Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Moving on, onwards and upwards!

Following on where I left off really from my last post!

I briefly mentioned in my last post that I had an upgrade path in place (after testing of course!) for 'Connect'.  The time was approaching to move on with the technology, whereby Connect had been in place for three years and in that time it had only ever had a couple of PHP / MySQL point release updates.  Not that this was a problem of course, but you can never be left standing still.

Anyway, after doing a bit of research and some testing on my machine at work I ended up drawing up a plan for the migration.  Not only would I be migrating the software from the old server to a new one, I would be taking advantage of certain in-house server developments.  Our new server cluster which runs Microsoft Hyper-V, has now been patched to SP1 by Microsoft to support dynamic memory - which means lots of nice resources for any server sitting within that cluster.  Not only this, I drew up plans to upgrade the core functionality of Moodle to version 1.9.10, as well as move to 64-bit MySQL and also move to the latest PHP 5.2.x release (I don't particularly like running Fast CGI on IIS as it has odd behaviour issues sometimes, which left me with ISAPI).

Testing of all of this was done successfully, very successfully!  With nearly everything running in native 64-bit mode on the server (except PHP), the performance boost was clear to be seen.  Pages instantly loaded quicker, reports were much faster to be dynamically generated and most of all, there would be peace of mind that it should, (famous last words!) be a lot more reliable and ready for the future.

To get started with the migration, one of our library server images of Server 2008 r2 was set up, and immediately patched with the freshly released Service Pack 1 from Microsoft.  MySQL, PHP and IIS were also set up, before copying the code across, setting security permissions and restoring the database from the old server.  The Moodle upgrade and module upgrades then took place, whilst downing the old server to ensure that there would only be one database in use.

And that was it really, how to migrate your Moodle!  Downtime was minimal, and first impressions are that everything seems very fast which I think in part is a little to do with everything.  The contributing factors in my opinion are:
  • (The obvious) Much more powerful server, with lots of resources
  • Move to 64-bit MySQL
  • New PHP release
  • Newer Moodle release
  • Move to Microsoft Server 2008 r2 SP1
I'll be adding more posts soon, so please follow this blog if it will help you in your day to day duties!

Monday, 14 February 2011

From the start...

Hi everybody, just to introduce myself and my blog firstly!

I'll start by saying that this isn't my first blog, but it is my first one for quite some time - about four years to be precise.  The reason for a re-start of my blog is to work more closely with other developers in the web development field, and hopefully to help anyone in need.

Next, I'll mention what by background is.  I've been a developer in education now for about six years now, and in that time I've worked closely on new ideas, more recently working and developing a highly customised version of Moodle, which has now been branded 'Connect'.

I've worked with various different languages on different operating systems using different databases, but most of my daily work and expertise involves Windows Server 2003r2/08r2, MySQL v5.x and PHP 5.x.  For me, I would say this is now my preferred environment after working with various different combinations of the above, and for many different reasons that I won't go into just now - but I'm sure that they will be apparent in the future as this blog develops.

The current, but soon to be retired server platform that I'm running is an old HP Proliant server, with the following specification:
  • Intel Xeon 3065 2.33Ghz processor
  • 4Gb DDR2 Memory
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003r2
  • PHP 5.2.10 (Upgraded from 5.1.9)
  • MySQL 5.1.34 (Upgraded from 5.0.37)
  • Microsoft IIS 6
  • Moodle 1.9.0+
The server was originally bought to be a 'stop-gap' but has actually performed brilliantly during the time that it has been in service.  Personally, I believe that for 2000 users, the above specification is more than adequate.  What does let the server down especially, is IIS 6 which has increasingly become unreliable which, after doing some research, I believe is down to a corrupt IIS configuration.  Since there have been plans in the pipeline to migrate Connect to a Server 2008r2 environment for quite some time, I have left this alone for the time being.  Other than this, the server is extremely fast and has been very reliable with near enough 100% server uptime (excluding restarts for Windows updates).

Some of the posts that I will be writing shortly will be looking at:
  • Move of Connect to a new Windows Server 2008r2
  • Upgrading PHP 5.x
  • Possible up/downgrade of MySQL
  • IIS 6 deep rooted problems
  • Upgrading Moodle
  • Is Moodle 2.0 worth it?
The issues above are what I believe are current issues affecting my environment, and at some point I hope to have addressed all of the above.

Anyway - thanks for taking the time to read my blog, I hope that you have found this informative.  Please take the time to click on a sponsored link for me (even if you just open it and then close it!), and even follow this blog.