Web Hosting Solutions

Web 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, including:

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 Professional Web Presence 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.
  • Try to use OIT Web Hosting for any Drupal needs, as OIT hosting provides Installatron, which can handle Drupal security and bug fix patches for you.  If you run Drupal on a unit managed server, you will likely have to handle all of these patches yourself by hand.
  • 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 Hosting

OIT Web Hosting
Category
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 now supports Drupal Express, which 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 has provided documentation on web hosting via the OIT FAQ, and an administrator's guide for the hosting control panel system, Plesk, is also available.


OIT Web Hosting Sub-Topics

How to Request a Web Hosting Space from OIT

How to Request a Web Hosting Space from OIT klp Wed, 08/17/2016 - 15:15

Overview of the Process

  1. In a web browser, go to https://hosting.gatech.edu/.
  2. Log in, using your GT account and password (e.g. "gburdell1").
  3. In the grey horizontal section, select the Request a site on Plesk link, which will take you to a request form.
  4. Fill in the requested information that is needed to set up your site.
  5. Check the boxes that acknowledge you have read/understood both the relevant policies AND that OIT does NOT offer support for installing or maintaining your website.
  6. Select the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  7. These requests will take up to 72 hours to complete. You will receive an email once the site has been set up.

Below is a detailed explanation of the sections of this request form.

Requestor Information

This is you. Happily, this is already filled out for you!

Web Site Information

  • Preferred Domain Name:  Enter the top-level domain name that you want.  Don't enter any development or testing related prefixes onto the name (e.g. dev.example.gatech.edu, test.gatech.edu, or s1.example.gatech.edu).  If you need separate sites for development, testing and production, enter those details in the "DNS setup" box, as described below.  For details about how domain aliases work best on OIT's web hosting, read this helpful FAQ about requesting Dev, Test & Production environments.
  • Notification Email Address for Website:  This is where all system generated notifications about the hosting account (e.g. SSH password has expired) will be sent.  You can enter a comma separated list of addresses, or the address of a mailing list that you have set up for the account.  NOTE: OIT Hosting no longer automatically sets up a dedicated administrator mailing list for new hosting accounts - you have to make/request such a list yourself if you want one. 
  • Student Organization:  Check this box only if you are setting up this site for a student organization as defined in this section of the request form.  If checked, your site will be put on a special web server dedicated to student organization sites.
  • DNS should be setup when created:  In most cases, you'll want to check this box.  Only leave unchecked if you (or your unit's IT manager) have access to the campus DNS for the domain in which your requested Domain Name is located, and you plan to setup your requested Domain Name in DNS yourself.
  • I am building a Drupal Express website:  Checking this box will pre-populate your hosting account with a fresh build of the Drupal environment distribution known as Drupal Express.  This 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.
  • Preferred Host Server:  If you have any existing hosting accounts and would like the new account on the same server as one of them, select the server you would prefer.  This can be helpful if you really need to have two accounts access the same database (though this is not recommended and should be avoided with any new site development.)  Please note there is no guarantee that your account will be put on the server you select.

Policy Compliance

This is all of the legal fine print.  Be sure to read the linked policies and make sure you understand it before checking these boxes and submitting your request.

Add an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control Panel

Add an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control Panel
Category
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 16:47

Important: Only the Web Hosting site owner (and OIT) can add or remove Web Hosting site administrators, and only OIT can change a Web Hosting site's owner.

Process

To allow or disallow another person access your OIT Web Hosting site's Plesk control panel, an owner of the site can do the following:

Visit https://hosting.gatech.edu/ , log in with your GT Account Username and Password if you aren't already logged in, and go to the Plesk Web Admin page.   Select the cogwheel icon link to the right of the hosting account you want to modify.

