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Join us at Magento Imagine in Las Vegas

Cloud computing is quickly entering the eCommerce field, bringing benefits like better infrastructure management and wider website availability to e-retailers. However, many are still struggling to truly make use of this technology, and to overcome the management challenges of cloud environments.
Next week at Magento Imagine, happening April 20-22 at the Wynn Las Vegas, Peer 1’s own eCommerce experts will participate in three sessions to help e-retailers overcome these obstacles and others.
First, Toby Owen, VP of product at Peer 1, will join a keynote panel about the pros and cons of various cloud delivery models for e-retailers. The panel, which will happen on Wednesday, April 22nd from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., will also cover how e-retailers can avoid common pitfalls to maximize the ROI of cloud deployments.
Additionally, Frank DiRocco, product manager at Peer 1, will lead two breakout sessions during Magento Imagine:

  • To Be or Not to Be in the Cloud
    Tuesday, April 21st at 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
    This breakout session will spotlight the differences between physical and virtual Magento solutions for eCommerce sites. Frank will also explain why it’s so important that e-retailers select a solution that will make scaling easy, no matter what.
  • PCI 3.0: Compliance Requirements, Best Practices and Pitfalls
    Wednesday, April 22nd at 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.
    Including insights from Chris Noell, VP product management at AlertLogic, this breakout session will explore why e-retailers need to pay attention PCI 3.0, and how a cloud or hosting service provider can help with compliance.

We’re also hosting a Pre-Imagine Kick-Off Party with Listrak, Astound Commerce and Cynch on Sunday, April 19th from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Join us to network with many of the world’s leading eCommerce experts at La Cave in the Wynn Las Vegas.
See you in Las Vegas!

What’s in store for hybrid cloud adoption?

Hybrid cloud has been an industry buzzword for the past few years, with the definition being the subject of much debate. However, hybrid cloud loosely entails the combination of cloud with some other technology. For instance, the combination of bare metal and virtual cloud servers, or a mixture of public and private services.

Fast becoming a business norm, our recent survey revealed that adoption is set to triple over the next three years. The study canvassed the opinions of over 900 IT decision makers from Canada, US and UK, with 10% of respondents stating that they currently use hybrid cloud – with 28% anticipating they will be adopting in three years time.

This is supported by a similar survey from Gartner, which predicts that half of enterprises will be using some form of hybrid cloud model by 2017.

The reason for such dramatic growth is largely down to price. The research revealed that cost is the most important factor for over half of IT decision makers in the markets surveyed. With on-premise hosting often a costly option, hybrid is often seen as a viable, cost-efficient alternative.

Hybrid cloud represents a flexible, scalable and diverse approach for businesses, combining most of the benefits from public and private hybrid models. The IT decision maker now has far more choice of hardware, software and services than ever before, with business priorities shifting as a result.

This is reflected in the changing cloud strategies among IT departments across the UK, US and Canada, who have indicated that hybrid cloud is a far more mature offering than it was just a few years ago.

Every CIO and IT decision maker should be thinking about how they can use hybrid cloud and hosting to transform their business, turning IT from a cost issue into another source of revenue.



It’s all cloudy

We recently received a tweet from John @2011knebworth, pointing out that there are different views and definitions when it comes to Cloud Storage. 

I thought this was rather a good point. Terms like; Cloud Storage, Cloud Server, Cloud Hosting and Cloud Security are commonplace, sometimes interchangeable and can be misinterpreted.

There are lots of different definitions of all of these terms depending on who you are talking to. Many have stated, correctly in my view, that the Cloud Industry itself is at fault for causing this confused state of affairs.

So, with that in mind, I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up the whole cloudy mess and provide an up to date, vendor neutral definition of each of these terms. 

Cloud storage 
Cloud Storage is a model of data storage where the digital data is stored in logical pools. The physical storage spans multiple servers (and often locations), and the physical environment is typically, but not always, owned and managed by a hosting company.

Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting services provide storage for data for things like websites, CRM systems, Software as a Service and apps on virtual servers. These servers pull their computing resource from extensive underlying networks of physical web servers.

Cloud Server
To put it simply, cloud servers mean virtual servers, which run on cloud computing environment. That is why very often Cloud Servers are referred to as Virtual Dedicated Servers (VDS). While it is true that every cloud server can be called a virtual dedicated server, the opposite is not always true.

