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Sunsetting the container cloud to make way for coding education tools

Today marks an important day for Team Terminal. We are sunsetting our public container cloud to make way for an exciting new focus: powering coding education.

Terminal's beginnings arose from a need to quickly and easily access cloud computing resources and collaborate on large datasets. During my PhD research, I often found myself frustrated with how much time and setup was required to share research outcomes with colleagues. Data-heavy computations had to be run on local servers that couldn’t dynamically scale, and I had to repackage my findings each time I wanted to share them or get feedback. I was spending practically more time setting up my environment than working with my datasets. There had to be a better way.

With the help of my cofounders, I set out to solve this problem by developing a cloud-based OS for the browser, aided by new (at the time, at least) container-based technology. The idea was that you could spin up a Terminal in your browser, based on any server in your stack, preloaded with your desired runtime environment. You could manipulate your data in the Terminal, share your work with colleagues simply by sending them the URL, snapshot and branch your results, and pause or throw out the Terminal when done. Terminals scaled quickly and dynamically based on changing computing needs, saving users money too. You could run Matlab in your browser without huge setup times! We were getting closer to fulfilling my PhD dream of fast, collaborative infrastructure for scientific computing.

Container cloud launch: it's raining possibilities

We released the first version of Terminal in 2014, and soon discovered that the product had many different use cases -- it was great for data science, education, QA cycles, remote team networking, and more. This was exciting, but also left us with a split focus, since the best features for one use case weren’t always as important for the others. For example, data scientists seemed to prioritize startup speed, whereas individual developers cared more about lowering costs and catching bugs before they reached production.

We also discovered over time that Terminal was being used in industries we hadn’t entirely expected, primarily among educators, who valued the collaborative features and minimal setup. Terminal’s collaboration tools were always the most popular, but the end uses remained disparate. We realized that we needed to focus on one major use case to build out the right feature set and make the product truly useful.

Finding our focus: powering coding education

After speaking with our customers via surveys, phone calls, and Q&A sessions (thank you again for all of the valuable feedback), it became clear that Terminal offers unique benefits to technical education providers, and that we have the opportunity to improve student engagement and success by working with schools and teachers. Terminal is a great tool to supplement original teaching content and drive student success. Our web-based IDE allows coding educators to serve content to their students, scaling up with demand and down with holidays; teach collaboratively in real-time or asynchronous classrooms; quickly get students started on a computer science challenge; seamlessly receive assignments for grading; and much more. We’re lucky enough to be working with some of the best technical content providers out there, and we can’t wait until we can share more with you all.

Next steps and more

Doubling down on education, however, means saying goodbye to our public container cloud. We’re a small team of developers, and can’t provide the public cloud with the support and service it deserves while also building out our education-focused product.

We will disable access to the public cloud on September 30, 2016.

All user information and data will be deleted, so please be sure to migrate your information to a new service before then.

If you're interested in learning more about our new focus on coding education, please sign up for updates.

If you wish to request a refund for purchased credits, please complete a credit request form.

We will continue to support our private cloud solutions, so please reach out if you are interested in continuing your service via an enterprise solution.

We hope to make this transition period as smooth as possible for our customers. There are many excellent cloud hosting providers with GPU servers available; here are a few suggested alternatives to Terminal for developing scientific applications in the cloud.

If you need any help with the transition, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Stay tuned...

We hope you enjoyed using Terminal’s public container cloud, and appreciate your support over the years.

Stay tuned for our next phase!

Dr. Varun Ganapathi


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