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Bud Aaron GGBlogger (Geriatric Geek)

Hosting Your Own Websites

 

For years now I’ve been building our company websites on external hosting systems. The problem has always been that I have limited control over the hosting environment. During the past year my host has been webhost4life and they do a good job of providing services including DotNetNuke but my desire to host multiple websites made hosting in-house more and more attractive. I’ve accumulated 18 domain names from Network Solutions over the years and I really wanted to build sites for at least 3 of them. About a month ago my hosting contract with webhost4life was due to expire. I have a Cox business account with 5 static IPs. My reasoning was it can’t be that difficult. And ultimately it isn’t but it’s not an undertaking for the faint of heart. It’s also not an undertaking when your knowledge of web site hosting is not at an expert level and mine isn’t.

First questions first

I have a box sitting right behind me running Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and a bunch of other tools. The first question seems like a no-brainer but I simply wasn’t sure how many NIC cards could be installed or even how many I needed. I installed 3 NIC cards in addition to the on-board NIC. After locating the drivers for each of them they seemed to play well together. The second question was how many IP addresses could be managed by each NIC card. I ended up putting the IP for my main URL and the mail server on one gigabit card. That left the on-board card for my Intranet and two cards for my other two sites I wanted to add. It also used up my 5 static IPs but things looked great.

Using a new Microsoft tool that I discuss further down I installed our websites and that left setting up the mail server.

The Installation from Hell

Webhost4life uses SmarterMail. My reasoning was this should be a good choice. They offer a free package with one domain and 9 addresses which seemed adequate for our installation. After a few frustrating days where I could send mail but not receive it I abandoned that effort and tried hMail. The results were the same – I could send mail but I couldn’t receive mail.

Now I’m a fair programmer but network administration is NOT my forte. I have steadfastly avoided getting involved with Microsoft Exchange Server largely because it involves the installation of Active Directory and that package leaves be breathless. Out of frustration I bit the bullet so to speak and installed Active Directory, set up accounts and installed Exchange Server 2007. There were a few hitches involving required supporting material but ultimately I brought up Exchange Server Management Console and had mail up and running. Once again I could send but now receive.

Ultimately it turned out that Cox had some old accounts for us still in their cache. I won’t bore you with the details of how we discovered that but it just points out how problems can occur in the most unusual places.  I’m not sure this will help many people but if it gives you some directions to travel in solving a problem I will be happy.

Microsoft Web Application Installer

In addition to a wide range of new education I received I discovered an new Microsoft beta called a web application installer.

http://www.microsoft.com/web/channel/downloads/default.aspx

Using a series of dialog boxes to gather needed information this package automates the installation of the following types of sites. And it’s free…

Application

Platform

Cost

App Type

Website

DotNetNuke

.NET

Open

CMS

http://www.dotnetnuke.com/

Drupal

PHP

Open

CMS

http://drupal.org/

Gallery

PHP

Open

Photo Sharing

http://gallery.menalto.com/

Graffiti CMS

.NET

Paid

CMS

http://graffiticms.com/

OS Commerce

PHP

Open

Online Commerce

http://www.oscommerce.com/

PHPBB

PHP

Open

BBS

http://www.phpbb.com/

WordPress

PHP

Open

Blogging

http://wordpress.org/

 

Posted on Monday, December 8, 2008 11:32 AM | Back to top


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