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#1 2016-01-15 12:53:54

Bloke
Developer
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 10,751
Website GitHub

Community hosting

Pete, Phil and I have been thinking. With the demise of Textdrive and the up-down-nature of KaizenGarden is it time to take matters into our own hands? Yes, do our own community hosting!

For thirty quid a month (a shade over forty bucks, US) we can rent a rock-solid white-label hosting package for up to 100 sites. A handful of site owners (less than 10) paying something like five pounds per month for a basic package would allow us to break even, and then some.

Because it’s white label hosting, we can brand it and create our own tiered packages, so that clients (you, and the people you create sites for) can administer their sites using a cpanel/plesk-style back end. When we outgrow the 100 site limit, there’s a simple upgrade path. The server can be specced to Txp’s requirements for PHP, MySQL, etc.

Thus, in terms of up-front costs, it’s buying a domain, setting up a website allowing you to choose/buy packages, and buying the first 100-site hosting bundle. The bundles are available on a rolling one-month contract. We have a generous chunk of cash raised by the community last year so this could be used to kick things off, funding something from which we can all benefit.

In terms of staffing, we need a bunch of folk around the world in various timezones to handle support requests. Current forum moderators are more than qualified; if you’re interested, raise a paw please. Plus we’d need a few nitty-gritty admins who from time-to-time can do upgrades, rollouts, restores, etc, and know their way around the Linux command line.

In return for any assistance you can give, any money over and above operating costs can be split and distributed to those who helped out as a thank you. Some agreed percentage could be siphoned off to fund ongoing Textpattern development, pay for brand domain ownership and so forth, if there’s enough to go round.

Operating costs will be the monthly fee for the white label hosting itself, the domain name, possibly some certificates for the website(s), and any transaction processing fees for monthly billing (about which I have no idea: experienced thoughts welcome). Ideally payment processing should be offloaded to a reliable third party so we don’t have to deal with all the PCI compliance junk that goes with it.

To be clear, this is not a business venture per se. We’re not out to make a killing, we’re out to provide a reliable hosting platform available to you and your clients, cover costs and have a bit left over. If we can build one-click rollouts of Textpattern installations from the cpanel, that’d be grand. We’re not proposing it remains a Textpattern-only thing (so the domain name doesn’t need to reflect this) but at the outset, it’d make sense to start in our community as we know our user base, and build out from there.

Granted I’ve not thought everything through so may have missed something, big or small. But I’m floating the idea here anyway. Please weigh in with any further thoughts. Is this doable? Who would be up for it (either as a client and/or someone who can help field support tickets?) Bottom line is that the more people we have around the world who can answer support requests, the better the service will be for all concerned as we share the administration workload, just like we do with the forum duties today.

The dance floor is yours. Boogie.


The smd plugin menagerie — for when you need one more gribble of power from Textpattern. Bleeding-edge code available on GitHub.

Txp Builders – finely-crafted code, design and Txp

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#2 2016-01-15 13:22:25

colak
Admin
From: Cyprus
Registered: 2004-11-20
Posts: 8,877
Website GitHub Twitter

Re: Community hosting

Hi Stef,

Sounds good but some of us (with older installs because of meeded plugins) will need a choice of php versions too. Will you be able to supply that?


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#3 2016-01-15 13:32:10

Bloke
Developer
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 10,751
Website GitHub

Re: Community hosting

colak wrote #297410:

Sounds good but some of us (with older installs because of meeded plugins) will need a choice of php versions too. Will you be able to supply that?

I guess. Never done this kind of thing before so I don’t know. Presumably we spec to an older version and offer people the ability to load any later version to suit their requirements. Or vice versa, start high and allow people to link to an older version (up to a point) if required,

I’m sure someone with more server knowledge than me can chip in.


The smd plugin menagerie — for when you need one more gribble of power from Textpattern. Bleeding-edge code available on GitHub.

Txp Builders – finely-crafted code, design and Txp

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#4 2016-01-15 14:24:41

Alex McKee
Member
From: Gloucester, UK
Registered: 2005-12-17
Posts: 59
Website

Re: Community hosting

Depends on how you configure the server. If I were designing a service from scratch I’d be tempted to use Docker so that each customer had their own PHP, their own filesystem, etc. More secure than shared hosting and not as costly as giving everyone a dedicated VM (with a dedicated CPU).

For SSL certificates see Let’s Encrypt.

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#5 2016-01-15 14:32:31

Bloke
Developer
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 10,751
Website GitHub

Re: Community hosting

Alex McKee wrote #297415:

If I were designing a service from scratch I’d be tempted to use Docker so that each customer had their own PHP, their own filesystem, etc.

Aha, you sound like you’ve done this kind of thing before: exactly the sort of person who could help get this up and running (or tell me it’s not viable).

