There’s been quite a bit of news around integration work for Moodle on the Microsoft Azure cloud recently, so I have gathered together some update info. This post is about running Moodle in the cloud. Next week, I’ll pull some bits together on integration with other Microsoft technologies.
Fully supported Moodle cloud service for Microsoft Azure cloud
Two of the largest official Moodle partners (Remote-Learner and NivelSiete) have teamed together to provide fully supported and maintained Microsoft Azure Certified Moodle installations in the Azure Cloud. The installations have been configured and optimised to provide high performance and availability, and have been built for medium size organisations. The fully supported service includes a core Moodle build, as well as pre-installation of a series of 40 common, high-value add-ons – and then support for both initial configuration and ongoing use through technical support and a full training programme.
In many cases the normal process for deploying a Moodle server for educational customers involves first hunting down suitable spare server hardware capacity, then installing an operating system, then installing Moodle etc. Often this can take weeks, or even months. But with a cloud deployed service, you simply click a website button (like the one on the right) to deploy a virtual machine with all of the services pre-configured.
And because you are selecting the deployment options, you can choose where you deploy the service, and what capacity you’re going to need. Which means you could have it running in one of our two Australian Azure datacentres in minutes.
The pricing contains two elements, both of which are based on the hours that you run the cloud services:
- A price for the Microsoft Azure service which varies according to the server capacity. At the low end, deploying onto a 1 core server with 768MB RAM costs just over 2 cents an hour. More likely a dual core server with 7GB RAM and 40GB SSD will cost under 20 cents an hour, whereas putting it onto a server with 8 cores and 56GB of RAM is going to set you back nearly a dollar an hour – but I would guess that will be overkill for almost all scenarios.
- A price for the support and ongoing maintenance and upgrades, which is provided by Remote-Learner.
Putting both elements together, that means you can have a scalable, fully managed and supported Moodle service running for between $800 and $1,500 a month.
For more information, take a look at:
The official announcement from Remote-Learner (and I’d also recommend taking a look at the blog post from Mike Churchward, who’s the Remote-Learner President, about their experience working with our Microsoft Open Technologies team)
Deployment images for Moodle for Microsoft Azure cloud
If rather than having a fully supported service you just want to deploy a Moodle server image to a Microsoft Azure cloud service, and then configure and support it yourself, then there’s the bitnami images available on the VMDepot.
The VMDepot is a community-driven catalog of preconfigured operating systems, applications, and development stacks that can easily be deployed on Windows Azure. Find your favorite software and deploy it in minutes, or join the community, build a virtual machine image, and share it with others. It was created by the Microsoft Open Technologies team.
With these pre-configured machine images, you basically just click a ‘Create Virtual Machine’ button, and then log in to your Azure account to deploy. It will automatically deploy a Moodle 2.8 instance on an Apache 14.04 server onto an Azure virtual server (If you don’t have an Azure account then give it a whirl with the Azure 30-day free trial that gives you $200 worth of free Azure).
Although deploying a Moodle package on an Apache server is normally a highly technical, time consuming thing to do, it’s totally different on a cloud service. In fact, so different that I actually did it myself to check… and started it as I wrote this paragraph. This is how far it's got at this point:
(If you’ve met me, you know I’m not an uber-geek like many of my colleagues, so hopefully this is proof that you don’t need to be a rocket-surgeon to do this stuff.)
Unlike the fully supported service, once you’ve got this deployed, it is now all yours – just like if you were running it on a server under your desk, or in your own datacentre. You manage, configure and update it. We just run the datacentre and the virtual server that it’s running on.
Just flipped back – and as you can see on my Azure projects page, the cloud service is running, and it’s now starting up the virtual machine:
If this is your preferred option, then here’s where to go to get it done:
- Go to the full Moodle 2.8 image on VM Depot
for a 1-click deployment of a virtual machine onto Microsoft Azure with a Moodle 2.8/Ubuntu 14.04 image
- Get a free 30-day Azure trial here
with $210 of credit, to allow you to run a virtual server for the month
Other Open Source services running on Microsoft Azure
If you want to see some of the other bitnami images, either visit the Microsoft Azure marketplace listing for bitnami, or visit the bitnami website (there’s even a button there to launch a free one hour demo server).
Go to the VMDepot website to see some of the other 500+ virtual machine images you can deploy with one-click of your mouse, including FreeBSD, WordPress, Drupal etc
And finally, I just went and logged into my new Moodle cloud server on Azure, and I thought I’d share the home screen, just to prove how quick and easy the whole thing was to setup!