ISLE: Now with Islandora 8

The Islandora Foundation is pleased to announce that ISLE for Islandora 8 has gone alpha and is now available!

What is ISLE?

ISLE (short for ISLandora Enterprise), is "Dockerized" Islandora, and seeks to create community managed infrastructure, streamlining the installation and maintenance of an Islandora repository.  With ISLE, the bulk of your repository's infrastructure is managed for you, and updates are as easy as pulling in new Docker images.  System administrators are only responsible for maintaining and updating their Drupal site, and can rely on ISLE to handle Fedora, Solr, the triplestore, and all the other services we use to run a digital repository.

The project began as a Mellon grant funded initiative by the Islandora Collaboration Group back in 2017 for Islandora 7. Then in January 2020, the ICG, Born Digital, Lyrasis, CWRC, and the Islandora Foundation got together and started working on a version for Islandora 8.  This version would be a full community project, worked on in the open and residing in the Islandora-Devops Github organization.

What are the benefits of using ISLE?

On top of being easier to install, run, and update, there are many awesome reasons to use ISLE for running Islandora.  First and foremost: speed. Simply put, ISLE is fast! Installation time is simply the amount of time it takes to download the images from Dockerhub.  For those who are building the images themselves, ISLE takes advantage of Docker's buildkit feature for blazing fast builds.  A complete rebuild of the entire stack consistently takes less than ten minutes on my laptop.  And for small tweaks to the environment, builds often take seconds to make a change. Compared to our Ansible playbook, which usually takes around 45 minutes for me, this is a significant boost to productivity when testing/deploying changes!

Because it's so quick, it lends itself well to automation using CI/CD tools like Github Actions and Gitlab. The Islandora Foundation is "dogfooding" with ISLE, putting it at the center of its deployment strategy for and release testing.

ISLE is also cross-platform. It is the first and only community supported way to run Islandora on a Windows machine. Any Windows computer with WSL2 can build and run ISLE.  ISLE also supports ARM builds, and can be run on cheaper cloud resources, newer Macs with M1 chips, and even (theoretically) Raspberry Pis.

How can I get ISLE?

Docker images for Islandora 8 are automatically pushed to Dockerhub and are available here. If you want to run them using docker-compose, you can use isle-dc to build yourself a sandbox or a local development environment.