensive hands on experience of configuring simulated complex VPN network environments.

The net effect is that our connection to the Internet is twice as quick, as requests are spread across two links, and if one of the ADSL lines should fail, then we still have connectivity through to our Citrix servers etc. and are able to maintain normal client support services.

Onega Staff Reach for the Sky

During May 2007, Onega are running an internal Staff incentive called 'Time Flies at Onega' if staff members work diligently and efficiently then they'll be rewarded by a flying experience ranging from an hour's flight in a Cessna 152 trainier through to an Aerobat, ex RAF Bulldog aircraft, or at the top of the reward pile is a trip in an awesome Jet Provost or Gnat, as previously flown by the Red Arrows!. In each the controls can be taken and the aircraft flown (if brave enough!). Ben enjoys flying as one of his hobbies (and is currently buiding a Sport Cruiser plane, but wanted to help all members of staff experience the joys of flight.

The serious side of this is to encourage all of us to concentrate on our admin (never the most glamourous task) to make sure that client hours are logged etc. That said, we're all looking forward to heading down to Stapleford or Area51 at North Weald with wives & girlfriends etc. one saturday in June & having a great flying day followed by dinner / bbq etc.

Check out the presentation in Flash at http://www.onega.net/theskyisthelimit/theskyisthelimit.html & we'll post photos after the event to show off those post flight grins.

What a nice place to work!

Acorns at Onega

19th September 2006 - Acorn computers were one of the original british success stories in computing, having developed machines like the Electron, BBC, Master and Archimedies. These were commonly found in the education and scientific communities in the 80s and 90s, and many computer scientists and engineers (including some of us Onegites) cut our teeth on this platform.

The Acorn computers of old ran with chips like the 6502, and later RISC based ARM chips, and ran with operating systems like RISC OS whose multitasking, performance and stability put contemporary IBM compatible PCs in the shade at the time. Eventually though the PC won out due to its open standards and ubiquity. Indeed you could argue that the PC was the first open systems success story which demonstrated that a viable business model can be made out of open systems and standards.

The original Acorn Computer company declined over time, after having spun off innovative chip maker ARM, who now make chips for devices from Mobile phones to iPods and more.

This autumn Acorn Computers are back, offering a range of new laptop computers, manufactured and supported in Britain. Their range runs from small and light laptops, through to powerful desktop workstation replacements. Uniquely, each machine comes with a latest DVD-RAM drive, which will allow you to store all your data on one disk. The designs are contemporary, and the computers each come with a two year warranty as standard (double that of most other manufacturers), and a whole gigabyte of memory (again, most manufacturers currently supply 256/ 512 Mbytes of memory as standard). The Acorn Deskbook to Solonote range will all come with a bundle of software such as Sun StarOffice 8 which represents the pinnacle of Open Source developement, so that they are usable and useful right out of the box. Each machine in the range comes with Microsoft Windows XP, and are fully Windows Vista capable.

The brand has a great deal of latent good will, and whilst the new team at Acorn do not contain any of the trail blazers of old, they are mindful of the responsibility that the name bears, and the high expectations old users will have. Onega are authorised by Acorn to sell their entire range of machines, which can be found on the Acorn section of the Onega eshop. We expect these to be popular machines in both business and education markets.

Onega help fight crime - and wins

13th September 2006 - When a laptop is stolen, the chances of ever seeing it again are normally slim to say the least. However, if you are a client of Onega, your odds improve significantly. With a combination of cutting edge software tools, Onega's expertise and cross border cooperation with the police, we are happy to announce that one laptop will shortly be reunited with its owner. This is how we did it:

In July this year (2006), one of our clients reported that their laptop had gone missing. It was last their possession at the airport in Sweden returning from a business trip. Whether it was immediately stolen or just absent mindedly left on the X-Ray machine whilst dashing for a flight we may never know (thought the latter happens to the best of us at times); but one thing was sure - after calls to lost property offices everywhere they had been including hotels and airport, the machine had not did not come to light.

Our client, a director of one of London's leading marine reinsurance brokers at Lloyds of London, informed us of the loss and we immediately alerted our Network Operations Team and Tactical Intelligence Taskforce. This unit benefits from some of the most highly skilled Internet security professionals, who have access to very powerful systems which were previously the preserve of only the military & intelligence services, and as currently used by the US government & NASA.

The latest incarnation of the Internet (known as IPV6) consists of a truly phenomenal number of possible addresses - in fact it there are now theoretically 4 billion times 4 billion times 4 billion times 4 billion possible places for to hide on the Internet, or in longhand 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 possible addresses. This is more than just looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack - it is more akin to examining each grain of sand in the world under a microscope.

Having some of the best minds in the world starting to gather evidence and initiate the search, the Onega support team was mindful that with the enormity of the task ahead there were no guarantees of success at this stage. Considering our client's privileged position (confidentiality prevents us revealing any more information relating to exact identity), we were aware that the laptop could contain important commercial information, as well as risk information which should not be permitted to fall into the wrong hands. Whilst in theory all important information should be encrypted, we know this is not always the case.

