Triumph Learning is all about delivering dynamic educational content and a platform that enables learning for students and teachers all across the United States. So what does it take to do that? Maximum efficiency, agility, and innovation.
Specifically, Triumph Learning needs to give its software developers agility so they can quickly create and roll out new software features. In addition, Triumph needed to scale its platform on demand, as opposed to having to plan months ahead to prepare.
However, the organization lacked both agility and easy scalability. And as the company grew, it didn’t want to pay the prohibitive costs required to support its development, QA, production, and pre-production environments internally with its own hardware.
Triumph also wanted to ensure it was properly securing its customers’ data, a constant challenge that requires an effective way of controlling policies behind the company’s application. For example, schools are highly concerned about data separation so teachers only have access to data from the specific classes they’re teaching. On the other hand, school administrators need to be able to view all data from all classes. Triumph wanted to find the right technology to meet these unique data security demands.
Focusing on Product Development, Not Hardware, by Moving to the Cloud
To address all its challenges, Triumph decided to use cloud technology. “We needed to meet our agility, cost, and security needs, and ultimately needed to focus on product development—not on maintaining hardware in a data center,” says Raj Chary, vice president of technology and architecture for Triumph Learning.
To gain a more elastic and scalable infrastructure, Triumph chose to run its learning application platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS offers Triumph not only server provisioning but also innovative solutions such as database services, event-based processing, and APIs to help bring the company’s various applications together. “And AWS is way ahead of the game compared with other vendors,” says Chary.
Triumph runs its development, QA, pre-production, and production environments on AWS. The production environment includes Waggle Practice, the company’s core product that delivers a personalized educational platform and content to students in grades 2–8. To ensure uptime and high availability for Waggle Practice, Triumph uses a range of AWS services and multiple AWS Availability Zones.
To enhance its data security, Triumph deployed an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) environment to keep different networks separate so production processes do not impede development work, leading to better control and manageability. The company uses additional AWS services to better control user access and monitor account login information.
Triumph also uses AWS services such as the Amazon Redshift data warehouse to process millions of daily transactions related to student activity, and to manage rostering—the process of onboarding schools, classes, teachers, and students to Waggle—via event-based processing using AWS Lambda. The company also uses Amazon CloudSearch to enable content indexing and discovery across its platform.
In addition to relying on the AWS Cloud for its IT infrastructure, Triumph wanted to engage AWS experts to help manage and support its AWS environment. The AWS Partner Network (APN) partner would need to have proven, managed AWS expertise across the full breadth of AWS offerings and 24/7 AWS monitoring capability at an affordable price. Following an extensive search and evaluation, Triumph chose Connectria, an Advanced APN Consulting Partner, AWS Public Sector Partner, and AWS MSP Partner.
Investing 80 Percent More Time in Creating Learning Products
By running on AWS, Triumph Learning can focus on delivering educational content and not on managing and maintaining a data center. “The AWS Cloud enabled us to quickly build our Waggle educational platform from the ground up without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure behind it all. That was a significant boost for our company as we started to grow,” says Chary. Working with Connectria and AWS, Triumph can refocus on product development instead of daily infrastructure and management tasks. As a result, the company gets back about 80 percent of its time to invest in the products it is building for consumers, teachers, schools, and districts.
And for the organization’s developers, agility is now the name of the game. For instance, if developers only need to use servers for a day on a specific project, they can dial compute resources up or down for that day. This makes it simpler for them to quickly test new products and features before pushing them to production.
Supporting Growth, Securing Customer Data
Triumph can also quickly scale its applications on demand when it needs to address lower application usage in the summer and higher usage in the fall. By using AWS, the company can easily add servers if it needs to support another 100,000 users. As a result, Triumph can support its rapid business growth and innovate faster. Triumph can also add compute capacity when necessary, and it can perform automated system failovers without causing downtime for users.
Triumph is also better able to ensure security, both internally and externally, because AWS policies help the company effectively govern security rules. Following AWS best practices for identity and account management, Triumph has fortified its application servers and other resources within the platform. In addition, Triumph has minimized the potential for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by following AWS best practices. Overall, using AWS helps Triumph manage data securely for its customers.
Cutting Costs and Boosting Redundancy
The company has significantly reduced some operating costs by running its applications on AWS. While a traditional data warehouse would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, Triumph is only paying a fraction of that by using Amazon Redshift. Similarly, the company can provision virtual machines on demand so it only pays for the capacity it needs. And Triumph cuts costs by not having to build a new data center; AWS provides the fault tolerance and redundancy the organization requires.
Working with AWS and Connectria, Triumph Learning expects to keep pace with its annual business growth. “Our relationship with AWS and Connectria aids us in realizing our mission of helping to shape the future of education,” says Chary.
“The AWS Cloud enabled us to quickly build our Waggle educational platform from the ground up without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure behind it all. That was a significant boost for our company as we started to grow.”
Raj Chary, Vice President of Technology and Architecture, Triumph Learning