Web Hosting SolutionsWeb Hosting Solutions kp37 Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:13
There are a number of options available to you for hosting a website at Georgia Tech, but the first question to ask yourself is whether you need an internal or public website:
An internal website is only available to a subset of the Georgia Tech population (or, at best, most anyone who has a Georgia Tech affiliation). These sites are well suited for sensitive information that shouldn't ever be shared publicly.
Several options are available for creating an internal website:
Microsoft Teams is available to all faculty, staff, and students. Teams lets you create an intranet website for connecting a group of people and sharing information among them. Members of a team can create wiki style pages and shared documents (including Word documents and Excel spreadsheets), post messages to a live chat area that archives everything much like a discussion forum, and create task lists and schedules. Teams also provides access to SharePoint if you wish to create traditional website pages, however, these pages will only be available to the members of your team. Much more is possible through add-on tools that you can attach to your team once it has been created.
Please visit Microsoft Teams to explore it and learn more.
The Canvas Learning Management System is primarily for supporting academic (course related) needs. Every teaching faculty member will get a site on the Canvas system for each course they are teaching, but additional Canvas project sites can be requested for academically related purposes.
Please see the Canvas Self Help page for more information on using Canvas.
Engage @ Georgia Tech
Student organizations have access to the Engage@Georgia Tech hosted service where they can create an online presence for their members with some publicly viewable features.
A public website can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world, and is best suited for general information websites describing the nature and activities of Georgia Tech units, programs, organizations, clubs, etc. Sensitive information should never be stored on a public website!
Sites @ Georgia Tech
Sites @ Georgia Tech is a Georgia Tech service for WordPress websites. It is available for any Georgia Tech faculty, staff, and student. With Sites @ Georgia Tech you can quickly and easily create web sites for research, publications and projects, blogs, initiatives, conferences, and so much more.
OIT Web Hosting
OIT Web Hosting is not a website creation application, but rather a place to host one of a variety of supported web applications, the most common used being the Drupal Content Management System, which can be used to build larger, more robust websites. OIT provides a ready to use version of Drupal called Drupal Express to make it easy to build a new site with a Georgia Tech look-and-feel.
You can run other applications on OIT Web Hosting, including Omeka, MediaWiki, and WordPress, but it is highly recommended that anyone interested in WordPress consider using Sites @ Georgia Tech as described above.
Please see the OIT Web Hosting handbook for more information.
Unit Managed Web Servers
Some units on campus may offer their own locally managed web hosting services and applications. Check with your local IT support staff to find out what your unit offers. Web services offered by and supported by your IT staff are perfectly viable options, but you should avoid trying to set up your own web server without the assistance and oversight of your IT staff.
Learn more about unit managed web servers and running websites on them.
Outside / Off-Campus Web Hosting [Not Recommended]
For several good reasons, units should avoid using outside web hosting, which introduces a number of unnecessary risks. This includes using commercial web hosting companies or commercial application vendors (e.g. WordPress.com or Google Sites), or using social media (such as Facebook) your primary web presence.
Learn more about the downsides and risks of using outside web hosting
The general rule of thumb for selecting a web hosting solution is to go with the solution that is the closest fit to the size and nature of your website. Specifically:
Try to use Sites @ Georgia Tech for any WordPress needs, rather than set up your own copy of WordPress in OIT hosting or on a unit managed web server. Once you set up a separate copy of WordPress, you then have to make sure it is getting all needed security and bug fixing patches for the lifespan of the website.
Try to use OIT Web Hosting for any Drupal needs, as OIT hosting provides a turnkey solution for Drupal sites. If you run Drupal on a unit managed server, you will have to handle the necessary backend maintenance on your own.
- Only request a unit managed web server (or an OIT virtual machine, which will be charged back to your unit) for a non-standard web application that won't run properly on OIT Web Hosting.
