event 26 March, 2019

Open edX in the Cloud

What is Open edX?

Open edX is a world-class web-based platform for creating, delivering, and analyzing online courses. It is the open source platform that powers the edX.org initiative, created by founding partners Harvard University and MIT and joined by dozens of leading global institutions and millions of active online learners worldwide. It has been proven to scale to tens of millions of users, and it’s being used for thousands of other organizations, becoming the most powerful open source alternative for massive open online courses.

This great power comes with significant technical complexity, that may limit the adoption of the open edX technology for many online learning initiatives.

What is the Open edX in the cloud model?

One of the ways eduNEXT is delivering on its promise of standing by the organizations and initiatives interested in the Open edX technology is by bridging the knowledge gap required to use this technology by offering fully featured Software as a Service (SaaS) subscriptions in the cloud.

Under this model, instead of having Open edX installed and configured in your own servers, you get a fully managed Open edX site and a full range of Open edX applications and exclusive features to power your online learning initiatives.
This platform will be published in your own domain, but internally, it will be running on eduNEXT elastic cloud infrastructure, which warranties a great level of service, application management, and monitoring, data privacy, and IT security.

eduNEXT is the company who pioneered this model and has been providing and growing this service since 2015, and even though some other companies followed these footsteps and replicated our model, we continue to develop and improve your offering to lead this space and provide the best, most flexible and most cost-efficient alternative in the market.

Are there other alternatives?

Definitely, and Open edX SaaS subscriptions may not be for everyone. The main alternative is the classic model of self-hosting, where the applications and data are placed in the customer’s servers or cloud infrastructure. To find out more, and see the details and features of professional installation of open edX, visit our blog.

What are the advantages of a SaaS subscription vs self-hosting Open edX?

Simplicity. When all of the technical challenges are sorted out, and you have available a set of tools optimized for simplifying your journey into open edX as much as possible, you are free to really focus on your priorities, which will probably related to the different challenges of creating and marketing a great online learning experience.

Additional features. Open edX will not have every single feature or option you may need. Most likely, no software platform ever will. However, the extended version of open edX provided by eduNEXT SaaS subscriptions incorporate the most relevant additions we have identified and that have been requested and promoted by our customers over the years, making it much more powerful to the average online learning initiative.

Flexibility. Given that this solution is built to accommodate the needs of hundreds of different initiative, it is very flexible and allows you to change your mind and adapt to the evolving needs of your project. Also, since it has the flexibility of the cloud at its core, it can scale seamlessly from a few users to tens of thousands or handle peak concurrencies without giving you any troubles.

Liberty. Ultimately, Open edX is an open source platform and we understand that one of the main reasons you may choose to use it as opposed to a commercial technology is precisely the fact that it is open, giving you the freedom to evolve, extend or even take full control of your technology at some point. In order to respect this principle, our Open edX cloud subscriptions come with no strings attached, meaning that you can decide at any time to leave them, and retain ownership of your data, courses, brands, domains, etc, or decide to change the delivery model and start self hosting it, either with eduNEXT, with another service provider or on your own. We won’t stand in your way and will make your life as simple as possible in every scenario.

Costs. If you are planning for a real operating online learning service to be delivered or sold to demanding learners, and you understand the long term cost structures, you’ll be delighted to find out that the SaaS subscriptions are the most cost-efficient way of powering your online learning initiative with open edX. In this scenario, your monthly or yearly payment includes everything, from hosting and networking infrastructure, technical assistance, customer support, data security, and privacy management, IT security, monitoring, maintenance, troubleshooting, frequent updates, and development of new features and resources to provide the functional evolution of the solution you need.

What happens when you grow beyond the convenience of an Open edX SaaS subscription?

At eduNEXT we are all for flexibility. And we understand that at some point your online courses initiative may stabilize or grow or change into a place where the self-hosting alternative works best. When that moment comes we provide our professional services to port your courses and data into a fully featured open edX installation in your own infrastructure, so that you can continue operating and profiting from the advantages of the Open edX platform.

Who is the Open edX SaaS subscription model recommended for?

This approach to Open edX is mostly recommended for:

  • Medium and small initiatives, catered to populations of active users under 20-25k learners.
  • Organizations without strong skills in IT operations, or no experience with the specific technology stack used by open edX.
  • Initiatives that require fast time to market.
  • Initiatives that need to optimize their budget.
  • Organizations that have tried open edX already, and value the user experience and the multiple features of the platform, but found it too complex to deploy, configure, customize, extend, or manage.
  • Individuals or organizations who want to experiment with Open edX and learn by doing without committing any money into it.

If you fall into one or more of these categories, make sure to review the details of eduNEXT’s Open edX in the cloud subscriptions.

What key open edX features are included?

Our SaaS subscriptions are currently able to support the following application services:

  • The basic Open edX applications for the learner, or LMS
  • The course authoring platform STUDIO
  • The edX e-commerce service, to enable the sale of course seats, course upgrades, discount coupons and more.
  • The course analytics platform edX insights.
  • Native edX XBlocks. These are extensions to the platform built or maintained as part of the master platform, probably also used by courses at edx.org.
  • Multilingual support, including the original English version and all the languages that have a high level of translation from the Open edX community, such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic (right to left), Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, Danish, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Greek and more.
  • Third party authentication using OAuth 2.0 (Google, Facebook), or SAML.

What features are not included?

There are some features that may be used in courses running on edx.org, but are not part of the SaaS subscription in eduNEXT, either because they are not fully open sourced or because they have not been made fully compatible with this delivery model. Those excluded features are:

  • ID Verification service
  • Proctoring exams
  • Weekly email updates
  • Email digests
  • Course discovery service
  • ACE (automated communications engine)

What about additional exclusive features?

  • eduNEXT management console
  • Marketing site integration: is a feature that allows you to have a separate CMS site for example in WordPress, Drupal or such, to manage the contents of the home page and the course’s about pages, to give more flexibility to the content for marketing initiatives.
  • Multisite configuration: that lets you have more than one site, each one in a different domain and with a different course catalog, but all being managed and billed under the same account.
  • Email routing through a specialized delivery and tracking platform to minimize email delivery issues.
  • Analytics+ dashboard, which is an exclusive feature we developed for our customers that let you get real-time information about all the user’s activity in your site.
  • Configurable layout to provide configuration options to have more instant control of your site look and feel and configuration.
  • Our exclusive reporting module, that extends and improves the reporting capabilities of the platform to get you access to the exported reports you need to manage your site.

What version of Open edX does a subscription use?

Your platform is continuously updated to stay on the latest Open edX named release to empower your initiative with the newest and best features in online learning.

Are you Ready to Use the Open edX SaaS?

If you want to enjoy the latest features in an open edX installation that is professionally managed and continuously updated, consider one of our eduNEXT’s Open edX software as a service subscriptions.

Ready to take your online learning to the next step?

Cloud Subscriptions powered by Open edX

Get started with eduNEXT’s Cloud Subscriptions powered by Open edX. You can always start small and adapt your platform in several ways as you grow.

Self Hosted Open edX

Get our team of Open edX experts to install and configure the Open edX platform in your own infrastructure, design and develop customizations, change the theming, deploy mobile apps, or train your staff.

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