Externally-Hosted Web Services

insidiousbehaviorSecurity

Nov 3, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Externally
-
Hosted Web Services

Brian Kelly

UK Web Focus

UKOLN

University of Bath

UKOLN is funded by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries,
the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher
and Further
Education Funding Councils, as well as by project funding from the JISC and the
European Union.

UKOLN also receives support from the University of Bath where it is based.

Email
:
B.Kelly
@ukoln.ac.uk

URL
:
http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/

Summary

This talk describes a
variety of externally
-
hosted Web services
and ponders on their
applicability for UK
Public Libraries

2

Ring Any Bells?


You manage a Web service or create
departmental Web pages


Your job was fun once, but now it's difficult to
keep on top the job


You need extra resources, but can’t get them


Your good Unix systems staff have left for $$$$


There is a software solution, but it's expensive


You tried to install the 14 day evaluation version,
but couldn't get it to work


When you eventually got it to work, your PC
wasn't powerful enough to run it


You can't afford an upgrade to your PC

3

An Answer To The
Webmaster's Prayer?

A solution may be available:


A solution which is free (in many cases)


A solution which requires no software installation


A solution which requires no investment in
hardware


A solution which exploits the network


remember
Sun’s slogan “The network is the computer”

The solution is deployment of
externally
-
hosted Web
services


Sounds great? But will it mean
outsourcing your IT department?

4

What Do We Mean?

Remember HTML Validation services:


Enter a URL into a Web

form and check it validates


Add an image if your page

is valid HTML


Link the page to the

validation for on
-
the
-
fly

validation
-

an externally
-

hosted web service


Another example is the hit counter

5

What edge of this spectrum
are you closest to?

Sorry I'm indecisive.

I can't decide.

Your View So Far

Sounds great, no software to install, available
for free. What else can be done in this way?


No way! I don't want to be reliant on anyone
else. Besides, I'll be out of a job if this idea
takes off


this is out
-
sourcing.

Question

Has anyone
made use of
externally
-
hosted Web
services?

6

Hit Counters to Web Stats

Hit counters have developed into comprehensive
Web statistical services

See <
http://www.exploit
-
lib.org/issue
5/indicators/
>

Comparison of externally
-
hosted and licensed approaches to be
published in
Exploit Interactive

in issue 7.

Model


Link to image
held on remote
Web site


Follow link to
remote site to
get graphical
display of hits


Use JavaScript
to record PC
profile

D

7

eGroups Mailing Lists

eGroups

lets you set up
free mailing lists

eGroups

provides

an email and Web
interface

Calendars, polls and
databases are also
provided by eGroups

How does this

compare with

Listproc or

Majordomo

installed locally?


D

You can use
www.smartgroups.com

if you want a UK
-
based equivalent

8

Managing Link Gateways

LinkBank.net

enables
link gateways to be
managed:


Bulk upload


Email
notification of
broken links


Summaries of
usage


User "sort by"
option

D

See also
JumpList.com


9

User Feedback

User feedback can include

voting systems, quizzes, etc.

D

See <
http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/

issue23/web
-
focus/
> and

<
http://ezpolls.mycomputer.com/
>

http://www.responders.net/

See also
<
http://www.

freepolls.com/
>

10

Ticket Booking Service

The Web site for booking
tickets at the Moscow State
Circus has an externally
-
hosted service for ticket
bookings.

See
<http://www.ts.com/>

11

Notification Services

You can register a page
at
Netmind
.

You will receive a
message when the page
is updated.

The
Netmind

service is
used at
Exploit Interactive

to provide notification of a
new issue.

D

12

Server Down
-

Notification

Recently the
Exploit Interactive

Web server
crashed after a
virus checker
caused memory
leaks.

Internetseer's

free Website
monitoring
service is now
used to check the
site hourly.

Up to 230 URLs
can be checked
for free.

http://www.internetseer.com/

13

Submit
-
it Services

Rather than manually
submitting key resources to
many search engines you
can:


Purchase and install

an application locally


Subscribe to a Web
-

based service


Use a free Web
-

based service

http://www.scrubtheweb.com/

http://www.submitit.com/

Exploit Interactive

has used
ScrubTheWeb



reviewed in
issue 6

14

Web Site Evaluation

Many Web
services are
available
which can be
used for
auditing and
evaluating
Web pages
and Web sites

(See hands
-
on
workshop)

http://www.linktool/.com/

15

Search Engines

Kendall and Perth and Kinross
Libraries
use
Atomz,

East Sussex
County Library use
FreeFind
and
W
olverhampton
use
HotBot

The Hertfordshire Grid for Learning <
http://www.thegrid.org.uk/
>
use Atomz and avoid branding problems

If you do not have a search
facility, why not let a third
-
party
index your Web site? All you
need is a few lines of HTML

16

Calendars

Why bother with Outlook when you
can get calendar facilities for free?

