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"Dynamic" Web Site Hosting Arrives at
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by Rory Mather

In response to popular demand, ITS has developed and deployed a new Web site development and hosting environment for units and sponsored projects at University of Hawaii campuses that wish to develop “dynamic” Web sites.

Most Web sites have pages that do not change unless edited by a Web developer. Because the pages are non-changing, these sites are commonly referred to as “static.” A “dynamic” Web site, in contrast, is a Web site with pages that are constructed upon user request (via a browser), often changing based on certain parameters such as time, context, or user session. Development of dynamic Web sites requires special, server-side technology as well as Web programming expertise.

Members of the Web Development (DLUS) and Systems groups in ITS collaborated to define the new Web hosting service to supplement the existing basic hosting services offered on the Web servers via the environment.

Units must apply and be approved for the service. Primary requirements include: a justifiable business purpose, management sponsorship, and in-house PHP expertise. While ITS supports the hosting environment with weekly backups and regular upgrades, we cannot currently provide programming support, so in-house staff with PHP programming expertise is required.

The new service allows any qualified group within the University of Hawaii system to build and deploy dynamic sites using the popular PHP scripting language and MySQL database. Both PHP and MySQL are free, open source technologies and are extremely popular for Web development. PHP is well liked for its ease of use, simplicity and extensive functionality. Similarly, MySQL delivers a simplified but robust SQL database available at UH at no cost.

Benefits to University units and to the UH System are many. First and foremost is a significant cost savings to participating units. Units can now deploy a production strength dynamic Web site without requiring an investment in server hardware, tools or systems administration staff. By providing a single, hosted solution, ITS can properly secure the environment via a coherent security strategy and keeping up with current patch levels. Because the site is hosted in the ITS datacenter, we can offer high availability, reliable systems support, 24 hour systems monitoring, and regular backups. Finally, providing PHP/MySQL encourages the development of a community of developers with common expertise and experience.

The service has already exceeded expectations. In the first six months, over 30 UH units have been accepted for participation. We anticipate the rapid growth to continue into the foreseeable future.

Web Development Group,

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