DiscountASP.NET is one of the partner hosting providers with whom we work closely to provide high value Windows hosting. DiscountASP.NET offers one base hosting plan and add-on enhancements. Customers can choose either Windows 2008 or Windows 2003, with hosting in the US or in the UK. Customers choosing the Windows 2008 platform benefit from the IIS7 platform and the free Web server extensions, such as:
- Access from Remote IIS Manager for easy rich client remote management for hosted sites
- Database Manager for backup and restore as a remote user
- Smooth Streaming for high definition video
- URL Rewrite for rich control over in-bound and out-bound URLs for search engine optimization (SEO), access control, and better user experience with the site
- Web Deploy for simplified application deployments to remote hosted servers
DiscountASP.NET also heavily uses the built-in Failed Request Tracing feature in the IIS7.x platform to troubleshoot customer problems more quickly and easily. Giving developers tools around troubleshooting is a big focus area for DiscountASP.NET, who has just recently rolled out SQL profiling as a service. DiscountASP.NET can run a standard trace template and provide the trace file to customers who can then analyze the trace file using SQL Profiler or Database Tuning Advisor.
DiscountASP.NET Custom IIS Manager Extensions
DiscountASP.NET has also been quick to take advantage of IIS Manager extensibility. (If you are interested, CarlosAg’s blog has a lot of good information about IIS Manager extensibility.) Developers on-staff at DiscountASP.NET have put together several custom IIS Manager extensions, based on customer demand, such as:
- Web.config backup/restore module: DiscountASP.NET found that many customers accidentally overwrote their web.config file, so the DiscountASP.NET team built an extension that can be used to backup a web.config file, with the ability to restore the web.config file from backup. (You can also perform the same process of backup and restore of config files using the Backup Add and Restore commands for appcmd, which is a command line tool that ships with IIS7 and later versions.) This is especially useful when the web.config file is being updated from Visual Studio and from IIS Manager. Here’s a video demo.
- GAC viewer module: Customers who were using beta controls on a local development computer sometimes uploaded their apps to the production hosting server and didn’t realize that the beta controls were not installed on the server. DiscountASP.NET provides this tool for customers to view and obtain details of the server-side global assembly cache assemblies. Here’s a video demo.
- Feedback Module: DiscountASP.NET has built a module that lets customers provide feedback directly to the DiscountASP.NET dev team about the IIS Manager. There’s a short part of the feedback module in this video demo. It’s a neat idea and something that we on the IIS team have thought about implementing as well. :-)
The DiscountASP.NET team used the same public APIs that we use to build custom IIS Manager extensions. Because DiscountASP.NET is using the IIS Manager extensibility framework, the extensions can be used from the IIS Remote Manager (the rich desktop client that connects with IIS Manager on the server for site and server management) and also be delegated to non-admin users.
Discount ASP.NET Control Panel Integration with Windows Web App Gallery
Joining other integrators of Web App Gallery that I talked about in an earlier blog, DiscountASP.NET recently launched integration with the Windows Web Application Gallery with their control panel. You can watch a short video on YouTube about the new feature in the DiscountASP.NET control panel, or check out the screen shots below.
DiscountASP.NET used the Web App Gallery integration guide to integrate the application ATOM feed that drives Web Platform Installer Application tab and the Web Application Gallery Web site. In the screenshot below, you can see how DiscountASP.NET implemented the applicationlist.xml ATOM feed to integrate with the look-and-feel of their control panel. Although it looks quite different from the Web Application Gallery or the Application tab of the Web Platform Installer, the data (text, links, etc.) all comes from that same ATOM feed. DiscountASP.NET is also filtering the full applicationlist.XML file to pick which applications to display.
That integration control panel experience continues through the application installation process, where you can see the first screen of the installation displayed within the DiscountASP.NET control panel context.
The custom extensions and Web Application Gallery integration into the DiscountASP.NET control panel show how another hosting provider uses IIS7.x platform extensibility, free server extensions, and open source application ecosystem support to provide a high value Windows Server hosted experience.