Public Lab Research note

A year of Rackspace

by warren | December 17, 2015 16:16 17 Dec 16:16 | #12529 | #12529

Some of you may have noticed that at the foot of many Public Lab web pages, we mention Rackspace's support. Since Public Lab runs (for free) several different websites and services, it's important to know how much help their donation of server space is; currently, all Public Lab web systems run -- for free -- on Rackspace's cloud.


They've been incredibly helpful in supporting this infrastructure for our thousands of community members, and their services have been rock solid, reliable (see the above graphs!), and easy to use with our free software. The following sites all run on Rackspace's cloud:

I especially appreciate the degree of standardization; it's comforting to know that we can download these images whole and run them ourselves. That is, I don't take it for granted! I believe this has also become even easier in the past year or so.

Rackspace seems to have a great relationship with, and understanding of, open source development communities. They have a very permissive policy with regard to their employees contributing to open source projects of their choice, including even those of their competitors, as covered by Zdnet.

Some horrifying early Public Lab webserver history

I also wanted to note that when Public Lab was first started, we ran on conventional tower PC in my closet, which at the time was in MIT's East Campus dormitory, where I was a resident advisor. Although this did mean that I could email students to break into my closet to reboot/troubleshoot at literally any time of the day or night (and they were very good at troubleshooting!), it had the marked disadvantage that a bundle of internet and power cables marked "WARNING" led from my closet to nearby plugs, and -- don't laugh -- I had to create a tarp and gutter system for the sprinkler that was in the closet. For your enjoyment, here are some of the email threads, scrubbed:


We've obviously come a long way since then (For real. But don't pretend you've never done something like this on a near-zero budget! :-P), and along with thanking Rackspace, I want to thank all our sysadmins over the years -- especially our current sysadmin Sebastian Silva -- who've slowly modernized and improved our systems into the well-managed, reliable, and tarp-free system we have today.

Anyhow, I noticed that Rackspace's support of open source communities such as ours is not widely written about, as far as I can tell, so I wanted to put this out there -- perhaps in part to encourage other companies to do the same!


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