Virtual machines for research groups

Why

TIG provides hosting of virtual machines to allow CSAIL research groups to execute specific research-related tasks, such as specialized or high-load web hosting that's inappropriate for standard TIG-provided WebServices. Generally these virtual machines are used for persistent, public-facing tasks.

What

TIG's provisioning of a virtual research machine includes:
  1. A virtual host accessible at [yourvirtualhostname].csail.mit.edu, installed with CSAIL Debian, and security updates for debian packages
  2. Configuration of a host keytab to allow SSH
  3. If appropriate and requested, a service keytab to allow Apache to serve content from AFS
  4. Basic monitoring to check that the machine is alive on the network and accessible by SSH
  5. Assistance with basic installation of other software that is available in the form of Debian packages in the current "Stable" repository

ONLY files located on AFS (within /afs/csail/...) will be backed up. (See AFS Backups and our published backup policy.) The maintainers of the virtual machine (i.e., the research group that requested the VM) are responsible for ensuring that all configuration and data stored on the virtual host is backed up or can be easily recreated from scratch.

TIG will:
  • Notify relevant research group members as early as possible of any necessary downtime

For their part, virtual machine maintainers (i.e., the research group who requested the VM) will:
  • Configure and customize the virtual machine using their own resources
  • If desired, monitor any services beyond SSH which the machine is intended to run
  • Ensure that all important data and/or configuration corresponding to the system is stored on AFS (within /afs/csail/...) or other safe location (not the virtual machine's own partitions)
  • Notify TIG with as much advance notice as possible of any expected spikes in traffic to the site.

To contact TIG, send mail to help@csail.mit.edu; jackc should be CCed on all major correspondence. For emergencies, email first if possible, then call 617-253-8304.

How

To request the creation of a virtual machine for your research group, send mail to help@csail including:
  1. Desired hostname
  2. Primary maintainer(s) and email addresses
  3. PI ultimately responsible for the virtual machine, if different
  4. Purpose of machine; ballpark expected load
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Topic revision: 08 Feb 2011, ArthurProkosch
 

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