Charlton's Blog

Building a Public Cloud for Tampa Devs

Supporting public good, one server at a time

Published: Apr 7, 2023
Category: Devops, Education, Projects, Tampa Devs
Tags: , , ,

At Tampa Devs, our mission is to support the local tech community by providing a space for people to learn, share ideas, and collaborate. We do this by hosting events, running a Slack workspace, and generally collecting and distributing resources for people to learn, grow, and succeed.

We’re sometimes approached by outside sponsors who believe in our mission and want to help us achieve it. We’re grateful to have their support, but we’re also adamant about finding creative ways to channel those resources back into the community. And since I seem to have a habit of building compute clusters for education, I was excited to take on the challenge of building a public cloud for Tampa Devs.

This year, we’re grateful to have received a donation of dedicated space and equipment from Ace Host, a local hosting company, to help us build a public cloud. We plan to use this capacity to support free member-facing educational programs, and to provide hosted lab environments for computing and cypersecurity classes at local schools and universities. In fewer words: creating a community playground to learn about cloud computing, DevOps, and related topics.

The Hardware

Our cluster is a hodge-podge mix of donated server hardware. It currently includes:

  • 1x Dell Optiplex 3050 (bastion host),
  • 1x Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 (cluster and network services),
  • 2x Dell PowerEdge R220s (load balancing),
  • 1x Dell PowerVault MD3200I (storage),
  • 2x Dell PowerEdge R720s (compute), and
  • 1x Dell PowerEdge R730xd (storage/compute)

The cluster uses a dedicated 10Gbps network for storage and inter-node communication, and a 1Gbps network for external connectivity. We’ll have more details on the final hardware capacity and network configuration as we get closer to a stable release.

The Software

We’re still in the early stages of building out the cloud, but we’ve already made some progress. We’re using Ansible in tandem with GitHub Actions to automate the deployment of our cloud infrastructure, and OpenShift as the underlying platform for our cloud. Ceph provides block storage for the cluster, and a MicroTik router provides network connectivity.

Keep an eye on our cloud development GitHub repository (private at the time of publication) for updates on our progress. We’ll be opening this repository up publicly as we get closer to a stable release.


Here are some photos of Joe and I as we’ve gone through the physical installation and cabling sessions.