Whilst the matter was investigated, our client needed to keep working, so Onega immediately organised for a brand new Lenovo (IBM) X60 ThinkPad laptop computer to be couriered over so that the least inconvenience possible was caused. Onega recommended the X60 in this case due to the fact that it is one of world's smallest laptops with integrated biometric (fingerprint) security and the latest Intel Centrino Dual Core CPU for mobile performance better than many desktops. Weighing in at only 1.2 Kg, it also avoids the need for separate laptop carry cases as it fits happily into the pocket of a normal briefcase.

Back to the hunt... as the missing laptop was loaded with Onega's integrated managed services suite, and armed with previously gathered globally unique asset identifiers, the computer's MAC addresses (which can be thought of as the computer equivalent of our DNA); we were able to trace the computer to a network in Stockholm, capital city of Sweden.

We followed the computer's changing network addressing, times and patterns of activity. This gave us undisputable evidence that the laptop had indeed bee misappropriated, and was being put to illegal use. Armed with this evidence we actively engaged with the Swedish police, the network provider (ISP) whose network we had traced the computer to, and a liaison partner in Sweden. After initially briefing the police, we passed them updates to facilitate the location of the exact address the computer was being held at, and then to further co-ordinate the recovery operation.

On the morning of Monday 11th September, we finalised details, and on the Tuesday the due warrants had been issued ready for them to visit the person or persons holding the computer. There would be only one shot at this - if the raid went ahead and the computer was not present, then it would be sure that the laptop would have been disposed of prior to any possible second chance. Throughout the investigation, we had to be careful not to do anything which might tip off the crooks that they were being traced, monitored, and patterns recorded. On the Tuesday morning final confirmation was made that the laptop was online at the address the police had, and at 11am GMT (mid day local time) officers surrounded the house and gained entry by force. They effectively recovered the laptop, undamaged back to the police station, where it was positively identified as being our client's machine, and now awaits reunification with its owner.

The police are currently considering the charge to be made, and no court dates have yet been set, and the inevitable paperwork needs to be completed, but we at Onega are delighted with the positive outcome - MD Ben Fitzgerald-O'Connor commented that 'this operation has spanned three months, involved international cross jurisdictional coordination with the police, and resulted in a successful raid and recovery of our client's assets & intellectual property - all in all just another day at the office for Onega.'

This is not the first time Onega has helped the police beat crime. We have in the past cooperated with the police in the UK, Europe (east and west), and United States of America on cases ranging from multi million pound electronic fraud involving the middle east, forensic server examinations, to alerting the authorities & furnishing evidence for active Internet frauds.

Having deep industry, financial services and armed forces experience ranging from the RAF to onboard the submarines that represent the UK's nuclear defence deterrent; Onega's approach to commercial security is directly influenced by our experience of national security. Onega address all areas of IT to the same degree, not just security, and differentiate ourselves from other IT support companies in many ways that leave them standing - for example our Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning allows for business to continue with minimal operational impact even in the case of occurrences such as complete UK power failures (we have battery backed uninterruptible power supplies, backup combustion engine driven generators, solar arrays, multiple sites, 24 hour security personal at key data centres, electronic perimeter access control, digital CCTV, and even geostationary-satellite relay telephones in case the UK networks go off line (as they did on 7th July 2005 due to the London Bombings). Onega works with some of the largest financial institutions on the world, and therefore any major interruption to service from whatever source must be avoided.

Does your IT company go to these lengths for you and your business? If not - call the Onega helpdesk on 0870 060 1303, and let us help you address your IT needs.

Onega become Citrix Access Partners & Solution Advisors for 2006/2007

8th September 2006 - Onega today recieved a nice new plaque signifying our membership of the Citrix Access Partner program for the coming year. Onega has deployed Citrix products such as the Citrix Secure Access Gateway, Presentation Server, and Access Essentials suite. We have employees skilled and certified in each of these key products, and value our ongoing relationship with Citrix.

Citrix specialise in Access solutions - which concentrate on reducing TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of computer systems, for example by enabling Windows Thin Client Computing which allows for centralisation of administration and computing resources.

Need some Creative Accounting?

28th August 2006 - OK, the headline might be a bit of a misnomer; we are not about to cook your books (in fact we'd rather pay ever so slightly too much tax & sleep easy at night; than try to be clever and worry about knocks on the door from revenue & excise), but if you run or work for a small company in the creative & related industries then you may be interested in Onega's new range of [accounting & book keeping services]. This range of services is ideal if you need to turn the chaos of shoe boxes full of receipts into ordered accounts, or don't want the trouble of doing your own payroll & VAT returns.

