How to Build an Internet Server

By Paul Christian Nelis

Building an Internet server means much more than assembling hardware. In particular, there are concerns to address about serving the Internet community that are not necessarily apparent when developing a server for use in a corporate or small network setting. This article explains critical steps required for putting any machine onto the Internet for public access.

Do It Yourself

Identify your Internet-ready server. Step one is ensuring the system has Internet software and, more specifically, is using the Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). As it's name implies, this protocol underlies all the client and server functions performed across the Internet. If the computer you will be using is already communicating with the Internet, the protocol is almost certainly installed.

Verify your system has the necessary server software. This may not be as simple as it sounds. Though it's possible to have a Windows Workstation system serve web pages and serve file through FTP, that system will not allow FTP uploads. IIS7 requires the Server version of the operating system (OS) in order to allow FTP uploads. Ensure you have the software capable of performing the Internet functions you need.

Ensure your server's IP address is "static." Though the default approach of using dynamic IP addresses works well for clients, it isn't a useful approach for servers--without a number of other costly provisions. Get a static IP address from your ISP, which may cost additional fees. If you are part of a larger organization, substitute "network administrator" for ISP in these instructions.

Verify your ISP will allow you to provide the service you contemplate. As you negotiate the procurement of a static IP address with your ISP it's worthwhile having a conversation about why you want to have an accessible Internet server. ISP have rules (such as anti-spam rules) about what types of functions business and individuals can perform from the IP addresses they control, so it's possible that your ISP will not allow you to provide the services you intend with this system.

Obtain a name for your system. Using your ISP, NetworkSolutions.Com, or similar Internet name registration service, secure an Internet domain name. This name will be linked with your server's static IP address in order to direct users to your site. If you are already part of a domain, see your domain's administrator for this step and for Step 6.

Link your domain name to your server's static IP address. It is common for the service that provided you your domain name to also provide a way to alter the Domain Name Service (DNS) entries for your domain name. Using their tools, or procedures from your ISP, associate your new domain name with the static IP address your ISP has given you for your server.

Add and activate your Internet services. For simple web page services, you might start IIS on a Microsoft system, or start serving files through File Transfer Protocol (FTP) on a Macintosh system. Perhaps your Solaris system is providing the Glassfish application server to friends across the Internet. Whatever you decide to offer will now be seen by the Internet.