Cloud Security
Cloud computing security is the set of control-based technologies and policies designed to adhere to regulatory compliance rules and protect information, data applications and infrastructure associated with cloud computing use.

These are pretty top line and over the next few weeks I will be doing fuller, individual blogs on each of these as part of a new What is….? series. If you have any terms that you would like me to tackle then please let me know, and I will do my best to shed light on them. Please keep them cloud related though, I am hoping to avoid questions about the meaning of life or whether the chicken came before the egg.

World Hosting Day 2015: A decade of hosting highlights

Although hosting is a fairly new industry, it has had an enormous impact over the last 10 years, shaping both businesses and the internet far beyond the IT community. So to celebrate World Hosting Day, I have compiled a list of milestones that outline just some of the ‘hosting highlights’ from the past decade.  
2004: Payment security
We take it for granted that organizations that handle credit card data comply with basic information security standards. But it wasn’t until 2004 that the first version of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) was released. Cardholders can now be rest assured that there are comprehensive security requirements in place to protect sensitive information.
Hosting providers must now enter into detailed agreements with their customers, specifying who is responsible for securing the physical environment. These agreements are particularly important in the eCommerce sector, where the need to protect cardholder information is paramount. The latest version (PCI DSS 3.0) has raised standards further by promoting a risk-based mentality to compliance (unlike previous versions that were criticized for relying on a ‘check-box’ approach). For hosting providers, the new requirements will make security a shared responsibility, helping to prevent potential breaches in the future.
2007: eCommerce
Aside from voting, there are few things that haven’t moved online. eCommerce in particular has come a very long way since the first online purchase of a Sting CD in 1994 (fortunately our music taste has changed as well).
If you can believe it, it’s now been eight years since the launch of Magento, the open-source content management system for eCommerce websites. The company first started development in 2007 with the help of volunteers, and to its surprise, it was later bought by eBay. The software has been hugely successful in its relatively short life, going on to become the world’s most popular eCommerce platform.  
2013: Hosting price war
With hosting options becoming more and more varied, it’s no surprise that some providers are embroiled in a pricing war. The crest of this competition came in 2013, with providers offering increasingly cheap deals at the expense of speed, service, and security.
Though lower costs are often appealing for businesses and customers alike, the price war was ultimately a race to the bottom. Over the last year, we’ve witnessed the real cost of cheap hosting. Quality service and support are the backbone of the industry, with superior hosting seen as the key to long-term business growth and sales.
2014: Peak demand
The public's appetite for Black Friday has never been bigger than this past winter. eCommerce spending rose 26% to $1.5 billion in 2014. Black Friday is now a firm fixture on the US Christmas shopping calendar. With five times the average number of shoppers flocking online to snap up the deals, the influx of traffic was simply too much for the websites of many leading retailers.
But ‘peak demand’ was not just limited to Black Friday; Cyber Monday and the entire Christmas period also saw record sales in 2014, with online sales growing 15% from 2013, making it the biggest day in US online shopping history. In fact, eCommerce sites in all sectors see a huge range of sales peaks throughout the year. We are learning how to better predict these variations in traffic and it will be up to the hosting community to prepare their customers for cyber holidays this year.
2015 and beyond: hybrid cloud
The rise of hybrid cloud suggests a demand for cloud services that cross isolation and provider boundaries. That is to say, businesses are looking for cloud that can’t be simply put in one category of private, public, or community service, and the rise of hybrid cloud reflects this desire. In fact, recent research has predicted that the growth of hybrid cloud will reach about $84.67 billion in 2019 (from only $25.28 billion last year).
Hybrid cloud puts the power back in the hands of the customer, giving them exactly what is required to adapt quickly to changing business requirements. It is this kind of flexible, customisable approach to cloud services that will take hosting into the next generation.  

Fraud Prevention: Five Security Steps to Implement Today

As March has now wound down so too has Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. However, the awareness of fraud and how to protect yourself should be something you are doing all-year-round.

As more and more stories make the news of big brands and businesses falling victim to security breaches and online scams, there is no better time like the present to brush up on your fraud prevention skills. Breaches aren’t limited to big enterprises and cybercrime does not discriminate.

