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Architecture overview

The Co-op Cloud is made up of a few simple, composable pieces. The system does not rely on any one specific implementation: each part may be replaced and extended as needed.

Libre software apps

Applications that you may already use in your daily life: Nextcloud, Jitsi, Mediawiki, and many more! These are tools that are created by volunteer communities who use free software licenses in order to build up the public software commons and offer more digital alternatives.

The communities who develop these softwares also publish them using containers. For example, here is the Nextcloud account which allows end-users to quickly deploy a new Nextcloud instance.

Learn more about why we use containers in the FAQ section.

The packaging format

The work required to take a new instance of an application and make it production ready is still too time intensive and often involves a duplication of effort. Each service provider needs to deal with the same problems: stable versioning, backup plan, secret management, upgrade plan, monitoring and the list goes on.

Therefore, the Co-op Cloud proposes a packaging format which describes the entire production state of the application in a single place. This format uses the existing standards based compose specification. This is a file format which is most commonly used by the Docker compose tool but Co-op Cloud does not require the use of Docker compose itself.

Each application that the Co-op cloud provides is described using the compose specification and makes use of the upstream project published container.

Learn more about why we use the compose specification in the FAQ section.

Container orchestrator

Once we have our application packaged, we need a deployment environment. Production deployments are typically expected to support a number of features which give hosters and end-users guarantees for uptime, stability and scale.

The Co-op cloud makes use of Docker swarm as a deployment environment. It offers an approriate feature set which allows us to support zero-down time upgrades, seamless application rollbacks, automatic deploy failure handling, scaling, hybrid cloud setups and maintain a decentralised design.

Learn more about why we use Docker swarm in the FAQ section.

Command-line tool

Finally, with an application and an application environment, we need a tool to read that package format and actually deploy it to the environment. For this, we have developed and published the abra command-line tool.

Abra aims at providing a simple command-line interface for managing your own co-op cloud. You can bootstrap machines with the required tools, create new applications, deploy them, back them up, restore them and so on.

Next steps

Now that you've got an overview, it is time to deploy your first application.