Web Hosting Sub-Topics
OIT Web HostingOIT Web Hosting wrusk3 Mon, 02/16/2015 - 09:30
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) provides an on-campus web hosting service for official Georgia Tech units and projects. This service can host many popular PHP based content management systems, including Drupal and WordPress.
For those looking to quickly setup a unit-level website, OIT Web Hosting supports Drupal Express, a central campus web application that will give you a jump start on building a Drupal based website by installing Drupal plus a number of standard add-on components, such as the official Georgia Tech website theme.
OIT Web Hosting Sub-Topics
How to Request a Web Hosting Space from OITHow to Request a Web Hosting Space from OIT klp Wed, 08/17/2016 - 15:15
Overview of the Process
- In a web browser, go to the OIT Web Hosting site (https://hosting.gatech.edu/ - available on-campus or via the VPN only!)
- Log in, using your GT Account username and password (e.g. "gburdell1").
- Follow the link on the right-hand side of the main menu for My Plesk Hosting.
- In the grey horizontal section, select the Request a site on Plesk link, which will take you to a request form.
- Follow the link in the left-hand sidebar for Request, and then select the Request button under New Site
- Fill out the form and select the Request New Site button at the bottom of the page.
- These requests will take up to 72 hours to complete. You will receive an email once the site has been set up.
If you have any questions about any part of the form, you can hover over or tab to any of the question mark icons to get detailed instructions.
Add an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control PanelAdd an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control Panel
There are two user roles for OIT Web Hosting accounts: "owner" and "authorized user".
Owners are the people responsible for the website who make the key decisions about the site. An owner is oftentimes not the technical manager of the site, but must be a full-time employee of Georgia Tech.
- Authorized Users have most of the same privileges as owners, and can be anyone with a valid GT Account Username (including guest user accounts).
Keep in mind that OIT will reach out to the owner(s) first when there are issues with the website that need to be addressed, so make sure at least one of the owners is someone who can answer those questions and handle those requests.
To grant or revoke access for another person to access your OIT Web Hosting site's Plesk control panel, an owner of the site should do the following:
Go to the OIT Web Hosting site (https://hosting.gatech.edu/) in your web browser (available on-campus or via the VPN only!)
Select the My Plesk Hosting button on the right-hand side of the main menu bar.
After logging in, you should see your list of web hosting sites. Locate the entry for the site in question and select the Manage button with the cogwheel icon next to it.
On the next page, select the Edit tab to modify the web hosting site's configuration.
Update the entries under the Manage Site Owners section and/or Manage Authorized Users section as needed, noting the following:
To add someone to a Web Hosting Account, that person must have logged into the OIT Web Hosting site at least once before you can add them to an account.
You must enter each person's GT Account Username (no other identifier will work).
Use the Add another item button to add extra blank spaces if needed.
To remove an existing administrator, just delete the person's GT Account from the given blank (you can re-use the blank for a different person if you wish.
On the Owners section:
The first field cannot be left blank. If you need to remove that person, you'll need to move one of the other owners up so that there is a valid GT Account username in the first field.
If you have trouble adding someone as an owner, ask them log into the OIT Web Hosting site, which will refresh their account information on the site. If you still have trouble adding that person as an owner, check their status in IAT or Mage to see if they are possibly missing the "full-time-employee" role.
Don't forget to select the Save button at the bottom of the page.
Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line)Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line) klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 16:50
Below are some helpful tips on how to use the SSH to get command line access your web hosting site via a Windows or Mac computer.
- Are you off-campus? You must use VPN from off-campus in order to access your site via SSH.
- FAQ: finding your login information for ssh
- Guide: Using ssh on Windows with cygwin (generic).
A sample command you might run to access your site is:
$ ssh my-ftp-username@my-internal-domain-name
Configure Automatic Backups on OIT's Web HostingConfigure Automatic Backups on OIT's Web Hosting klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 15:52
Weekly backups of all OIT Web Hosting accounts now happens automatically. However, if you wish to to more frequent backups for an important site that changes regularly, the following instructions below explain how to configure the Plesk control panel on OIT's web hosting to keep automatic backups of your entire site.
