Synergy Learnings Senior Network Engineer, Peter Hinds, has been locked away in his office for the last few weeks, tirelessly building our new hosting platform.

Synergy Learning host Moodle and Mahara sites for a number of clients, from individual trainers to large universities and organisations. I managed to catch up with Peter to find out what he was up to and what benefits it will offer.

Hello Peter, could you tell us a bit about the hosting platform you are building?

Yes, it is a fully resilient platform comprised of hardware manufactured by industry leading vendors. The application tier, which resides on the hardware, allows us to assume full control of all services.

The advantage of building from scratch is that it has allowed us to standardise our operating system and installed packages, which will lead to a quicker diagnostic process and further optimisation for Moodle and Mahara hosting.

As a Senior Network Engineer creating a new hosting platform must be right up your street. What do you enjoy most about a job like this?

It really is, I’m not just saying that either!

I enjoy working with the latest technology and adapting it to best suit our needs. I take great satisfaction in the planning and implementation of the project. On a day-to-day basis working with Linux servers and Cisco brand network devices is excellent.

What are the benefits of the new hosting platform compared to the current?

The primary benefit is that the platform is engineered to be resilient from top to bottom. Every network device is redundant and every server is multi-homed in to the appropriate switches. Our firewalls run in a High Availability (HA) configuration with stateful fail-over, meaning should one firewall drop offline the other will maintain sessions without any noticeable switchover.

We already monitor our current platform 24*7 but improvements on the new platform will allow for even finer tuned monitoring.

Security is arguably the most important aspect of any network and on the new platform we have a really robust solution in place using the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliances (ASA’s). Our data centre also has ISO270001 accreditation, 24*7 physical security, redundant power supplies backed by diesel generators, strict environmental controls and fire suppression.

What differences will our customers notice?

Our high standard of service will be maintained when clients are migrated to the new platform however the new platform does have unique benefits.

One of particular interest is the ability to adjust server specs as required. For example, if it’s a particularly busy time of year for the client they could increase the CPU and RAM available to their server which would allow them to ensure the smooth running of their moodle application under heavier load than usual.

Increasing storage space will also be very straight forward which means the flexibility of our packages can be adjusted and refined to a particular clients needs.

Will there be a crossover period between the two systems that will impact upon the operations of our clients Moodle sites?

There will be a period of crossover but thankfully not one that will impact upon the operation of our clients Moodle sites. Each client will be contacted in due course and provided with details of when their site will be migrated and any actions they may have to undertake. The migration process is very straight forward and isn’t any cause for concern.

Peter is hoping to have the new system up and running by November, keep posted to the blog for more information. For more information on Synergy Learning’s hosting packages visit Hosting with Synergy Learning.