Yesterday Tim Owens announced that he’ll be going full time with Reclaim Hosting in the new year, and that is pretty awesome. His post delineates all the amazing work he’s accomplished at UMW over the past three years—it’s a truly impressive resume. And if you worked with him you’d realize that he moves fast and furious —and it seems to me that Reclaim Hosting is the next evolution of his work. What he’s doing currently with virtualized, container-based server environments is a likely future for how university IT will start re-imagining their infrastructure—and he’s digging in to make the new web affordable and accessible to as many faculty and students as possible.
As I blogged about yesterday, the technologies on the fringes of conceptual understanding for a majority of faculty and students may very well be the not too distant future of the web more generally. I got my first glimpse of this back in January of 2013 thanks to Brian Lamb’s “Squamous Mind,” which pointed me to Boris Mann’s discussion of the “New Hack Stack.” He argues the shared LAMP stack is laborious and outdated, noting the new hosting stack will be amenable to new ways of versioning/collaborating (a la GitHub), will support the prevalence of Rails and Node applications, and provide server environments for self-contained apps. It’s a post that made very little sense to me when I first read it almost two years ago. In fact, I was immediately put off by it given we were piloting giving everyone at UMW their own domain and LAMP web hosting. But long after I first read the post it stayed with me. In fact, just about everything of interest to me since (Node apps like Ghost, Ruby apps like Jeykll, versioning platforms like GitHub, and container-based virtualized server platforms like Docker) was right there in that post. I don’t claim to understand it all just yet, but I do see it as the next evolution of what’s possible when it comes to building cheaper, more flexible and ultimately accessible infrastructure in higher ed. And Tim Owens is going full time with Reclaim Hosting to try and build out some version of what that might look like. And I have no doubt he’ll do it. Hell, if all goes well, I might even join him at some point 🙂