  1. Select the 'Edit' tab to modify the hosting site configuration.
  2. Update the entries in the Administrator's Primary GT Account section, noting the following:
    1. Administrators must be added by way of their GT Account Username.
    2. Use the 'Add another item' button to add extra blank spaces if needed.
    3. 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.
  3. Select the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Owners (at least, some owners) can now update the owner information.  The process works exactly the same as it does for updating administrators.  If you have this access, make sure to keep your site's owner information current to maintain your site's security and allow OIT to contact the right people if any problems should come up.

Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line)

Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line)
Category
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.

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 Hosting

Configure Automatic Backups on OIT's Web Hosting
Category
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 15:52

The instructions below explain how to configure the Plesk control panel on OIT's web hosting to keep automatic backups of your entire site.

Overview

First, read this general FAQ on how to create scheduled backups.

Setting Recommendations

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?
Category
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 the Plesk Web Admin Tools page and use the "FIND OWNER / ADMIN / SITE" look-up box.

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.

Please note: The Web Hosting Plesk Web Admin Tools page can only be accessed from on-campus or via the campus VPN.

Enabling and Using SSL on OIT Web Hosting

Enabling 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 two Frequently Asked Questions articles that cover much of what you need to know to get started your site set up with SSL encryption:

In addition, it's important to know that OIT Web Hosting accounts come in two flavors: old-style, which were originally set up more than two to three years ago, and new-style, which were set up more recently.  Old-style accounts will have separate 'httpdocs' and 'httpsdocs' directories for your public files, which in essence means that you have two separate sites in one account.  The How to Force Your Site's HTTP Traffic to HTTPS OIT FAQ article doesn't address how to handle these older accounts - its instructions are only effective for new-style accounts.

If you own or have inherited an old-style account, and you want to make it run exclusively as an SSL encrypted HTTPS site, here are some options available to you:

  1. You can remove or rename the 'httpsdocs' directory in your hosting account and symlink 'httpsdocs' to the 'httpdocs' directory.  This will make the account act just like a new-style account.  You'll need a little familiarity with UNIX, however, as this has to be done via the SSH command line (the Plesk File Manager interface doesn't give you an option to create symlinks).
  2. You can open a ticket with OIT and ask them to make the appropriate changes for you.  (They'll likely just change the account's configuration to point both HTTP and HTTPS traffic to your httpdocs directory, rather than use the symlink method.)
  3. You can put a .htaccess file in your 'httpdocs' directory with the following line in it, replacing 'sitename.gatech.edu' with the actual DNS hostname for your site:

    Redirect / https://sitename.gatech.edu/

Setting Up SSL on OIT Web Hosting with an External Domain Name

Setting 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:

  1. Log into hosting.gatech.edu and navigate to your site's control panel
  2. On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
  3. On the SSL Certificates page, select Add SSL Certificate.
  4. On the Add SSL Certificate page, fill in the requested information and then select the Request button (do not use the Self-Signed button!)
  5. 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:

  1. Log into hosting.gatech.edu and navigate to your site's control panel
  2. On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
  3. Choose or Browse to the fileon your local computer, then select the Upload Certificate button.
  4. After the certificate has been uploaded, select Websites & Domains in the left-hand menu bar, then select Hosting Settings in the main control panel
  5. Look in the middle of the page for the Security section.   Select your certificate via the provided drop-down selector
  6. Select the OK button to save your changes.

OIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing Lists

OIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing Lists
Category
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 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.

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. In theory, you can enter a comma separated list of addresses, although there have been conflicting reports as to whether or not this actually works.

Professional Web Presence (PWP)

Professional Web Presence (PWP)
Category
esembrat3 Fri, 02/20/2015 - 14:04

At Georgia Tech, WordPress is officially supported through the Professional Web Presence (PWP). Such use-cases include faculty, research group, research lab, organizational, and personal websites. These websites would act as brochure-ware websites.

Besides the PWP specific resources listed below, we also have a section of general WordPress resources in this knowledge base.


Professional Web Presence Sub-Topics

Creating a New Website on PWP

Creating a New Website on PWP esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:04

To request a Professional Web Presence website, follow the directions below.

