Group Website Options: Shared Infrastructure Services VM or Custom Site by University Communications

Last Updated: 12/02/2013

What are the options available to CU groups - departments, administrative units, research teams, student organizations - for creating a website? For simple sites with just a few pages that rarely change you can look at the basic web services available to CU individuals (Google Sites and Legacy Web Publishing); they will work for groups just as well. But there are also two advanced services for the complex sites requiring more performance.

These services provide enterprise-class hardware and support in a managed server environment with expectations of high availability, backups, redundancy, etc. Due to the complexity of the environment and the robust offering, these services are fee-based. Sites developed for these platforms generally take more time and resources to plan and create than a simple site. They also offer more flexibility.

Virtual machine from OIT SIS

The virtual server option works well for those needing flexibility with their web application, whether it is a CMS like Drupal, Wordpress, etc. or an off-the-shelf product, and have a developer on staff or are contracting with a third-party who will perform the development of the site. You are provided a virtual machine (VM) from OIT Shared Infrastructure Services running either Linux or Windows as the platform to have your web application installed and developed. VM prices start at $50/month (here's a full VM price list).

When going with the VM option, please plan ahead especially if working with a third-party vendor for the development as this can take time to identify a vendor, procure the vendor, and configure the VM so it will be ready for the vendor. All VMs are accessed using the campus IdentiKey authentication system so you will need to obtain an IdentiKey through the OIT sponsored account process for any vendors.

Custom Drupal site by University Communications

This second option is the only full service offering - you come up with content and University Communications and OIT take care of the rest. The process starts with discovery - dedicated staff develop an information architecture for your site and then pass the results to developers and designers. Once the site is built and ready for launch, University Communications provide training to your content editors. After launch, they provide support for your site as well.

Another advantage of this option is seamless integration with existing CU-Boulder services like authentication or calendar system. For more details please contact University Communications, who can provide you with a better idea of costs and times (sometimes there is a waiting list).

Next steps

For information about VMs, please send an email to our Shared Infrastructure Services team. For information about the custom Drupal sites, please contact University Communications. If you need help deciding which option to go with, OIT is there to help - please ask for a free web consultation.