According to the Websense report conducted by Ponemon Institute, 36 per cent of Canadian companies surveyed had experienced one or more cyber attacks over the past year that had infiltrated networks or enterprise systems.
There are a variety of ways to protect you and your organization from different types of fraud. At Peer 1, we offer services to ensure your protection. Monitoring web activity 24 hours a day, 7 days every week is only the start of how we protect our customers. If you currently have an online presence, are looking to increase your presence or are starting from scratch, here are a few things to consider.
1.     Assess your needs. Small to mid-size businesses are going to have different security needs when compared to large enterprises. In the case of security, one size does not fit all. Providers should be offering a variety of managed services so businesses are able to customize their security services without compromising on around the clock monitoring and protocols.

2.     Knowledge goes beyond the decision maker. When it comes to security, humans are typically the weakest link in the chain. Education is an essential preventative method such as ensuring your team is properly informed and aware of the company’s security procedures and best practices.

3.     Use what you have on hand. There are measures you can put in to place right away when it comes to security. Encrypting your data and passwords will make your sensitive customer and proprietary information less valuable and sometimes completely useless to external sources. This simple precaution is often overlooked.

4.     Security should be forethought. Security is about vigilance, rigor and a concern with detail and protocols, it should not be an after thought. Be sure to integrate security at the very beginning of a project’s planning phase. This will ensure you are not playing catch up when new services launch, procedures change or other adjustments to the business are made.

5.     Choose vendors and partners wisely. When it comes to working with a third-party service provider, be sure you understand their security measures and data regulations. It’s their job to equip you with the latest technology and security updates but they also should be transparent with their own data storage and procedures.
Wider awareness of security measures associated with common processes, methodical governance and user training ranging from the security department to IT and administration, will help businesses create a holistic security strategy. Maintaining security is fundamental particularly as more businesses and workloads transition this year to cloud-based services. 

The Changing Landscape of Digital Customer Service

Customer feedback is an infallible early warning system for service problems. In the world of web hosting, slow page load times are often the first catalyst for complaint. In fact, Google engineers have discovered that just 400 milliseconds of page-load time – literally the blink of an eye – can make a difference between the popularity of a website and a close competitor.

Long before your site falls over, visitor numbers and customer loyalty will suffer if inadequate web hosting means your pages are slow to load – and it could be the indication of a much bigger problem further down the line. Don’t believe me? Just run a Twitter search on ‘slow websites’ and see how vocal (and public) some brands’ customers are.
Customer service in the digital age is changing, and although customers might still be unhappy, they’re not being quiet about it. Every minute of every day, Twitter is inundated with frustrated customers who have been given a free platform to “vocalize” their various service complaints. In fact, the only time people seem to reach out to companies is when they're angry, and social media only serves to amplify that anger in a completely new and unpredictable way.
While businesses are investing in new technologies to realise the benefits of modern customer service best practices, according to a recent study over half don’t understand the true impact of customer service as an organization-wide strategic goal. If something were to go wrong with your site, could you Tweet your provider and get straight through to a human to sort things out? Great customer support is vital, but it’s often overlooked at the start of a hosting contract because many take it as a given.
Think about when you last had a technical issue: did it get resolved quickly and competently? Or was it a maze of support tickets, phone calls and emails, and explaining the issue over and over again to different people? Providers can vary hugely in their customer service strategies. For some, it’s a central part of what they offer. For others, it’s an afterthought. And take it from me – when you need help, you don’t want to be an afterthought.
Let’s face it; in the digital age, where brands live and die on the internet, can you really afford to compromise on your hosting provider? When you partner with Peer 1, there is no compromise. We employ technical experts, who will take the time to fully understand your infrastructure and how it’s deployed.

So if your business depends on its online presence, don’t compromise on the hosting that supports it. Drop us an email at [email protected] or visit


About the Author

Scott Davis
VP, Customer Experience

For Scott, attitude is everything. It can be the difference between success and failure—between a happy customer and an unsatisfied one. The latter is not acceptable, and it’s Scott’s motto, how can I make your day, that drives the customer experience team at Peer 1 Hosting.

