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Putting Domains Infrastructure in the Cloud

This semester we having been moving our Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) packages for new institutions to Digital Ocean. Up and until now we haven’t run DoOO through cloud infrastructure providers like AWS, Linode, Digital Ocean, etc. for two reasons: price and storage. It has been cheaper for us to run these packages off a larger dedicated server that we could virtualize and partition into 4 or 5 institutional setups. But ever as the financial differences were becoming nominal, the storage constraints on servers at Linode and Digital Ocean made it impossible. We offer 250 GBs as part of our DoOO package, but most comparably specced servers through Linode or Digital Ocean had 100 GB of storage max.
Putting Domains Infrastructure in the Cloud

Recently Digital Ocean announced Block Storage which essentially enabled us to run a server with 60 GB storage and mount another 250 GB SSD drive. Fast, cheap storage to accompany there server made the idea of running a Domains package on Digital Ocean feasible this Fall, so we did it. There are a couple of beautiful things about this development for Reclaim Hosting. First, if a school needs more storage or CPU power we can manage than almost immediately with the click of a button. When we had BYU creeping up on storage and CPU capacity limits we had to move them off our virtual server to dedicated machines, this meant a physical migration of accounts—that would no longer be the case.

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Caught in the Sandstorm

I have been looking on with wonder at the work Grant Potter and Brian Lamb have done with BC’s Open Ed Tech. In particular, their initiative designed to provide British Columbia’s post-secondary institutions the means to easily install and explore a range of open source applications using Sandstorm.io. What’s nice about Sandstorm is it provides access to a number of open source applications that don’t run on a commodity hosting LAMP stack, such as the blogging software Ghost, the collaborative text editor Etherpad, computational environments like the iPython Notebook, and Git Hosting with GitLab. And that’s just a few of the over 50 applications Sandstorm supports out of the box, and if you you have an application you want to add that’s also possible.

Sandtorm.io's App Market

Sandtorm.io’s App Market

What struck me on this run through Sandstorm (Tim turned me onto it over a year ago) was the application market. It contains a number of applications folks have asked us about hosting through Reclaim. Georgetown University was interested in the possibility of hosting iPython Notebooks on their dedicated Reclaim server, and the great Tony Hirst as been exploring how to host them for a while now. More recently, Shawn Graham at Carleton University was asking me about the possibility of hosting GitLab, which was new to me, and lo and behold that is a featured app on Sandstorm.

So, when the outlaw Tommy Woodward asked if Reclaim Hosting could spin-up a Sandstorm server for VCU’s ALT Lab, I jumped at the chance. I have to hand it to the folks at Sandstorm, they made the process of setting up your own server dead simple. I’ll document my process below, but their documentation is pretty awesome.
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