Archive for the ‘time server’ Category
The Paris Observatory has announced an additional leap second will be added to clocks in June 2015. What does this mean for businesses? Galleon Systems examines.
NTP time server specialists, Galleon, answers what is NTP? Highlighting the benefits of NTP servers for businesses.
What Is NTP?
In simple terms NTP, or Network Time Protocol, is a system used to synchronise the time of day across computer networks. Originally developed by David L. Mills of the University of Delaware, NTP works by using a single time source, enabling it to synchronise time across all devices that are part of a network.
Did you know? NTP was first implemented in 1985. However, some of its predecessors date back as far as 1979.
Specialists in the design, manufacture and supply of time synchronisation units and digital clocks, Galleon Systems clears up the confusion over the impact of daylight savings time on NTP time servers.
In March, clocks in the UK go forward one hour in preparation for British summer time, prompting concerns that daylight savings time will cause problems for users of NTP time servers. In a bid to reassure, Galleon Systems clarifies the impact of daylight savings time on NTP time servers in order to calm such concerns.
Modern businesses are no longer local. The internet and global communications means that even a small business might have to regularly trade overseas and often across time zones, and this means that accurate time is crucial. On a computer network, virtually every transaction is reliant on time. Time stamps are the only means a computer has of knowing when and if a transaction or process has taken place. Accurate stamps from a time server are required for billing systems, database sorting, network diagnostics and for nearly all transactions conducted over the internet. If any of this applies to your business, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself “What Time Server Do I Need?” (more…)
They buzz away next to the system’s servers and few people ever give them a moment’s thought, but network time servers are a crucial aspect to any computer network. Understanding their importance is important for maintain a healthy network, as time errors can lead to all sorts of problems, such as security breaches, data loss, or application failure. (more…)
Most of us know how useful the GPS network is. The Global Positioning System has changed the way we navigate on the road, and most modern cars are sold complete with some form of satellite navigation system already installed. However, the Global Positioning System is not only useful for satellite navigation; it has other uses too, especially as a source of accurate time for synchronising a computer network and other such technologies with the aid of a GPS network time server.
Need for Synchronisation
Time synchronisation is vital for all sorts of technologies, especially computer networks. Having different machines with a different time can lead to all sorts of untold problems, from data getting lost to simple things such as emails arriving before they were technically sent. Without accurate synchronisation or a network time server, it is nearly impossible to keep a network running smoothly and pinpoint errors and bugs.
Other technologies too need complete synchronicity. CCTV cameras, cash machines and safety systems such as air traffic control all have to be precisely synchronised. Imagine the chaos if your local cash machine told a different time from the one next to it. In effect, you could withdraw money from one machine, while the one next to it would consider a transaction that hadn’t happened yet, allowing you to withdraw the same amount again.
The Global Positioning System doesn’t actually transmit any positioning information. The reason that satellite navigational systems can work out accurate positioning is due to the time signals that the GPS satellites transmit. Onboard each GPS satellite is a couple of atomic clocks. These clocks transmit their times and exact position of the satellite and it’s this information, triangulated from three or more satellites that a navigational system uses to work out exactly where it is in the world.
Atomic clocks have to be used for this process because the signals are travelling at the speed of light. A one-second inaccuracy in the time signal would lead a satellite navigational system to be in error of over 300,000 km. And it’s a testament to the atomic clocks on GPS satellites that most sat nav systems are accurate to within a few metres.
GPS Network Time Server
Because of the accuracy of the GPS time signals, and the fact that the signal are available anywhere on the planet, the GPS network is ideal for use as a master time source for computer network time synchronisation. To synchronise a computer network or other technology systems to GPS time, all that is required is a GPS network time server.
GPS network time servers do all the work for you. By use of a rooftop antenna, the time server receives the GPS signal and distributes it around a network of machines. By use of time synchronisation protocols such as NTP (Network Time Protocol), all devices can be kept within a few milliseconds of the original GPS time source. And you don’t need multiple time servers for large networks either. A single device can synchronise hundreds of devices to GPS time.
GPS network time servers are simple to install, simple to use and can maintain millisecond accuracy for all sorts of technologies. Used by organisations as diverse as stock exchanges, air traffic control and banking systems, GPS time servers provide an efficient and cost effective solution to maintain network synchronicity.
