I've been reading a bunch of messages here and in the Managed Services forum, and I think I'm on the right track. (I posted over there too since I'm not sure which forum is the right one for this question). I'm hoping you can give me a "sure, do that" or "no! that's stupid!" response or additional advice. Here's the situation:
I'm a grad student, and my school does not offer reliable hosting. We're using a MediaWiki and CoSign (an Apache module) for community communication and as a research project. I need hosting that manages servers because I'm a developer, not a sysadmin, and my only server admin experience is with Mac OS X Server. We don't have the technical expertise or time to do everything for our server, but we don't need mission-critical support. We want the wiki to work nearly all the time, and we want to be able to use CoSign so that users have a single signon with other university resources. It would be great if we could get some help getting MediaWiki and CoSign to work together, but that's not a deal-breaker. I just finished building all this for our dev server - the Mac - and I don't want to do all this again. Linux is fine, the OS doesn't matter much to MediaWiki and CoSign. Yes, yes, I know it's not great to use different platforms for development and production, but that's what I have available right now.
Does it sound like a good scenario for managed VPS hosting? I've looked at jaguarpc.com, servint.com, and spry.com, and I'm trying to decide where to go. I'm pretty sure I can get about $50/month out of my advisor for hosting. He's supportive and definitely wants the hosting done offsite and not by grad students.
What do you think?
Thank you for your time!
Links (oops, can't link because this is my first post)
MediaWiki: mediawiki DOT org
CoSign: weblogin DOT org
Well, a VPS would be one way to go, but I don't think it is really necessary in this case (I mean since I sell VPS's, I don't know if I should be saying that ) but this seems like something that would be fine for normal shared hosting unless there is something I'm missing about you needing complete server control and root access. I'm sure you can find a shared host out there that specializes more in Wiki software than any VPS host as a VPS is more like a dedicated server and not as many hosts support that kind of third-party web software.
I originally thought shared hosting was a good option, but it's tough to find a shared hosting service that will install an Apache module for me (CoSign). I guess I also need mod_ssl for that to run, but lots of places have that installed already. So, I thought a VPS might be a good option so that we can install Apache modules (may have others in the future) without having to go all the way to dedicated servers. Seem reasonable?
If you need to install unusual Apache modules then almost certainly a VPS would be better than a shared hosting provider willing to install these for you (unless the provider _really_ understands the module. There are many Managed VPS providers who will install additional Apache modules for you for free or a small fee as it's a simple task. I would suggest asking them before you sign-up to verify. In situations like this VPS's are ideal.