Set up a web address for your site

User level: Site Owner; Site Administrator

 

The page outlines the different web address options available on Oxford Mosaic, explains the technical details behind these and outlines the rules relating to each option.

Domain registration and hosting is separate to web-hosting and is largely managed independently of the Mosaic platform. So in these cases, acquiring and using a custom domain for your site is a 5-step process.

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When a new website is created on the Oxford Mosaic platform it is provisioned with a platform address of:

<prefix>.web.ox.ac.uk

where <prefix> has the value that was supplied on the Site Request form.

This address is suitable to be used as a public web address for your site. (Using ‘www.’ as the first part of an address is an optional convention, which is often not used nowadays.) Using the <prefix>.web.ox.ac.uk domain means the site is automatically covered by the Mosaic Platform's SSL Security Certificate which supports HTTPS by default. In this case, there is no need to register another address and you are good-to-go in putting your site live whenever you are ready to do so.

However, in some cases it is desirable to have a web address that is more tailored, e.g.

  • To associate a site as a part of an existing Oxford University domain, i.e. <prefix>.<existingdomain>.ox.ac.uk
  • To create a new Oxford University domain, i.e. www.<newdomain>.ox.ac.uk
  • Or, if the site is for a multi-institution project or partnership, to use an external domain outside *.ox.ac.uk, e.g. www.<newdomain>.org.uk

Domain registration and hosting is separate to web-hosting and is largely managed independently of the Mosaic platform. So in these cases, acquiring and using a custom domain for your site is a 5-step process:

  1. Ensure that the address you wish to use complies with University Policy and local web governance arrangements
  2. Request registration of the new domain or transfer-in an existing domain
  3. Request addition of the new domain to the Mosaic platform's SSL Security Certificate
  4. Add the domain to your Mosaic site
  5. Configure the custom domain to point to the Mosaic platform server

Steps 1 and 2 apply to all websites published on University web systems or within its domain space. Adding the domain name to your Oxford Mosaic site (step 5) can be done at any time. Step 3 should be done in good time to ensure that security alerts do not appear in browsers once the new domain points to your Mosaic site.

If you are replacing a website that already has its own domain name, this address can be added to the platform security certificate and switched to point to your Mosaic website when you are ready to go-live.

There are five prerequisites to using a custom domain on a Mosaic website:

  1. The domain you want to use must comply with University Policy and local web governance arrangements
  2. The domain or subdomain is registered in the University's DNS - this means externally-registered domains need to be transferred in to the University's DNS
  3. The domain is on the Mosaic platform's SSL Security Certificate, so that it can be served over https
  4. The domain is configured to point to the Mosaic platform server, so that when a web user follows a link or bookmark containing the domain, they are taken to the Mosaic platform
  5. The domain is associated with your Mosaic site, so that when requests reach the Mosaic platform, they can be routed to your site

Approval for new domains

Please note that new domain names must be approved by the appropriate Head of Department or Head of House. Some requests may have to be referred to other bodies within the University, for example to Legal Services – see https://help.it.ox.ac.uk/network/dns/hosting/index.

 

 

To register a new domain or transfer-in an existing externally registered domain, contact domains@it.ox.ac.uk. A table of charges applying is available. Ensure that your request has been appropriately approved before making the request and explain that the site you will use the domain on will be a Mosaic website.

If you are transferring-in a domain name from an external registrar, you should supply details of that registrar so that the Domains team can organise the transfer. 

To register a new part to an existing domain, contact the local web manager of the existing domain in the first instance. Management of unit sub-domains is often devolved to local IT managers who will be able to deal with your request, liaising with the central Domains team as needed on your behalf.

Maximum length of Oxford domains

The Oxford domain name system only supports web addresses containing up to five-parts. Addresses of six-part or more, e.g. www.<prefix>.<domain>.ox.ac.uk, are not supported.

 

Oxford Mosaic supports HTTPS-only. As a consequence, when any custom domain is added to a Mosaic website, it must also be added to the platform’s SSL Security Certificate. If this is not done, when viewed using the custom domain, the website will display security alerts in web browsers.

To add a custom domain to Mosaic's SSL Certificate – whether as part of a site’s go-live or at any other time - email the request to the Mosaic Service Team (oxfordmosaic@it.ox.ac.uk).

The Mosaic platform SSL Certificate is updated every two weeks. When the request is received, the domain will be added to a list of domains waiting to be added to the Certificate, and added in the subsequent update.

Please note: In order to be added to the SSL Security Certificate, the domain MUST be registered by the University Domain Registrar.

If you want to add your custom domain to the SSL Certificate but you are not sure whether you will be ready to use the domain by the following certificate update period, let us know anyway. We can add it to the certificate in advance, and it won’t take effect until the domain is pointed to your site.

Adding a domain to your site tells Mosaic which site to resolve requests to once they arrive at the platform. This can be done at any time in relation to the other steps. 

This needs to be done by a Site Owner or Site Administrator in the Site Settings > Domains tab:

screenshot of the Domains section within Site Settings.

Site settings - domains

 

The tab displays the current primary domain of the site: until your custom domain is added this will be the Platform address.

Once you add a custom domain to use on your site, you need to set your preferred domain as the Primary domain – this will be the one used in links back to the site, e.g. in the Search results list. Normally, you will want your custom domain to be the Primary domain. 

  •  Add the domain name into the Domain Name box in the form of www.example.ox.ac.uk. Do not include http:// or a trailing slash 
  •  Check the box against the 'Is primary domain?' option 
  •  Save the settings 

After you hit Save Settings, it will take around 20-30 seconds for the page to respond whilst the domain is entered onto the platform and associated to your site. Once this is finished the domain setup is complete and your site will be serving publicly to your web users from the custom domain.

Once this configuration is done, hits on your domain name will be routed to the Mosaic platform. You should therefore only request this when you are ready to go live with your site – you should allow time to complete the related go-live steps and ensure that the update of the platform's SSL Certificate has been completed. DNS updates are made on the hour: with notice, you can ask the Networks team to queue this work for a specific hour, or they will action it as soon after receiving the request as possible. Updates are sometimes actioned the next day.

To comply with University policy, this has to be done centrally by the IT Services Networks team. Requests to point a domain to Mosaic should be sent to hostmaster@ox.ac.uk. Requests should be sent only after you have been given approval for the domain you wish to use to be registered: you must include evidence of such approval in your request in order for it to be actioned.

The Networks team require requests to be made in the following specific form: 

"Could you add the following ASIS record via the DNS interface ASIS '<your>.<address>.ox.ac.uk. IN CNAME env-prod-01.web.ox.ac.uk.'"

Replace <your>.<address>.ox.ac.uk with whatever you have registered for your domain, e.g. www.site.ox.ac.uk or site.unit.ox.ac.uk. If you are using an external URL, give that: e.g. www.site.ac.uk.

 
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