First, read this general FAQ on how to create scheduled backups.
For a Georgia Tech Drupal site, good default settings are:
Backup period: Daily
Maximum number of backups in repository: 14
Backup content: All configuration and content except mail
Suspend domain until backup task is completed: Depends on whether you want your site to be unavailable while this backup is happening.
Who Owns an OIT Hosted Website?Who Owns an OIT Hosted Website? wrusk3 Mon, 02/16/2015 - 09:32
If you have administrative access to at least one OIT Web Hosting account, you can look up the owners and administrators of any other account. Simply navigate to your My Plesk Hosting page (available on-campus or via the VPN only) and follow the link in the left-hand sidebar for Site Lookup.
Unfortunately, there is no longer a means for looking up an account owner / administrator if you do not have access to at least one hosting account. In this case, you will need to either contact OIT for assistance, or find someone who does own an account to perform the look-up for you.
Enabling and Using SSL on OIT Web HostingEnabling and Using SSL on OIT Web Hosting kp37 Fri, 03/10/2017 - 13:02
SSL encryption is highly recommended for websites these days, not just because it makes user interactions with your site more secure, but also because the major browser manufacturers are starting to mark all non-SSL encrypted sites with some kind of red symbol (red padlock, red 'X' through a padlock, etc.) to better warn users not to enter sensitive information into these sites. So, from a marketing standpoint, it's going to make your site look more professional if you turn on SSL encryption, which will keep those red warning symbols from showing.
OIT provides an article on How to Force Your Site's HTTP Traffic to HTTPS that covesr much of what you need to know to get started your site set up with SSL encryption.
Setting Up SSL on OIT Web Hosting with an External Domain NameSetting Up SSL on OIT Web Hosting with an External Domain Name root Fri, 07/07/2017 - 16:12
To set up an external domain name with SSL encryption on an OIT Web Hosting account:
Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) File
You can generate a CSR for an OIT Web Hosting site from the site's Plesk Control Panel:
- Log into hosting.gatech.edu and navigate to your site's control panel
- On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
- On the SSL Certificates page, select Add SSL Certificate.
- On the Add SSL Certificate page, fill in the requested information and then select the Request button (do not use the Self-Signed button!)
- That will generate a CSR that you can then upload to a third party certificate provider, and your Private key is auto-generated and stored in your Plesk Control Panel.
Uploading and Enabling the Certificate
Once you have received your certificate from your provider:
- Log into hosting.gatech.edu and navigate to your site's control panel
- On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
- Choose or Browse to the fileon your local computer, then select the Upload Certificate button.
- After the certificate has been uploaded, select Websites & Domains in the left-hand menu bar, then select Hosting Settings in the main control panel
- Look in the middle of the page for the Security section. Select your certificate via the provided drop-down selector
- Select the OK button to save your changes.
OIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing ListsOIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing Lists kp37 Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:53
Prior to late 2016, OIT always set up a Sympa mailing list whenever it set up a web hosting account, and the 'hosting.gatech.edu' site automatically managed the membership of that mailing list, syncing the hosting account's administrators and owners to the mailing list.
This process changed with the late 2016 upgrade of 'hosting.gatech.edu'. Previously existing mailing lists remain in place, but new hosting accounts do not get mailing lists created for them, and owners and administrators are no longer synced to the existing mailing lists for existing hosting accounts. Instead, there is now a Notification Email Address for Website field on the hosting record where the site owner or administrator can specify an email address where Plesk server notifications (e.g. your hosting account SSH password is about to expire) can be sent. The hosting record is viewed and edited by selecting the cogwheel symbol next to the hosting account name on your Plesk Web Admin Tools page.
Here's what you need to know about this new system:
If you have a previously existing hosting account and want to keep using the previously existing notifications mailing list, you should open a ticket with OIT and ask them to make you the owner of that Sympa mailing list. Then, you can manually update the mailing list as needed.
