Scale and Secure Moodle Clusters with the Barracuda Application Delivery Controller

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Challenges

  • Scaling Moodle while maintaining performance and availability
  • Delivering Moodle services across geo-dispersed sites
  • Providing a secure site with student and instructor access areas
  • Prevent hacking and data theft attempts; secure sensitive data

Solution

  • Barracuda Load Balancer ADC
  • Included Global Server Load Balancing, application security, content compression and caching, and SSO
  • Up to 15Gbps throughput
  • Physical and virtual form factors
  • Benefits

    • Performance-aware load balancing extracts the best performance from the Moodle cluster
    • SSL/TLS and authentication offload provides secure access
    • Provides redundancy and ensures availability
    • Secures the deployment against web application attacks and data theft
    • Simplified administration and management

    Introduction

    In the world of Learning Management Systems (LMS), Moodle is at the top as the most widely used application. It’s a free and opensource learning platform that is used in many environments, from K-12 to large universities, large enterprises, and more. Moodle can scale across tens of thousands of users, and is known for being feature-rich and highly flexible.

    With larger deployments, building a Moodle cluster and scaling it while maintaining sufficient performance is a challenge. Learning environments depend on continual availability, and delivering distance learning requires distributed clustering of Moodle across various sites. There are open-source solutions such as HAproxy for load balancing and nginx for SSL offloading, but configuring and maintaining these solutions can be time-consuming and problematic.

    The Need for the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC

    The Barracuda Load Balancer ADC enables organizations to add scalability, reliability, and security to applications in their data centers with a single integrated and cost-effective platform. When used with a Moodle deployment, the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC provides performance-aware load balancing, redundancy, and security, ensuring high performance and a secure deployment — all without breaking the IT budget.

    Scaling with High Performance

    In it’s most basic role in a Moodle deployment, the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC will be placed in front of the Moodle cluster and distribute traffic across the cluster instances. In this role, it will use its load-balancing algorithms and built-in server load awareness configuration to ensure that maximum performance is extracted from the cluster. The Load Balancer ADC continually polls the Moodle cluster to identify the servers with the least load, and directs the client traffic towards these servers. With continuous health checks, the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC can ensure the highest levels of availability, sending traffic away from a failed server to the other servers in the cluster.

    With the advent of distance learning and cloud deployments, Moodle environments can span geo-dispersed locations or work as hybrid deployments. The Barracuda Load Balancer ADC, with its Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) capabilities, provides location-aware access to resources—directing users to the site closest to them. In addition, in case of a site failure, the GSLB system ensures that traffic towards the failed site is redirected to the next best site, ensuring continual availability.

    Secure Application Delivery

    With its in built SSL/TLS offloading capabilities, the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC provides a secure front end to your learning site. It eliminates the need to setup nginx as a reverse proxy front end. In addition, the SSL/TLS offloading capabilities reduce the performance overhead, and the ease of setup ensures that you can provide a secure front end from day one.

    The Barracuda Load Balancer ADC integrates with external authentication servers, providing authentication offload and 2-factor authentication. The Barracuda Load Balancer ADC can also integrate with LDAP, Kerberos and RADIUS for authentication offload. When integrating with authentication mechanisms, the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC can restrict access to certain parts of the site to specific users. This allows you to separate the instructor areas from the student areas, increasing the security of your deployment.

    Moodle, by virtue of being a web application with sensitive data, is a prime target for web application attacks. The Barracuda Load balancer ADC applies comprehensive traffic protection for HTTP/S traffic through deep content inspection, SSL decryption, and examination and protocol validation using a simplified web-based management console. Web application attacks against the Moodle cluster are detected and blocked before they can reach the server. This also works against both known and unknown/zero day attacks.

    Application Delivery with Barracuda

    Designed for today’s high-traffic data centers, the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC is a high-performance application delivery controller that combines application acceleration, availability, and control with advanced security capabilities. Deployed by thousands of organizations worldwide, the Barracuda Load Balancer ADC is a robust, proven solution that manages and secures billions of application transactions daily. It’s available as a multiport platform with fiber and copper network interfaces, as well as a virtual appliance.

    To learn more about Barracuda’s Application Delivery Controller solution, visit www.barracuda.com/ADC. Or call 1-408-342-5400 or 1-888-268-4772 (US & Canada) to request a free 30-day trial.