Time is essential to all of us, and losing track of time can be costly. Missing meetings, being late for work or not catching the last bus home can all be a nuisance, but all this pales in comparison to what happens when a computer network loses track of time.
Time is critical for computer systems. It is the only reference a network has for knowing when applications and processes need to be, or have been, done. Alter the network time, allow the clocks to drift or fail to synchronise everything properly and a whole host of problems can arise.
Affects of Time Failure
Firstly, if network time goes wrong, processes and applications due to take place may not happen. This is because if the time is wrong a PC may assume the application has already happened. Secondly, data can easily be lost as timestamps are used in the storing process, and if there is a problem with the time, data may just get dumped. Thirdly, when it comes to debugging a system, without accurate synchronisation it can be nearly impossible. Knowing when something went wrong is essential for any error correction.
Finally, network security is reliant on secure and accurate time. Hackers and malicious software can use any discrepancies in a system’s time to gain access to a network. It only takes a second or two of discrepancy to provide enough access to unauthorised access. And if the time source itself is attacked, the effects can be even more severe
Time Server Security
Many computer networks use online NTP time servers (Network Time Protocol). These are accessed across the internet and send a regular timestamp to which a network synchronises. The problem with these online time server systems is that if the time server is wrong, so the network will be. Also, if a time server itself gets attacked by hackers or malicious software, the effects can be catastrophic. Imagine you network suddenly thinking it’s a year in the future, or in the past, the entire network could be open to all sorts of abuse.
The accuracy of these online time servers can never be guaranteed and are affected by all sorts of things such as the distance away, and the speed of the connection, and they also require an open port in the firewall, through which they send their time signals, and this port could also be used by malicious users.
The NTP Time Server
The solution for ensuring network security is fairly simple and relatively inexpensive – the NTP time server. These dedicated devices receive the time directly from an atomic clock source such as the GPS network (Global Positioning System). This not only makes them highly secure methods of synchronising network time, but also highly accurate, often to within a few milliseconds.
The cost of an NTP server is relatively low, especially when you consider the cost of failing to have accurate and secure network time will cost you. As a single NTP server is able to synchronise a network of hundreds of machines, securely, and offers peace of mind and a cost effective and secure method of keeping your network healthy.
Network time Protocol (NTP) is used as a synchronisation tool by most computer networks. NTP distributes a single time source around a network and ensures all devices are running in synchronisation with it. NTP is highly accurate and able to keep all machines on a network to within a few milliseconds of the time source. However, where this time source comes from can lead to problems in time synchronisation within a network. (more…)
Leap Seconds have been in use since the development of atomic clocks and the introduction of the global timescale UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). Leap Seconds prevent the actual time as told by atomic clocks and the physical time, governed by the sun being highest at noon, from drifting apart.
Since UTC began in the 1970’s when UTC was introduced, 24 Leap Seconds have been added. Leap seconds are a point of controversy, but without them, the day would slowly drift into night (albeit after many centuries); however, they do cause problems for some technologies.
NTP servers (Network Time Protocol) implement Leap Seconds by repeating the final second of the day when a Leap Second is introduced. While Leap Second introduction is a rare event, occurring only once or twice a year, for some complex systems that process thousands of events a second this repetition causes problems.
For search engine giants, Google, Leap Seconds can lead to their systems from working during this second, such as in 2005 when some of its clustered systems stopped accepting work. While this didn’t lead to their site from going down, Google wanted to address the problem to prevent any future problems caused by this chronological fudge.
Its solution was to write a program that essentially lied to their computer servers during the day of a Leap Second, making the systems believe the time was slightly ahead of what the NTP servers were telling it.
This gradual speeding up time meant that at the end of a day, when a Leap Second is added, Google’s timeservers do not have to repeat the extra second as the time on its servers would already be a second behind by that point.
Whilst Google’s solution to the Leap Second is ingenious, for most computer systems Leap Seconds cause no problems at all. With a computer network synchronised with an NTP server, Leap Seconds are adjusted automatically at the end of a day and occur only rarely, so most computer systems never notice this small hiccup in time.