If you have a new hosting account, you can manually request a Sympa mailing list for the people who will own and administer that account. Once the list has been approved, enter the list's delivery email address into the 'Notification Email Address for Website' field for the associated hosting account.
- If you don't want to use a Sympa mailing list, you can enter any address into the 'Notification Email Address for Website' field, but it will only accept a single address. If you want to have it send to more than one person without using a Sympa mailing list, ask your IT support to set up an email alias that points to all of the admins, then enter that alias into the 'Notification Email Address for Website' field.
How to Add a Github Repository in PleskHow to Add a Github Repository in Plesk
- In your repository on github.gatech.edu, click the Clone or download button.
- Click the Use SSH link in the upper-right corner of the dialog.
- Click the copy to clipboard icon.
- Go to your domain under hosting.gatech.edu.
- In the Websites & Domains panel, click the Git link.
- In the Add Git Repository panel, make sure the Remote Git hosting option is selected.
- Paste the link you copied from your Github repository into the Remote Git repository box.
- To the right of the green arrow, you can accept the default or click the automatically deployed link and change it to manual deployment.
- Plesk will automatically generate an SSH public key. Copy the hash in the textbox.
The SSH public key can be added to an individual user account or to the repository as a deploy key.
Adding SSH Public Key to an Individual User Account
- Go to your repository on github.gatech.edu > Settings > SSH and GPG keys.
- Click the New SSH key button.
- In the SSH keys dialog, add a Title, paste the SSH key you copied from Plesk into the Key textbox, and click the Add SSH key button.
- Return to the Add Git Repository panel in Plesk and click the OK button.
- It takes a few seconds for Plesk to clone the repository.
- Once complete, you should see a your.domain.gatech.edu.git repository in Plesk.
Adding SSH Public Key to Repository as a Deploy Key
- Go into your repository in github.gatech.edu by clicking the name link.
- Click on Settings in the navigation bar.
- Click Deploy keys in the side menu.
- Click the Add deploy key button.
- In the Deploy keys dialog, add a Title and paste the SSH key you copied from Plesk in the Key textbox. Leave Allow write access box unchecked and click the Add key button.
- Return to the Add Git Repository panel in Plesk and click the OK button.
- The cloning process takes a few seconds to run.
- Once complete, you should see a your.domain.gatech.edu.git repository in Plesk.
Managing SSH Access to an OIT Web Hosting AccountManaging SSH Access to an OIT Web Hosting Account kp37 Thu, 12/22/2022 - 18:12
OIT Web Hosting accounts can be accessed remotely via a protocol called SSH, which gives you a command line style interface to the hosting account. From there, a knowledgable person such as a web developer can manipulate the files on the website, changing settings and configuration and even writing and debugging code to some extent. (The SSH interface on OIT Web Hosting is somewhat limited in its capabilities, so it's not recommended that anyone actually attempt to develop code using it, but technically this is possible.)
To access a hosting account via SSH, you either need the SSH password for the account or you need a valid SSH key.
To set the SSH password for an OIT Web Hosting account, go into the account's Plesk Control Panel, then select Web Hosting Access from the main control page (known as the "Websites & Domains" page). Please note that there is no way to see the current password - if you do not know what it is, all you can do is reset it to a new value.
An SSH key is a form of public key encryption to let you connect to another system via SSH without having to send a normal password. To use this method, you will need to generate an SSH key for yourself. The process varies greatly based on the operating system and SSH client you are using, so we cannot provide any instructions for this part. However, in the end you should have two keys: a private key and a public key.
If you are enabling SSH Key access for an outside developer, then s/he should send you his/her public key, which is the part you need to enable access to your OIT Web Hosting Account.
Adding an SSH Key
After logging into the Plesk Control Panel for your hosting account, locate the large title text "Website & Domains". From there, look to the far right for an icon that looks like a square with a left-pointing black triangle in it, and select that icon. A menu of options should appear that starts with "Backup & Restore" - look to the bottom of that menu for "SSH Keys" and select that option.
