Weekly Wrap Up – OMi

February 21st, 2020 — 7:20am

Here’s a quick summary of what I worked on this week:

HPE Operations Manager (OMi) – I spent a good deal of time working with Operations Manager – 10.62 this week, helping configure a new instance for a client. This software provides monitoring and alerting for any networked device (servers, storage, routers, virtual, cloud, etc.). A big part of my role is configuring external functionality through scripting, api calls, and OM utilities to automate common functions.

Php ecommerce – Made some changes and updates for a client using Sunshop, a commercially available ecommerce application. I like this program because much of the code and templates are editable (once you buy the license), so it can be customized heavily to the client’s desires. It’s php/mysql based so it runs on most hosting platforms as well.

Custom php – I wrote and updated some custom php / mysql / postgres applications. One is an existing LMS (Learning Management System) which needed a few new features, and the other is a simple database application for managing internal workflows.

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Weekly Wrap Up – LDAP, php and perl

February 13th, 2020 — 4:08pm

LDAP – This week I had an interesting challenge – integrate LDAP (Active Directory, actually) authentication into an existing application (perl based). The main page was actually static html, which linked out to four perl cgi based utilities.

The goal was to add authentication to the company’s internal Active Directory, but only to members of specific groups.

Due to the ease of php’s ldap integration, I replaced the static html page with a php based script to handle the login and menu options. In the Perl code, I added some code to check the sessions against the authenticated users, and grant / deny access.

CodeIgniter – I also had the chance to do a small application in CodeIgniter, my favorite php framework. I also used a CRUD library called “GroceryCRUD”, which makes building the admin side of things pretty fast and foolproof.

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Authorize.net eliminates setup fee

April 25th, 2018 — 7:57am

Authorize.net, the leading payment provider for ecommerce and online payments, removed their setup fee ($49) on April 19.  This is great news, since the fee was much higher than competitors, and was a barrier for entry level ventures, or hobby websites.

Without the setup fee, merchants can start taking online payments with a minimum committment of $25 / month.  Each transaction is then subject to a 2.9% + $0.30 charge, which is in line with the industry standard.  For someone looking to enter the ecommerce world, authorize.net is now a more affordable option to consider.  Merchants looking to change payment providers will also benefit from this change.  They can now effectively trial another payment provider without a setup penalty, as it were.

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Cloud computing on AWS

October 18th, 2017 — 4:41pm

I’ve recently delved into the AWS (Amazon Web Services) world, and it’s awesome!  Goodbye hardware issues and renting physical servers.  AWS (and other cloud platforms) offers a full spectrum of virtual server space and services which are easily scalable, fault tolerant, and easy to replicate and deploy in minutes.

It’s difficult to sum up the full spectrum of what’s offered, but here are some examples of what I’ve done so far:

  • Set up website hosting using the AWS “lightsail” product
  • Set up EC2 servers to host larger projects and development
  • Used Route 53 for DNS load balancing (using Elastic load balancer)
  • Used RDS for scalable remote database services.

This just scratches the surface of what could be done with AWS.  The costs so far are very reasonable, and based more on actual usage than the normal flat fee hosting services out there.  It seems to me that some technical expertise (sys admin / sys architect) is still needed – these are not turnkey setups with cpanel and fancy dashboards that hosting companies provide.  But if you have some skills, or can hire someone who does, you can save money, and get your website / application into the “cloud” for better and more reliable performance.

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The rise of pay-for-usage services

July 14th, 2017 — 2:38pm

Amazon.com has been an ecommerce giant since the late 90’s.  It now sells almost everything you can imagine, and most people would think that’s also where it makes it’s money.

Wrong – mostly.  Outside of techies, most people don’t know that Amazon owns one of the biggest “cloud computing platforms,” known as AWS (Amazon Web Services).  This is a platform where companies essentially “rent” computing power, storage, and many other digital services.  In 2016, AWS contributed $3.1 billion in operating income to Amazon.  Retail contributed about $1.1 billion.  Surprised?

So, what is AWS?  It’s a massive set of cloud services, allowing companies to build and host web-services, databases, rent computing power, storage, and much more.  Companies that used to rent physical servers, or co-location space in data centers are moving their infrastructure to cloud based services.  An analogy might be moving from digging and maintaining your own well for freshwater, to a municipal water service that provides fresh water at a low cost.

What’s interesting to me is that these services are charging based on usage, rather than a “flat fee” per month.  On the surface, this might sound expensive, but in my experience, it’s actually cheaper.  Companies only pay for what they use, be it computing power, database transactions, etc.  Amazon has also opened up API’s to it’s natural language processing (build your own Alexa!), and much more.

From a technical perspective, this shift means that people in IT should start learning more about cloud architecture and terminology.  That’s what I’ve been doing, and starting to advise for my clients.

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