FAQ - Ava PA Web

Question
Install options for the Ava Web pages
Answer

Ava web pages require Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 6.0 or higher. They also require net 4.0. Providing the hardware is in place, and security policies configured: Ava will remotely install and configure the web pages, services and connections.

The good news (apart from the fact that we dynamically drive the content of our (your new) web pages so that when you add new categories to the back office, the web site will follow these (if the appropriate check box is ticked).

The really good news (especially if you have invested in expensive art work for your existing site) is that all you need to do with your current web site is put three links to the active pages and configure the menu files on the active pages to link back to your existing site. "Ah, but my site is php" I hear some of you say. Well the optimisation that Windows IIS puts into displaying all web pages mean that php has been proven to work just as well on IIS as Apache.

See here: Styling and customising your Ava web site.

There are three basic options for the Ava database configuration and Ava web...

  • Option 1: Ava data stored in the cloud (currently using Rackspace virtual servers). 

This is the simplest of options. Ava will install the database and IIS service. We will configure it for secure remote access and provide VPN connections for your local windows clients to run our back office software. Your IT people will need to configure your firewalls and may advise a separate server (Internet Acceleration Server or IAS) to provide the best security and resilience.  See DOS attack in Option2

 

  • Option 2: Ava data is stored on your server and the web site is also on your server. 

This is quite simple. However there are lots of bad guys out there on the internet and they have literally millions of infected computers (bot nets) to mount zero cost (to them) attacks on your site. One of the most popular of these attacks is called denial of service (DOS). DOS is simply designed to overwhelm your server and bring it to its knees.

For example, the Ava site is quite popular. We have lots of helpful information here. We get in the region of 10,000 hits a month at the time of writing. These are mainly from the UK and mainly in business hours. Believe us, this is a large number of purely search sourced traffic and its taken time to build up. In more digestible numbers, it is however, only one hit every minute or so. (Allowing for we get very few hits during the night and much less at weekends.) Since visitors spend on average a couple of minutes on our site, there are a couple of people viewing Ava during any part of the working day.  On the other hand there is a site in the US (it reports as being in the US) which every so often hits our web server with hundreds of requests over a very short period, usually between midnight and 4 am.  Previously our server its self stood up. However the old ISP's router provided by another previous ISP (NOT Rackspace) simply ditched our site, stopping the flood of request, but so effectively bringing our site down. The old ISP was not a lot of help. We moved our site to Rackspace and not only did we get a more responsive we server, but the DOS attacks no longer bring down our site.

Your server security is your responsibility and your IT people need to be happy they can deal with these sorts of issues.

You will also need to purchase and install your own certificate for the secure web access. All Ava active web secure pages (as soon as you go to login) are served on https which requires a certificate.

The Ava software is designed (and does) run installations with thousands of employees and hundreds of customer locations. These can be accessed via back office and web pages simultaneously and quickly on appropriately configured hardware.

 

  • Option 3: Ava data is stored on your server and the web site is hosted at an ISP. 

This is a little more complex. We need to set up a secure link (VPN) between your data and the ISP's web server. If the ISP is Rackspace and the web server is part of one we host then we can do it for you. Ideally we will want a fixed IP at your database server. You will want to configure your firewall so only the VPN gets through.

You will also need to purchase and install your own certificate for the secure web access. All secure pages (as soon as you go to login) are served on https which requires a certificate.

see also: Styling and customising your Ava web site

Additional links which may preove useful

HTTPS authentication by Microsoft (suprisingly clear for them!)

Wiki Transport_Layer_Security: SSL / HTTPS

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This FAQ was last updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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