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Is there an extensible control panel framework that I can build off of?

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Is there an extensible control panel framework that I can build off of?


I'm an IT consultant and offer various services to my clients. If I have a large appliance (say, something that performs email archiving), I'll simply set up a client account manually in the appliance, and then bill them monthly as per my usual method (sending an invoice from QuickBooks). I might attach a pretty report that tallies their usage of the appliance separate from the usage of other clients that use the same appliance.

I'd like to make that a more self service operation. The appliances that I deal with almost always have an API, and absolutely have a CLI and SNMP traps. There's virtually nothing that can't be modified programmatically. What I'd like to do is develop a custom control panel that offers clients the ability to perform limited actions to the appliance within the scope of their specific user account.

I don't want to reinvent the wheel though, so starting form the ground up isn't what I want to do. I'm looking for some kind of control panel framework that can be installed on a server and then built upon to run scripts that will interact with a network appliance.

I've found one that looks like it has potential: OpenPanel.

I haven't been able to find any others though. Does anyone have any recommendations for this sort of thing?



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  #2  
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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cPanel, webmin. What OS do you use ?

  #3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsholman View Post
cPanel, webmin. What OS do you use ?
Neither cPanel or webmin are control panel frameworks. You arent going to be able to control an appliance with either or them.

You do have a couple options. You could build something from scratch, using a framework as you mentioned, or build it from a billing platform. If you're billing usage anyways, it might be a good idea to go with the latter route. Most modern billing platforms have an extensive module system that will allow you to build something that will help with the provisioning and management of remote API's.

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Frank Laszlo - Developer
Franksworld Solutions, LLC

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  #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsholman View Post
cPanel, webmin. What OS do you use ?
I would use whichever OS made sense. I'm going to let the development platform choose the OS for me. I'm proficient enough in Windows and Linux that, between those two, I've got my bases covered pretty well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankLaszlo View Post
Neither cPanel or webmin are control panel frameworks. You arent going to be able to control an appliance with either or them.
I was wondering if I was missing something there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankLaszlo View Post
You do have a couple options. You could build something from scratch, using a framework as you mentioned,
At the moment, it's looking like I might use a theme designed by someone else (ThemeForest has a great section for control panels) so that it looks all purdy and has a great flow and then hack away at the underpinnings and logic all by my self. However, what you said next intrigues me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankLaszlo View Post
...or build it from a billing platform. If you're billing usage anyways, it might be a good idea to go with the latter route. Most modern billing platforms have an extensive module system that will allow you to build something that will help with the provisioning and management of remote API's.
You, sir, are exactly the reason why I asked this question here.

I am going to be billing based on usage. Depending on the appliance it will be a simple equation based on bandwidth consumed or number of files processed. I had assumed that I'd have to hack my own billing logic by polling the appliances SNMP interface (or any other means of statistic gathering that might exist) and squirrel that info into a database where I then perform monthly calculations based on customer.

With a billing platform as the entire base, that has great potential to simplify things and help me focus on the service I'm providing, rather than making sure my billing system is robust.

I already know of a few platforms focused on the web hosting market, like UberSmith. I just found a WHT wiki post about billing software. I'll scour that for some product possibilities. Any other suggestions are always appreciated!

  #5  
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Originally Posted by Nonapeptide View Post
You, sir, are exactly the reason why I asked this question here.

I am going to be billing based on usage. Depending on the appliance it will be a simple equation based on bandwidth consumed or number of files processed. I had assumed that I'd have to hack my own billing logic by polling the appliances SNMP interface (or any other means of statistic gathering that might exist) and squirrel that info into a database where I then perform monthly calculations based on customer.

With a billing platform as the entire base, that has great potential to simplify things and help me focus on the service I'm providing, rather than making sure my billing system is robust.

I already know of a few platforms focused on the web hosting market, like UberSmith. I just found a WHT wiki post about billing software. I'll scour that for some product possibilities. Any other suggestions are always appreciated!
Glad I could help. I've done a number of custom "server" modules using the WHMCS billing system, which is why I brought it up in the first place. Most of the existing functionality you need is already there, and you just need to build the connection to your appliances/databases/etc using their API. Of course, you're welcome to use whatever billing platform you like, I just tend to prefer WHMCS for most things.

Best of luck!

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Frank Laszlo - Developer
Franksworld Solutions, LLC

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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankLaszlo View Post
Glad I could help. I've done a number of custom "server" modules using the WHMCS billing system, which is why I brought it up in the first place. Most of the existing functionality you need is already there, and you just need to build the connection to your appliances/databases/etc using their API. Of course, you're welcome to use whatever billing platform you like, I just tend to prefer WHMCS for most things.

Best of luck!
Excellent to know. I certainly like product recommendations because at least I know that people are using it successfully. I'd rather find a product that is being used successfully and then conform my coding and server practices to it, rather than being stuck in my ways and choosing a solution that is dodgy.

I'm also perusing HostBill's site right now. Both products look top shelf so far. Of course, I've bookmarked your site in case I need to call in a veteran. =)

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