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Web-based User Administration for Windows Server 2003

Posted on 2005-04-26
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Hi,

My company is running a website for a third party which makes use of NT authentication to manage user access.  We'd like the client to be responsible for administering the users of the site but they're not able to connect using Remote Desktop Connection through their firewall.  Can aonyone recommend a good tool for providing web-based administration of a Windows 2003 server?  Obviously it'd need to be secure and allow for the creation/management of users.

Thanks in advance for your help.
Continuity.
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Question by:continuity
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by:alimu
ID: 13865440
have you looked at frontpage server extensions?  this lets you do user management using either local server or domain accounts.
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by:continuity
ID: 13865857
No, I've not looked at frontpage extensions.  Do you know where I could get more information about using them, and specifically the user management aspects?

Thanks.
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by:alimu
ID: 13865974
This is just an introduction to get you started, http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/sts/2001/all/proddocs/en-us/admindoc/owsa01.mspx
it's a bit vague on the detail part though so I'll see if I can find you something better tomorrow.

Can you just quickly answer these for me too?
Is your website IIS?
Are you wanting user management specifically for the website?
Do the users need to be domain users / local users / sql users / doesn't matter as long as they can get in?
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Author Comment

by:continuity
ID: 13866411
1. Yes, the website is IIS.  

2. Yes, we want user management specifically for the website.  Basically we've got a whole load of documents on the site and we want to make sure we control access to those files.  The easiest way of doing that seems to be using NT authentication for users, provided we can resolve the user management issue.

3. Ideally local users, but it doesn't matter so long as we meet the criteria above.  i.e. we can control access to the files stored on the site.

Thanks for your help.
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by:alimu
ID: 13872044
How much usage (users / traffic) does this site get?
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alimu earned 500 total points
ID: 13882356
-you install frontpage extensions from add/remove windows components under Application Server --> IIS
 -The best way to learn how to use it is probably to install the software and try it out.
after installing, open up IIS manager, create yourself a new dummy website running on different port to your live system (eg: 81 or 82).  Make sure integrated and/or basic authentication is turned on so you can authenticate if you need to.
-Go to web extensions and enable Frontpage Server Extensions.
-Find the "Microsoft Sharepoint Administration" website that should be in your list of available sites, right-click and "browse". (it's not sharepoint, they just share the same management interfaces).
-Extend your dummy web (created before).

There are help pages for the "microsoft sharepoint administration" site, and for the individual extended sites and their associated functionality.
give it a go and get back to me to clarify any questions about it, roles and user administration will probably be the main thing you'll need to look at judging from what you've said so far.  Please note this doesn't include Active Directory management - account creation is limited to the local server BUT pre-existing domain users and groups can be used.
You should probably also look at setting this up over https so it's a little more secure.

Going with Frontpage will let the external group be relatively autonomous without having a direct line into your AD.  You'll still have some basic user admin to do in your domain but it's pretty quick to setup.

Having people external to your organisation managing Active Directory is usually done via some form of secure connection - either RAS, VPN, Secure Citrix, *possibly* something like NetIQ's DRA tool run over https (I've never seen anyone open this up to external networks though), I'm sure there are others products around...  
What I'm saying is that I'm giving you a very simplistic solution to the problem and the various methods above would be the "secure" / "semi-safe" ways of doing this.  You need to consider what you're exposing your server and internal systems to when you allow management of major infrastructure (like AD) over the web.  
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by:continuity
ID: 13884634
That's exactly what I needed, thanks very much.
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by:alimu
ID: 13891340
No problem.  
recommendations:
- do a security audit / penetration test if you can when you're done and make sure you're organisations data is protected as much as possible. https may be a small improvement if it's viable.
- make sure you've got really good backups of the system (when we started out with this, one of our web admins used to kill extensions on a regular basis by, um, "seeing what it could do" - thankfully we had backups and i'd done my share of playing before I let the developers at the system so I knew our config back to front).
- schedule the server extensions to run health checks.  This'll keep all your ntfs permissions clean and fix up any extensions files that go walkabout.
AJ.
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