That's the hard part. On the next page, "SSH Keys Manager", you can add and delete authorized keys. Simply select the Add Key button, paste the new key into the Key field, and select the Add button to add it.
Removing an SSH Key
To remove someone's key, simply locate it in the list on the "SSH Keys Manager" page, select the checkbox to the left of the key title, and then select the Remove button to remove it.
Unit Managed Web ServersUnit Managed Web Servers kp37 Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:53
Some Georgia Tech units may offer locally managed web servers for hosting locally managed websites and web applications – check with your unit's information technology support staff to see what is available to your unit. A stand-alone web server can be useful for larger web applications that need more resources than a shared hosting account (such as an OIT Web Hosting account) can offer. In virtually all cases, however, you would not need a stand-alone web server for any standard content management system like Drupal or WordPress. Please see our main Web Hosting Solutions page for suggestions on how to select the best hosting for your needs.
Finally, please do not try to set up your own web server if you do not have experience in properly configuring and managing such a server. An improperly configured web server can be very dangerous to both the sites it hosts and to other servers on the same network, as it could become a gateway for hackers to gain access to other neighboring servers. If you need a stand-alone web server for a particular project, consult with your unit's information technology support staff and let them set up the server or guide you through the process.
Outside Web Hosting SolutionsOutside Web Hosting Solutions kp37 Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:42
Commercial Web Hosting
There are dozens if not hundreds of commercial web hosting solutions available outside of Georgia Tech, but use of them for Georgia Tech related websites is not recommended for a number of reasons:
In most cases, you will not be able to point a *.gatech.edu DNS hostname to an outside hosting account, so you will also have to purchase your own domain name, which is further unnecessary expense, and requires approval from Institute Communications. A non-standard DNS hostname will also confuse your site visitors, who will expect any entity connected to Georgia Tech to have a *.gatech.edu hostname.
Georgia Tech has no control over accounts with outside hosting vendors, so if the person who ordered the account leaves Georgia Tech, your unit may find itself locked out of its own web site, and Georgia Tech information technology support can not do anything to help you in that situation. This could even have legal ramifications, as it means a once legitimate Georgia Tech website could be sitting out on the internet possibly getting hacked and likely sharing out-of-date information.
Services available to Georgia Tech websites and web applications, like Central Authentication Service (CAS), may not available to sites hosted off-campus, which means that you would be missing out on useful security and access management features.
- If you store sensitive data in a website or web application that is on unapproved outside web hosting, you may be violating Georgia Tech policy, or even state or federal law. Any site or application that deals with sensitive data should always be hosted on Georgia Tech owned or approved hosting!
If you have a valid and legitimate reason for hosting a site off-campus on commercial web hosting, make certain that multiple full-time employees in your unit have administrative access to the hosting account. Also make sure that your unit's financial staff know how to make yearly service payments so that the site doesn't suddenly disappear (and to avoid a panic due to someone realizing that the site needs to be renewed the day before it's going to expire.)
Social Media Sites
Many free social media services allow you to build the equivalent of a website, and this may seem like a good alternative to a commercial hosting service. However, the same concerns apply regarding potential loss of access to the account and inability of Georgia Tech information technology support to help you with these accounts. (Always make sure that multiple full-time employees in your unit know the passwords for all of your social media sites!) In addition, it's usually not a good idea to put your main web presence into social media, as that can turn away potential visitors who are not fans of social media. In the case of services like FaceBook, visitors who are not users of the service may also find themselves unable to access all of your information due to the members-only access limitations of these services.
The best practice for units and student organizations is to use social media sites to supplement your web presence, but to always build and maintain at least a small standard website for your public audience that lets anyone and everyone see who you are and what you are doing.
A Guide to Domain NamesA Guide to Domain Names
All websites that are funded and/or sponsored by the Institute are required to have a gatech.edu-based web address.