For full disclosure, tsohost were the frontrunner we were considering. How they stack up compared to others, I don’t know, but I’ve been informed they’re pretty darn good in terms of reliability and features for the price. Other avenues welcome.


The smd plugin menagerie — for when you need one more gribble of power from Textpattern. Bleeding-edge code available on GitHub.

Txp Builders – finely-crafted code, design and Txp

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#6 2016-01-15 14:34:29

philwareham
Core designer
From: Haslemere, Surrey, UK
Registered: 2009-06-11
Posts: 3,553
Website GitHub Twitter

Re: Community hosting

Just to add to this, from our recent discussion. The system of choice would most probably be a Cloud server platform, with the hosting company handling most of the infrastructure and maintenance – we wouldn’t want to host our own dedicated servers within a server farm (unlike how Textdrive was set up).

Suitable hosting companies would be thoroughly investigated prior to any choices being made, although I favour one of the larger, most established players in the market, due to scale and enterprise-level support.

Individual users should have their own control panel with a certain level of control of components they run, so that had a bearing on what host/system we choose. Multiple PHP versions are achievable, given the right host and panel/system choice (I know Plesk offers that, not sure about cPanel – but they might not be used anyway).

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#7 2016-01-15 14:43:28

Alex McKee
Member
From: Gloucester, UK
Registered: 2005-12-17
Posts: 59
Website

Re: Community hosting

Bloke wrote #297418:

Aha, you sound like you’ve done this kind of thing before: exactly the sort of person who could help get this up and running (or tell me it’s not viable).

For full disclosure, tsohost were the outfit we were considering. How they stack up compared to others, I don’t know, but I’ve been informed they’re pretty darn good in terms of reliability.

I have indeed done this sort of thing before.

I’m a Linux Sysadmin, mainly working with setting up high performance Magento CE installs on enterprise-grade hardware these days but I also run a (very small) hosting service for clients of my digital marketing agency.

I’ve used Docker to produce WordPress container hosting. Personally I much prefer Textpattern and I have some clients using Textpattern, as well as using it myself. I was thinking of doing some Textpattern containers soon so this naturally sprang to mind when I read your post.

I have a friend who uses TSOHost and swears by them. I’ve never used their services myself but they do seem to be a very reputable company.

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#8 2016-01-15 15:26:15

mrdale
Member
From: Walla Walla
Registered: 2004-11-19
Posts: 2,215
Website

Re: Community hosting

If these sites do not hog resources too much I might be able to host on my bare metal box gratis. Someone with an understanding of requirements and usage should get in touch with me if interested.

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#9 2016-01-15 17:49:03

ruud
Developer Emeritus
From: a galaxy far far away
Registered: 2006-06-04
Posts: 5,068
Website

Re: Community hosting

Bloke wrote #297408:

With the demise of Textdrive and the up-down-nature of KaizenGarden is it time to take matters into our own hands? Yes, do our own community hosting!

I thought those were two very good reasons not to try this again. ;)

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#10 2016-01-15 19:35:24

philwareham
Core designer
From: Haslemere, Surrey, UK
Registered: 2009-06-11
Posts: 3,553
Website GitHub Twitter

Re: Community hosting

ruud wrote #297432:

I thought those were two very good reasons not to try this again. ;)

That isn’t an issue here, since we won’t personally be doing the server infrastructure/hardware at all. It’ll be a cloud platform with container-based hosting.

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#11 2016-01-15 20:41:21

wet
Developer Emeritus
From: Schoerfling, Austria
Registered: 2005-06-06
Posts: 3,275
Website

Re: Community hosting

So, in a nutshell the basic idea is:

To associate Textpattern’s well-deserved reputation as a solid, secure CMS to a shell hosting company cloud entity without any own staff, run by volunteer part-time sysadmins who may or may not have the inclination to help Textpattern’s most dedicated disciples and their paying clients when the excrement makes physical contact with the fan.

Not convinced.

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#12 2016-01-15 21:59:02

Bloke
Developer
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 10,751
Website GitHub

Re: Community hosting

@wet: Well when you put it like that, yeah, ok. Sounds like a shit idea. Not that I was intending to use the Textpattern name at all.

I was under the impression that KG was a one-man show hosted on own servers after Textdrive fell apart (maybe I’m wrong about that) and figured that with more, albeit volunteer, people who do a remarkable job in the upkeep of the forum and our existing infrastructure, and some reliable third party hosting it might stand a fighting chance to build to the point where we could actually pay people to run it.

But no worries. If it has no legs, I’m not going to start poking it. Let’s drop the idea.


The smd plugin menagerie — for when you need one more gribble of power from Textpattern. Bleeding-edge code available on GitHub.

Txp Builders – finely-crafted code, design and Txp

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