Server infrastructure for CTA on Rackspace

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). Their mission is to advance food and nutritional security, increase prosperity and encourage sound natural resource management in ACP countries.

When CTA came to Timble, in 2015, they were running 15 websites on an expensive infrastructure with 5 dedicated servers. The contract was about to expire and they were seeking a long term solution to guarantee continuity and growth.

Key objectives

  • Reduce cost, reduce the hosting cost.
  • Increase performance, setup an optimized server infrastructure.

What we did

Server infrastructure

Because some CTA sites are still using old legacy systems like eZ Publish 4.4 and Joomla 1.5 two servers were configured on Rackspace Cloud. One production server and one legacy server with 3 different PHP versions running next to each other. Both servers are provisioned using Puppet manifests and are fully reusable to (re)create multiple new servers, configurable through Hiera.

Both servers are now General Purpose Cloud Servers with 2 virtual CPUs, 2GB of memory and 40GB SSD. Nothing too fancy.

We prefer Nginx above Apache and MariaDB 10.1 is used as MySQL server.


Every website got its own Git repository on GitHub and Capistrano was implemented to handle deployments. Allowing everyone on the team to use a single command to deploy changes to the server.


Besides Rackspace's default monitoring tools every server is monitored by New Relic. Every virtual host (website) is being monitored as a separate application.


All 15 sites were migrated to the new server infrastructure without any downtime.


Cost reduction

The costs has been brought down to +/- $200 per month by reducing the number and kind of servers. From 5 dedicated servers to 2 cloud servers.

Performance increasement

With CTA's target audience being in ACP countries performance is key. Switching to the new environment brings significant performance improvements to every site.

For the main website,, the load time has gone down from an average of 2.5 seconds to 1 second. That's a 250% performance increase only by setting up a decent server infrastructure.

Pingdom pagespeed report.
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