Onega Launch Own Broadband Products

25th August 2006 - Onega are now able to offer ADSL & SDSL Internet connectivity directly. Having in the past liased with various other ISPs such as Pipex & Zen, we are now able to go direct & offer a cost effective service with many benefits:

  • Cost Effective & competitive Broadband
  • Standard Contention ratios of only 3:1 (compared with normal BT business at 20:1 or home : 50:1)
  • 5 Day provisioning from time of order (assuming good line condition).
  • One invoice can cover multiple connections for easy administration.

Onega fully support the product, which is supplied in partnership with Griffin Internet (who also supply BT), and is available immediately. Our prime motivation for offering our own branded ADSL Internet connectivity is so as to ensure consistantly high levels of quality in support. We have in the past been frustrated holding for other ISPs and then talking to someone who knows less than we do - Onega answer 95% of all our calls in under 20 seconds, and our knowledgable staff can help troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Initial pricing is:

  • Up to 2Mbps Fixed Speed ADSL Broadband - £25 per month
  • Up to 8Mbps Rate Adaptive ADSL Broadband (ADSL MAX) - £35 per month (Pipex charge £39 per month for this)
  • SDSL ranges from £150 per month for 512Kbps to £199 per month for 2Mbps (BT Charge £345 per month for this same service!)

- This is amongst the most competitive pricing for business broadband available in the UK - not to ne confused with inferior home products!

Onega Becomes a Microsoft Certified Partner

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3rd August 2006 - Onega Limited is happy to announce that we are now officially recognised as having Microsoft Certified Partner status. Onega have been Registered members of the Microsoft Partner program for some time, and have extensive skills in supporting the Microsoft product suite, which underpins so many of our client's business IT systems.

To become Microsoft Certified Partners, a company must demonstrate its skills and competencies in designing, implementing and supporting a Microsoft Windows based network & associated email and database technologies.

This next level of partnership allows Onega greater access to Microsoft support resources, and allows us to participate in Microsoft sponsored & independently executed quality surveys which will help us to ensure that we are continuing to provide a high level of service to our clients.

William and John drive the tanks

Onega's Lotus to hit the roads again

9th July 2006 - You may not know it, but you will soon - Onega are the proud owner of a 1969 Lotus Europa Series 2. You may not know this car as it is extremely rare to see on the roads today, and was only the third mid engined car in the world.

Sadly the Lotus has been resting for some time, and indeed can be seen in satellite pictures 'resting' outside Ben's house, but is now set for a comeback. We have taken the car up to Preston from some much needed TLC from the world experts on these cars, Banks Engineering. The car is set to have the body work repaired and resprayed, and the mechanical parts are to be fully serviced. We appreciate history & tradition, but the brief is to provide a modern car which will be reliable for regular use - so for example the 1960's brakes will be upgraded, and the engine may well be swapped for something more economical, we may even end up with the world's first diesel Europa.

The car will be put into company livery, and will be used as our pool car for going out to visit client sites in. This is being done partly for marketing reasons - we estimate that on the average trip out of London around a thousand motorists will see the vehicle, and also partly because we can & want to drive around in something a little more fun than the average van.

We have not forgotten our ethics and environmental beliefs though, as the car will be fitted with a modern, lean burn engine and is predicted that it will deliver at least 60 miles to the gallon as well as a 0-60 time of around 6 seconds (it is a light car). We are also investigating the possibility of installing a hydrogen hybrid power plant to further improve fuel economy & reduce emissions.

When we interview possible members of staff we always ensure they have full & clean driving licences, as any member of staff may be required to drive to client site in the newly restored car. The specification of the vehicle has yet to be finalised, but work is due to commence in September 2006, and will take approximately 12-15 weeks to complete.

Our aim is eventually to run a small fleet of Europas, but at least we're starting with one. We will post pictures and progress reports as the project runs through.

Before you ask, we do like the look of the New Europa (Lotus is launching it this summer), but for us it has to be the original.

Front:

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Rear: - Next time you see this, the green of the Moss will be replaced by the green of the Onega logo & livery.

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Onega becomes accredited as a Microsoft Small Business Specialist

17th June 2006 - Onega Limited are delighted to be able to announce that we have now qualified as Microsoft Small Business Specialits. This certification recognises our ability to fully service the unique needs and demands of small business clients in providing appropriate infrastructure and solutions for their businesses.

Onega can now be found through the Microsoft UK Small business website.

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Onega help to form RBUG - the Telecity Redbus Users Group

10th June 2006 - TeleCity Redbus run 17 data centres across europe, which are used by Onega & many other service providers to provide a secure and managed environment within which to house our own and client equipment & interconnect with other service providers and the Internet.

The Redbus Users Group is a forum for clients of Redbus to have a voice and communicate about the service they are recieving, and to spread best practice in the industry. TelecityRedbus is a publicly listed company with shareholders to keep happy - RBUG hopes to redress the balance and ensure that the client is not forgotten in this equation.

All data centres have problems from time to time, but we hope that by discussing these openly, RBUG members can mutually help Telecity Redbus to be the host that we need it to be.

If you use Redbus's services, then we'd urge you to check out the web site at http://www.rbug.org.uk www.rbug.org.uk]

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