Georgia Tech owns the entire *.gatech.edu domain space. Any on-campus unit can request a domain name within this space at no charge. However, there are differences in domain names and brand standards that you need to consider.
Domain Name Formats
There are differences in domain formats, based on your unit's function and visibility.
- The official Georgia Tech website
- The internet domain name assigned to the Georgia Institute of Technology is gatech.edu.
- The Institute recognizes gatech.edu as its official domain name; it is legally registered to the Institute and, like other marks of the institution, is subject to the Institute’s use, policies, and guidelines.
- Institute-wide or multi-unit collaborative initiative websites
- Top-level domain aliases are generally reserved for units and initiatives that serve or represent the entire Institute and for multi-unit collaborative initiatives.
- A top-level domain alias is formatted as such: [requestedname].gatech.edu.
- Registered Student organizations (RSO) and Departmental Registered Student Organizations (DRSO)
- RSO and DRSO websites are assigned a “gtorg” alias.
- Student organization domains are formatted as: [requestedname].gtorg.gatech.edu.
- All other Georgia Tech unit websites
- All other academic, administrative, and/or other organizational units within the Institute that do not fit in the categories above are assigned sub-domains.
- This also includes personal websites that are hosted by the Institute.
- Sub-domains are formatted as such: [requestedname].[gtunit].gatech.edu.
- Sub-domain names can often be created and updated by a unit's Information Technology (IT) staff.
- Sub-domains do not have to go through the Institute-level vanity alias approval process to get a new sub-domain name, though your unit may have internal sub-domain name rules or best-practices.
- (Outside) Non-Georgia Tech Domain Names
It is possible to go to a commercial hosting company and purchase a non-Georgia Tech domain name. This practice is highly discouraged for several reasons:
- Outside domain names have regular fees and costs. If your circumstances still warrant getting an outside domain name, make certain that billing is set up to go directly to your unit's financial department so that renewal fees get paid in a timely manner.
- Non-campus domain names may look suspicious to unfamiliar visitors, as non-campus domains have been used for phishing and cybersecurity incidents.
- Your website may not be able to make use of Georgia Tech services (such as single sign-on) that are limited to websites with a *.gatech.edu hostname.
- OIT may not be willing to host your website with an outside domain name (they reserve the right to make this decision on a case-by-case basis), so you may end up having to pay for outside web hosting as well.
- If you ever fail to renew your outside name, it could be grabbed by a spammer who could then put up a fake site under that domain name. This could hurt your unit's image and reputation for many years to come, as it is nearly impossible to get all links to your site throughout the internet updated to a new domain name.
Domain Name Standards
In order to create a cohesive web identity and to ensure the integrity of the Institute’s commitment to a unified web presence, the Institute has established brand standards for websites.
Requesting a Vanity Domain Alias
Institute Communications (IC) reviews all vanity domain alias requests to confirm they meet the brand standards for websites. Before requesting a vanity domain alias, you must read and understand the information listed under "Domain Name Standards" above.
Web Hosting Option ComparisonsWeb Hosting Option Comparisons kp37 Fri, 09/13/2019 - 15:56
|Audience||Application||Types of Sites||Skill Level Needed||GT Account
|Primary Features||Known Limitations|
|Microsoft Teams||Internal||Microsoft Office 365||Intranet||Basic||Yes||Wikis, forms, file repositories, basic pages||
|Canvas Project Sites||Internal||Canvas||Academic Intranet||Basic||Yes||Most Canvas features found in course sites||
|Github Pages||Internal||Github||Small, static websites||Advanced||Required?||Can create static, basic websites||
|Engage@Georgia Tech||Both||Campus Labs Engage||Student Org websites||Basic||Yes||Information sharing, Membership Rosters, etc.||
|Sites @ Georgia Tech||External||WordPress||
||Basic to Intermediate||Yes||Can create general webpages to make a traditional website||
|OIT Web Hosting + Drupal 7||External||Drupal||Medium to Large Unit websites||Intermediate to Advanced||Optional (with