A lot of time has past since my last post, a lot of work has been done, a lot of hours has been spent in studying and testing new solutions to serve better the needs of our corporate IT environment and our customers’ ones.
One of the bigger improvements is about the oldest form of synchronous collaboration: phone calls! One week ago our CommuniGate system began to route all voice traffic in and out my business. Stalker’s product is the last piece of software I tested to manage such type of communications (another good candidate was Asterisk) and it proved to be the better choice for businesses of all sizes, thanks to its right price and its amazing scalability and reliability, which lets it to serve five thousand as well as five users with the same high level of performance and functionality.
The wide range of transport and access protocols supported lets our users connect and keep in contact from almost any client software or device on any platform to any customer or partner who might rely on public or private communication system and network (e-mail, Jabber, GTalk, SIP, PSTN, …), so dramatically simplifying the administrative efforts to connect these entities.
A lot of aspects were involved in such evaluation, which I can’t describe here and now, but the results of our tests convinced us that, even if CommuniGate’s strong backgrounds in carrier’s field make it miss a lot of enterprise features at this time, it has all the requirements needed to fight and win in the enterprise market, first of all because of its rock-solid architecture, which makes it run and be supported on almost twenty different computer architectures!
Some days ago our production web application platform has been upgraded to the 6.9 Drupal release. A little work has been necessary to migrate some self-customized themes and to remove or substitute with custom views some modules which were not available for the 6.x branch.
Drupal has confirmed to be a very interesting web development framework to address the needs of highly customized and business-tailored applications for (at least) the SME segment.
I had been spending some free-time to research a good groupware server far less featured than an enterprise product (such as Microsoft Exchange, with whom I’ve some experience 😉 ). What I was looking for was a product which is able to:
- run on at least one type of BSD server platform;
- give a user experience similar to that of an Exchange system (e-mail, personal and shared contacts, calendar and tasks);
- be accessed using different types of desktop clients (such as Microsoft Outlook, Mac OS X Mail, web browsers or other free/open-sourced products) over the web in a secure way (using SSL/TLS);
- integrate with an existing corporate directory service (Active Directory, Mac and authenticate using secure protocols, such as kerberos.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking for that solution and, until now, it seemed that the only way to accomplish these goals was to build it using a few stand-alone products (SMTP and IMAP server for e-mail, web collaboration for groupware tasks, external authentication services, etc.). That was not what i was looking for, since one of my requirements was to maintain the administration cost as low as possible.
Same days ago I rediscovered the Communigate Pro platform, which seems to fit completely what are my needs: I’m giving it a try by creating a new service subdomain (see the CGP web interface at http://mail.bsd.valsania.it) and running it on a FreeBSD jail. It’s too early to say something sharp about it, but I feel that’s a great piece of software, built to perform and scale very well even in an enterprise or service provider environment, and I surely be glad to get deeper into that solution.
Some days ago I read a very nice document explaining the technology behind the Jabber system. I have to admit that the specifications of the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) nicely impressed me! Making XMPP one of the few Internet standard IM protocol approved by the IETF is the fact that definitely convinced me to build a FreeBSD jail and begin testing some Jabber servers. I’m focusing on the Openfire product, which seems to be really enterprise-ready: I’ve been able to connect it to Active Directory and to the MSFT Live Messenger public IM service in a snap! I’m also interested in ejabberd, which seems to support all high-quality features that an hosting provider needs (as the clustering support): maybe it would be a building block of the Phoibos service infrastructure.
The latest upgrade of WordPress, which is the blog engine running the Phoibos blog hosting service, has been successfully completed today.
For the first time since I began working with Drupal I had to upgrade a running web site to a newer version. The upgrade has been from 5.1 to 5.2 release, which contains some bug fixes (see the related announcement). The process has been quite simple on a development test site and I succesfully completed it at the first shoot. I decided to wait some days more before upgrading my first Drupal web site in a production environment!
Just upgraded all Phoibos hosted weblogs to the latest 2.2.1 WP version, mainly because of new XSS bugfixes. I’d like to move as sson as possible the whole Phoibos blog hosting collection to a new FreeBSD server (6.2-RELEASE) with the latest versions of Apache, PHP and MySQL. I’ll post the results as a comment when I’ll finish. 🙂
Once more time our blogging service platform has been upgraded to the latest version of the WordPress engine (the 2.2 “Getz”). As usual, there has not been any problem in the simple upgrade process: this news is only to tell our users that we don’t sleep all around the day! 😉
After I had setup it for a friend of mine, some days ago I decided to take a look to the Drupal open source CMS. As usual, I did not have the time to get in deep with it, but I feel it could be a good platform to develop on, mainly to build clean corporate public web sites (looking for theme developers…). Until I’ll be able to take a sharper look at its potential, I’ll publish my work-in-progress pages on http://drupal.valsania.it. Take it a look… I’ll be glad to read your opinion about Drupal as long as you’ll insert your comments to this post.
Finally I got the time to update all production systems to this latest Service Pack from Microsoft. A few days ago I tested the update process in a development environment: I achieved some good results, but I was wondering about what would happen to Automatic Update client service database and repository.
On the production environment I’ve had the chance to leverage the undo disk feature of Microsoft Virtual Server because all my Windows servers are running as virtual guests: this has allowed me to update in a worry-free manner and to found the best method to clear all the Windows AU data, on both the client and the WSUS server.
The update process on all my corporate core system has gone now: if there won’t be any issue during the next two days, I’ll probably update all the Windows Server systems in the Phoibos hosting platform on Easter holidays!