Stellenbosch Business School

Education | Moodle on AWS 

The Challenge: Stellenbosch Business School

Stellenbosch Business School has been at the forefront of providing specialised management education offerings to its students, The technological infrastructure has to constantly be available to its lecturers and diverse range of local and international students. Being the first business school in Africa to be triple-accredited by AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA, truly shows the investment Stellenbosch Business School has made in the future of its students and itself as a global leader in management education.

Stellenbosch Business School also consistently improves and invests in its technological infrastructure. This includes providing high-speed internet access, state-of-the-art classrooms, and fully equipped tech-infused breakout rooms with a dedicated IT support team to assist students.

Stellenbosch Business School had two main concerns that needed attention to help future-proof its infrastructure.

  1. Stellenbosch Business School offers courses to international students through an International Study Module (ISM). An ISM is a course or program provided by a university to students who desire to study abroad and through the international partnerships the university has with other higher education institutions. ISMs help universities build their reputations and offer a customised learning experience.
  2. In 2022, Stellenbosch Business School had a total of 2,152 students, an increase of 10% from the previous year. Stellenbosch Business School needed a fault-tolerant, highly-customisable learning management system (LMS) that would allow lecturers to create course work and ensure that registered students, non-academic programmes and international students have access to course content 24/7. 
      • Stellenbosch Business School had previously achieved this through Moodle hosted on-premises, however, they were faced with extensive red tape internationally which hindered international student experiences and access to learning material. Stellenbosch Business School also wanted to host their LMS on infrastructure that was also trusted by higher education institutions and publicly listed corporations. The institution needed to reduce the time to complete its internal regulation process and meet the compliance requirements defined in its governance and security framework.

Advancing The Future

In 2020, only 11.7% of educational institutions provided remote learning capabilities. However, in response to the imperative need for continuous education during the pandemic-induced lockdown that commenced in March 2020, academic entities began exploring more highly available online learning platforms, with cloud technology emerging as a favoured and scalable solution.

The Solution: Moodle 4 on AWS for Stellenbosch Business School

Stellenbosch Business School worked with CloudZA, an AWS Advanced Tier Services Partner, to modernise their Moodle LMS using Amazon Web Services (AWS). The solution was developed to help the institution facilitate an LMS that could scale up to the schools’ demands and reduce the time required for provisioning online learning for students and lecturers. 

The solution needed to be sustainable, in that Moodle admins required a customisable solution, that would be with built-in fault tolerance and operational resilience in mind. The solution was also required to be highly available with the option to scale on-demand without affecting the active user base.

The institution was already serving over 2000 students through their on-premise Moodle LMS. They had to consider how to cater to all their students by adopting a remote learning methodology.  CloudZA partnered with Stellenbosch Business School to bridge the AWS cloud skills gap in order to benefit from the high availability and scalability provided by AWS. Stellenbosch Business School was able to extend the capabilities of the on-premise LMS – a functional system that was fast-tracked to be more sustainable and advanced. Together with CloudZA, Stellenbosch Business School developed a solution that enabled them to migrate the on-premise Moodle environment to the AWS cloud allowing them to extend the capability of their LMS by further integrating with AWS native services.

Technical Implementation

CloudZA has built a Moodle 4 solution that deploys the entire LMS and related components inside a virtual private cloud using AWS services, as well as native and third-party monitoring tools to provide complete visibility within the running account. The goal was to create a simple deployment that could scale to thousands of users, while also having advanced monitoring capabilities for system administrators by utilising monitoring tools such as Percona, Prometheus and Grafana. Instances for load testing are also included in the CloudFormation stack, allowing administrators to test the scaling of the platform at any time.

Furthermore, developers leveraged native AWS tools to streamline the deployment of updates to the application code. This capability facilitated swift feature rollouts to students without compromising the application’s uptime. A robust CI/CD approach guaranteed that the student experience remained consistent and uninterrupted.

