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Windows Server Support: improve it or do not charge for it


xtech

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Hi,
my biggest wish is not related with version 4.0. I just wish IP to provide effective support for Windows Server users, instead of supporting Linux (in whatever flavour it comes).
I have purchased about all IP software packages in August.
I have created three support tickets. None of them was given a satisfatory answer. As soon as i told "i am running on windows server", the support guys (2nd line of support) were quick to say something like "well this is out of scope", though i have to say all of them were very nice and seemed to be willing to help the customer, but for "company policy" reasons, they were not able to help anymore.
I have been told that "running our software in a normal manner in a hosting environment that is the norm for the majority of web hosting providers. " I have noticed IP considers Linux the "norm of the majority" in what concerns to support (what is a dangerous concept), but that was anywhere written when i bought your software. Being so, please improve support for Windows Server users or clearly state that "if you run on Windows Server, you are at your own risk", and do not charge for support for users that are using an "out of scope" OS.
I have bought all your software packages and brand removal, so, to be honest, it was some big money. I get frustrated with the "out of scope" thing as soon i mention Windows Server. I am not a Windows or Linux fanatic. I use the one which suits me better, no problems with that. I have used linux many times.

So, you understand if i start thinking "should i renew my license, if i get more support from the community itself than from IP?" I won't pay for getting no support, as it is obvious.

I understand that OS questions are outside of scope, but you can not deny that the software is installed on an OS, and that OS needs to be set up correctly to run IP software. You should be able to say the correct setup for your software in each OS. Otherwise it is better to say "we are not responsible for installation and use in OS A, B or C, so you are at your own risk" when user buys your software.
I am just sharing this to you to incentivate you to reconsider the way you give support to your clients, the ones that have the software self-hosted and maybe also run on Windows Server. By any means i want to harshly criticize your work or software, i am just giving you feedback of thing you need to improve in terms of customer support. A happy customer always returns to buy more, and i want to keep being an IP customer.

Best Regards

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I develop, full time, on a Windows environment - thus I can say for absolute certainty the software does run on Windows.

If you do not host with us, we do not provide any operating system-level support (which is normal for software providers in our industry). We will fully support our software on whatever hosting environment you are using, however if an issue comes up with the software that is abnormal and it is suspected the hosting environment is the cause of the issue, we will be unable to assist and will refer you to our host.

Without having looked at your ticket history, the above is simply a generic response to your inquiry. In short - if you face an issue and it is suspected this issue is a problem with the server, we refer you to your host.

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bfarber, thank you for your answer. I have seen you are always willing to help people around here - and that deserves my deep respect! :smile:

Well, the software sure runs in Windows Server - i got it running on windows server by now, though not optimal - still having encoding issues. My only complaint is that the IP support for windows server users - at least by my own experience - is not satisfatory. I am also an informatics engineer, and having worked previously on the support side, i understand this type of work.

The hosting environment, in my case, was a dedicated server, which i had full control, so the matter was not really the hosting enviroment but the way i shall have it set up. There were no host issues, no limiting permissions, nothing. Total freedom. Nevertheless i felt IP support did not really care much about some issues i had with IP software on windows server. Even the support side is tailored to Linux: it would be so much easier to provide a remote desktop connection for a windows server users directly to IP support which could allow IP staff to check definitions, go to the powershell, etc.

I can see here that for example the encoding problem i have is not just mine - other people had it (some of them about two/three years ago), but still there was no solution for it from IP. So i suspect what happened to me has happened to other windows server issues. Sure, for english forums there is no encoding issues whatever the OS is, but for non-english forums, it gets difficult to get them right.

Sure i will be checking the 4.0 version.. but i would like IP to make improvements on supporting IPB on Windows Server before i decide to pay for something i know i won't get support if i have a problem.

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IP.Board is not tailored for any specific operating system, as is the case with most web software.

IP.Board is programmed in PHP. As long as your operating system is capable of running a web server with proper PHP and MySQL support, you shouldn't have any problems.

IPS can't help you with setting up or configuring MySQL and Apache on your Windows server (as an example). Any server when properly set up, regardless of the operating system, should be able to run IP.Board. Be it on Windows, Linux or FreeBSD.

It wasn't that support stated they couldn't help you because you're using Windows, rather any issues relating to your server configuration and setup are outside the scope of support altogether. Support can only assist you with issues directly related to IP.Board and its associated applications.

