NewsCloud's open source Facebook platform can be hosted in a number of ways.
The current codebase of NewsCloud is based on Ruby on Rails (here's why). You can download the latest daily code from Github anytime or download the last stable release (Release 2 is the most recent as of this post). The code is open source primarily because the platform has been built with a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Here are several different approaches to hosting that may work for you right now (we're working on some future options - see below):
1) Dedicated Linux server. You can use a dedicated Linux server configured to run Ruby on Rails. We have a dedicated server at JohnCompanies.com. The cost there is about $125/mo. This gives you complete control of the resources and environment for your application. You will need a system administrator with strong technical skills and experience with Ruby on Rails to install and host your application.
2) Amazon AWS. We also run sites in the Amazon AWS cloud. Our platform currently requires a Large 64 bit Server Instance. If you purchase a 1 year or 3 year reserved instance you can save quite a bit on hourly expenses. Our AWS reserved instance cost about $1400 and we pay about $90 monthly to host it. A support contract costs extra. AWS provides a number of advantages in your hosting environment. However, AWS also requires a very sophisticated system administrator to configure and manage.
3) Shared Virtual Server with root access. You can try running your site on a shared virtual server with Linux as long as you have root access. Virtual Linux Servers at JohnCompanies run about $40 - $60 per month. Your mileage may vary on how well this runs our application. You'll probably succeed with small sites (low traffic) but have to expand later to grow.
4) Hire NewsCloud to host the application for you. NewsCloud is glad to host, support and manage your application for you. The general cost for a fully managed application (not including editorial and community management) is about $500 per month for small to medium sized organizations. You can email us for more information. We generally tell organizations to budget between $10,000 - $12,000 for the first year of set up, training, design customization, hosting and support.
5) There is also an older version of NewsCloud based in PHP which is currently not being maintained. It is available at GitHub here.
Here are some options we're working on for the future:
1) Amazon AWS Micro Instance. Amazon's low resource Micro Instance is free for one year to new accounts. We are hoping to reconfigure our use of Ruby on Rails services and plugins to fit within the .613 GB memory footprint of the micro instance. This will allow new users to easily get started with our open source codebase, run a small site for a year and expand later if they are successful with the platform. We're also planning to provide easy to follow recipes and a pre-configured machine image to reduce the workload for users wishing to host on this platform. We expect to work on this in Q2 2011. Note: Expanding from the Micro Instance to a Large Server Instance will require some system administration work to move over the application. Update: Amazon now supports seamless switching between micro and large instances.
2) Heroku Cloud. We're hoping to also configure our application to run in the Heroku Cloud as a 1 dyno - this would allow you to run the basic site at no cost in the Heroku cloud (for very low testing usage). However, this will be a great environment for testing your application and then expanding expenses and resources to fit your requirements. Again, we'll try to provide easy installation recipes to reduce the complexity for adoption in this environment. A baseline application for public usage will probably cost about $180 per month at Heroku. Note: The free Heroku account will not provide support for background tasks (delivering notifications, importing newswire feeds) unless they are run as CRON jobs separately. The advantage of Heroku is that it's more easily expandable as your community grows than the Amazon Micro Instance.
We're often asked if you can run our platform on your own server or a shared server. We generally can't answer questions about your individual hosting environment but a good guideline is that you need root access to the server, you need significant memory ~ 1 GB and knowledge of installing and maintaining Ruby on Rails applications.
If you have more questions, please visit http://support.newscloud.com
Read the next post in this series: Choosing between a Facebook Application and a Facebook Connect Website.