Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to web hosting services supporting postgresql?

Posted by Janine Ohmer on
I just posted this at web/db, thought it belonged here also :)

We ( have been getting a steady trickle of requests for
developer hosting over the last year.  Lately it has gone from a
trickle to a stream. :)  It's time to do something about it.

I'd like to describe what we're thinking of doing, and then
solicit comments on the idea and suggestions on how to do it better.
Anyone interested in signing up for the service (if it becomes a
reality) should contact me by e-mail;  I don't want this to turn into
a shameless plug for business.

One of the hurdles to offering developer hosting has been the cost of
an Oracle license.  The folks looking for this service are generally
private individuals and can't afford to pay anywhere near what we
would need to charge in order to recover the cost of the hardware and
license in a timely manner.  It doesn't matter while folks are
developing, of course, but as soon as one person is ready to go live
that license has to be there, and we would be out a serious chunk of
change.  The solution to this problem is to offer Postgres instead of
Oracle, now that the ACS has been ported to it.

Here's what we propose to do:  give each developer a (chroot'd) Linux
login, a Postgres login, an IP address and a basic AOLserver ini.  We
put the acs/pg tarball in their home directory and they take it from
there.  We maintain the system and Postgres, and they are responsible
for everything else.  Since AOLserver has to be started by root (to
use port 80), it would be kept going by a combination of Keepalive and

The reason for doing it this way is that we just don't have time to be
helping people, settling neighborly squabbles, etc.  Requiring people
to install the ACS themselves reduces their expectation that we'll
help support them, and also forces them to acquire some knowledge
about the ACS that will serve them well in developing their
application.  We will probably try to set up relationships with a few
people who are willing to do install, hand-holding etc for an hourly
fee so that we can offer that service at a more reasonable price than
we would have to charge to do it ourselves.

There would be a maximum number of users per system, probably ten.
The exact hardware is TBD, but it would be a serious system, PIII with
plenty of RAM. There would also be a maxiumum number of hits/Mb of
bandwidth allowed per site;  if a site exceeded that they would have
to move to their own system (and pay significantly more for that
service).  This would be set generously;  the point is not to generate
income by pushing people off the shared system, it's to make sure the
system stays responsive for everyone on it.

We would not give e-mail accounts, but we would allow unlimited
aliases.  That is, if someone wanted, we'd
create that for them as an alias on our mail server, and any mail
coming in to that address would be forwarded to another address,
probably their ISP account.  Each site could have as many of these
aliases as they wanted.

That's the basic idea.  Comments, suggestions?

One question I have for anyone interested is how much would you pay
for this service?  We are considering a two-tiered pricing structure:
one monthly fee while developing, another (higher) when the site
launches.  I'd love to have some feedback on what people feel would be
reasonable pricing.

Oh, I should mention for those who are already getting out their
checkbooks :), we've been advised to wait until Postgres 7 is
released, so this service would probably launch around June 1st.