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IP.Board is not tailored for any specific operating system, as is the case with most web software.

Where did i said that? I said that "Even the support side is tailored to Linux". No word about the IPB software itself. Again, in the first post: "By any means i want to harshly criticize your work or software, i am just giving you feedback of thing you need to improve in terms of customer support."

IP.Board is programmed in PHP. As long as your operating system is capable of running a web server with proper PHP and MySQL support, you shouldn't have any problems.

Well, my system is configured with proper PHP and MySQL support. Indeed i have some problems, as some other people who had them too.

IPS can't help you with setting up or configuring MySQL and Apache on your Windows server (as an example). Any server when properly set up, regardless of the operating system, should be able to run IP.Board. Be it on Windows, Linux or FreeBSD.

I agree with you. Nevetheless, what is a "proper set up"?. Is it stated anywhere? You know the software development business is not only about programming. Documentation (which is something IP already said it would improve in 4.0 version) and Support are also part of it. Also, i didn't said that my windows server is not running IPB. I said i have had some issues. I am not complaining about the software itself, as i have told. I am just giving my feedback on support.

It wasn't that support stated they couldn't help you because you're using Windows, rather any issues relating to your server configuration and setup are outside the scope of support altogether. Support can only assist you with issues directly related to IP.Board and its associated applications.

That's why am giving my feedback, which i, as a paying customer, am entitled to do. I do it not just to criticize, but to help IP to improve its business processes. See this as a constructive critic. If i sell software that runs on a platform, i should be able to tell to my customers what are the settings of the platform. Otherwise, i should clearly state in the sales agreement that although it may run on it, i do not support/document the software installation/running as well as the proper configuration the platform A, B or C.

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Well, my system is configured with proper PHP and MySQL support. Indeed i have some problems, as some other people who had them too.

I would recommend posting the problems you are having here:

http://community.invisionpower.com/forum/483-ips-community-suite-coregeneral/

I agree with you. Nevetheless, what is a "proper set up"?. Is it stated anywhere? You know the software development business is not only about programming. Documentation (which is something IP already said it would improve in 4.0 version) and Support are also part of it. Also, i didn't said that my windows server is not running IPB. I said i have had some issues. I am not complaining about the software itself, as i have told. I am just giving my feedback on support.

The minimum requirements are listed here. You can use the free compatibility checker script to ensure your servers PHP installation meets the minimum requirements for running IP.Board.

That's why am giving my feedback, which i, as a paying customer, am entitled to do. I do it not just to criticize, but to help IP to improve its business processes. See this as a constructive critic. If i sell software that runs on a platform, i should be able to tell to my customers what are the settings of the platform. Otherwise, i should clearly state in the sales agreement that although it may run on it, i do not support/document the software installation/running as well as the proper configuration the platform A, B or C.

The PHP requirements on Linux are the same as the PHP requirements for any other operating system you may wish to use. Same for MySQL. There's nothing I know of that needs to be documented explicitly for Windows installations, minus maybe installing Sphinx. (Which Sphinx installation, as far as I know, is also outside the scope of support for IPS)

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As a rule windows can run web software well, however it's not as easy to setup and configure properly as there isn't as much support for it on the web.

There is a reason most web hosting providers run linux based software, it works and it works well, whereas windows.... simply put, isn't so easy to get setup correctly and can have many issues with updates and configuration.

From a support standpoint, most windows users are self administering the server, meaning they are not a systems admin doing so, but a windows users trying to attempt to setup and run a web server with little to no experience doing so. This creates many issues for them and why you have seen so many have trouble.

I'm not saying you are in the same position as most are, but it's often the case from my experience. When dealing with any server, you should have a qualified server admin looking after things, even if you run things yourself, you need someone to be able to support the server at a high level when you have trouble.

With that said, we don't support windows just as we don't support Linux, however we may be able to guide you in the right direction a little more with Linux as it's so much more common. I would say about 95% plus of sites using web forum software like ours are running linux.

If you have nothing that is keeping you tied to windows as a server, such as .net, .aspx, etc... then run far from it and install linux and be done! :) If you want to or have to stick with windows server, hire a systems administrator to help you get a proper setup and have someone to reach out to when needed.

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I think the key note, IPS does not support Linux either. Nor do they support the web standard, PHP / Apache / MySQL.

