Difference between revisions of "Finding and Selecting A Web Host"

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(Who are you? Types of Moodle Instances)
(Who are you? Types of Moodle Instances)
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These issues are of great importance when selecting a host.  If you can identify exactly what you want to do and how you think it can be best accomplished, then you will likely recognize whether or not you can "do it yourself", if you need to look for full-service hosting, or if you can accomplish your goals with a consultant or ad hoc development.
 
These issues are of great importance when selecting a host.  If you can identify exactly what you want to do and how you think it can be best accomplished, then you will likely recognize whether or not you can "do it yourself", if you need to look for full-service hosting, or if you can accomplish your goals with a consultant or ad hoc development.
  
The following are common types of users.  In some cases, the "server admin" will also be the Moodle admin AND a classroom teacher.  In others, the "server admin" will work with other people to form a group that covers Moodle admin and classroom teacher perspectives.  Trainers often have all the skills for the instructor as well as Moodle adminintrator.  These examples should be seen as a rough continuum with many variations possible. Take a look at the examples that seem to fit you best and we will attempt to describe the skillsets you will need and our best advice for the type of hosting you may find most practical:
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The following are common types of users.  Some people only use moodle to create and teach courses (albeit in quite a lot of different ways!) Some people take care of the Moodle "back end", which involves administrative functions.  In some cases, the Moodle admin will take on responsibilities for "server admin" as well as assisting with training for teachers using moodle.  In others, the "server admin" will work with other people to form a group that covers Moodle admin and classroom teacher perspectives.  Trainers often have all the skills for the instructor as well as Moodle adminintrator.  The are endless combinations of staffing and roles depending on your organization.  
  
The classroom teacher, instructor, professor, or course creator
+
The following examples should be seen as a rough continuum with many variations possible. Take a look at the examples that seem to fit you best and we will attempt to describe the skillsets you will need and our best advice for the type of hosting you may find most practical:
  
The Moodle admin (limited to managing Moodle, but not other software packages on the server)
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[https://docs.moodle.org/en/Who_teacher The classroom teacher, instructor, professor, or course creator]
  
The Advanced Moodle admin (managing Moodle as well as getting into server side considerations, such as database management and php)
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[https://docs.moodle.org/en/Who_moodle_admin The Moodle admin (limited to managing Moodle, but not other software packages on the server]
  
The Server admin (managing the server and stack software, but may be less or not involved in managing the moodle instance itself)
+
[https://docs.moodle.org/en/Who_moodle_admin_adv The Advanced Moodle admin (managing Moodle as well as getting into server side considerations, such as database management and php)]
 +
 
 +
[https://docs.moodle.org/en/Who_server_admin The Server admin (managing the server and stack software, but may be less or not involved in managing the moodle instance itself)]
  
 
==Types of Hosts==
 
==Types of Hosts==

Revision as of 10:47, 21 November 2008

Purpose

These pages are meant to serve as an additional guide to help users work through variety of questions, issues, etc. as they choose the best way to provide Moodle as an LMS to their users. We hope that these pages will help to steer the user to helpful materials that may not be easily found by the docs search engine. This is an ambitious undertaking, so we would be very pleased for more authors to add to the content!

https://docs.moodle.org/en/Decision_FAQ

Planning a Moodle installation

If you are interested in installing and using a Moodle instance in your school, organization, or business, there are many things you must consider. Not only do you have to think about the technical aspects, you also should put some thought into how you would like to use the system, maintain the system, create the content, and support the users.

Depending on the scope and scale of your instance, and the technical expertise you can bring to the table, you may decide that you can host Moodle yourself or you may realize you could use some help! This page focuses on making decisions about how or where to host a Moodle site. Other pages will be developed to address the separate issue of retaining consultants apart from the question of hosting (though many of the concerns in addressing both are comparable.)

In addition to technical expertise, there are staffing issues to consider. A developer will help you write code to enhance or add new functionality. Many installations find that they do not need a developer, or they can hire development on an ad hoc basis. An LMS/Moodle administrator needs to have a good understanding of the system side of moodle. The more this person knows about databases and general web applications, the better. If you don't have an IT person to run the server and manage security, then the LMS/Moodle administrator may need to oversee these important duties. Content creators usually assist instructors with planning and creating course content. Large installations may need dedicated IT staff and database administrators. Consider the mix of people you have to support Moodle in your organization. You may find that you can cover all these bases with your current staff. If not, you may want to look at a Moodle Partner or a "full-service" host.

Who are you? Types of Moodle Instances

Before you choose a host, it would probably be helpful to have a firm understanding of who YOU are. What do you intend to accomplish with your Moodle instance?

Typical types of Moodle instances include schools, companies, agencies, churches, and a wide variety of non-profit organizations. A single individual may want to deliver just two or three courses. Some moodle instances serve as portfolios or special project spaces. Moodlers are very innovative!

Each of these types of Moodle users will have differing requirements and needs. Each may have different ideas about what kind of content they want to provide, who will be facilitating the "course work" (or if the course work will be automated), how they will enroll the users, and how strictly they want/need to enforce privacy for users.

