Founded in 1973, Anhanguera is one of the largest universities in Brazil and one of the largest in the world, offering over 500,000 undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The university has over 70 campuses throughout Brazil, and hundreds of offices supporting distance learning. Anhanguera University has more than 10,000 teachers and over 6,000 administrative staff.
Anhanguera is one of the world’s largest users of Moodle, an e-learning platform that that allows students and teachers to work collaboratively online. Moodle is available to all students and has millions of hits per week as students, teachers, and administrators use the platform. The IT department at the university developed an extensive data center to manage the volume of users and content. However, as the university continued to grow at a rapid pace, it became increasingly difficult for IT to deliver Moodle and other applications reliably. Anhanguera looked for a more reliable and flexible alternative with the ability to grow.
Why Amazon Web Services
Anhanguera decided to work with Dedalus, a premier consulting member of the Amazon Partner Network(APN), to build a cloud environment using Amazon Web Services for increased reliability and scalability. After provisioning Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to create a closed environment within the AWS Cloud, Anhanguera and Dedalus migrated Moodle and other applications to AWS. The university uses Amazon DynamoDB for fast retrieval of e-learning content at any level of traffic. Amazon Relational Database Service(Amazon RDS) with Multi-AZ provides failover capability, improving reliability for Moodle and other applications. Figure 1 demonstrates how Anhanguera uses AWS solutions in its environment.
Figure 1: Anhanguera Architecture on AWS
Anhanguera’s IT organization found the AWS environment very different from its on-premises infrastructure and spent time adapting applications, the operating system, and other software components. "It is important to pay attention to the implementation and updating of applications as it is a fundamental day-to-day process," says Felipe Brandão, TI Web Manager. Dedalus continues to manage the environment for the university.
Anhanguera credits AWS and the integration work by Dedalus for improving the reliability of Moodle and other critical applications. The university plans to use Amazon Glacier for long-term storage and make better use of DynamoDB for the development and performance of applications. Additionally, the university is considering using Amazon CloudFront as well as other AWS solutions over the next two years.
Anhanguera saw a significant cost reduction in comparison with the previous scenario on-premises. "Considering the above situation, we found that the AWS is much cheaper than the hosting platform we used to have," says Brandão. “The exact numbers are confidential, but we can say that we had a significant cost reduction. Working with AWS and Dedalus, we arrived at the result zero for capital expenditure. Beyond that, AWS gives us more confidence than we had before," he adds.” “The changes that AWS brought to Anhanguera have increased the confidence of end users who rely on our applications.”