Customer Vince asks for guidance on setting-up a SerioWeb customer portal for his customers on the internet, having not undertaken this kind of task previously.
The first thing to consider is this: host local or remotely? By this, I mean is the web server machine in your offices, or hosted in a specialist hosting facility? A local solution is easier to set-up, but you may prefer the resilience and uptime that might be offered by a hosted solution. Local solutions are cheaper, and require less specialist technical knowledge that a hosted solution. Hosted solutions required a virtual private network (VPN) to be established between SerioServer and the remote IIS web server.
In Vince’s case, the best solution from a cost and complexity viewpoint, is almost certainly a local solution, and it is this that the rest of this blog post will concentrate on. I’m going to assume traffic calculations to support the expected number of users has been performed.
So, how do you connect the web site to the internet?
First of all, you need connectivity. That means either using your existing broadband connection with a fixed IP address, or purchasing a dedicated (leased) incoming line also with a fixed IP address. Using your existing IP connection with fixed IP is cheapest, but check that placing a web server there does not violate your ISP’s terms of service.
If you are following closely, you now have internet connectivity with a fixed IP address, and a computer that sits on the end of the broadband connection. This is the computer that will often run the webserver that hosts SerioWeb (though if you have the expertise you can usually set-up routing such that another computer on your network is used).
Placing any computer on the internet providing a web server requires you to think about security – making sure the system is correctly patched, runs a firewall, has anti-virus software – and so on. An in-depth discussion of this is outside the remit of this blog, so you may wish to seek specialist advice at this point.
The next thing you need is a domain name. Of course, a domain name is not mandatory as such, in that you can tell your visitors to use an IP address, but a domain name is much nicer to and more familiar to users. If such a service is provided, you can obtain a domain name from your ISP, or you can use a specialist company to register the name and associate the IP address with the domain – one such being registry.com (again, make sure you are not violating your ISP’s terms of service).
Finally, you can choose to use SSL (encrypted communications) with your web site. If you do this you’ll need to buy a certificate. There are many providers – try googling for providers in your country such as ‘ssl certificates UK’ or ‘ssl certificates Australia’. Pick a provider that has very good step-by-step instructions for your web server, and who will re-issue the certificate free of charge if you make a mistake.