Want to host Open edX Yourself? Top 3 Things to Consider
Over the years, we’ve watched countless brave souls charge down the DIY Open edX hosting path and struggle for months, only to throw in the towel and decide on a hosted option in the end. With the sunk costs and lost dev hours, that long road is often painful and expensive.
Should you host yourself, or should you go with a hosted option? The short answer is: it depends.
Don’t get us wrong – we’ve seen many organizations find success by taking the self-hosted route. But before you decide which path to take, it’s important to go in with eyes wide open and understand all the nuances of hosting, managing, deploying, and maintaining Open edX yourself.
With that said, here are 3 things you need to consider about Open edX:
1. Open edX requires substantial technical resources
Open edX is one of the most powerful, featureful open source platforms out there. So robust, in fact, that it can be a bear to deal with. Check out this diagram from edX.org, which describes its architecture and various components out of the box.
As you can see, a lot of this is very technical and can be a challenge to untangle. When you host and install Open edX yourself, you’re getting the generic out-of-the-box product, and from our experience it’s rough around the edges.
While hosting platforms such as WordPress or Drupal yourself is relatively easy, we’ve found that hosting Open edX requires exponentially more engineering support, systems, and expertise. In fact, Open edX can be a challenge for even the most skilled devops teams.
And even if you are lucky enough to have the technical know-how in-house, ask yourself this: Is wrestling with an Open edX site really the best use of my engineers’ precious time?
2. High total cost of ownership
Whether you go with a hosted option or decide to host Open edX yourself, there is the expected server cost. But that’s just only a small part of the story. You have to consider not just the upfront costs, but also the total cost of ownership (TCO) from managing, maintaining, and updating the platform.
Take theming, for example. Typically, you’d need a developer and a front-end developer to create a theme and style it if you took the DIY approach. When you bake in all the costs along with the costs of your engineers’ time, setting up and managing Open edX yourself can often run as expensive as $200K to $500K per year.
3. Maintenance and support is not included
Just like any other software such as Apple’s iOS, Open edX releases fresh updates almost weekly and is constantly being updated. There are generally two to three major releases per year, with the most recent one being Ginkgo.
While most proprietary software often includes automatic updates and periodic releases, Open edX is an open source platform available to all and doesn’t include automatic updates and support. So if you take the DIY route and want to own and host your own instance of Open edX, to update to the newest version you’d have to update it yourself.
Keeping Open edX running reliably is a big deal. Once it goes live, unless you have Django, Python, and DevOps experts on your staff, it’s not uncommon for DIY adopters to sometimes run into problems and have difficulty fixing bugs.
The point that we’re making is that to run a production-grade Open edX service, you need a team of resources with a diverse (yet specialized) set of skills. If you have that team already, then great – you’re already set.
However, if you’re not in that camp and think you might need help, we’d love to chat with you about how Appsembler can take care of your Open edX needs, and more. Visit us at appsembler.com where you can spin-up a free trial of Tahoe, the all-in-one learning experience platform, and build your branded Open edX site in minutes.