Forum OpenACS Q&A: Colocation for OACS
I'm a non-hardcore OACS developer who's been using the system for about a year. I work for an ISP/Co-lo company in LA and I'm trying to develop a product offering in order to expand our managed services.
I want to offer some managed OACS services to customers (OACS developers/ co-lo customers) and was wondering if you folks could give me some feed back on what you would like in a co-location company for OACS.
Anyway, I am looking for what the community in general is after in terms of services. From simple remote hands support to more complex services like database management or remote backup. Any feedback would be appreciated.
If we end up doing this, I hope to write back and offer a great product for you guys who are looking for reliable services.
Here are some of the features I am interested in
Web interface to configure e-mail (smtp,pop,imap,webmail)
Web interface to configure dns
Web interface to postgres management
Chroot SSH access (or a dedicated virtual machine)
WebDAV access (I have done some work towards this)
I don't claim to be typical, but IMNSHO the most important thing is the ability for complete, utter control for the customer via ssh login. Other value-added services can be very useful, but I would never trust a manged hosting anything without the fallback to root access on the (either real or virtual) machine. My take on it is if the hosting provider isn't good enough to be able to give you that safely and productively, why would you trust them to be good enough to make any of their more point and clicky value-added stuff work right?
I haven't used it myself, but Acorn Hosting's setup sounds like the best solution for shared server (low cost) solutions. See the community page. (Acorn uses a Linux kernel patch to achieve essentially the same thing as FreeBSD's jail facility.)
Since I don't think she's doing the hosting for the money, Cathy might be happy to give you advice, what her users have asked her for, etc. There are other folks doing OpenACS hosting that also might be happy to do the same. If you can encourage them to respond here it'd be interesting to hear what they have to say.
As for the value-added features themselves: Webmail sounds very useful, and a lot of people seem to want it. Off hand I can't think of anything else to add to David's list.
Thanks for your responses. It helps to get feedback from the community itself. Hopefully we can get some of the other co-lo companies to share some of their experiences (in the spirit of open-source!). Maybe even someday develop a "openacs.org certified provider" (or whatever) program where the community can actually define standards of service.
Right now, I am trying to avoid the shared resources model for colocation. I find that most of our customers prefer to have stand-alone server/customer owned server setups. It also greatly simplifies administration and security by sharing with the customer (who almost always wants full control) the responsibilities of admin and security.
It seems to me (from andrew's post) that the OACS community prefers this as well. So other than say, remote-hands/remote-eyes help. What other services might be of value to such communities. Off the top of my head, I think maybe remote backup, dual/redundant upstream feeds. Things of this nature.
Hope people can give some more feedback...
etc. can be a pain, which only becomes more so when the machine is
It definitely sounds like you're going for the higher end of the market, so I'm not sure how much my experience is going to help you.
I'm mostly hosting the hobbyist / small company / community / developer without DSL / developer whose cable company bans servers segment of the market. The folks I have are pretty happy with command line, and really like having root access on their virtual servers. They're comfortable making decisions about which mail server to use, etc, and don't generally need much from me. They want to be able to customize their environment, recompile AOLserver at a whim, install stuff, and then host it all on a fat pipe for cheap. :)
I suspect there's also a high-end side of the market that wants managed services on servers they own, but I couldn't really tell you exactly *what* they want, or at what price point. They've got to be out there, but I don't know what they want. I do get the occasional query from someone looking for really managed services, but that's not really what I'm marketing. I guess the question for you if you want to do the high-end managed co-lo is: what do you offer that other co-los don't? A reliable back-up solution that gets all the database files intact might be one answer...
BTW, I'm actually making money, although it's true that I'm not making a living on it... yet. I just need to scale up a few orders of magnitude first. :)