Part 4 – Building Better Monitoring for DotNetNuke Servers

16 January, 2013 CloudContent ManagementHostingSecuritySoftwareStabilityTechnologyWindows

This is Part 4 of a 4-part series on the construction and implementation of our new server monitoring service … included with all our Business and Enterprise server plans.

– Tony Valenti

Membership Has its Privileges …

Faced with the realization that adding another user name and password was not a convenient option for most of our customers, we determined that we needed to build a custom DotNetNuke membership provider that could authenticate against the Parallels Business Automation control panel software that we use. Advanced Monitoring for DotNetNuke

As we started investigating this, we noticed an interesting use case that we were going to need to solve for.  You see, the way that our control panel works is that you have a Customer (for example, “SmithCo”). Users are attached to that customer (Bob Smith and Jane Smith).  When Jane logs in with her username and password, she see’s all of SmithCo’s information and has virtually identical user interface and overall experience as Bob Smith does when he logs in.  We felt that it was important that we be able to maintain this consistency of experience for the monitoring tool as well.  We came up with a creative way to do it.

On the membership provider, there is a method called “login” that takes a username and password and it returns either a User (if login successful) or “null” (if unsuccessful).  This is where we got a little clever.

When a login request comes in, we take the email address and password and we verify them against our Control Panel.  If successful, the system identifies the account that the user belongs to and we create a separate, distinct user identity for that account inside of DotNetNuke.  Then, the login is executed against this distinct,  generic, and secure username and password–not the user name and password specific to the actual user logging in.  And since this generic assess is internal and not associated with an individual user, no one has to manage another account or set of credentials.  Deleting an authorized account user denies them access to the monitoring interface.

This is basically a layered, custom, single-sign-on provider.

This may seem a little complicated, but it accomplishes the goal by allowing each individual user to log in with their own credentials, but their experience is consistent across the board when using the new advanced monitoring service because the specific user log in functions as an account-side log in in for all authorized users.  It is secure, efficient, consistent, and intuitive from the customer’s perspective and it gives them a good experience (which is what counts the most).

Microsoft Fixes the SNMP Bug

In part 3 of this series we discussed the Windows Server bug related to SNMP use across multiple IP addresses.  Microsoft fixed the bug and gave us a preliminary build.  And on January 9, 2013, they published that fix to the world.  You can read the related Microsoft KB article for more information.  So not only did we build a custom Advanced Server Monitoring service for our DotNetNuke customers that really works well, but the process added, in a small way, to the advancement of the Windows Server OS.  That feels pretty good.

Success!

That does it!  That’s how we completely rebuilt our advanced monitoring service.  We pride ourselves on building extra value into our services.  If you are a PowerDNN server customer now, you can visit http://server.Monitoring.PowerDNN.com in order to start using this new tool yourself, or ask the support team for more information.  If you want to learn how to get a DotNetNuke optimized server from PowerDNN, contact the sales team today.

– Read part 3 again. –