See also
http://www.when.com/
&
http://www.ft.com/personaloffice/

You can also add your
own local news feeds

<
http://my.netscape.com/
>

17

File Store

Your file store can be stored remotely

Note:


Tools can
integrate with
Windows
Explorer


Growing
interest in
Storage Area
Networks
(SANs)

See <
http://www.idrive.com/
>

18

Content

Free news feeds, classified ads,
jokes, cartoons, quotations) can
be included on your Web site

http://ezpolls.mycomputer.com/

http://
notinmybackyard
.com/

Get Guardian news feeds for free from

<
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/
free/>

19

Your Intranet

Why not host your
Intranet remotely?

Intranets.com

provide:


Document
management tools


Email capabilities


Group calendars


Instant messaging






As we’ve seen your WAP site
can also be hosted remotely

20

Content Management

Manilla

is a Web
-
based content management tool.

You can buy the software

for $899 or use it for free at

Editthispage.com


D

21

Your Web Site

You can use externally
-
hosted services to create
and host your Web site

http://www.webnow.com/

http://www.bcentral.com/

22

Issues

Many externally
-
hosted web services are available, but:


What about the dependencies of the network(s)?


What about the reliance of the third
-
party? Will
the company stay in business?


The interface isn't as rich as desktop applications


If the service is funded by advertising revenue,
with use contravene the AUPs and guidelines?


Will large
-
scale use of such services generate
large network bills?


Is my data secure and private?


Is my data reusable and available in an open
format?


Is is sensible for a mission
-
critical service?

Remember the
WebTechs

incident?

23

RDN Include

The Resource Discovery Network Centre (RDNC)
coordinates the work of RDN hubs, such as SOSIG,
EEVL, BIOME, etc.

Institutions may be reluctant to link to hubs as they
want users to stay on the

University Web site.

The RDNC is
developing the RDN
-
I
(Include) service to
give the appearance
that the hub is located
within the institution.

The RDN will be providing
an externally
-
hosted service

24

What About The Users?

"
I use the external services because the University
doesn't allow me access to install on the server and
because it doesn't make any appropriate tools
available.
"

Tom Wilson
,

Department of Information Studies,

University of Sheffield


"
Our search facility is currently hosted by atomz.com ,
some calendering by Yahoo!, so I'm increasingly drawn
to externally hosted solutions... more time to catch up
on other, more pressing work, until they all stop
working.
"

Ian Usher
,
Webmonger
,

Department of Geography
, UCL



At one university 60% of UGs arrived with a HotMail account,
which they used in preference to the University email account.


Should the university support use of HotMail?


Can they afford not to?


What will happen when they arrive with a calendar service?

25

ASP

Application Service Providers
(ASP):


Commercial sector already moving in
this direction


Sun promote access to StarOffice
across network in preference to MS
Office on local PC


Futurelink.net

renting MS Office
across network for £79 / month

Do I need an ASP?

Useful if:


You don’t have any in
-
house IT staff


You need software for a
fixed time


You want your IT staff to
concentrate on
“competitive edge” projects


You’re a small organisation
with remote sites to
support


You want to try out
software without buying it


You prefer monthly rental
to upfront hardware /
software costs

Computer Weekly, 21 Sep

Further Information:

<http://www.aspcommunity.org/>

<http://www.aspindustry.org/>

<http://www.mi8.co.uk/>

<http://www.progress.com/>

Search Yahoo! for
ASP

26

Conclusions

Externally hosted web services:


Are available in many different areas


Arguments against their use (reliability, privacy,
trust, performance) should diminish as they mature


Their usability will improve as W3C developments
(DOM, XHTML, SVG) become more available


Your user community will use them (are using
them) in any case


Of particular interest to the public sector
community?


Will we see a move towards use of Application
Service Providers (ASPs)?


A valuable resource for the Web Manager

27

Any Questions?

28

Useful URLs

Sorted Webmaster Tools Free Of Charge

<http://www.uni
-
wuerzburg.de/mineralogie/freeof.htm>

Linkcheckers and Site Maintenance Tools

<http://www.unn.ac.uk/central/isd/links.htm>

Automated Web Testing

<http://www.internetqa.com/>

All Things Web

<http://pantos.org/atw/testing.html>

Web Site Analyst

<http://www.website
-
analyst.co.il/>