Clients running the likes of Nginx, lighttp, fast-cgi, etc are in a similar situation.

IPS Support are tailored around running the IPS products on a functioning hosting environment, whatever software that may be. When an issue points toward hosting, support may be able to provide a few pointers for Apache / MySQL, regardless of OS, it is ultimately up to the clients host to diagnose and resolve those hosting issues.

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bfarber, thank you for your answer. I have seen you are always willing to help people around here - and that deserves my deep respect! :smile:

Well, the software sure runs in Windows Server - i got it running on windows server by now, though not optimal - still having encoding issues. My only complaint is that the IP support for windows server users - at least by my own experience - is not satisfatory. I am also an informatics engineer, and having worked previously on the support side, i understand this type of work.

The hosting environment, in my case, was a dedicated server, which i had full control, so the matter was not really the hosting enviroment but the way i shall have it set up. There were no host issues, no limiting permissions, nothing. Total freedom. Nevertheless i felt IP support did not really care much about some issues i had with IP software on windows server. Even the support side is tailored to Linux: it would be so much easier to provide a remote desktop connection for a windows server users directly to IP support which could allow IP staff to check definitions, go to the powershell, etc.

I can see here that for example the encoding problem i have is not just mine - other people had it (some of them about two/three years ago), but still there was no solution for it from IP. So i suspect what happened to me has happened to other windows server issues. Sure, for english forums there is no encoding issues whatever the OS is, but for non-english forums, it gets difficult to get them right.

Sure i will be checking the 4.0 version.. but i would like IP to make improvements on supporting IPB on Windows Server before i decide to pay for something i know i won't get support if i have a problem.

This was addressed earlier by Rhett, but just to re-iterate - we don't support any OS, Linux included. Some of our techs may be more knowledgeable with Linux and will be able to offer some helpful pointers perhaps, but that does not mean we support Linux itself.

You mention remote desktop - we do not use remote desktop. We also do not use "Gotomypc" or "Citrix" or any other screen sharing remote tools, because we are not server administrators (well, we do not offer server administration outside of our own environments at least). If an issue requires using Remote Desktop, it has exceeded what our technical support is available for, and this is already publicly stated in our standards of service.

http://www.invisionpower.com/legal/standards


In some circumstances server-level issues will impact our software's ability to execute properly. IPS cannot make adjustments to your server hosting environment to bring it within the normal environment most hosting providers use.

Our staff will often need access to your community admin area or server file system to diagnose a support issue. If you cannot or will not provide such access: support will be limited or unavailable.

IPS technicians use web-standard methods such as FTP, SSH, and SCP to access servers when we may need to diagnose. We may not be able to use other methods for access.

We do not "call out" remote desktop, because it is not the only method that is unsupported. Instead we list what we feel are web-standard connection methods that are fully supported. Anything else is considered unsupported in most cases.

Similarly, we would not use power shell (or command prompt) to assist. We also do not SSH into communities to assist with the server on Linux boxes. As a general rule, if SSH is "required" to solve the problem, it is almost certainly an issue at the server level which is outside the scope of our support.

Ultimately it sounds like you hit an issue that was outside the scope of our support. I do apologize that you have been affected by something we cannot assist with, but I would not take that as an indication that we do not support "Windows" specifically. Whether you run on a Windows server or a Mac server or a Linux server or any other server, if you have a properly configured standard hosting environment, we will provide support for our software itself. If the problem you face is outside of our software (and many many encoding issues, which you specifically referenced, are unfortunately), we will refer you to your web host or system administrator, regardless of the operating system.

You may be happy to know, however, that we are working on assisting clients migrating to UTF-8 when 4.0 is available. Depending upon the exact encoding issues you are facing, this move may help you solve the issue you are facing.

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You may be happy to know, however, that we are working on assisting clients migrating to UTF-8 when 4.0 is available. Depending upon the exact encoding issues you are facing, this move may help you solve the issue you are facing.

Yes i will be checking IPB 4.0 because as far as i know it will make use of the php multibyte string functions which would help to solve a lot of my encoding problems.
Nevertheless, unfortunately i am using a set of 3rd party software bought at the marketplace, so i will need to wait for their software updates before upgrading to 4.0.

I could change to linux, but is a kind of work to set it all again and currently i don't have that much time...as i am quite happy with the performance of Windows Server and IIS, so i think i will stick with it for now and wait to IPB 4.0 and app updates.

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