Spring Break 2021/Shared Digital Infrastructure

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Session context

  • SALLY FLOYD ROOM 12:00–13:00 BST
  • Facilitator: Shaun Fensom (CBN), Autonomic

How can CoTech members work together to share digital infrastructure? At what layers can this work? Can we reduce reliance on service providers who don’t share our values? What are the challenges? Are there any easy wins? In tandem with the discussion Autonomic will present their new software project: Co-op Cloud!


Shaun (CBN) Calix (Autonomic), Leo (Autonomic), Luke (Autonomic), Chris (Webarchitects, Graham, Kirsty (Dot Project), Liam (Mediablaze), Simon (Cetis), Szczepan (Animorph)

Infrastructure layers and co-ops

Purpose: Let's try and own as much of the stack as we can and share the ownership in a co-operative way. Broader perspective on co-operative values.  While we are most often worker co-ops, there are co-ops operating at scale made of SMEs etc.

The last meeting on that topic was held at Phone Co-op, which has been taken over by Midcounties co-op who are now big but still dedicated to the values and want to review their infrastructure.

Let's consider three layers (named for the sake of this discussion):

1. Raw stuff, data centres, fibre etc.

There are co-operatively owned server racks in data centres and fibre (200km) available in different parts of UK. We seem to have ability to establish infrastructure of our own with affordable prices(!). You might need to get to your data centre 5-6 times a year so useful to keep it local.

2. Cloud hosting, VPS etc. (layer 2&3)

Hardware is expensive, needs an investment to set up machines and look after them. It would be useful to have capacity for automating the infrastructure e.g. OpenStack or OpenNebula. For now Ansible. Doing things step by step. E.g. user/client can add their own website to the server but cannot spin their own VM.

3. Applications

A lot of applications are out there are useful. However, our daily meetings occur on Zooms, Slacks etc. So we are getting closed in proprietary platforms, trying to cross-over. Requires change of habits.

Liam (MediaBlaze Hosts): Hi it seems tyou guyas cant hear me and my cam isnt working, but we have equipment (servers etc) that can be put into a facility

Co-op Cloud

Co-op Cloud is an example of alternative way. Discourse thread

Autonomic interested not just in software but in democratic governance that supports the development.

Cloudron is going proprietary, it also has limitations - it only supports vertical scaling so will require another license etc. With Co-op Cloud wanted to match flexibility with scalabiliy. Apps available.

Also worth considering how the servers are powered, e.g. Brighton Digital Exchange is fully powered by renewable energy.


1. Carry on, meet more often, everyone can contribute to keeping it going.

2. We all write down what do we need to sell and what do we need to buy.

Could Autonomic set up a doc? Or we could use CoTech link? Here's a shared directory for the gathering. There's a doc we could input these in

There's also a private Discourse Hosting discussion category, ask Chris or Luke to be added to the hosting group to access this.

Can we schedule a next meeting?

29th of April 2pm!

Same room