Scott believes in our vision of being the most human experience on the web, and that if you’re going to talk the talk of customer experience, you need to walk the walk. You need to respond to your customers’ issues quickly and with sincerity. You also need to realize that you’re not just there to fix a problem—you’re there to anticipate their future needs and remove potential roadblocks for them. Scott wants our customers to be able to focus on the possibilities of the Internet, not the problems. That’s the kind of thinking you want in a Vice President of Customer Experience.

Scott brings more than 25 years of global customer service experience to his role at Peer 1. He is responsible for leading a team of more than 100 front-line employees, ensuring the delivery of an exceptional experience to all our customers. Prior to joining Peer 1, Scott developed his art in customer service at companies both large and small, including AT&T, LexisNexis, TMP Worldwide and Sykes Enterprises.

It’s because of Scott’s experience, and his infectious positivity, that there is an entire team at Peer 1 asking: "How can I make your day?"


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Data Privacy Gets Personal

 In the post-Snowden world, the location and security of data is not just a political issue, it’s a personal issue. Customer concerns over data privacy are having a drastic and unprecedented impact on how Internet service providers (ISPs), telecommunications companies and web hosting providers do business – and who they do business with.

A survey commissioned by Peer 1 Hosting found that 25 per cent of UK and Canadian companies would move their data outside the U.S. this year due to NSA-related privacy and security concerns. That’s bad news for the U.S. tech industry, but it’s also a clear signal that businesses (and consumers) are far more sophisticated on issues of data protection than they used to be. In fact, if the NSA’s notorious surveillance activities have done anything right, it’s to have prompted even technically illiterate people to think about the privacy of their data on the Internet, practically overnight.
A More Concerned Internet Customer
As legal counsel in the web hosting industry, I can personally attest to how the average customer has evolved from knowing little to nothing about government data collection, to now having real material knowledge of these issues. The stock answers many technology companies used to give customers who expressed concern over data privacy (“we make every effort to ensure your data is safe and protected”) are no longer sufficient – customers are asking detailed privacy questions, often involving the legal department, which also means that a service provider’s salespeople and other employees have to be more educated on privacy.
So what are customers asking about when it comes to data privacy? One question that service providers rarely heard before, but which is now quite frequent among non-U.S. customers, is whether their data will travel through the U.S. at all, even if it’s not stored there. If data is just routed through the U.S., this can be a big concern for some companies. So, data privacy has gone from being first a political issue, and then a personal concern, and now finally, it’s an international business matter – all because people actually care about their data.
Fortunately, businesses’ pleas for privacy and reform are not falling on deaf ears. Through my work with the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2), I’ve made several trips to Washington D.C. to speak to members of the U.S. Congress about the importance of data privacy. Contrary to what some might assume, Congress is becoming much more receptive to concerns over government data collection. It’s an uphill battle and an ongoing education process, because public servants aren’t always subject matter experts on technology, so much of the underlying issues around data privacy may be new to them. The more they learn, the more they open up to the conversation – particularly when the business impact comes into play.
A Way Forward for Service Providers
For the first time in history, the status of being a “leader in Internet innovation” is being threatened by public perception. There is a clear way forward, though. Customers aren’t aware of what’s going on behind the scenes, and they need an intermediary to act in their best interests whenever possible. That means service providers need to push back whenever possible. The truth is, government agencies often rely on voluntary compliance on the part of providers. It’s more important than ever that technology companies demand a warrant before freely handing over personal data. Fortunately, the Snowden disclosures have turned it into good business for service providers to take a more customer-friendly attitude when it comes to privacy. Let’s hope that continues.

Cloud Computing in 2015

There is no longer any uncertainty that cloud computing will continue to grow; it is simply a question of how quickly we will see that growth and in what form. Already, 94% of businesses are using cloud technology in some way, supporting everything from basic internal IT processes to enterprise-grade application storage and management. However by the end of 2015, I predict that we will see the emergence of four trends:

