Xojo Cloud is now available with plans starting at just $49 per month for a fully managed and secure cloud server for running your Xojo web apps. What does this mean for your web apps?
Without Xojo Cloud, you have to manage a Linux server to host your Xojo web apps. Have you ever managed a Linux server? If not, perhaps you have no idea how difficult it can be.
Here are just some of the things you’ll have to worry about when you have to manage a Linux server with other hosting services.
Keeping your chosen version of Linux up-to-date
This is a lot harder than it sounds. Linux distributions are updated often to fix bugs and security holes.
I’ve had a Linux virtual private server (VPS) for several years that I have used to run a few web sites and the occassional Xojo web app. It turns out that my version of Debian Linux is getting a bit old and I need to upgrade it. But my hosting company does not make this easy. The control panel I am using no longer supports Debian and my hosting company only offers it with Ubuntu. There is no way for me to fix this myself as I cannot just create a new VPS container using Ubuntu while retaining my existing files. Instead I have to back up everything, get a new VPS created with Ubuntu and then manually set everything back up. This is going to take a tremendous amount of time, so I’m actually working on moving my stuff away from the VPS. I no longer want to spend my valuable time managing my own Linux server. I’m a programmer, not a Linux system administrator.
With Xojo Cloud, we keep Linux updated for you.
To run Xojo apps on your server, you’ll need either a 32-bit version of Linux or you’ll have to install the 32-bit compatibility libraries needed by Xojo apps. Few hosting companies offer 32-bit Linux distributions. For 64-bit distributions, finding and installing these libraries can be easy with some distributions and rather difficult with others. Regardless, you better be comfortable with the Terminal, SSH, apt-get, yum and other Linux tools and commands.
With Xojo Cloud, we ensure the proper libraries are installed so your Xojo apps runs smoothly.
Are you familiar with iptables? You’ll need to learn how to use it to manage your firewall so that your server is not open to attacks if you leave the wrong port open.
Xojo Cloud has an smart, adaptive firewall that watches the traffic coming in to your Xojo Cloud server and looks for the patterns that indicate a hacker. It can then lock the hacker out before they get in.
How are you going to get files to your web server? FTP is the most common answer, but it’s not secure. You’ll want to ensure you configure SFTP so that you can securely transfer files. Uploading is also an extra step when building and deploying your Xojo apps. You’ll have to do a the build and then use your FTP client to transfer the build over to the server. Although before you do that, make sure to head over to the server to stop (or quit) your web app if it is already running.
With Xojo Cloud, you can securely upload your web apps right from Xojo itself with one click. Or you can use the built-in SFTP server to upload files yourself.
Once you have your web app (and any related files) uploaded, you’ll need to make sure that the permissions are set correctly. Often, the permissions set by an SFTP upload do not match the permissions needed by Apache to access and execute files. You’ll need to become quite intimate with the Terminal and the chown and chmod commands.
Your app permissions are set for you automatically when you upload directly from Xojo to Xojo Cloud.
Configuring the Apache web server can get pretty complex. There are lots of books written about it, but it might take some time to get through them all. Xojo web apps use CGI in conjunction with Perl to communicate with Apache, neither of which may be enabled by default.
With Xojo Cloud this is all automatically enabled and properly configured for you.
Does your host provide an easy way for you to add an SSL certificate to your web site? You absolutely need this is your web app has a login page, otherwise all data, including user IDs and passwords, are sent in plain text.
Xojo Cloud has a simple wizard to walk you through the processing of obtaining an SSL Certificate and installing it.
Hosting services sometimes have MySQL available as an option. But few offer PostgreSQL, a more powerful open-source database. And most hosting companies do not provide a way for you to access the DB from outside a web app running on the server.
With Xojo Cloud you can easily enable MySQL or PostgreSQL. Plus you can also turn on an SSH tunnel so you can connect to the DB from outside the server to use your favorite admin tools or even connect from a desktop app. You can even easily create a Xojo Cloud web app that acts as a web service to a DB so that you can easily connect from any type of app, even iOS.
TL;DR: Why Xojo Cloud?
We don’t want you to have to worry about any of the above, which is why we created Xojo Cloud: security and convenience. It goes without saying that you’ve heard a story of some major company or web service having its data compromised. We take security seriously and want you to as well. Security is complex, but Xojo Cloud makes it easy for you to have a secure server with very little effort on your part.
We use a Xojo-optimized version of Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux), which is based on CentOS. You don’t have to worry about keeping it up-to-date and you don’t have to worry about installing libraries needed by Xojo.
The Xojo Cloud firewall is an impressive piece of engineering. The firewall watches the traffic and uses heuristics to try to determine potential denial-of-service and other hacking attempts. Not to mention the additional layers of intrusion detection and file change detection.
Since Xojo Cloud is integrated with Xojo itself, you get fast, easy and secure uploads of your web applications and associated files. The permissions are set for you automatically. This is all done by simply clicking the “Deploy” button on the main toolbar.
You don’t even every have to worry about Apache. You just upload your web app, it goes into its own folder and then you can make it available for the world to use. How much easier could it be? We even have a wizard to walk you through getting and installing an SSL certificate, something that can be challenging with some VPS hosts.
Lastly, the Xojo Cloud database support gives you fast and easy access to MySQL and PostgreSQL for use in your own web, desktop and iOS apps.
Security & Convenience
So why does Xojo Cloud start at $49 per month when you can get hosting from <insert other hosting provider> for $25 per month? The reason is because security and convenience are not free. Most VPS hosting is not as fully managed as you might think. You are given access to a control panel but generally have to manage most things yourself. There is typically a list of specific tasks that the hosting company will also do for you if you file a support ticket. Of course, if you are comfortable doing this and have the free time, a VPS might be a reasonable option. Certainly, it was the best option available before Xojo Cloud. But for most people that want to spend their time creating great software and not acting as a Linux administrator, Xojo Cloud is a bargain.
We think Xojo with Xojo Cloud is the most secure and and easiest way yet to create web applications. We hope you do as well. Now go forth and create web apps!
Update: Xojo Cloud Database Support is here, click below to read about it!