Several people have already hit several of my thoughts, so on most of
the following, my input is basically "Me too." The one thought I'd add
is that it would be great if scripting/database-enabled hosting packages
came automatically with a development installation running on the same
host as the production site (or a clone). It would be great if, when I
ordered up newsite.umn.edu, I automatically got dev.newsite.umn.edu and
The "Me too"s:
- Clearer documentation about what's available (and in this, I mean both
as a "product" and as a negotiated capability. When learning about
hosting available at the U when I first started working here, I ran into
a few "Oh, that's available, it's just not on the menu" moments.)
- For hosting accounts that include a database as well as scripting
support, some means of accessing the database is essential - Shell
access, even PHPMyAdmin or analogous tools.
- Andre's point about anticipating future changes and continuing
decentralization of skills is a great one - I think OIT should focus on
crafting offerings that allow choices for clients (VPS vs. shared
hosting, php|perl|ruby|python/*SQL) rather than trying to forecast which
one or two higher-level platforms (e.g. Drupal) will be most popular.
- In a similar vein, offerings should be tiered somehow to recognize the
diverse needs of U staff - some are comfortable with the whole stack,
others with parts, others with app front-ends. Services should offer
some accomodation to these different levels of need, as much as this is
possible when crafting manageble slate of offerings.
- +1 on Zach's note about highly-privileged sudo or root access where
possible, esp. in a virtual server situation, where package upgrades,
apache configuration, and direct database access needs are nigh inevitable.
- +1 for a Debian or Ubuntu server option.
- I second Tony's suggestion about bringing internal services closer in
line with commercial offings (pricewise and functionally). I'm agnostic
on the "common good" vs. fee-for-service question - I would expect that
much of what we're suggesting can be priced competitively if the
fee-for-service route is taken - let the accountants figure that one out :-)
Web & Database Developer
Office of the Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration
University of Minnesota Twin Cities