BigBlueButton is Open-source
BigBlueButton is an open-source project. So you can download and install BigBlueButton on your server for free of cost.
BigBlueButton supports real-time sharing of audio, video, slides (with whiteboard controls), chat, and the screen. Instructors can engage remote students with polling, emojis, multi-user whiteboard, and breakout rooms.
Check-out the Github repository to download BigBlueButton: https://github.com/bigbluebutton/bigbluebutton
Running BigBlueButton server is expensive!
Though BigBlueButton is free being an open-source software, you do incur cost of servers.
Add to the cost of server, the cost of bandwidth and storage, and soon you realize that BigBlueButton is not “Free” free.
To support real-time audio and video, BigBlueButton consumes a lot of bandwidth.
If you plan to record your online classes, then be ready to spare a good amount of storage to store recordings of your classes.
So basically we are talking about three components of running BigBlueButton server:
- Computer – the cost of server
- Bandwidth – to transmit audo/video
- Storage – to store recordings
Here is a Pricing Calculator tool that you can use to get a sense of your costs for the three components above.
Also, be mindful that BigBlueButton is a complex real-time system and you would frequently run into technical issues. You may want to quickly scan through the BigBlueButton mailing list – BigBlueButton-Setup – to get a sense of technical issues that BigBlueButton administrators run into.
Hence, either you or someone into your team would have to play the role of BigBlueButton troubleshooter. As every 2-4 weeks, a new version of BigBlueButton is release, you would need to keep yourself abreast of the evolution of BigBlueButton server.
Managed BigBlueButton server
You can check-out the monthly subscription for BigBlueButton offered by HigherEdLab.com. Starting at $12 per month, you can easily host an online class for up to 50 students.
Further you can upgrade to Cloud Plan to host more students. You can also opt for a Dedicated server to have your own domain and customizations.
All the plans include 24×7 tech support. Also included is a host of extensions including:
- Streaming of BigBlueButton classes on YouTube or Facebook
- Conversion of BigBlueButton classes into MP4 recording so that those could be played on any device
- Real-time performance monitoring, and
- Custom themes
Self-hosted BigBlueButton server
Alternatively, you can roll-up your sleeves and setup your own BigBlueButton server.
First check-out the BigBlueButton Github repository and get a server with the required specifications:
- 8 CPU Core,
- 16 GB RAM, and
- Ubuntu 18.x
You can get a dedicated server from Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Hetzner, OVH, or Vultr and set up your own BigBlueButton server.
Do you have questions about setting-up a BigBlueButton server? Leave a comment below.