MOE Cloud Pilot 2021


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Project Summary

Need: The MOE is looking to improve efficiency and increase flexibility in the way it operates and manages its IT services.
Purpose: Pilot project to move the MOE's web servers and web apps to the cloud.
Developer: Ms. Meghna Chhabra, TCinGC 2021 student consultant.
Local Partner: Edwel Ongrung, Palau TCinGC project supervisor.
Status: Just started on June 3 2021.
Next: Expected to end about August 10 2021.

Background

The Ministry of Education's Information Technology (MOEIT) unit was formed in 1999 to maintain computer and multimedia equipment that had been installed in the schools as part of the Division of Curriculum's technology initiatives that ran from 1987 to 2002. This role continues today.

In the intervening time, the Computer System Manager who was the primary staff of the unit was elevated to Administrative Services Manager for the Bureau of Education. Two computer lab managers from schools were brought in to join MOEIT and perform the needed maintenance.

The Administrative Services Manager, in order to fulfill his assignments from the Director of Education and other top MOE management, deployed additional technology in the MOE including network and communication infrastructure, back end infrastructure and services, and various software tools. These are not part of the MOEIT's routine tasks and had to be largely maintained and managed by the Administrative Services Manager.

In 2020 as a result of COVID19, MOE Management started looking into remote learning and heavier use of the internet. This will introduce even more technology into the MOE.

Certainly, MOEIT's maintenance role will not change and it should be cable of doing it. But the software development, server administration, network administration, and security management to enable the MOE's new technology direction should be addressed somehow.

The Administrative Services Manager has retired from the MOE, but in discussions with the Director of the Bureau of Education Administration, a general plan has been developed to ensure that there is no interruption of services and that the BEA has the time and flexibility to carefully consider its options going forward. These are the parameters of the approach:

  • Backend (Server Room) services will be moved to the cloud. This reduces the need to maintain server equipment and allows flexibility in hiring people to administer the servers (can be done remotely instead of having to be on site).
  • Explore the outsourcing of the network infrastructure and its management. If cost is reasonable, it relieves the MOE from the technical and allows it to focus on core business.
  • Explore the use of service based small contracts for software management and upkeep. While this can be unworkable if not properly managed, it is a good solution for interim and temporary situations and does not tie the MOE to an early commitment (such as hiring permanent employees) before it is ready.
  • Other issues continue to be under reviewed.
  • The key thing is that services are not disrupted or lessened during this transition period.

There are other needs related to the backend. For example, communcation (email, etc) needs to be modernized, eg., go Web 2.0. And security needs to be addressed because it becomes critical as the MOE increases its footprint in the public internet. But these can be addressed later.

Project Overview

Meghna Ms. Meghna Chhabra is the developer for this project and will be working remotely. Ms. Chhabra is starting graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University. She is originally from India. Her interest is in IT Project Management and Software development. She is going for a master’s degree in Information Systems Management. She is looking forward to visit Palau and learn more about it’s culture. Ms. Chhabra's Resume.
Edwel Mr. Edwel Ongrung is a retired MOE Administrative Services Manager who is seeing this years' TCinGC projects through as the MOE's project supervisor.

The selected project was to address migration of IT services to the cloud. The two will work to migrate the MOE's web services and web apps to the cloud and to establish and to demonstrate the efficiency and flexibility gains to MOE management.

The basic tasks of the workflow are: containerize one of the services, move it to the cloud, run and test it, put it into production to replace the existing one that's running on internal MOE servers. Once that works, migrate the rest of the services in the same way.

The services in consideration for migration are:

Apache 2.4/PHP 7 web server with MySQL backend

  • MOE Website
  • Fuel Consumption Website
  • Student Information System Website
  • Personnel Action Website

Ruby on Rails 6 server with MySQL backend

  • New Student Information System Website
  • Requistioning/Receiving/Distribution/Inventory Website

Ubiqiti Unifi Controller

Nginx Reverse Proxy

Basic firewall running on Mikrotik RouterOS 6.4

Project Detail

Weeks 1 and 2: Orientation, Context Review and Analysis, Project Selection.

