At Enovation we worked closely alongside RCSI to deliver a connected experience for its students. Now, with scalable Moodle clusters on Microsoft Azure, RCSI has a high-performance platform that gives students at campuses from Dublin to Dubai always-on access to important educational content.
“We’re using Azure to provide every student with what they need to succeed, helping us create the next generation of healthcare professionals.”
Neeraj Kumar: Group Enterprise Architect- RCSI
The way medical students learn their profession has a profound impact on all our lives, so educators have a huge responsibility to make learning environments as effective as possible. Since its foundation in 1784, RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) has earned a worldwide reputation as a leader in health sciences education. Now a global institution, RCSI operates several international campuses, including in Dublin, Bahrain, and Malaysia. It relies on Moodle—an open-source, PHP-based virtual learning environment (VLE)—to help it deliver course content to students across the globe.
The VLE—also commonly referred to as a learning management system or LMS—has evolved from on-premises bare metal servers back in 2005 to hosted virtual environments. During this evolution, RCSI had deployed more than 10 different versions of Moodle to meet different needs throughout the organization. And with so many versions in operation, the quality of content delivery varied across RCSI’s campuses and faculties.
“All these disparate versions of Moodle, combined with varying platform performance across our international campuses, meant students in some areas couldn’t access the latest content available to students elsewhere,” says Neeraj Kumar, Group Enterprise Architect at RCSI. “Plus, even in a hosted environment, it was getting very expensive to manage more than 10 varieties of Moodle.”
In search of a solution, and as part of its broader strategic transformation into a digital university, RCSI turned to Microsoft Azure to help it reduce costs and improve the student experience.
Neeraj—along with Shahla Sabetnia and Catherine Behan, with the support of RCSI Chief Technology Officer Justin Ralph—took a two-step approach. “First we consolidated the content, so we could run one or two versions of Moodle across our campuses globally,” says Neeraj. “We then consolidated the infrastructure. From working with Microsoft on other business applications, we knew Azure would offer the performance, availability, and scalability we needed.”
RCSI adopted scalable Moodle clusters on Azure—templates for moving Moodle workloads to Azure. Working closely with its Moodle partner Enovation and the engineering team at Microsoft, RCSI customized the templates and configured the system to scale automatically to meet user demand and offer enterprise-grade availability.
“As well as giving us the performance and scalability we required, moving the VLE to Azure lets us connect the experience for our students and faculty, with single sign-on for Moodle, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Dynamics 365,” says Neeraj. “We couldn’t have done that with any other cloud provider.”
With its new Azure environment, RCSI can provide access to the most up-to-date version of Moodle—and the best course content—while keeping costs down. “We’re already seeing five-figure savings on operations costs,” says Neeraj. “And Azure gives us a consolidated, highly available, and high-performance Moodle environment, which has improved access to content for students and faculty in all our locations.”
When thousands of students prepare for exams at the same time, RCSI must be ready to support their learning. That’s when the scalability and performance of the Moodle VLE are critical. “Hand on heart, I can say that with Azure we are providing our students the best cloud platform they can get,” says Neeraj. “We’re using Azure to provide every student with what they need to succeed, helping us create the next generation of healthcare professionals.”
Beyond the initial performance and cost benefits, with Moodle on Azure, RCSI can now analyze user data to identify students at risk of falling behind or dropping out and stage early interventions to help improve student outcomes. This new approach to using data is all part of a much broader digital transformation within the college.
“Our customer relationship management and collaboration tools, business apps, and even our learning tools are now all on Azure,” says Neeraj. “The next step for us will be to move all our remaining infrastructure to Azure—it’s a key part of our plan to become a digital university, capable of delivering groundbreaking health sciences education anywhere in the world.”
“We’re already seeing five-figure savings on operations costs. And Azure gives us a consolidated, highly available, and high-performance Moodle environment, which has improved access to content for students and faculty in all our locations.”
Neeraj Kumar: Group Enterprise Architect- RCSI
Enovation Solutions Ltd.,
Dublin, D07 X680,
T: +353 (0) 1 602 4784
Planned for release in late 2021, Moodle 4.0 will bring an exciting new
Informed by an extensive discovery and consultation process with Moodle’s community of
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