These issues are of great importance when selecting a host. If you can identify exactly what you want to do and how you think it can be best accomplished, then you will likely recognize whether or not you can "do it yourself", if you need to look for full-service hosting, or if you can accomplish your goals with a consultant or ad hoc development.

The following are common types of users. Some people only use moodle to create and teach courses (albeit in quite a lot of different ways!) Some people take care of the Moodle "back end", which involves administrative functions. In some cases, the Moodle admin will take on responsibilities for "server admin" as well as assisting with training for teachers using moodle. In others, the "server admin" will work with other people to form a group that covers Moodle admin and classroom teacher perspectives. Trainers often have all the skills for the instructor as well as Moodle adminintrator. The are endless combinations of staffing and roles depending on your organization.

The following examples should be seen as a rough continuum with many variations possible. Take a look at the examples that seem to fit you best and we will attempt to describe the skillsets you will need and our best advice for the type of hosting you may find most practical:

The classroom teacher, instructor, professor, or course creator

The Moodle admin (limited to managing Moodle, but not other software packages on the server

The Advanced Moodle admin (managing Moodle as well as getting into server side considerations, such as database management and php)

The Server admin (managing the server and stack software, but may be less or not involved in managing the moodle instance itself)

Types of Hosts

Full-service hosts who are Moodle Partners

Moodle Partners are companies that have been vetted by and approved by Moodle Pty Ltd to provide and advertise that they provide Moodle hosting. They do contribute 10% back to the moodle trust to support Moodle development. Most Moodle Partners deliver high quality service and have very comprehensive knowledge of Moodle and how it works. They usually provide support, training, and other services (such as content building) if needed by their clients. Most of them do provide some level of development should it be needed by their clients.

Moodle Partners can be found in many countries, and different partners specialize in different areas. You can read more about them at http://moodle.com/partners/list/

https://docs.moodle.org/en/Decision_FAQ#What_is_a_Moodle_Partner.3F

Full-service hosts who are not partners

If you google "moodle hosting" you will find Moodle Partners and a large number of sites offering Moodle hosting that are not full-service hosts. Be very careful. Many sites that advertise Moodle hosting are really offering you hosting without service. They provide the software, but you are on your own after that!

Full service Moodle hosts who are not partners are not affiliated with Moodle Pty Ltd. Some of them do participate in the forums and give a lot of assistance to the Moodle community. They are companies that offer many of the same services that moodle partners offer. Some will serve fewer clients, and some will serve many clients. They will sometimes offer training and help desk services in addition to taking care of the server-side of a moodle instance.

Hosting without service

In-house hosting (or "do it yourself")

Choosing a Web Host

The User Experience

A matrix has been created so that users can provide information on various web hosting options here.

Please feel free to add to the matrix, but respect the footnoting conventions and the table structure please.

Why Use A Web Host

General areas of concern are:

Keeping Your Software Current

Software such as Moodle is not static; it changes all the time. Indeed Moodle software changes sometimes daily. Software may be altered to fix security issues or to make improvements. Sometimes a fix in one respect causes a bug in another.

Additionally, as noted below, Moodle is not the only product you may want to keep current, and any time you are trying to keep multiple applications current you are bound to run into compatibility issues.

Keeping Your Software Compatible

Moodle is not "just" Moodle. The Moodle experience relies on a set of software applications, including a web server (often but not necessarily Apache), PHP, and a database engine (often but not necessarily mySQL), as well as the Moodle code itself.

Each of the elements involved is regularly updated and this will result in compatibility issues. A fix to one application may cause a problem in another.

Backups

Data

GUI

Databases

Software

Security

Most often we talk about security in the context of potential threats to your data. Of course, what can cause some consternation here is that different folks think of data in different ways. There is the data Moodle places in the mysql database. There is the data that Moodle places in the moodledata file structure, and there is the Moodle code itself. You may want to consider protecting all of these types of data from unauthorized reading, writing and execution. Think of this as a two dimensional matrix. Now add a third dimension that includes various ways one might be able to access any cell in the existing table, including coding flaws, external configuration problems and internal Moodle configuration issues

Code Flaws

Code exploits are addressed regularly through patches.

Configuration

The most typical issue in this area is placing the moodledata directory in the web root.

Moodle set-up

This includes such matters as enrollment, internal role configuration, etc.

Criteria for Selecting Web Hosts

Here is the real meat and potatoes, which we can put here or actually put on additional pages (my prefs) SO a link to range of service, types of support, security, e-mail, mysql support, panels.... perhaps as well, pages on SLAs generally, boilerplate and guarantees, punchlists

Perhaps specific sections, with breif descriptors and links to more detailed pages.

Planning an Installation

https://docs.moodle.org/en/Installation_FAQ

Alphabet Salad - RFPs, RFQs, RFTs, SS, etc

Preparing a Project Proposal

Developing Specs

Do It Yourself

https://docs.moodle.org/en/Planning_your_installation