1.     Cloud will no longer be just one thing. Each type of cloud environment brings varied benefits to users. Private clouds offer better security, public clouds have a low price point and greater agility, and hybrid environments are incredibly flexible. However, these environments must still be managed individually, especially for organizations that rely on more than one cloud provider.
In 2015, I believe that cloud management solutions will evolve toward a ‘seamless pane of glass’ so that an organization can manage its public and private environments as one, regardless of the cloud vendors it buys from. So long as there are artificial boundaries between each of the private and public cloud environments used by a single vendor, such new tools will ease the process of managing multiple environments, and bring further benefits to organizations that use varied cloud resources.
2.     “As a service” offerings will fade from the spotlight. Cloud services have spun out countless new acronyms for CIOs to learn. PaaS, SaaS and IaaS were just the beginning – now we have BDaaS, DRaaS and so on. While I don’t foresee these offerings completely disappearing as individual services, it’s likely that service providers will create vertical-specific packages that take the guesswork out of combining such solutions with other cloud and hosted services.
For instance, rather than buying SaaS from one provider, PaaS from another and IaaS from a third, a mobile app developer could simply purchase a “Mobile App Development” solution from a single provider, including all of the software, platform support and infrastructure needed to develop mobile apps quickly and cost effectively. The package could even include some additional services relevant to their work, or the infrastructure may already be tuned to support development.
3.     Large enterprises tackle cloud on their own. Public cloud environments bring many great benefits – seemingly unlimited resources, low costs, and global availability. However, for large enterprises, the pricing structure of public cloud may work against them; at some point, paying by the hour or by the gigabyte becomes more expensive than simply buying the dedicated infrastructure itself. Some enterprises are now reaching that breaking point, and realizing that they may actually save money by building and managing their own cloud environments, either in a private facility or colocated in a third-party datacenter.
At the same time, organizations now have the skills and know-how to set up and manage their own internal cloud environments. So, they are not only getting smarter from a cost management perspective, but also from an infrastructure management perspective. More CIOs are asking how they can do cloud better, and that is resulting in better power efficiency, lower costs and more tailored environments.
4.     Security vulnerabilities will continue to reveal themselves. If there is one thing we learned in 2014, it is that there is no such thing as a secure cloud environment. Hackers were able to pull photos and sensitive information from iCloud, and the Xen bug impacted nearly every major cloud provider. So, it is not a question of whether cloud breaches will continue in 2015, but when and for whom. As a result, there will be more emphasis on security at all levels, including DDoS protection and intrusion detection, and even physical datacenter security.
At the same time, there needs to be wider awareness about the cause of these breaches. Most of the time, the openness of public cloud is not the culprit. Rather, it is common processes and governance failures, such as poor key management, a lack of training, or perimeter-based thinking by the security department. CIOs will need to think beyond firewalls to establish more holistic cloud security in 2015.
Over time, we have seen cloud computing evolve from a rigid technology to one that is much more fluid and agile and can cater to the needs of any given user. I believe that trend will come to a head in 2015 as more and more workloads transition to the cloud, demanding customizable environments, tailored solutions, and more capable features.

Analytics to drive the next wave of innovation in the cloud

Analytics is an increasingly important part of the hosting user experience. Today’s customer has access to more data than ever before and it is available to them at a click of the mouse. They can get direct insight into things like network performance, disk and storage usage, traffic patterns, security issues, and spending trajectories. The data is displayed in attractive and easy-to-read bars and graphs and often updates in real-time.

But things were not always this way. Early hosters often had patchwork systems that produced disjointed data on disparate systems. Things were not always very efficient and the customer had very little visibility or access to this data. But the need to enhance the user experience has pushed hosters to collect, organize and analyze this data. They have built advanced tools to get this done and turn this data into intelligence for the customer.

This has a number of different benefits. Analytics provides the end user with flexible options to optimize their spending on hosted infrastructure. In the world of cloud, this is of particular importance. The ability to scale infrastructure is useless without the information that tells you when it should be done. Organizations are often faced with unpredictable traffic patterns and the more data they have, the easier it is to scale cloud infrastructure optimally. Accurate data also enables customers to enhance performance for their end users. Without a proper picture of how infrastructure is performing and real-time alerts, it is difficult for customers to make decisions. All that changes when the right analytics are available and readily accessible.

Why is analytics going to be, and already is, one of the next big things in hosting and cloud? First and perhaps foremost, it is an area ripe for differentiation. There is a lot of room to innovate and be creative. User experiences, even if the provider uses third party software, will be very different from provider to provider. Choice will empower the customer.

