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Web Hosting Pilot - NC State University


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NC State University has been working to put together a pilot project to extend the capabilities for web hosting on campus. This is a preliminary report of the progress of the project, given at a "Lunch and Learn" series on Dec. 1 2009.

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Web Hosting Pilot - NC State University

  1. 1. Web Hosting Pilot Project December 1, 2009 Jason Austin & Sarah Noell
  2. 2. Overview of the Pilot Early 2009, OIT staff submitted a proposal to Dr. Hoit for the pilot. Proposal was to investigate both internal and external options for web hosting services for campus. The idea would be to model the service after commercial services like DreamHost, Host Gator.... OIT would be the reseller of the service and we are looking to offer campus: more flexibility / quicker response time more packages / options / add-ons with easier installs more control locally for units to better support their unit goals (teaching, extension, etc)
  3. 3. The Pilot .... External account with Host Gator Standard package for dedicated servers; highlights: 4 Gb RAM Bandwidth 1,500 Gb/month cPanel / Fantastico Unlimited databases, ftp accounts, cPanel accounts Internal service with Hosted Services group Will replicate the Host Gator service w/ exception of: unlimited bandwidth units could put student data on these servers
  4. 4. The Internal Pilot team . . . Sarah Noell - OCC Jen Riehle - OCC Jason Austin - OCC Everette Allen - OCC Charles Brabec - ISO Harry Nicholos - ISO Dolores Leonard - ISO Richard McLane - ITECS (Engineering)
  5. 5. Pilot participants Four units in addition to OIT OT were selected for initial pilot Division of Student Affairs Leslie Dare ITECS, College of Engineering Mike Vysocka College of Natural Resources Charlie Morris DELTA David Howard Outreach Technologies, OIT Jason Austin
  6. 6. Status of Pilot Testing currently underway with the external host Units were asked to sign an SLA outlining terms of service; No charge for pilot Testers cannot put any student or other sensitive data on external host Support is limited, as OIT staff are learning as we go as well. providing some limited training asking testers to document their findings meet regularly to review / answer questions, etc
  7. 7. What have our testers done? Student Affairs has been the most active of our testers. They have several sites running externally and have found the service to be meeting their needs: Division is able to unify their approach to web development Division's technology support dept provides centralized access and control for account provisioning and support More cost effective and is more feature-rich (has allowed units to stay "on-campus" and not go contract with an external provider).
  8. 8. Uses .... College of Natural Resources: Has not moved much to the external source, but see it has providing a huge benefit for storage of their media. Space issues consume time and money; Ability to create multiple databases and schemas allows for more support options within college; College of Engineering: Allows for services to be offered to units in a standardized manner; Provides flexibility without sacrificing efficiency. One click installs is very powerful
  9. 9. Uses .... DELTA: Allows for exploration of new alternatives to support teaching WordPress, Drupal are two that have been tried out Moodle is another option where things could be tested / tried out before going production. Outreach Technologies, OIT Ability to provision own space and databases provides flexibility on timelines; One click installs for many open source packages Ruby on Rails applications saving time Keeping tools more secure and up-to-date by running them in web hosted space. Restrictions/limitations of AFS no longer an issue.
  10. 10. What value-add can OIT provide? In addition to the flexibility that web hosting can provide our campus, OIT can also provide some value-add services too: WRAP-authentication Levels of service 'Power user' to 'newbie', OIT can offer additional services cPanel lite 'version' so that cPanel isn't so complex to the average user Possible branding with NC State themes InForm availability
  11. 11. In general .... We have found the web hosting model to be of value to not only our testers but also our internal support staff. Would be a 'for fee' service, comparable in price to an external provider; value-add services would be available. Moving quickly to set up the internal service for testing; will move OT's site, Student Affairs and possibly other testers to internal service for comparison.
  12. 12. Issues / Processes still to work on Fully test internal hosting service Business process issues: costing model for services legal / licensing issues payment and billing for service training / documentation requesting service, accounts, etc URL name conventions (being solved at University level) Security Making sure student and other sensitive data is protected if we go with an external provider. Technical issues Looking at cPanel 'lite' version InForm and WRAP Back-ups & Bandwidth (external)