This is a follow up to my May 9 posting Some lessons from upgrading and transitions
In posting on the difficulty of migrating existing DNN websites to Azure and AWS E2, and how to improve performance by updating existing websites, I noted that it appeared I would be able to continue using GoDaddy shared hosting -- at least for the time being -- since the websites were performing better.
That turned out not to be the case. GoDaddy shared hosting again began taking 20 and 30 seconds to load my homepages, which is unacceptable. I talked with tech support at Go Daddy, was told that as far as they could see I had everything optimized, and that was just the best they could do. The solution would be to move to VPS or dedicated hosting, which is what I had assumed from the outset. I asked whether they could move my installs from shared hosting to VPS (recognizing that I am running on their most up-to-date Windows server software, a transition which required some substantial work on my part about six months ago). They said "no", we cannot just move you from shared hosting to VPS. You will have to undertake the migration yourself or pay our "helping hands" technicians to do it for you. No, we do not know how complicated it will be, or if it will work. I asked the technical support person to ask a "higher-level" technician, and the reply from that was "search our documentation". There was almost nothing of any use. That was the end with GoDaddy hosting.
In my previous post, I noted that it was easy to do a new install of DNN on Azure, and there is a DNN expert post on that, and related topics, here: <http://www.dnnsoftware.com/community-blog/cid/154968/creating-a-dnn-installation-on-windows-azure-websites>. I decided that at least for the time being I would just rebuild my less populated website on a new Azure install. Much of the underlying substantive data was dated and I archived that. It is up and running very nicely, very fast, looking good. Very easy. As with all of this stuff, so far…
The problem is not with new DNN installs on Azure. It is migrating old ones that are running third-party modules the databases of which may not be compatible with the Microsoft database verification procedures, and are rejected because of syntax errors in the scripts, etc. Using MS SQL Server Management Studio 2012 you can connect to your Azure account, but on exporting the database you are likely to get errors, and this is not easily overcome. Again, there is a DNN expert posting on migration: <http://www.dnnsoftware.com/community-blog/cid/154975/moving-a-dnn-install-to-microsoft-azure-websites>. I have exchanged postings with the author. Suffice it to say, it may not be so straightforward. I believe it can be summarized as "it depends on what you are trying to export". I could get close to completing a migration, but if you cannot overcome the final hurdles, it does not make any difference how close you get.
I have been using Evotiva Backup and Restore, as well as Upgrade, for years. These are great products. As I am sure many of you know, Horacio is absolutely terrific in providing technical support. You could not ask for more. Right at this moment there is some reason that Restore did not load properly for migrating to Azure. This could have been something unique to my set up. For right now that led me to Plan B that successfully involves Evotiva Backup and Restore.
One of DNN's major module suppliers suggested a couple of alternative hosting companies, one of which is Appliedi: http://www.appliedi.net/. I had searched, and in addition to being recommended, they were also offering the best deal, and told me they thought shared hosting would work for my needs. (Currently they have a deal for for one year of shared hosting, half off.) So, I decided to give this a try. Obviously, I am not running an IT department for a Fortune 500 company. Small business and DNN enthusiast, not a professional IT manager.
Appliedi quickly set up a hosting domain account. They have a proprietary migration tool for DNN, but I was warned in advance that it might not work with GoDaddy. The migration tool instructions are a bit out of date, so I had to be in touch with technical support via chat. They were very helpful in getting me the data (e.g., database strings) I needed to undertake the migration using their proprietary tool. But, indeed, it did not work because of various database scripting errors thrown off during the migration. It appears this might not be a GoDaddy issue, but a server software management compatibility issue (versions, etc.). In any case, not important to this story. It was not surprising, and I moved forward to using Evotiva Restore.
For those who have not used it, Evotiva Restore allows a small loader to be placed in the root file of the site using FTP, then referencing that in the URL, which then loads the full Restore install. There is video documentation for using this on the Evotiva website:
http://www .evotiva .com/Products/DNNBackup/Document ation.aspx. The first time you try it, the process may not be completely self-evident. But, Horacio will respond to questions very promptly.
I requested technical support (Gary) at Appliedi to set up FTP access for me, we cleared out the root folder, and I uploaded Restore. Gary had provided the database access information that I needed when I was attempting the proprietary Appliedi migration transition. You will have created backup database and files using Evotiva Backup. Mine are stored on AWS S3 and there is a direct link on Restore to download your database and file backup from S3. Each of the steps is documented within the Restore process.
I executed Evotiva Restore and got nothing but "green" success on every phase of the migration. Not a single error message. And, in a matter of 15 minutes had migrated a moderately complex website using third-party DNN modules to Appliedi. Then, I redirected the domain name from GoDaddy to the newly migrated website.
Migrating an existing DNN 7.2.2 install out of GoDaddy shared hosting to Appliedi can be done fairly easily using Evotiva Restore. Right now, my website is loading with very little lag from the Appliedi shared hosting. Time will tell whether this holds up, or whether another migration to more dedicated hosting will be required. But, so far, so good. I would emphasize that technical support at Appliedi was very helpful via chat, and Horacio at Evotiva was his customary good-natured self.
I have no personal business interest in either of these providers. Just a satisfied customer.
I do not express an opinion regarding the merits of hosting on Appliedi versus Azure. It appears that Azure will load a website very quickly, and the tools are reasonably comprehensible. I am running one of my websites on Azure. My problem was with the migration of an existing website running DNN 7.2.2 and third-party modules. I imagine there are many of you out there who could overcome these obstacles, and I expect that in the interests of getting more customers Microsoft will also be working on improving migration tools.