Jim's Advice

…the biggest thing is the network infrastucture. If you don't have the bandwidth, you can't handle distance learning, period. That means a good ISP (Internet Service Provider) and a fat pipe. You should really have a minimum of 6mb but you could make do with 3 if you had to. That is UP and DOWN - there is a big difference. Many providers will give you wonderful download speeds but balk at letting you upload too much. They always disguise that so you have to ask and make sure. Sometimes it's actually better to host it with a sister institution if there is one but if not, as long as you have bandwidth you have all you need.

Second, and equally important is to have the skillsets required to maintain the IT. Linux will be cheaper, faster, better, more reliable, more scalable and I could go on for days. But it will require someone who knows how to manage Linux, not just use it. That's a major issue. If you have that, you have all you need.

Third, relax on the server costs. If you are running Microsoft Windows, you'll pay somewhere between $3,000 and $8,000 for what you need. It will all run on Windows but it will be more expensive, slower, lousier, less reliable, less scalable and I could go on for days. But if you use Linux, the cost of the server should be no more than about $2,500 and Linux itself is free. Ubuntu makes a great Moodle Server, a great media streaming server and on and on and on. Plus, once you link your server, you can literally upload your larger videos to places like YouTube or GodTube or many others for free and then link to that from your own server - saves time, cost, bandwidth, etc.

But there's no way around the bandwidth from your ISP and the need for someone knowledgeable in Linux to maintain it for you. Those two are show-stoppers unless you can find the right provider and maintainer.

(email 1.04.08)

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