I've searched the forums, but I can't seem to find an answer to this question:
Does Moodle have a server sizing guide?
I'm asking the question here, but maybe it's more appropriate in the documentation forum.
Many universities are considering Moodle, and it would be nice to have a document similar to the server sizing guides that Blackboard and WebCT give to prospective clients.
In my case, I'm looking for a formal document that could be placed next to the detailed server sizing guides from Blackboard and WebCT.
I'm willing to edit the English language version if that will help
The devil is in the detail
Please can you post the server sizing documention from WebCT or Blackboard?
On the bright side, I think these forums contain enough information for a Good/Better/Best document... If no one has one already, I can start compiling one.
The recent postings about NZ's 30K students would be a "Best"... while the G3 Mac would be in the "Good" category
"Newcastle have bought BB Level 3, installed it, then their LTSS-equivalent got their server taken away by Computing Services. They are an Aleph site and are interested in BB integration (even though their Library may not be). Stephen McCready is the contact.
BB have quietly increased the sizing of the hardware footprint (from http://support.blackboard.com/bin/common/bbdocs.pl?type=4):
Hardware requirements for more than 6,000 active users but less than 12,000 active users
- Two server configuration. One server for the application and file system and another server for the database.
- Quad processors in each server. Pentium III 700 Mhz Xeon processors or Sun UltraSparc-II 450 Mhz processors.
- 4 GB of RAM in each server.
- Appropriate amount of hard drive space in a RAID array for each server.
- Two 10/100 network cards for each server
General indication that no-one was buying development licenses for test (as in a place to rehearse patches/upgrades) systems; just do it!"
Reports from sysadmins runnign WebCT/BB need not be trade secrets, maybe we can get some of those?
I am going to attach an Adobe whitepaper file for Bb server requirements. I am also going to investigate WebCT as our institution is debating what system to utilize. Currently we are running Bb Basic.
I'm sorry that I wasn't clear enough. I have server sizing guides for Bb and WebCT, but we need a server sizing guide for Moodle.
It's not a big deal really. The hardware is more or less the same for most learning management systems, right? (sometimes a lot more ;) ) And people choose the LMS for reasons other than hardware, right? All the same, it would be nice to have a server sizing guide for Moodle.
However, with Moodle (and most other server based o/s software) things are very different. You *know* that take up in your institution is going to be organic, your WebCT license for 20,000 seats will not be used from day one (or two), so for several months you will be under-using some expensive bit of hardware. What you can/should consider is buying a commodity 1U server for $1000 or whatever sticking it in you rack and running Linux and Moodle(s) on it. In real terms it has cost you almost nothing. When it starts to get slow buy another and set up another moodle(s) for some other chunk of the institution.
If you don't believe me, look at the web server 'farms' of Linux boxes all just running Apache. They have hundreds of cheap machines each handling a bit of the business. When you need more capacity add more machines - it stays efficient.
Sorry for the rant, but I hope it helps
I appreciate your frankness.
I worry (if that's the word) that commercial vendors use issues like this as a marketing tool. It's an extension of those tick-box comparision charts. This tick box is the one that says "VLE has a server sizing guide", and webct/blackboard score a point because they have one and Moodle doesn't. However, as with this and the rest of the tick-boxes you have to be sure you are comparing apples with apples, and very often with open-source/proprietary decisions you are not - you have to think the open-source 'way'.
Sorry - ranting again - Monday thing!!
Your points should and must be included in the document. For example, we need to quantify the point at which a Moodle/Open Source solution is slow and needs an additional 1U. We know it by feel/use. They have to read what we already know Open Source's future's so bright it burns...
Unfortunatly, this is not a procedure that will be acceptable at any major US institutions.
For one thing, spending tends to happen in discreet chunks at given times. In most large Us, moodle would be stuck on the slow hardware, faculty and students complaining about how slow open source software is the whole time, until the next funding cycle. The way most CIOs at big Us think is in 'packages', you buy a server and a license, assign staff to install it, test it, and then you should be able to pretty much leave it alone until the next semester break.
Also, IT staff can't just drop in-progress projects to set up and test a new server whenever the old one seems slow.
Thus, major upgrades (which most CIOs regard putting new servers online as) tend to be scheduled between semesters.
We generally do things like server maintenance late at night on the weekend to minimize student downtime, so this sort of ad hoc solution isn't going to be very popular with any but the most fanatical FOSS advocates.
Thus if there is no server size guide for Moodle, it makes it a hard sell to larger Universities (while at smaller ones the lack of skilled IT staff would likely make the CIO run screaming for the hills if he/she were told they may have to build a cluster sometime in the middle of a semester when the LMS seems to slow down).
This brings up a final major issue with your proposal: at Universities, the load tends to be greatest just at the end of the semester, when all the big mid terms are being given and all the students who have been slacking come racing back to try and salvage their grade. This is the very last time IT staff and admins want to try putting in some new hardware.
I'm about to go on line next January with my Moodle server and the specs for it will be an Intel Xeon 2.66->, 2 Gigs of RAM, RAID 5 of course, hot spare about everything. Hardware is cheap. This is for round 120 simultaneous users.
Of course, there must be some room for scaling so, ah, we calculate the weighted average for every scenario
Institutions are looking into Moodle to get away from expensive alternatives. That means that they have X students already setup in LMS Z. A subset of students/staff/courses actively use LMS Z. Now, for a full transition to Moodle, you know a number of students will hit it on the first week.
If you are a bit underpowered, well, it's ok, you can grow organically -- though you may need downtime to upgrade. But you can't afford to be too underpowered, if the system if seen as unresponsive or reports come back "Moodle crashed", you lose user's goodwill, and... blah.
I don't such guide, but after years of dealing with web-based systems, I have a good gut feeling that is as good (better?) than a glossy paper guide. Without it, I'd be lost ;)
Another issue is that with Free/Libre Open Source software, because you have access to the source, it is possible to do more optimisation and thus there is generally more flexibility than with closed source systems.