Process

  1. Navigate to pwp.gatech.edu.
  2. From the main menu, select 'Website Request'.
  3. Click the 'Website Request' button.
  4. Log in to the website if you are not yet logged in using your GT Account and password.
  5. Enter a website title, folder name for the site to live under, and visibility.
  6. Click 'Create Website'.
  7. Log in to your new website.

GTRI Note

Anyone from GTRI is required to get a waiver for creating a public-facing website. Please contact your CSR to initiate this process.

Custom Domains in PWP

Custom Domains in PWP esembrat3 Fri, 02/20/2015 - 14:08

Any website on Professional Web Presence (PWP) can have a custom domain. A custom domain is a URL not structured as pwp.gatech.edu/[sitename].

Requirement

Custom domains are not required. You can set up the PWP website first, then add the custom domain later.

For off-campus non-Georgia Tech domains, special considerations must be followed.

Technical Details

A few considerations for using a custom domain:

  • The DNS records should (preferably) be cnames for pwp.gatech.edu.
  • You can also certainly use .gatech.edu domains, provided that OIT grants this domain to you.

Obtaining a Custom Domain

Note that this only applies for on-campus (*.gatech.edu) domains.

To obtain a custom domain, you must:

  1. Make the request directly to support@oit.gatech.edu and just tell them you want yourdomain.gatech.edu as a cname for pwp.gatech.edu.
  2. After receiving the domain change from OIT, email the PWP administrators ( webpresence@gatech.edu ) with the custom domain so the custom domain can be enabled on PWP.

Setting WordPress Custom Domain

In lieu of step 2 above, an admin of a PWP site can add their new domain to their website by:

  1. Logging in to the admin interface.
  2. From admin, select "Tools -> Domain Mapping".
  3. Place the new domain in the text box and click Save.

Domain Configuration Resources

Courtesy of the Domain Mapping plugin utilized for this feature:

Your users should go to Tools->Domain Mapping where they can add or delete domains. One domain must be set as the primary domain for the blog. When mapping a domain, (like 'example.com') your users must create an A record in their DNS pointing at that IP address. They should use multiple A records if your server uses more than one IP address. If your user is mapping a hostname of a domain (sometimes called a "subdomain") like http://www.example.com or blog.example.com it's sufficient to create a CNAME record pointing at their blog url (NOT IP address).

Off-Campus Domains

Off-Campus Domains esembrat3 Tue, 11/15/2016 - 09:11

For any off-campus domain (e.g. a domain that does not end in .gatech.edu), a few more steps are required for configuring the domain beyond setting the custom domain for a site in PWP.

Process

Proper setup of the off-campus domain (and its www.{customdomain} alternative) require the following:

  • Use a host record with the "same as domain" setting and without a reverse (PTR) record. For the record data, use the actual IP address for PWP (143.215.248.18).
  • Create a CNAME for 'www' that maps to the host record you just created.

How To Build Sites in PWP

How To Build Sites in PWP esembrat3 Fri, 10/02/2015 - 09:52

This section serves to document the 'how to' to build certain aspects of websites seen on other Professional Web Presence (PWP) websites.

PWP Available Themes

PWP Available Themes esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:47

This page details all available themes for WordPress through the Professional Web Presence (PWP) service.  Additional information on configuring and managing a theme can be found in the general WordPress section of this Knowledge Base.

Note

All themes may not be listed below. Please add the theme in if it does not appear.

PWP Theme List

GT Boilerplate (Genesis)

GT Boilerplate (Genesis) esembrat3 Thu, 01/22/2015 - 15:17

wp-gt-boilerplate is the de facto standard for Georgia Tech-styled WordPress themes.

Based on the 2014 redesign by mStoner, wp-gt-boilerplate brings a responsive Georgia Tech-friendly design to WordPress websites. 

Technical Details

GT Boilerplate is based on Studiopress' Genesis theme framework. The theme is based on the Quattro subtheme.

Download @ GitHub

wp-gt-boilerplate can be found on Github @ GT.

