Infrastructure Requirements

Content Controller has four required components: a database to store application data, file storage for courses and other application data, an application server, and a control server.

Minimum Requirements

Database

Content Controller requires MySQL 5.6 or 5.7. We recommend a MySQL 5.7 installation dedicated to Content Controller. For details about specific settings that will be required in your MySQL instance, see Quick Start or RDS Setup.

File Storage

If you're running more than one Content Controller application server (which we highly recommend for production), you will need some kind of shared storage mechanism for your SCORM content. SCORM content has to live on a filesystem somewhere (it does not get persisted in the database).

If you're using AWS, we recommend using S3 for content storage and CloudFront for distribution. We designed Content Controller to use these technologies, and we test against them with every build. For a high-performance setup that doesn't cost a fortune, this is the way to go.

If you prefer not to use S3 and CloudFront, here are some alternative options:

  • An iSCSI target
  • A direct attached SAN of some sort
  • An NFS share
  • We don't recommend using SMB shares. You might be able to make it work fine, but please don't ask us to support it.

Storage is the most difficult aspect of sizing to predict - it all depends upon your content. If you're unsure, talk to us about your content and we'll help you find a way to spec an environment to suit.

Application Server

Content Controller requires at least one server used only for running the Content Controller application. We recommend using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, but we also support Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (until April 2019) and CentOS 7.

This server will contain Apache, Tomcat, Content Controller, SCORM Engine, Java, temporary files, logs, etc. But don't worry about the long list - we've created some Ansible playbooks to help you deploy and configure these dependencies in a way that's tested and reliable.

Control Server

You will need a place to store your Ansible tools, configuration secrets, etc. You need to use a separate box from your application servers for this purpose, but you can share the Ansible box for deploying to production and staging. If you already have a Jenkins setup or other infrastructure orchestration box, feel free to use it. The only requirements are that it runs Linux (Ubuntu 18.04 is recommended), can run Ansible, has SSH access to your application servers, and is kept secure and backed up.

Server Sizing

QA / Staging Environments

If you're customizing the playbooks or the base server for your own needs, you'll probably want to run a small staging environment to test things out before moving to production. We run our QA environment on a t2.medium EC2 instance which has the following specs:

  • 4 GB RAM
  • 2 vCPU (2.4 GHz Xeon)

This box is running the entire stack, database and all, and works fine for test purposes. We also run it successfully in a Parallels VM of similiar specs for dev stuff.

Production Environments

Every environment is unique, but we've found that the following guidelines are a great starting point.

Entry Level

In load testing, we have successfully served loads of 100 simultaneous users launching courses and recording results with two AWS EC2 t2.medium application servers and a single RDS t2.small database server. In bare-metal terms, that translates into:

Application Servers:

  • 2 servers running behind a load balancer
  • 4 GB RAM each
  • 2 vCPU (2.4 GHz Xeon) each
  • 80 GB of local storage (not content storage)

Database Server:

  • 2 GB RAM
  • 1 vCPU (2.4 GHz Xeon)

Control Server:

  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1 vCPU

Really Big

In load testing, we have successfully served loads of 1000 simultaneous users launching courses and recording results with two AWS EC2 c3.2xlarge front ends and a single RDS r3.4xlarge Database backend. In bare-metal terms, that translates into:

Application Servers:

  • 2 servers running behind a load balancer
  • 15 GB RAM each
  • 4 vCPUs (2.4 GHz Xeon) each
  • 80 GB of local storage (not content storage)

Database Server:

  • 122 GB RAM
  • 16 vCPUs (2.4 GHz Xeon)

Control Server:

  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1 vCPU

Your Environment

If you have questions, give us a call, and tell us about your environment. We can help you spec something appropriate and cost-effective.

Hosting Providers

We highly recommend using Amazon Web Services, but it is not required. We've provided detailed instructions for running the application in AWS, and we've provided playbooks to automate several of the deploy steps.

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