Second, analytics is now a vital part of the user experience. Infrastructure services require more calibration than ever before. Customers are optimizing speed and performance, scaling more closely with increasingly uneven traffic patterns and closely monitoring and even automating expenditure. The cloud is a big part of the equation and as more workloads move and hybridize with cloud there is going to be a growing need for good information that drives accurate and precise decision-making.

Third, analytics can help customers make informed decisions about the type of infrastructure service they want to run in. They are looking to evaluate a number of different outsourcing scenarios (and on-premise for that matter) – cloud, managed hosting, virtual servers, colocation and hybrid. Choosing amongst these choices is difficult and even overwhelming. It requires consideration of multiple variables. But analytics can break a lot of that down and allow some of those decisions to be made faster and more effectively with the right supporting data.

In short, analytics is going to drive the next wave of innovation in the cloud. It is relatively early in the game but things are starting to accelerate. We should fully expect to see more data and analytics being presented in customer portals and there will be a spin-off effect into value-added and managed services. Even new products will be built from analytics.
The availability of data and analytics should be a part of any working relationship a customer has with its hosting and cloud infrastructure provider. It can bring real competitive advantage.

About the Author

Philbert Shih
Founder and MD, Structure Research

Philbert Shih is the Founder and Managing Director of Structure Research, an independent research and consulting firm devoted to the hosting and cloud infrastructure services market. Philbert has covered the hosting infrastructure space for over a decade. Prior to founding Structure Research, Philbert was the first hosting analyst hired after Tier1 Research was sold to The 451 Group (2005) and spent six years as Senior Analyst for Hosting.

Happy Anniversary YouTube

At Peer 1 this weekend, we raised our glasses to celebrate the fact that YouTube is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Peer 1 Hosting was the first ever-hosting company YouTube used, all the way up until 2007, when their last server went off-line and moved over to Google's data centre as part of the USD $1.65 billion acquisition. During this time, YouTube literally exploded to become a vital part of most of the world’s consumption and expression of information.
YouTube has done everything and more than it ever dreamed of. It has made stars out of finger-bighting children, become the source for consumer tech reviews and has won the Peabody award for promoting democracy. Apparently over 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. 
Industries such as marketing, broadcasting, journalism, music publishing and politics all have been and continue to be transformed by this platform. Others have come after it but to date none of them come close to having the same impact as YouTube.
When businesses experience exponential growth the pressure on those inside the business can be enormous. There is often no room for compromise and yet millions of reasons why decision making itself might be compromised.
Opportunities need to be evaluated and decisions need to be made at a pace, partners need to be agile and trusted. It is easy to be blindsided. Whilst businesses like YouTube are rare, Peer 1 has established an outstanding track record of supporting those who find themselves in a growth hurricane. Other brands we work with who are currently in this mode include Wordpress and Shazam
Saying goodbye to YouTube as a client was bittersweet, but we remain incredibly proud of the fact that Peer 1 was part of YouTube’s journey at a time when the business was at such a critical stage. You can see our send off to YouTube here.

About the Author

Scott Davis
VP, Customer Experience

For Scott, attitude is everything. It can be the difference between success and failure—between a happy customer and an unsatisfied one. The latter is not acceptable, and it’s Scott’s motto, how can I make your day, that drives the customer experience team at Peer 1 Hosting.

Scott believes in our vision of being the most human experience on the web, and that if you’re going to talk the talk of customer experience, you need to walk the walk. You need to respond to your customers’ issues quickly and with sincerity. You also need to realize that you’re not just there to fix a problem—you’re there to anticipate their future needs and remove potential roadblocks for them. Scott wants our customers to be able to focus on the possibilities of the Internet, not the problems. That’s the kind of thinking you want in a Vice President of Customer Experience.

Scott brings more than 25 years of global customer service experience to his role at Peer 1. He is responsible for leading a team of more than 100 front-line employees, ensuring the delivery of an exceptional experience to all our customers. Prior to joining Peer 1, Scott developed his art in customer service at companies both large and small, including AT&T, LexisNexis, TMP Worldwide and Sykes Enterprises.

It’s because of Scott’s experience, and his infectious positivity, that there is an entire team at Peer 1 asking: "How can I make your day?"


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