Demo

The PWP main website is currently using the GT Boilerplate theme.

Theme Options

Custom Plugins & Themes

Custom Plugins & Themes esembrat3 Wed, 11/04/2015 - 08:08

To maintain security updates and maintenance across PWP, site-specific plugins and themes are not allowed.

Request a Theme or Plugin

To request a theme or plugin for all PWP sites, please use the request form.

Default Georgia Tech Logos in GT Boilerplate

Default Georgia Tech Logos in GT Boilerplate esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:38

In the Professional Web Presence (PWP) GT Boilerplate Theme, the default Georgia Tech logo used can be changed from the Customize section of your theme settings.

Changing the Displayed Logo

To change the displayed logo, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'GT Theme Settings'.
  4. Use the dropdown for 'Which Georgia Tech logo should be used for default?' to select your logo and click 'Save'.

Supported Logos

The following logos are supported currently:

  • Georgia Tech (general)
  • College of Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Architecture
  • College of Computing
  • Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
  • Scheller College of Business

Custom Logos

Custom logos can be added as normal to override these, but please note the IC-provided disclaimer on the 'Header Image' setting:

The Branding Strip should include an approved Georgia Tech logo that meets the Branding and Visual Identity Guidelines at comm.gatech.edu/resources/visual.

Information regarding licensing and proper use of the Institute’s trademarks is available at licensing.gatech.edu.

Full-Width Header & Footer

Full-Width Header & Footer esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:43

Changing the default layout (to full-width) can be customized from the Customize section of your theme settings.

Changing to Full-Width

To add social media links, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'GT Theme Settings'.
  4. Use the dropdown for 'Full-width headers and footers?' to enable or disable this feature and click 'Save'.

Minimal Georgia Tech Footer

Minimal Georgia Tech Footer esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:44

Changing the footer to show a minimal feature-set can be customized from the Customize section of your theme settings.

Note

Please note that the minimal footer is not customizable

Enabling/Disabling Minimal Georgia Tech Footer

To add social media links, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'GT Theme Settings'.
  4. Use the dropdown for 'Use minimal GT footer?' to enable or disable this feature and click 'Save'.

Social Media Buttons

Social Media Buttons esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:35

Social media buttons can be added from the Customize section of your theme settings.


Adding Social Media

To add social media links, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'Social Media Icons'.
  4. For the social media service you want to add a link to, provide a URL to your social media page on the specific field and click 'Save'.

Services Offered

Currently, the following social media outlets are supported:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • Flickr
  • RSS
  • Github

GT Boilerplate Bold

GT Boilerplate Bold esembrat3 Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:58

GT Boilerplate Bold is the Professional Web Presence (PWP) equivalent of research.gatech.edu. It is a radical way to change the look of your website, add some variation, and present your web content to a general campus audience.

We’ve adapted styling and consistency from Georgia Tech’s Institute Communications design, while branching off a few features specifically for PWP-specific functionality.

Usage

Georgia Tech Institute Communications has provided documentation about whether your website is available to use this theme variation. Please consult GTIC’s client managers for more information.

Please note that PWP administrators cannot deter you from using this theme. We will forward you to GTIC for any queries on whether your website meets the requirements to use this theme variation.

Enable GT Boilerplate Bold

To enable GT Boilerplate Bold, follow the directions below:

  1. Log into PWP and access the Dashboard for your website.
  2. On the administrative dashboard, select 'Appearance -> Customize' from the left-hand menu.
  3. From the Customizer menu, select 'Georgia Tech Theme'.
  4. From the list of Georgia Tech theme customizations, locate the 'GT Boilerplate Bold' setting. Enable or disable this setting to view how your website would look.

PWP Website Redirects

PWP Website Redirects esembrat3 Wed, 05/10/2017 - 14:41

To set up a website redirect from your PWP website, please follow the instructions below.

Redirect Process

This process has been lifted from this Stackoverflow article.

