Case Study

TekStream Helps Modernize OnPoint Digital’s Learning Platform with Amazon Aurora

Customer: OnPoint Digital

Industry: Education

Executive Summary

While product training videos aren’t deemed mission critical for most enterprises, in today’s fast-paced world, there’s an expectation that just-in-time training content is always available, on demand. For OnPoint Digital, a provider of specialized learning solutions for enterprises, telling a customer with tens of thousands of users to try again later to access the latest knowledge assets wasn’t an option. The ability to scale capacity was paramount. Working with TekStream Solutions, OnPoint migrated its Learning Management System platform from a Microsoft SQL Server database hosted in a private cloud to Amazon Aurora MySQL on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Training platform in private cloud encounters performance issues

OnPoint Digital provides purpose-built, customized learning portals with branded mobile apps that allow customers to define, package, deliver, and track training programs, and serve up videos, digital documents, interactive courseware, and knowledge checks. For years, OnPoint hosted the solution set on a private cloud based in a datacenter in St. Louis, MO. OnPoint even weathered a 100-year storm that flooded the datacenter basement and caused a daylong outage. But as the business grew, OnPoint took on customers that expected higher availability. When a customer with 40,000 users began sharing high volumes of video content, all of which was consumed within ten hours, OnPoint’s private cloud architecture exhibited performance issues. “We recognized that the needs of the enterprise were getting more complicated,” said OnPoint President and Chief Strategist, Robert Gadd. “Our simple, three-tiered architecture and separated databases on different servers in our legacy private cloud just didn’t serve this customer well.”

TekStream migrates application to Amazon Aurora for high availability

OnPoint turned to TekStream to migrate its database to Amazon Aurora. “At the end of the day, we’re engineers, but it was great to have someone to bounce ideas off of—TekStream was instrumental in helping us think through our strategy, then build and deploy our first proof of concept,” Gadd said. As a read-heavy application—where roughly 90 percent of the queries are reads—Amazon Aurora delivered the ability to scale horizontally as needed. “It was a pretty big deal for those queries to run faster,” said OnPoint’s DevOps AWS Team Leader, Shane Farrar. “Plus, the out-of-the-box failover features, fault tolerance, and AWS Availability Zones work really well for us.” Migrating to AWS not only delivered faster performance, it made life easier. “AWS allowed more replicated reads on our database and accommodated higher traffic without us having to spend two weeks ordering a server box, sending it to the hosting center, and getting it racked,” Farrar said. “Now, all that happens in a matter of hours.”

Customers experience faster onboarding and synching on AWS

With Amazon Aurora powering OnPoint’s specialized learning platforms, customers will see faster performance across several scenarios. For instance, onboarding is quicker, as the OnPoint DevOps team doesn’t have to purchase, provision, and install dedicated hardware into racks in a private cloud colocation site. Instead, in just minutes they can spin up new customer cloud instances, including production, QA, and test servers. “Moving to AWS reduces a lot of lead time and upfront configurations that OnPoint was putting in for each customer,” said TekStream Vice President of Cloud Services, Troy Allen. Since moving to AWS, overall system performance and response times have improved, while sync activities between OnPoint’s highly specialized mobile gateway and its mobile apps were cut in half.

Well-Architected reviews validate new customer environments

As experts in the AWS Well-Architected Framework, TekStream educated OnPoint on how to perform Well-Architected reviews each time the company takes a new customer workload to AWS. “From a business perspective, we’re using the reviews as a business justification for customers,” Gadd said. “The analysis validates our strategy.” The framework includes five pillars—operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization—to provide a consistent approach for evaluating architectures.

TekStream stays ahead of the AWS curve to keep OnPoint on point

Working with a cloud partner like TekStream enabled the OnPoint team to better grasp the nuances of building in AWS, like when to use NAT instances versus NAT gateways, and how to keep configuration costs low. “With TekStream, we have a partner who’s been there and done that,” Gadd said. “They helped us avoid any potential confusion we might have encountered on our own.” For TekStream, staying up on the latest AWS innovations informs the company’s managed services and premium support capabilities. “It seems like every day AWS releases a new service or capability, so we’re able to help customers keep up, continually bringing that thought leadership so they can keep pace with these advances,” said Robert Jansen, CEO of TekStream.