You probably know that all Drupal core patches and commits get tested using the simpletest testing system, but you may not know how. Essentially, every time a patch is posted and placed in the "Needs Review" status on Drupal.org, and every time a commit is made, the information is sent off to qa.drupal.org, which then farms it out to testing working machines we call testbots.
Well, the testbots are quite compute-intensive, and although we tried for years we never really got enough decent, manageable machines from community contributions. Partly this is because the machines are really compute-intensive, and partly it's because they can be pretty tweaky and not everybody wants to learn how to manage them and deal with their occasional fits. Many community members had donated time on their machines, but in recent months we'd been using Amazon EC2 instances for the bulk of our testbots, and the bill to the Drupal Association was more than we'd like to pay, more than $500 many months.
Enter the OSUOSL Supercell. You may not know the OSUOSL (Oregon State University Open Source Lab) but they're the folks that handle all the hardware side of the Drupal.org infrastructure. As yet another of their great services to the open source communities they serve, the Supercell is a cluster of physical machines turned into a virtualization environment for projects like ours. So instead of either scrounging around for spare machines from the community or paying Amazon for super-high-powered EC2 instances, we now have 3 full-time testbots (plus one for testing PIFR code and deployment) running in the Supercell. (You can see their status and what they're working on any time at http://qa.drupal.org.) It's been reliable and it's so nice to have these very appropriate testing machines there.
As they roll out the Supercell, there will probably be other opportunities to use these, for both Drupal and other communities. They're behind a firewall, which requires proxying to get to them, so they're not appropriate for any service that needs to be directly internet-reachable. However, they're absolutely wonderful for services like the testbots (which call home for their tests), or for build machines, etc.
Thanks so much to Jeff Sheltren, Lance Albertson, and the rest of the crew at OSUOSL for making this possible. It's a huge win for the Drupal community.