I am completely new to networking etc and have a few questions. I have taught myself how to setup moodle on IIS 6 on windows server 2003 (running on rubbish slow desktop at the min!) and now I sort of understand this I want to invest in a server in order to cope with up to 5000 users. I want to do this from home and therefore we only have a normal broadband line. Would I need to get a business line of some description or could I simply open the moodle site from the server im going to setup (its a 8mb connection)??
Also could someone reccomend a specification for a server and if so an approx cost and where a cheap one would be available.
If I went through this process how easy would it be to open the page onto the www??
Usually the ISP will have terms o' service, and you will need to get a business account to open ports 80, 25, etc. It is usually possible on a _very_low_ traffic_ server to run services on some port that is not blocked, but if you are even thinking about 5000 users, talk to your ISP first.
I am not the biggest expert in server specs for 5000, so someone can correct me. I would claim a dual Opteron machine with 4GB of ram and 3 or 4 15K rpm scsi drives in raid 5 would be a good starting point.
We bought a similar machine recently with dual xeons for about $3500 (US). You have to look at your own pricing, but costs are likely to be roughly comparable.
Your idea sounds like you might be asking for trouble if you are planning to use these 5000 users on your 'home machine'. If you are expecting simultaneous usage, you will have a pretty big job on your hands.
First off, your ISP might take real notice in the increase in traffic. They may or may not complain depending on nice or aware they are.
Second, if this is a production server (it seems like it is), you would be taking a big risk unless you also implement a UPS setup as well as a good backup scheme.
If, for whatever reason, you have a power outage or the service is suddenly disconnected, you will have some 5000 angry users. Not to forget other security issues (burgulary, hacking, etc.) as well as maintaining Operating System upgrades, etc.
For these two reasons alone, I would recommend paying the money you may use for a home server to rent from a professional hosting service. They would take care most of these server headaches and you can have more time working with Moodle.
If you still want to try the homebrew solution, you may want to look at what Don Hinkelman has done with servers at his school. Also, Linux seems to be a stronger and a more stable solution for a web server. Check here for more information.
Finally, once you get started, feel free to ask around here or do some searches. There are many discussionns abound.
I would assume any up-to-date server with dual processors and 4gb RAM and plenty of hard disk space would be sufficient. Is SATA better than SCSI ?
The worry I have is in regard to the ISP. Would I be better off looking for a business line in order to avoid any unwanted issues with a standard ISP??
UPS is the power saver thingy that protects against power surges and such like so the server doesnt fail?
Here is my advice if this is a learning process.
Contact your ISP to get your account converted to a business account.
Build yourself a bargain "server." This can be fairly cheap (like $500 US). I did this last year and put together an AMD64 machine with 2 GB of ram and a Raptor SATA drive. This is not what I would want for a production environment because it does not have redundant power supplies or RAID, but you don't have 5000 users yet either.
Install Linux on this machine and install/configure Moodle.
Before you go production, think hard about the advantages of having all this hosted elsewhere.
Regardless of how this turns out, you will have a desktop machine in inventory and you will have gained some Linux experience.
You can sign up with many hosts for between $5-$20 a month to get a site setup so you can get your feet wet. The previous server suggestions I read would be nice but the cost is going to be $200+ a month.
Just guessing that you are not ready to administer a Linux server in a public environment, you are going to be miles ahead having fully managed services (1 hack job will ruin your day). If you just get some shared space, get your program rolling, you can always move it to a new home as needed.
This is probably sage advice.
I think most people are probably happier and "better served" with a managed services account somewhere.
In terms of learning, there is nothing like installing and and configuring your own server though.
Depending on where you live, moving from residential to a business cable account will not be $200 a month.
My costing is based on placement in a data center. I actually have business service at my office but all my servers are placed in Genuine Data-Centers
Reasons are many and as my livelihood depends on my servers I prefer the security afforded by a secure, purpose built facility.
They typically have multiple redundant large backbone connections as well as the internal switching and routers to handle large traffic servers. You can also run a 100Mps multihomed / fully managed /leased server for about $200 per month. There is no way to do this at your office (well at that price anyway)
The problem with business office connections are multiple:
Live hands on person server monitor is only when someone is in the office
UPS batteries typically are only good for an hour or less
Backup generators are none existent
Line speeds are typically 1Mps and maybe 5Mps if you are lucky to have Fios
Virtually no security (business break in even on alarm system you could lose a server)
As I deal with a lot of "mission critical" clients, I must remember these things when ever I think I can save a buck or two.
The big advantage of having your server in your office however is the server itself, you can build a mega server with all the fancy drives and multiple processors. The hassle is getting it connected online at a speed that going to be acceptable when you get busy. If you have need for this big server, you are going to have a rather expensive connection as well.
I have a business that has a large network and had a national medical educational division that we sold off this year (over 5000 participants). Hosting in-house was a hassle even with a dedicated IT staff.
I am now hosting a new site for our training of our own employees on PowWEB site which is a robust system running Linux, PHP, Apache, Perl5 etc. You get 20gig of memory 400gig of bandwidth/mo. for less than $8/mo (have to sign up for at least 1 year, but they now have a 6mo free special with free domain name).
You can set up you Moodle on your own machine and get it where you want before you upload to the server. You could bring this in-house if you wanted, but the reliability and ready internet access will be virtually impossible to beat if you start with such a service. As noted above, you can then concentrate on learning and evolving your Moodle system rather than getting bogged down in network, access and security issues. Good luck.
When we get around to a production server, I will however be going for a managed dedicated server in a UK data centre... Our setup is going to be quite busy at times, and I'd rather i wasn't sharing resources with anyone else and can have the server configured to my liking .
You said you had an 8mb line available for use from home? Is this a home fast access service? If so (and this may have been mentioned before, but it's late and I can't read the whole thread
). If it is keep in mind that's "UP TO" 8mbps DOWNLOAD speed. I'd bet your upload speed is only "
UP TO" 512kbps to 768kbps. Know that your upload speed = your site visitors download speed. So if you had any number of concurrent users utilizing your site at one time, this could quickly bottleneck your internet connection making a poor user experience.
My advice would be to use a hosting service. Once you buy that server... you own it and you have only you for support. If you have the time admnistrating and troubleshooting your server as well as creating\maintaining your Moodle site, then maybe thats the way to go. When you have a hosting plan, you are paying not only for the web space, but for their tech support, backups, network and power redundancy etc etc etc.
I'm a network admin by trade and I am moving all our web presence to a web hosting provider for the reasons above. I'd rather use the time it takes to admin the web servers to plan and execute other things.