Moodle: The Next Level

We’ve recently signed a support agreement for Moodle consulting, and we’re preparing for the next steps of an advanced Moodle system.

Currently, we have as many as 200 concurrent users with the 7/8 laptop program students, many of them trying to do things like quizzes simultaneously. This overloads our current Windows-based Moodle server and prevents logins and other work from taking place.

We worked quite awhile on trying to improve the performance of the Windows server, but in the end it was going to to take advanced PHP accelleration calibrated to use large amounts of RAM, and advanced MYSQL caching changes to use large amounts of RAM, and we knew that neither of these were easy to pull off in a Windows environment. Also, we didn’t want to “practice” on a production server that is currently supporting a large number of students.

So, we now have a good consulting firm, and we are ordering in a pair of servers that will be Linux-based for a Moodle cluster. The front end box will handle the PHP and the Moodle app (with dual quad-core Xeon chips, 8-12 gigs of memory, and a pair of 400 gig SAS drives in Raid 1 configuration), and the backend server will handle the MYSQL and file store with the same hardware configuration.

In the end, we’re after a Moodle system that can handle 300-400 concurrent users doing relatively intensive things CPU-wise. If we have to grow again, we can continue to split the front end and load balance, or split the back-end and separate database from filestore. I think this is a good approach, since we’ll now have a supported system that can grow and scale.

I’ll write an update in a couple of weeks once we have the new Moodle cluster up and running.

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