Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. is not going to run the Toolserver for much longer. There is an alternative: It is called Tool Labs, it's a similar infrastructure run by the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. All tool maintainers should migrate their tools to Tool Labs before June 30th 2014.
Here are our reasons for this decision:
- Longterm planning: Over the years, the toolserver has grown to become a big project (20+ servers) that needs a completely different planning of resources and setup. Here is what this means: In its current setup, the toolserver cannot grow easily: Much of the hardware is relatively old, we are not working with any virtualization, the racks are full, power supply has reached its limit.
- Logistics: Talking about the physical location: Wikimedia Deutschland has no access to the Toolserver. It is located in a datacenter in Haarlem/Netherlands, in the middle of other servers run by the Wikimedia Foundation. This is why buying and setting up new hardware is very inconvenient: Not all suppliers deliver to other countries so parts of the things we bought were first delivered to Berlin, we sent it to Haarlem. It sat there waiting for WMF staff to come and build it in.
- User concept: On the toolserver, the default is that one person maintains her or his tools. Multi-maintainer projects do exist but they need to be requested explicitly. This has lead to a high number of orphaned tools. When we started to plan the migration to Tool Labs, we were already dealing with about 300 orphaned user accounts containing tools that were no longer running. In Tool Labs, tool maintainers can just add others to their projects with a single click. This makes the access and transfer so much easier.
- Integration with the whole Wikimedia infrastructure: There is software running on the toolserver that is used in production, e.g. the OpenStreetMap maps in the live Wikipedias are rendered on the toolserver though - in theory - they could be taken over into production. On the one hand, the Toolserver doesn't offer any staging process to handle such cool developments of a project. On the other hand, the Wikimedia Foundation hosts all crucial infrastructure of the Wikipedias and their sister projects and can allocate the resources to support the infrastructure at the necessary level.
- The Toolserver is so special because of the database replication that allows developers to work with real-time database copies of all Wikimedia projects. This has been made possible by the Wikimedia Foundation, the legal owner of the data. In the future, WMF will stop to hand the data over to the Toolserver. (Tool Labs will offer the same possibilities for developers.)