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Re: Automated solutions for a small ISP

Igor Wawrzyniak wrote:

I work for a small Internet provider. I'm getting tired of
entering the same information in many places (e.g., new client's
IP into DHCP, DNS and /etc/ethers). I'd like to have a system
which automates such tasks (OK, I've got a few scripts, but that's
not enough). I have a few ideas - could you comment them?

Idea 1) Write a system which keeps the hosts information (and in
  future   - user information) in some kind of a database (file, MySQL
  or LDAP, probably I'll choose MySQL) and generates configuration
  files. Advantages: easy to implement. Disadvantages: limited use.

Idea 2) Install a full-blown ISP managemant system, probably based on
  LDAP - for example the one described here:
  Advantages: it fully automates many mundane tasks, scales very
  well, has a web interface that can be used by not-so-technical
  personnel. Disadvantages: hard to implement, such a complicated
  system can screw up the system in more ways then I can imagine,
  security hole in this system could cause a total breakdown.

Or maybe there's another system I can use? Preferably something
modular, so that I can LDAPize some things (it doesn't really need
to be LDAP, but I feel it is the future) and keep good old
config files for other stuff? Maybe it'll be better to write
my own system (Idea 1), but with scalability in mind - that way
I will know what it does and it will minimize the risk of screwing
the system up?

Best regards

How small are you? How fast do you plan on growing?

If you're planning on steady growth, it may be well worth your time to jump to a management system now, while it's still easy to import your existing data.

We've been using Optigold here. You need to run their DB on a NT machine with Framemaker, but it does interface well with all our "real" servers (web, DNS, email, etc. all running Debian). Optigold supports LDAP, SQL, telnet, and arbitrary command line server actions, so you could probably migrate from your existing scripts easily.

With web hosting, for instance, Adding a new web host can trigger a script on the web server which dumps the necessary VirtualHost section to httpd.conf. If something breaks, it's still easily editable.

They used to have a trial program where you could use it for free with under 100 customers.

The biggest advantage we found with Optigold, which should apply to any similar system, was the integrated billing. A dedicated system worked much smoother than Quickbooks, especially once our account base passed the 1K user point.



Rich Puhek
ETN Systems Inc.
2125 1st Ave East
Hibbing MN 55746

tel:   218.262.1130
email: rpuhek@etnsystems.com

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