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New Managed Web Service (MWS) launches for University webmasters

Information Services’ Managed Web Service (MWS) has long provided a convenient way for the university’s webmasters to host their own websites. The service has just undergone a year-long redevelopment project, and now provides a more modern, delegated, self-service control panel that can be used without having to interact directly with UIS, as well as faster highly-available servers.

All good things come to an end and unfortunately, the old, free MWS service is no exception. The new paid-for service is already being used by a number of early adopters, some of whom are running production web sites. It offers the following features and benefits:

Features and benefits

  • High availability. Your server is replicated in different locations.
  • Faster – servers now use solid state drives (SSDs) and state of the art hardware.
  • Manage multiple websites from one single MWS server, at no extra cost
  • Easy to use web panel. You can perform many actions from the panel without having to log in into your machine or execute any UNIX commands:
    • Authorise users and groups to administer or access your server
    • Change the root database password
    • Manage (install/enable/disable) Apache modules and PHP libraries
    • Manage Unix groups
    • Configure TLS server certificates
    • Fully automated domain name management integrated with the UIS DNS system.
    • Restore from backups
    • Restart your server
    • Manage your account's contact and billing information
  • Nightly backups
  • Custom ‘snapshots’ of your MWS server, in addition to the daily backups
  • Easily restore from system backups or ‘snapshots’.
  • Quarantine a compromised site with one click
  • System analytics reporting

Technical spec

  • A server with 1 Core CPU
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 20Gb of disk space
    (Note that only 10Gb are available to the user, the rest is used for other purposes like snapshots)
  • Public IPv4 and IPv6 addresses
  • Latest stable Debian release, "Jessie"
  • Apache 2.4.10
  • PHP 5.6.17
  • Python 2.7.9
  • Perl 5.20.2
  • MySQL 5.5.47

Costs

At just £100 per year, we believe the new service offers good value compared to the cost of buying and managing your own server hardware or using a commercial solution. This charge will be waived for existing sites transferring to the new service, until the old service closes later in the year. University institutions will not incur VAT on the hosting costs.

New MWS sites can be created at any time and can be operated for up to one month before payment is required. This gives an opportunity for the new service to be evaluated before committing.

Transition arrangements

The new paid-for MWS service will replace the existing system during 2016. Current users of the free MWS service can choose to migrate their existing MWS sites to the new service (at no cost until the new service has officially replaced the free service), or to transfer their hosting to their own web servers or a third-party hosting provider.

Further information