Embee Helps A Leading Online Education Platform Reinvent their Application Availability & Experience to Win in the Digital World, Leverages the Power of Kubernetes and DevOps on Azure

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Since its inception in 2007, our customer’s platform has been used by more than 400,000 education & training service providers, and 4.5 million learners. It is one of the world’s largest cloud-based education platforms based in Mohali that empowers instructors, education service providers and corporates to deliver and manage live and self-paced learning with easy-to-use, scalable, and cost-effective technology.

During the COVID-19 crisis, online learning came to the forefront, making it an integral part of mainstream learning. With the proliferation of low-cost smartphones, cheap data, and better infrastructure, it’s clear that edtech was destined to grow. Yet, for an edtech to grow their customer base, the infrastructure should be scalable, optimized, modernized, and transformed appropriately for a modern and relevant experience. Our customer’s cloud technologies, development processes, and operating models lacked the capabilities to address new-age experience and cater to large volumes of content and visitors’ flow. This resulted in customer dissatisfaction and customers choosing compete edtech platforms.

With a mission to enable organisations transform with technology in a digital, mobile-first, data-driven world, Embee has been enabling its customers drive systematic business changes with the latest cloud technologies to help them stay ahead of the curve. In particular, our journey with cloud-native App Modernization, utilising the latest technologies on Azure, have enabled transformations for several customers. For this customer too, Embee was geared up.

As their technology and strategic partner, we studied their environment and suggested application modernization leveraging containerization of the microservices and other infrastructure enhancements in the application.

Manual VM deployments and scaling resulted in frequent downtime and poor user experience

Our customer’s application’s legacy infrastructure

Since its inception in 2007, our customer’s platform has been used by more than 400,000 education & training service providers, and 4.5 million learners. It is one of the world’s largest cloud-based education platforms based in Mohali that empowers instructors, education service providers and corporates to deliver and manage live and self-paced learning with easy-to-use, scalable, and cost-effective technology.

During the COVID-19 crisis, online learning came to the forefront, making it an integral part of mainstream learning. With the proliferation of low-cost smartphones, cheap data, and better infrastructure, it’s clear that edtech was destined to grow. Yet, for an edtech to grow their customer base, the infrastructure should be scalable, optimized, modernized, and transformed appropriately for a modern and relevant experience. Our customer’s cloud technologies, development processes, and operating models lacked the capabilities to address new-age experience and cater to large volumes of content and visitors’ flow. This resulted in customer dissatisfaction and customers choosing compete edtech platforms.

With a mission to enable organisations transform with technology in a digital, mobile-first, data-driven world, Embee has been enabling its customers drive systematic business changes with the latest cloud technologies to help them stay ahead of the curve. In particular, our journey with cloud-native App Modernization, utilising the latest technologies on Azure, have enabled transformations for several customers. For this customer too, Embee was geared up.

As their technology and strategic partner, we studied their environment and suggested application modernization leveraging containerization of the microservices and other infrastructure enhancements in the application.

  • Manual VM deployments and scaling resulted in frequent downtime and poor user experience
  • Our customer’s application’s legacy infrastructure

“Our pre-existing VMs used to run out of capacity while catering to the high-volume requests. Hence, we used to spin up additional VMs manually in the Orchestration layer. But by the time the new VMs were ready to accept the requests, the other VMs used to crash. To avoid this situation, WizIQ team was deploying several additional VMs in advance. Since the traffic was unpredictable, a lot of times the VMs were left unused which resulted in high costs. This resulted in decreased employee productivity, slow performance of the application, frequent downtimes, and poor user experience.” Says Pankaj Malik, IT head, authorGen Technologies.

The developers were also facing difficulties in the deployment of the code. They had to deploy every code manually which resulted in frequent errors, disruption of services, and hindered go-to-market.

Embee-Designed Azure Cloud Native Solution: Fast and Automated Autoscaling Reduced Downtimes with improved system availability

Embee’s Azure DevOps and Kubernetes certified team of architects containerised the micros-services using Docker. By architecting the microservices in separate containers, they could all be deployed independently, whenever required. As containers are portable and can operate in isolation from one another, it got simpler to manage and move them to another environment easily.

Containerization addressed the problem of different micro-services conflicting the framework or libraries working in harmony without any problem. Yet, while doing so, it ended up by creating a large number of micro services, and hence requiring an orchestration tool (cluster manager) to manage it. Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) was the most important tool to effectively manage all the micro services.

“Azure DevOps powered by containerisation and serverless technology rapidly enabled us to make the shift from infra-dependent, monolithic, slow, and expensive deployment strategy to a much agile, scalable, reliable, and significantly less expensive option.” Adds Malik.

Our customer settled on AKS as their container orchestration platform. Now the challenge was to quickly scale during unpredictable, peak traffic hours, and support a complex work queue to keep their application environment clean post-execution. With AKS, advanced Autoscaling technology, their team was able to successfully launch new VMs when PODs were in “pending-schedule” state, as well as kept the cluster fully utilized by scaling down VMs with low container utilization and intelligently bin-packing containers over time.

POD metrics and scheduling needs (like labels, taints, tolerations, storage & network requirements) were constantly monitored and the infrastructure was scaled accordingly, while making the most possible, efficient use of the VMs. In addition, it is also tightly integrated with Horizontal POD Autoscaling (HPA). POD’s autoscaling contributed to their application’s uptime (always-on) and overall stability of the system.

Our experts analyzed their existing infrastructure and suggested following solutions

  • We have Dockerized their existing Micro Services.
  • Deployed the Microservices to Azure Kubernetes Cluster.
  • Configured Nginx for East West Traffic between Micro Services.
  • Configured discovery services.
  • Configured Autoscaling: Horizontal POD Auto Scalar and Node Auto Scalar.
  • Configured Service Mesh along with Grafana and Prometheus Dashboard.

We also Implemented DevOps Practices including CI/CD Pipeline for automated deployment of code by developers which helped in reduction of manual intervention and errors. A CI/CD pipeline introduces monitoring and automation to improve the process of application development, particularly at the integration and testing phases, as well as during delivery and deployment.

Solution and Benefits – Automating AKS, Application Availability is now 99.999%

Application modernization and faster resolution to bugs enhanced employee productivity and customer experience. Here are the key benefits of our solution-

  • Scalable infrastructure addresses unpredictable traffic
  • Application Up-time ensuring 99.999%
  • Developer productivity enhanced substantially
  • Reduced costs over additional VM allocation to cater to unpredictable traffic
  • User engagement increased by 30% with modernized existing infrastructure
  • Faster (By almost 50%), secure, and error-free code deployment with Azure DevOps
  • Faster resolution to bugs
  • Faster time to market
  • Faster and seamless deployments of updates
  • Improved utilization of compute resources

Our Plans for The Future

We thrive on creating solutions that enable authors, instructors, and other knowledge workers to develop and deliver high-quality content with ease through the internet.

Using Azure DevOps, AKS, and Java-based -Microservices of Microsoft Azure, we have successfully created inexpensive and innovative business models that make products consumer-friendly and flexible for any genre of knowledge workers. We see a great use case of our solution in below learning management companies.

  • E-Learning Force International
  • LRN
  • Harris Geospatial Solutions
  • Impact Technologies Group
  • OutStart
  • EdVenture Partners
  • Wynne Systems
  • Jenzabar

Summarizing, it makes a lot of business sense to modernize the Apps and adopt Cloud native technology for rapid speed of deployment, significantly lower change failure rates and improve recovery rate with massive scalability and zero dependency on infrastructure and above all, all of it at a much lesser cost.

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