I have been using DNN community edition for quite a few years on two websites, have a number of third-party skins and modules installed. For a few months, and particularly following upgrade to 7.2.2, one of my websites had developed a number of operational problems, especially in working with the new DNN administration headers. Also, they both were running quite slow, recognizing that I save money running on GoDaddy shared hosting. I assumed that at least part of the solution would be upgrading to a dedicated server, or transitioning to Azure or AWS EC2. Having spent a full week (I know that is not a long time in IT world) I wanted to pass on some of my observations with the hope of saving others in my situation some time and effort. I am not an IT professional, but am a fairly knowledgeable “user”. I am writing this because I rely on these forums a good deal for technical solutions. So, here are my observations:
Both AWS EC2/RDS and Azure are very difficult to work with. AWS does not directly support DNN installation, making it very complex to install a DNN site. I believe they used to support it. I think that DNN is working with Azure. There are so many settings in AWS EC2 that need to be properly configured, including a large number of security settings, that it is hard to see how anybody can work with it without spending vast amounts of time. You can get close to accomplishing things, but there are always new errors from incomprehensible security setting or version requirement responses. I suppose if you are an IT professional maintaining a company website, this is your job. But, really…
Azure is somewhat more user-friendly. It is easy to do a new DNN install, but extremely difficult to transition an old installation, particularly if you are using third party modules. (This mainly shows up during database export/import.) I spoke a coder at one of DNN’s major third-party module providers, and he told me that of 20 clients that have looked into Azure, none went ahead with it. For this provider, allowing transitions to Azure of websites running their modules would require a rewrite of their database scripts, etc., and they are not doing that. They “think” their package product will work on new Azure installs, but are not sure. (Their real business is doing custom work, not selling standard packages.)
The kind of advice you get from IT support at Azure is -- you are going to have to rewrite your databases, with various new parameters, etc. Again, if you have a lifetime to spend on that, fine. But, in any case, you cannot rewrite complex third-party module database entries (well maybe some of you can…).
Ultimately, it occurred to me that if some of the problems I was having with one of my upgraded websites related to incompatibility between the existing skin and upgraded DNN, maybe just changing the skin on the old website would fix that. (There were some postings about changing jquery settings with the old skin, but that did not seem to do anything.) And, it turned out just putting on a new skin was a good beginning.
But, there is more to it than that. One has to go through and make sure all extensions are upgraded, and also that some of the old legacy DNN modules are just removed. One of the most important things is that the HTML module, even if you have installed the new one, may keep the old editor, which does not work well. It does not save changes. There is a video about this -- of course which one discovers only after a lot of frustration (trying to modify HTML modules and not being able to save the changes, trying workarounds, etc.) -- showing how to change the editor in HTML settings. Once the new editor is put in, the HTML module works fine.
Once I had put on a new skin, upgraded and/or modified all of the old modules, etc., the website works well and much faster. So much so, that at least for the moment it looks like I may be able to stay with my GoDaddy shared hosting plan! Saving a good deal of money.
That may all sound like "ordinary stuff" to most of you, but an ordinary user like me might not realize that the various modules and skins begin to break down under the new DNN upgrades. A thorough "housekeeping" and upgrading is required.
If there is a lesson in this for the general user of DNN community edition who is preparing to or has recently upgraded to 7.2.2, it is that before you conclude that you need to change hosting providers, move to the cloud, etc., a thorough housekeeping and upgrading of an existing website may be in order.