The new sandbox: open-source and self-hosted

Dear dotCloud Customers,

We are going open-source.

It has been a wild week for dotCloud. Of course as we prepared to open-source Docker, the container technology that powers the platform, we hoped it would be well received, like ZeroRPC and Hipache before it. But nothing could have prepared us to the magnitude of the response. Now, 6 days, 50,000 visits, 1000 github follows and 300 pull requests later… we think we get the message. You want an open-source dotCloud – and we’re going to give it to you.

Today, as the first step in our new open-source strategy, we are announcing an important change to our free Sandbox. In the coming weeks we will hand it over to the community as an open-source project which can be deployed and hosted anywhere. As part of this transition we will be sunsetting our free hosting tier – see below for details. The resources freed by this transition will be re-invested in our open-source roadmap.

I want to emphasize that this transition does not affect our Live and Enterprise flavors, and it does not change our business model. Our core competency is and will continue to be the operation and support of large-scale cloud services, for tens of millions of visitors, 24 hours a day, every day. We intend to continue expanding that business, and we believe the best way to do that is by embracing open-source.

1. Going open source

Our approach to open-source is simple: solve fundamental problems, one at a time, with the simplest possible tool. The result is a collection of components which can be used separately, or combined to solve increasingly large problems.

So far dotCloud’s open-source toolbox includes:

  • ZeroRPC, a communication layer for distributed services;
  • Hipache, a routing layer for HTTP and Websockets traffic;
  •, a communication framework for real-time web applications
  • Docker, a runtime for linux containers.
  • Recipes for automatically deploying NodeJS, Django, Memcache and dozens of other software components as cloud services.

All these components are already available, and the open-source community is using them to build alternative implementations of dotCloud’s development sandbox. We want to make that even easier by open-sourcing the remaining proprietary components – including our uploader, build system, database components, application server configuration, and more.

To learn more about future open-source announcements, follow the Docker repository and join the Docker mailing list.


2. Sunsetting the hosted sandbox

In order to properly focus resources on our ongoing open-source effort, we will be phasing out the hosted version of the free Sandbox. Going forward, the recommended way to kick the tires on dotCloud will be to deploy a Live dotCloud application. For your existing Sandbox applications, we can provide an easy upgrade. If you don’t feel ready to pay us quite yet, take a look at what the community is building.

Below is a calendar of the sunset. As usual, our support and ops team will be happy to assist you in every way we can during the transition.


Date Change to Sandbox
April 8th (no change)
April 22nd All Sandbox applications will be unreachable via HTTP. You can still access them via SSH to download your code and data.
April 25th All Sandbox applications will be destroyed.

Note that we’ve pushed-out the sunset dates since first posting this blog. We’ve removed the ‘no push’ week of April 8 and extended HTTP access to the 22nd. 

How to Graduate from the Sandbox

We’ve made it easy for you to change your Sandbox application to a Live flavor if you want to keep it running on the dotCloud platform:

  1. add your billing information to your account and
  2. file a support ticket telling us which applications to migrate. Please use your account email address and give the full URLs to the applications.
  3. We’ll do the rest.

If you don’t want to move to a paid service, you can use several techniques to download your data and files before they are destroyed.

For those of you who have been using the Sandbox as staging for paid applications, we’re sorry for the inconvenience. We hope our hourly billing will help keep your staging and testing costs down, and that developing in a paid service will ease testing related to scaling.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

We want to thank you, our sandbox users, for trying out the dotCloud platform. We hope that you will enjoy experimenting with our open-source version, discovering the awesome features of our Live flavor, or both!

We look forward to helping you be the most awesome and productive developers out there.

Happy hacking!

/Solomon Hykes

CEO, dotCloud

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