“We had a lot of access to customise features and functionality on the platform. When we had questions the CloudZA team was very responsive” says Joshua Visser, developer at Stellenbosch Business School.

Below is a list of the key AWS services utilised in the solution to ensure optimal performance, availability and functionality.

  • Web Layer:
      • Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2): Provided resizable compute capacity in the cloud, allowing for easy scaling.
      • Amazon Elastic Load Balancer: Automatically distributed incoming traffic, ensuring high availability.
      • Amazon CloudFront (CDN): A content delivery network service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to users globally.
  • Data Layer:
      • Amazon FSx for Lustre: A fully managed service that provides high-performance shared storage.
      • Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL: A relational database service, combining the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open-source databases.
      • Amazon Elasticache for Memcached: Improved the speed of web applications by retrieving information from managed in-memory caches.
      • Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service): Object storage with scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
  • Developer Tools for CI/CD:
    • AWS CodeCommit: A fully managed source control service that hosts secure Git-based repositories.
    • AWS CodePipeline: A continuous integration and continuous delivery service.
    • AWS CodeDeploy: Automated application deployments to the specified compute environment.

With this combination of services. CloudZA was able to deliver a low-latency, high-concurrency-capable solution for the institution. Jamelee Matthee noted that “the responsiveness of the site compared to other online sites was excellent – there was almost instant loading compared to longer wait times using on-premise platforms.”

Compliance and Regulations

AWS has made substantial strategic investments in bolstering its cloud infrastructure presence within the South African region. This strategic undertaking has significantly facilitated the seamless migration of South African universities and enterprises to the AWS cloud ecosystem. 

This initiative bears particular significance due to the intricate challenges posed by stringent compliance prerequisites and regulatory frameworks associated with deploying cloud-based solutions, which are often intensified by the absence of localised access points offered by numerous cloud service providers within the South African jurisdiction.

  • All AWS services and resources have been provisioned and deployed within the borders of South Africa. (AWS Availability Zone: af-south-1)

The Results: Improving the student experience

University and educational institutions alike stand to benefit a great deal from migrating their current LMS applications from on-premises to the cloud. Key benefits include migrating from a CapEx model to a variable OpEx costing model. While operating on the cloud infrastructure, companies get to experience great Return on Investment (ROI) levels as the institution will only be paying for what they use. 

Another benefit includes the ability to scale your application based on fluctuating user demands. This ensures that no resources are left unused contributing to a more sustainable way of executing business logic – helping institutions direct their internal resources to other more important areas of the institution.

A key highlight of how beneficial the Moodle on AWS solution has proven to be is the performance boost received. “ For me, it was much faster and so there was no lagging experience with uploading or even creating the assignment link. So for me, it was much faster and easier to use. “ said Jamelee Mathee. 

The technical team had also cited that students and users were quite impressed with the speed and proficiency at which the AWS-hosted Moodle was able to operate, among other positive reviews.


The project is right on track with helping Stellenbosch Business School fulfil their goals and cementing the school as a trailblazer in educational technology solutions. Moving from a traditional form of hosting the Moodle LMS platform on-premises to a more flexible form of hosting in the cloud – Stellenbosch Business School can now provide their students with a highly resilient and more secure service furthermore instilling trust and help them meet student needs at all times.

Joniff Cleophas’ assertion that “business schools are always at the forefront of technology” highlights the pivotal role of such institutions in keeping pace with technological advancements. This sentiment is further cemented by Stellenbosch Business School’s collaborative endeavours with companies like CloudZA. Cleophas’ gratitude towards this partnership is evident when he says he “appreciated the personality and support from CloudZA.” This positive acknowledgement suggests a strong and fruitful relationship, hinting at Stellenbosch Business School’s inclination towards exploring more AWS (Amazon Web Services) solutions in the future.

Contact CloudZA to discuss how we can assist you with modernising your Learning Management System (LMS) with the AWS cloud