The Web Hosting Upgrade Project’s goal is to provide RIT with a web environment that is secure, reliable, well maintained and responsive. The Institutes’ needs have outgrown the current web environment, and to meet the current and future needs of the Institute, a redesign of the entire environment is necessary. The project team has identified key steps that need to be accomplished to meet the goal of this initiative.
- Separate Content. We need to separate official content such as college and admission sites from content like individual’s web pages. This is to ensure that visitors to official RIT sites are actually at an official site. In the past, we have had issues where a student’s class project for redesigning an official RIT website was mistaken for the official site. By separating content, we can avoid these issues. A side benefit of the separation of content is unusually high traffic to a student webpage that has popular images or information will not negatively affect official RIT sites.
- Improve the User Experience. Improve the user experience for the audience of our websites by restructuring RIT sites into a hierarchy and removing the use of tilde (~) accounts. For example, the URL for the College of Science would be http://www.rit.edu/colleges/cos/. We also anticipate being able to provide multiple ways for College sites to be identified, including the following format http://www.rit.edu/science/.
- Eliminate the need for shared accounts for accessing and updating websites. To access websites, people will use their individual RIT Computer Accounts and will be assigned appropriate permissions for the sites they need to maintain.
- Update the base web hosting technologies. We will be adding mySQL database hosting for the official RIT website and upgrading to PHP5.
- Plan for future upgrades. Working with the RIT Web Standards Committee and the RIT community, ITS will develop and publicize a planned upgrade schedule for the RIT web environment.
- Create a staging environment for official RIT websites. Website maintainers would use this staging environment to make changes to the site and view the results before the changes are made public. Once the website maintainer is satisfied with the changes, they can push the new content into production using a set of web-based tools. These tools will help efficiently maintain the RIT websites.
The project team is finalizing the design for the web hosting hierarchy and technologies.
The project team has designed a way for the new environment and the old environment to exist seamlessly to the web audience so we can do a planned migration over a period of time instead of a single cut over to the new environment.
What does all of this mean to you?
If you maintain an official RIT website, the biggest change will be the restructuring of the web site hierarchy. In the new web environment, each college and division will have its own branch. From there the College or Division determines the structure of the rest of their site within this branch. ITS will work with each area in setting up their structure during the migration period.
If you have an individual web page under your personal RIT Computer Account, like http://www.rit.edu/~abc1234 or http://www.rit.edu/~abcits the biggest change will be the URL of your webpage. The proposed URL would look like http://people.rit.edu/~abc1234.
In the coming months ITS will be communicating all the changes and steps required for web maintainers to migrate to the new web hosting environment. We realize that this move will require additional work, and ITS is committed to making the transition as smooth as possible.