Dreamhost and ODBC, PPTP, ASP


My college is telling me to drop Dreamhost for some other hosting service. What he says is " I would like [a hosting service] that supports Microsoft’s databases for ODBC, PPTP and ASP. It would be really nice to store our databases on a secure system off site and connect through ODBC."

But I don’t know what else he needs as far as ODBC. I’ve shown him how to connect MS access tables to DH MySQL tables, and he was close to exporting a whole Access application via a CA design package (Erwin) to MySQL but had a few problems with a few of his item types. Is there more out there that he needs? Now that we’re also using MS SQL server for some applications?

Can we do PPTP with DH? Is it really that cool? Is a VPN that necessary if we can use ODBC to MySQL to keep our databases in sync. We’re a small natural resource management agency. We have small offices spread around Washington State. Some of use are on a T1 trunk and get good throughput 1 1.5 mbs, but some of us are on satellite disk data links so are limited to 100 to 500 kbs., and our hatcheries are on dialup. There are only 4 or 5 of us that are struggling with syncing versions of our tables, and it’s just stream temperature and fish scale aging data, not credit card numbers or financial details or secrets we’re keeping from NAS. So it seems like ODBC is good enough for us.

I have a preference for UNIX and open source so I might unfairly consider ASP as demon spawn, but I really know very little about it. But I know I can turn on support for FrontPage extensions for our domain. Is that all he needs? I develop pages with DreamWeaver 2004, and the new tools in DW work well to link page tables with ODBC to MySQL on DH.

What would you tell him? Is there other stuff out there that would be better for us? DH is only the second provider that I have ever used and I think it works great, but how would I know?


In short, I’d tell him to to be afraid of new technologies and moving in the way of the furture - open source. However, I don’t need to worry about keeping that job. To get the things your coworker is talking about you’d need to ditch Dreamhost and find a microsoft server.

In more detail…
If you were working directly with the same type of database things would be easier. Instead of having to worry about converintg between two types, making sure data types are compatable - I can see it would save a lot of headahces to be using the same setup on a local box and the server. You could consider working directly with mysql so there’s no conversion issues, but you’ll have to figure out if that’s worth the investement of time in the long run.

I also think that mysql is far more secure tha ms-sql. Mysql is actually password protected, and at dreamhost is stored on an other server entirley. That means that if you end up with an un-secure script on your account, file access to your account doesn’t mean you’r database has been comprimised too.

As far as PPTP and VPN goes, I’m not sure that you need it really. You can get VPN access at Dreamhost with the Stricly Business plan - But what do you need it for really?

As far as ASP goes, the only chance of having that work at dreamhost would be with a dedicated box. There’s a program called mono that you can use as with mod_mono for apache support, or by using their own server, XSP to server ASP files. If you’re using it mod_mono and apache then any file with an extension of .asp would be parsed through mono before being set out. Unfortunalty this system can’t be run through Dreamhost shared hosting.

Is ASP better than PHP, or is it that special? That one is a really complicated question. There’s a lot of discussion on the internet about that one - and you can go a google serach to find it. My personal opinion is that ASP sucks, isn’t stable, and will be going the way of the dinosaur soon. ASP sites that I’m familiar with have frequenly planed site-wide down times for ‘maintance’. The local community college here uses all microsoft servers for their registration stuff, and they only have the system aviable between 8am and 10 pm - it needs bueatly sleep or somehting. So if I need ot check my class schedule or grades I have to access the system between thoes hours. that really sucks. linux and PHP can run 24/7.

This entire discussion basically boils down to is Microsoft or Linux better. And there’s all sorts of factors and propaganda out there. You’ll have to decide what’s best for your situation. How much does hosting cost you at dreamhost. How much will it cost on a micro$oft server? How much time will it take to convert eveything over to work on the new server? How much time will it take to re-train your coworker to use linux? Will there be a difference in the way your emploies access the system, and is one way more convient for them? All of these questions and more may influence your decision.

I’d try and sort things out, see if you can come up with a clear decision, of one way is cheeper or better… or just see who has the strongest will or best influence with the boss.

Hope this was helpful.



You’re stuck between a rock an a hard place.

MS solutions are good if you have a good budget. Linux solutions are good if you work with smart people. If you work with average people and a below average budget, and they pick the MS dead-end track, start searching for a new job.

Unfortunately, you’re in WA (as am I) and there seems to be some sort of bubble around here that MS products are always best.


Oh yeah, that is helpful. I’m really clueless about how you do this stuff with Microsoft. It’s not that i have this “Show me how it could possibly be better” attitude.

So is ASP totally unrelated to Frontpage? Turning on Frontpage extensions on DH doesn’t get him what he wants for ASP? Is ASP a interpreter or library that gets associated to IIS, like php compiles with Apache?

I just peeked at some ASP code at ASP101.com. It just looks like VB code. What’s the ASP or the .NET part? And DW 2004 wants to open it for editing!

We actually have an in-house Microsoft server running IIS. I run map services on it: (http://host119.yakama.com/Website/conreliefhtml/frame.htm) But I am able to run apps on this server with Remote Desktop because I have a good connection and I’m inside our corporate AT firewall. My college is outside the firewall and on a satellite dish connection. I’m not sure how much he could get done on this IIS server, while I can get lots done on DH any where I can get a telnet window. But what would he need to do what he wants on this IIS server? MS-SQL, and ASP?

Is the ODBC stuff just easier between MS Assess and MS SQL server? Would he be using MS Access applications with all the tables housed at ODBC linked SQL Server tables? Or is the approach to use ASP authoring tools to make web page forms to make queries and return the results, like phpMyAdmin?


[quote]So is ASP totally unrelated to Frontpage?

pretty much

[quote]Turning on Frontpage extensions on DH doesn’t get him what he wants for ASP?


[quote]Is ASP a interpreter or library that gets associated to IIS, like php compiles with Apache?


This explains it best:
ASP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Server_Pages
PHP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Php

[quote]Is the ODBC stuff just easier between MS Assess and MS SQL server?


ODBC is a connection. Say a freeway between Yakima and Seattle. You can drive from one place to another. ASP and Access communicate well. Similar to driving from Seattle to Yakima. But going from Access to MySQL is somewhat like trying to drive from Yakima to London. Sure you can get there, but you’re going to have to put a car on a boat.

Not the best analogy, but should give you an idea. Check the wikipedia for other terms you’re trying to learn.


You could always convert him to the dark side and use ODBC connections to dreamhost’s mysql server. (At least it sure looked like that would work, you could even give each site it’s own user and restrict access appropriately)

Of course if I’m wrong it should be straightened out by someone soon.