Deepening Catalyst’s global partnerships

11 July 2022 by Catalyst IT Europe

This July Catalyst IT turns 25 years old, growing from a team of five individuals in Wellington New Zealand to a global company with ten offices and almost 400 staff. Fittingly we received an invite to attend an evening celebration hosted by Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern – Prime Minister of New Zealand at London’s New Zealand house.

The event celebrated the exceptional, long and vibrant partnership between the United Kingdom and New Zealand, with a particular focus on New Zealand business’s success in the UK. Catalyst IT has been operating in the UK for 14 years, continuing our mission to demonstrate open source solutions as viable alternatives to proprietary software solutions. Our headline offering is the delivery of fully managed services for mission-critical learning solutions, primarily Moodle and associated tooling, hosted upon highly resilient, fault-tolerant and self-healing AWS-based infrastructure.

Throughout our 14 years of operation we have built a reputation in the UK Higher Education sector as the industry leading hosting and managed services provider for mission-critical online learning workloads. During the recent Covid pandemic this reputation was put to the test, as Catalyst reacted rapidly and proactively to ensure that our major partners in the Higher Education sector were able to pivot their learning offerings to 100% online almost overnight. During this time we helped a number of key partners migrate to the cloud, so as to provide limitless scaling of resources in order to ensure systems remained available and performant with the additional online traffic load that the Covid lockdown actionsdelivered. During this time we formed a new fully managed services partnership with University College London amongst many others.

University College London (UCL) is the largest campus-based university by student numbers in the UK, and operates the busiest Moodle LMS platform in the UK by a number of daily page hits. Our partnership was forged in record time as the pandemic ensued, with a critical requirement being the guarantee of high performance and 100% uptime against a huge surge of online learning traffic. In addition we supported the UCL learning platform to perform new functions such as supporting and managing critical student assessment(s), including both multiple-choice quizzes and paper-based “open book” assessment methods.

Our success in this partnership has driven the Catalyst and UCL partnership to deepen, focusing now on delivering improvements to our world-leading AWS-based infrastructure/architecture and the Moodle LMS application. UCL and Catalyst have collaborated to deliver performance improvements for Moodle LMS running at scale, and increase key functionality required by UCL, but also in the spirit of open source – to be shared back to the core Moodle project for the benefit of others. It is these partnerships, of which UCL is one of many, that Catalyst prides itself on building and maintaining. Less focused on profit and more focused on purpose and benefit, and it was this partnership that Catalyst chose to celebrate with an invite to the evening celebrations hosted by the RT Honourable Jacinda Ardern and located at NZ house’s penthouse on Haymarket, with a great view out across the wonderful city that is London.

Catalyst took the opportunity whilst enjoying the view to discuss the future with the UCL. Over the next 12 months and beyond we expect to see Catalyst and UCL delivering further Moodle improvements. We will seek opportunities to present and share the work we have collaborated on at events such as the global Moodle-Moot in Barcelona (September 2022), or at Catalyst’s community events held twice yearly and next pencilled for November 2022. Above all we will continue to focus on the outcomes for students, teachers and users of the platforms, ensuring that the work we do delivers value in the right areas.

Finally and most proudly, we will ensure that where the work we do is suitable for Moodle core, it is shared back upstream to the Moodle project for all others to benefit from – and that we continue to be leaders in the implementation of Moodle for learning in the Higher Education sector and beyond. Staying true to the benefits of open source by standing on the shoulders of others and working in partnership to continuously deliver a better product. In much the same way that Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern celebrated how the UK and New Zealand have worked in great partnership over the years in her speech from the very top of London.

View of London from the top of NZ house on Haymarket