There is a lot to consider when choosing a Moodle hosting provider.
In its simplest form, your Moodle LMS is actually little more than a number of files and folders. Hosting is simply somewhere to store all those files and folder so that your Moodle Learning Management System is available to your student; typically via the internet.
Whilst the computer geeks use words like ‘cloud’ and ‘web’ in reality those files sit on a computer somewhere. That computer is often referred to as a ‘Server’. It is connected to the internet. The computer might be located down the end of the hall, at your IT providers place or residence or in a data centre in Australia or even abroad.
The owner of that server (or location) is often referred to as the host. But not all host’s and hosting are created equal.
Whilst there are definite differences in the business practices and pricing of the hosts, there are also difference in the type of hosting that is offered.
Generally speaking, there are 3 different types of Moodle hosting available.
Unfortunately, in most cases, all are simply referred to as “hosting” and it is not until you are well and truly committed that you find out what you really signed up for. Or worse yet, you learn about what you’re missing out on.
For the purposes of this article we are going to refer to the 3 types of hosting as:
1. Basic Moodle Hosting
2. Managed Moodle Hosting
3. Supported and Managed Moodle Hosting
Basic Moodle Hosting:
The first type of hosting is simply providing the ‘computer’ or ‘server’ for your files to sit on.
Companies like Amazon and RackSpace are examples of well know hosting companies that provide these basic hosting services. There are also many other smaller organisations, including possibly your local IT supplier.
Typically, in this type of arrangement the host is responsible for keeping the ‘hardware’ functioning. This means they keep the ‘server’ on, with power running to it and a stable internet connection. They also (hopefully) keep the ‘servers’ software updated and secure.
You are normally responsible for logging in and uploading the files and folders and configuring them for your need. You are also responsible for making sure your software stays up to date and stable. You will need to upload any ‘patches’, ‘updates’ and ‘upgrades’
These Moodle hosts do not typically have any involvement with the files and programs you keep on the server. Rather they just ensure the server is live and available to run your programs. If you have not configured the files correctly, they might be able to provide limited support, but usually they are not experts in Moodle and cannot assist with trouble shooting. Even simple requirements such as apply an upgrade or patch.
This type of Moodle hosting is ideal if you are a computer programmer and understand servers and file structures or have someone on your team who does. But be aware, if that person leaves, someone else will need to fill these responsibilities.
Managed Moodle Hosting:
Managed Moodle hosting has all the benefits of the first example, but also includes the host taking ‘some’ responsibility for your program files. This management would largely include things like service patches and file updates.
Managed Hosting may also include things like backups and recovery.
The host may also assist in setting up the files and some basic configuration, but largely once everything is in place, its back over to you to manage and take care of things.
Under a Managed Hosting arrangement, the host will take responsibility for ensuring your Moodle works. But they might not be responsible for “how it works”. Typically they would not be able to provide assistance on how best you can use it to serve you clients or students.
Further, they will typically not provide any assistance to your Administrators on the inner workings of the program.
Managed Moodle Hosting is better than simple hosting as it provides you with a programmer who can assist with the ‘heavy lifting’ of getting your system to work. But be aware, having a functioning system is very different to having an effective system. A programmer whilst good with the files and folders, might not be able to add much help when it comes to the technical side of setting up courses and assessments.
Supported and Managed Moodle Hosting:
Supported and Managed Moodle Hosting is where the provider not only keeps the server running and connected to the internet, but also ensures the operating files are up to date. Most importantly the host also provides assistance to you and your administrators on how to use the applications and get the most out of the system.
In a supported environment, your host should be able to provide advice and recommendations on how to set up your Moodle account. This includes the files and folders, themes and templates, as well as your back up and recovery processes.
But more than this, your host should also be able to assist your Administrators in how to create and upload courses and assessments and enrol users and generate reports.
They should also be able to assist with recommendations and specific customisations of your Moodle instance, including things like connecting it to your website or Student Management system. This means not just the ‘technical’ side of connecting it, but actually connecting it in such a way that it provides real benefit and efficiency to your organisation.
Hosting providers who offer a Supported Managed Moodle Hosting service do much more that simply host your files. They work with you to ensure your Moodle instance actually works.
OTrain provides a Supported Managed Hosting Environment:
OTrain provides a Supported and Managed Moodle Hosting Environment.
This means we not only take care of the servers, and the files and the folders, we also work with you and your team to make recommendations and provide assistance to ensure you are getting the most out of your Moodle LMS.
We assist clients with integrating with their Student Management Systems, Website and shopping carts along with providing guidance based on our experience working with Moodle and a range of clients in the training sector every day.
Further, we provide support to Administrators on how to set up courses and assessment, mark assignments and even run reports. With the OTrain Supported and Managed Moodle Hosting service we even provide support to your students via our in built Live Chat solution.
Our Supported and Managed Moodle Hosting service starts from just $198 per month and is for unlimited students, unlimited admins and unlimited courses.
Not sure if OTrain is right for you? Download our white paper on 11 Reasons OTrain beats Moodle here