Challenge - maintaining a growing number of customised LMS sites
Navitas and its entities have delivered education programs since 1976. As the business grew organically, their 40+ Moodle Learning Management Systems (LMS) had been created individually and customised to support local requirements. There was a mixture of on premise and hosted sites across a range of providers.
Managing the technical maintenance of the sites was manual and labour intensive:
- Moodle system updates
- Load testing and capacity management
Maintenance costs were escalating and performance standards were inconsistent. As Navitas grew and expanded its network, it became increasingly difficult to meet the User Experience (UX) standards they had set themselves.
Navitas recognised they needed a standardised approach to maintaining their sites, one that would scale with their growth. However, they needed to ensure there was no degradation in functionality of existing local customisations. They also needed to provide local hosting to meet the data sovereignty requirements of some of their colleges.
Solution – standardisation and migration to cloud managed services
Catalyst Australia worked with Navitas to understand the nature of their portfolio, the requirements of the individual sites and the time pressures involved; some instances were nearing end of life, some data centres were shutting down and the project needed to be scheduled during semester breaks.
Project Phase 1
The solution involved upgrading and standardising the codebase across the 40 Moodles sites, then customising each one with its unique requirements. The sites were then migrated seamlessly (with no service interruption) to cloud hosting on Amazon Web Services (AWS) where an ongoing full managed service would be provided by Catalyst.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) clusters were established in Australia, North America and the UK. The cloud infrastructure of the clusters meant that the sites within each one could gain efficiency from operating collectively.
The Catalyst team used a DevOps approach, working with automation tools and practices to build, test and deploy the sites:
- Continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment (CI/CD)
- Terraform, the open source software tool
In addition to the core project, Catalyst undertook custom development work to create plugins that would support the integration of communication services, including in-house SMS and Zoom video communication.
Project Phase 2
The ongoing fully managed service provided by Catalyst includes responsibility for the underlying AWS Cloud infrastructure. This incorporates high availability of the systems to protect against single points of failure, downtime and cyber security incidents.
The ongoing routine maintenance of the sites uses systematic automation, that removes the dependency on single operators to perform tasks:
- Patch Management – to ensure known vulnerabilities are remediated
- Regular backups – to ensure information can be accessed following a cyber security incident
- Regular Moodle system updates – to provide the latest functionality
- Load testing and load balancing – to ensure sufficient capacity for growth and peak operational times (such as exams)
Catalyst’s 24/7 Follow The Sun support model, ensures full incident and maintenance window flexibility any time – day or night.
Catalyst delivered the project on time, on plan and to budget.
Result - a cost-effective, scalable e-learning network.
The success of Navitas depends on the success of its learners. The project delivered a cost-effective, scalable solution for its global network of 40+ high performance Moodle sites, to support a robust and sustainable UX for 70,000 learners and 600 staff:
- Security upgrades on schedule
- General upgrades regularly and consistently
- Reliable backups
- Capacity to support synchronous e-learning through COVID-19 pandemic and peak exam periods
- Reliability – less downtime overall
- Better site speed
- Reliable, expert 24/7 support for rapid response and resolution of any issues