  1. Enable the redirection module.
  2. On the redirection preferences, select the site configuration as so:

Source: /(.*) Target: http://mysite.com/$1

PWP: Georgia Tech Only Access

PWP: Georgia Tech Only Access esembrat3 Thu, 10/15/2015 - 10:57

To make your website accessible only to users with a Georgia Tech GT Account Username, follow the directions below:

  • Navigate to 'Settings -> GT CAS Auth' on the Dashboard.
  • Set 'Privacy Setting -> Private' and 'Automatically Create Accounts -> Yes'.
  • Save your settings.

Please be aware that many people have GT Account Usernames - not just current faculty, staff, and students.  Others with GT Account Usernames include alumni, emeritus faculty, student applicants, visiting students and scholars, and outside contractors.  If you really want your content to be visible only to current faculty, staff, and students, you will need to use a system other than PWP for your website.

Removing a PWP Website

Removing a PWP Website esembrat3 Mon, 04/27/2015 - 11:52

To remove a website from Professional Web Presence (PWP), follow the directions below.

Website Deletion

  1. Log in to your PWP website.
  2. From the admin dashboard, locate "Tools -> Delete Site" from the administrative sidebar.
  3. Follow the directions on the "Delete Site" page to initiate a site deletion.

Notes

Please note that a PWP website will not be deleted until you click the link in the "Delete My Site" email. This email is sent only to the site owner, who is the user who created the website.

Questions?

For any questions or comments about this process, please contact the PWP administration.

Unit Managed Web Servers

Unit Managed Web Servers
Category
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 Solutions

Outside 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:

  • Most will require some form of payment, which is an unnecessary expense when free web hosting is available from on-campus resources (see OIT Web Hosting and Professional Web Presence).
  • 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.  A non-standard DNS hostname may 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 your website or web application, you may be violating Georgia Tech policy, or even state or federal law, if you host that site or application on unapproved web hosting.  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 Names

A Guide to Domain Names
Category
root Thu, 07/20/2017 - 17:14

Every website needs a domain name to identify it (e.g. www.gatech.edu), but not all domain names are equal.  The following attempts to demystify domain names and help you select the best name for your new website.

Georgia Tech Domain Names

Georgia tech owns the entire *.gatech.edu domain space, and so you can request names within this space at no charge to your unit.  However, there are differences in names, and new rules coming into effect that you need to consider.

Top Level Georgia Tech Domain Names

These names look like something.gatech.edu or www.something.gatech.edu, where "something" is a unique identifier for a Georgia Tech unit.  Top level names can convey a sense of prestige, but can only be created and managed by the Office of Information Technology (OIT), and there are new rules coming into effect governing who can request a top level domain name.  If your website is for a major unit of Georgia Tech or a very high level project or activity/event, then such a domain may be right for you - contact OIT to put in a name request.  Otherwise, please read on.

Georgia Tech Sub-Domain Names

Major units of Georgia Tech that already have their own top level Georgia Tech Domain Name can create any number of subdomain names, which look like subunit.something.gatech.edu, where "subunit" is most any name except "www" (which is reserved as an alias for the unit's top-level domain).

Sub-domain names can often be created and updated by a unit's own Information Technology (IT) staff, which can usually handle requests more quickly than OIT.  You also do not have to go through the institute level approval process to get a new sub-domain name, though your unit might implement their own rules on sub-domain names.  For both reasons, you can usually get a sub-domain name more quickly than a top-level Georgia Tech domain name.

(Outside) Non-Georgia Tech Domain Names

It is possible to go to a commercial hosting company and purchase a non-Georgia Tech domain name, but this practice is highly discouraged for several reasons:

  1. You'll be paying regular fees for something that you could get from within Georgia Tech for free.
  2. Your website may not be regarded by your site visitors as being official, even though it is.
  3. Your site may not be able to make use of Georgia Tech services that are limited to websites with a *.gatech.edu hostname.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 (and yes, this has happened to at least one Georgia Tech unit in the past).  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.

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.