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vCluster

vCluster is our scalable PHP cloud hosting product. These posts will cover topics such as development progress, new feature releases, design ideas and customer feedback.

Introducing a new login and signup user experience

login-screenshot

The new CatN user login and signup system offers a simpler, streamlined look for accessing the control panel. Since the launch of vCluster it has been exciting to watch our customer base grow and gather your feedback. One message kept coming through, the login system is confusing and obtrusive.

We’ve been working hard to improve this and give you a login process that is painless and as simple as possible. Today we pushed our this system live, and next time you go to log in to the control panel you’ll see a brand new design.

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Introducing self signed SSL certificates in just two clicks!

We’ve improved the way SSL certificate creation for vCluster works in the CatN control panel. If you’re running a development or test environment on vCluster, you can now quickly generate and assign a self signed SSL certificate to allow you test SSL functionality.

You can now create and assign a self-signed certificate on one of your vCluster domains in just two clicks. Log into the control panel at cp.c4.catn.com and access your vCluster filesystem settings panel. Take a look at the right hand sidebar and click through on the SSL item to get to the admin panel.

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Platform as a Service billing explained

In this video Joe Gardiner explains why PaaS is important for reducing cost and waste when compared to dedicated hosting and in particular, infrastructure as a service.

IaaS is held up as an excellent solution for saving money by outsourcing IT requirements to the cloud, however there is still a lot of waste and complexity which can be solved by adopting PaaS. This is a growing market and the majority of IT market analysts agree that PaaS is set to grow over the next few years – Gartner in particular expect the PaaS market to be worth $2.9 billion in 2016.

Evolution of our product names

What’s in a name? In the theme of explaining about the origin of our names here is a brief history of how we chose the names of our two main services, and how they have evolved over time.

vCluster is the name we use for our Shared Hosting product, the entry level hosting service we offer. The name came about as an abbreviation of the description of the service – a virtual slice of a cluster of servers. The hardware is primarily designed for multi-tenancy and to scale to meet individual sites needs without users needing to allocate resource manually, and is optimised for hosting PHP sites such as WordPress blogs.

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Advanced PHP error handling in the cloud

LogPipe is a PHP extension module that extends the default PHP error messages with additional information and allows you to pipe the logs to an external program or write them to a syslog facility.

When a user connects to a PHP website hosted on a cloud platform like vCluster, the response may come from different web servers running on different virtual and physical machines. This introduced the problem of needing to aggregate the PHP error logs from different cluster nodes and then split them up again based on the virtual host. Unfortunately the default PHP error message handler does not provide the information or ability to pipe the error logs to an external program, unlike the CustomLog directive in Apache does.

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vCluster Development Update 3

Following on from vCluster update number 2 I have plenty more to share with you as we approach the private beta stage of vCluster development.

Rapid Deployment

An important part of the vCluster stack is the ability to deploy the entire virtual environment very quickly and with as little manual involvement as possible. This is not only part of our long term plan to offer availability zones, but also makes us able to rapidly repsond as resource and availability requirements change.

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vCluster Development Update 2

As I said in my previous vCluster update post earlier this month, I want to publish regular updates as we approach the launch of vCluster version 2. So what have we been working on over the last few weeks, and what have we achieved?

Database Migrations

As existing customers will have seen, we have carried out three maintenance windows over the last couple of weeks. These windows were to migrate and virtualise our existing production database servers to new hardware, and to perform a round of software updates on the new guests.

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vCluster Development Update

As followers of CatN will know we have been in beta for a long time, this last beta stage has lasted for about a year. Technically we came out of beta for a couple of months and unfortunately went back to beta again when we found some underlying technology issues.

I have received a lot of emails and comments recently from beta testers and interested parties asking when we are going to be coming out of beta and opening up the product for new accounts again. I wanted to answer those questions with a development update so everyone can understand where we are up to and what tasks remain before we can launch.

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TCPWebLog – Collecting and Aggregating Web Logs on the Cloud

TCPWebLog is a Free Open Source Software system to collect and aggregate Web-type logs (i.e. Apache, Varnish, PHP, FTP …) from multiple GNU/Linux computers running on a Cloud.

When a user connects to a Website hosted at CatN, the response may come from different Web servers running on different virtual and physical machines. This first introduced the problem of needing to aggregate the logs from multiple cluster nodes to a central log server, and then split them up again based on the virtual host. Here at CatN, for each virtual host we used to write on a central place distinct log files for Apache Access log, Apache Error Log, Varnish, etc. These files are then rotated and processed using other software tools which required a significant administrative overhead.

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How to create TCPWebLog RPM packages for Enterprise Linux

This is a short hands-on tutorial on creating TCPWebLog RPM packages for Enterprise Linux, including, but not limited to, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS and Scientific Linux (SL).

TCPWebLog is a Free Open Source Software system designed to collect and aggregate Web logs (i.e. Apache and Varnish) from multiple GNU/Linux computers running on a Cloud. For more information please read the blog post: TCPWebLog – Collecting and Aggregating Web Logs on the Cloud.

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