  • Completed, June 3-18, 2021: Draft Work Proposal is on file.
  • Goal 1 - Meet with Edwel to discuss the project requirements
    • Outcomes status: DONE
      1. Progress regarding activities planned in the prior status report & outputs:
        • Meet with edwel to discuss possible projects at Palau [DONE] OUTPUT-Possible projects include migration to cloud and upgradation to web 2.0
        • Research about the projects and make a decision [DONE] OUTPUT-decided to proceed with migration to the cloud
        • Discuss the details of services required to be migrated to the cloud and the need for the same [DONE]
        • OUTPUT: A project proposal for review/comment submitted to Development Partner and TCinGC program [PENDING]
      2. Activities planned to be completed next week (be sure to include important meetings):
        • Creating and Improving Project Proposal [PENDING]
        • Getting familiar with using Linode as IaaS [PENDING]
        • Meeting with Edwel to gather details not shared in the resources [PENDING]

Week 3: Research and finalize how the project will be done.

  • Completed, June 18-24, 2021: Docker will be used for developing the and testing the container; Linode.com, a provider already being used by the MOE, will be the cloud provider for the project (final selection of cloud provider will be done towards the end of the project).
  • Goal 1 - Creating the project Proposal, June 11-25.
    • Outcomes status: DONE
      1. Progress regarding activities planned in the prior status report & outputs:
        • Creating and Improving Project Proposal [DONE]
        • Getting familiar with using Linode as IaaS [DONE]
        • Meeting with Professor Poepping and Professor Mertz to get feedback on the proposal [DONE]
        • Meeting with Edwel to gather details about the feedback [DONE]
        • OUTPUT: A project proposal for review/comment submitted to Development Partner and TCinGC program [DONE]
        • Meeting with Professor Barrett to gather details about containers.[DONE]
        • Meeting with Professor J.Ray to gather details about containers, IAAS, PAAS and kubernetes. [DONE]
        • OUTPUT: Professors helped me understand some concepts and shared the resources regarding the same. [DONE]
        • Meeting with all the TCinGC consultants and community partners in Palau to learn about the culture focussing on food.
        • Meeting with Edwel to discuss the activities for the next week [DONE]
      2. Activities planned to be completed next week (be sure to include important meetings):
        • Meeting with Edwel on Monday to get the data related to MOE website [PENDING]
        • Meeting with Edwel on Thursday to discuss the tasks for next week [PENDING]
        • Installing and running Docker on my Windows Machine [PENDING]
        • Creating Apache/PHP Containers and Integration [PENDING]
        • Pushing the Containers to the Cloud [PENDING]
        • Testing after deployment on the cloud [PENDING]

Week 4: Set up docker container on laptop, migrate MOE website to it, test the website, and begin testing how to migrate to the cloud.

  • Goal 1 – Setting up Web Application using containers, June 28 - July 2
    • Outcomes status: DONE
      1. Progress regarding activities planned in the prior status report & outputs:
        • Meeting with Edwel on Monday to get the data related to MOE website [DONE]
        • Meeting with Edwel on Thursday to discuss the tasks for next week [DONE]
        • Installing and running Docker on my Windows Machine [DONE]
        • Creating Apache/PHP Containers and Integration [DONE]
        • OUTPUT: Apache-php website with MySQL database is running using containers locally.
      2. Activities planned to be completed next week (be sure to include important meetings): 
        • Setting up docker on Linode [PENDING]
        • Publishing image to docker container registry [PENDING]
        • Testing after deployment on the Cloud [PENDING]
        • Meeting with all the TCinGC consultants and community partners in Palau to learn about the culture focussing on workspace. [PENDING]
        • Meeting with Professor Poepping, Professor Mertz and Edwel regarding MVP. [PENDING]
        • Meeting with Edwel to discuss the activities for the next week [PENDING]
      3. Issues or areas where you need help
        • Testing the website after deployment on the cloud.
        • Payment for the Linode Server.

Week 5:

July 9, 2021 0500-0600: MVP Meeting on Zoom

  • Ms. Chhabra, Professors Peopping and Mertz, Mr. Ongrung
  • Ms. Chhabra's understanding of the context, solution approach, and progress is good

Weeks 6-7: Migration to the Cloud

  • The websites Palaumoe, Timeclock, SpEd, and EMIS have been migrated and the MySQL backend has been established as containers in a linode.
  • An RoR container is successfully running in Docker on Meghna's computer. She is working on getting the SIS app to run successfully.

Weeks 8-10: Deployment, Testing and Troubleshooting

  • MySQL container deployed
  • Apache/PHP containers deployed
  • Ruby on Rails container with MySQL backend deployed
  • Ubiquiti Unifi controller deployed
  • NGINX reverse proxy container deployed

Week 10: Live services and wrap up

  • Palaumoe website is live
  • MOE Timesheet is live and in daily use
  • NGINX reverse proxy is live and serving the cloud pages
  • Project is wrapped up and reports have been submitted