IBM’s Cognitive Class Open edX Platform Explains How It Scaled to 1M Users

IBM’s empowered Cognitive Class Open edX learning platform, which reports having 1 million learners, explained how it went “from a static infrastructure to a dynamic and scalable deployment of dozens of Open edX private portals using Docker.”


  • “We migrated from a Moodle deployment to Open edX in 2015. It has served us well, as we are able to serve hundreds of concurrent learners over 70 courses every day,” said Luiz Aoqui, a software engineer at IBM Canada.


  • “Docker in and of itself is a fantastic technology but for a highly scalable distributed production environment, you need something on top of it to manage your containers’ lifecycle. Here at Cognitive Class, we decided to use Rancher for this, since it allows us to abstract our infrastructure and focus on the application itself.” (…) “Rancher takes care of creating a private network across all the hosts so they can communicate securely with each other.” (…) “Our Portals are organized in a micro-services architecture and grouped together in Rancher as a stack.”


  • “In our infrastructure, we use an IBM Cloud NFS drive that is mounted on the same path in all hosts. The NFS is responsible for storing any persistent data generated by the Portal, from database files to compiled static assets, such as images, CSS and JavaScript files.”


  • “Each Portal has its own directory in the NFS drive and the containers mount the directory of that specific Portal. So it’s impossible for one Portal to access the files of another one.”


IBM’s Cognitive Class platform includes courses on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data science, big data, analytics, and databases. It is offered to businesses and academic organizations as a way to have a private training portal.


•  Cognitive Class Blog: Scaling Our Private Portals with Open edX and Docker