Cambridge Business Publishers and Trek10 Design a Highly-Available Foundation for a Burgeoning EdTech Application
Trek10 enhanced Cambridge Business Publishers' mBC EdTech app on AWS, boosting performance, security, user experience, and streamlining compliance.
Cambridge Business Publishers (CBP) is an Illinois-based growing EdTech firm specializing in high quality digital and print content for accounting and business disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels at colleges and universities around the world. To answer the growing demand for digital content, CBP created myBusinessCourse (mBC), a popular online learning and assessment program containing innovative tools to facilitate student success. mBC also simplifies teaching and course administration for instructors.
The mBC program is available for nearly all of CBP’s titles. Each course contains an eBook and interactive features designed to strengthen and reinforce learning, such as eLectures, guided examples, and immediate feedback with auto-graded homework. Instructors have flexibility in setting up their course to best fit their learning objectives and teaching style.
mBC courses are accessed by tens of thousands of students at www.mybusinesscourse.com. Course types using the mBC digital experience include traditional (in-person), hybrid (both in-person and remote), and fully remote courses.
As a provider to colleges and universities across the globe, Cambridge Business Publishers’ website receives major traffic at two times of the year; the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. For a period of about three weeks in both August and January, tens of thousands of new mBC students create accounts. This influx of traffic in a short period of time previously overwhelmed the CBP servers.
To improve the handling of server traffic and prevent outages, CBP determined that the best option would be to move its infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The move was managed in-house and spearheaded by an in-house system administrator. Through that process, CBP realized the need to utilize the expert guidance of an experienced AWS partner.
By partnering with an AWS expert, CBP would receive the necessary guidance and skills to operate their applications efficiently and effectively. An expert would be able to understand complex issues and know how to prevent them, to recover the website quickly in the event of an outage, and to support CBP’s specific security needs as a company delivering intellectual property to educational institutions.
Chet Smith, CIO, shares his thoughts on partnering with an outside AWS expert: “We want to focus our team on the application layer, and create a really great experience for our users, both instructors and students. Finding the right partner helped us meet our goals in the most efficient way possible.” With this goal in mind, CBP set out on its search for an AWS partner.
Strengthen EdTech with Expertise
Cambridge Business Publishers and Trek10 redefine the mBC EdTech experience on AWS, ensuring unmatched performance, enhanced security, and streamlined compliance processes.
The development team at Cambridge Business Publishers had certain criteria in mind when exploring AWS partners. They knew that they wanted a partner with whom they could bounce ideas with and learn from their expertise. For ease of communication, they preferred a partner in the midwest US located in the same or similar time zone. They felt more confident partnering with a company with a specific concentration on AWS, because a narrow focus on AWS would translate to better support overall.
Trek10 hit all these marks, and in their exploratory conversations together, Smith recounts, “we explained who we were, what our levels of expertise were, what our challenges were, and we got the right responses from the team at Trek10.” For CBP, Trek10’s status as an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner solidified the deal.
With the migration to AWS complete, CBP came prepared to work with Trek10 to gain a deeper understanding of the best ways to utilize the many benefits of AWS, as well as to receive insights on server issues and how to prevent them. Trek10’s Team Support service, a professional services model providing access to a dedicated AWS expert, aligns perfectly with this need.
With Team Support, the team at CBP has direct access to the experts at Trek10 through a mutually agreed upon cadence of well-organized calls. Of the partnership, Smith says, “I appreciate the way that we’re managed.” Smith is pleased that with Trek10, they feel like a valued client.
Since the partnership began, CBP has already seen improvements in the performance of its digital course program, myBusinessCourse. Trek10 has driven many projects to support this path, including refactoring multi-account best practices, conducting a Well Architected Review, and introducing Datadog to address observability issues on the server.
As historical users of New Relic, CBP’s switch to Datadog has given them additional visibility required to enhance the mBC application. Smith notes that “Datadog has allowed the team to dig deeper into the infrastructure, analyzing and improving the application performance.”
The development team at CBP goes through ebbs and flows; sometimes they have a lot to talk about during Team Support calls, and sometimes very little, but having the ear of and receiving advice from an AWS expert is invaluable. Of working with Trek10, Steve Hellauer, Lead Software Engineer at CBP, appreciates, “there are no stupid questions.”
Trek10 has checked off another of CBP’s initial criteria, that of providing assistance in an emergency situation. When the emergency occurred, the team at Trek10 worked into the wee hours of the night supporting CBP until all mBC services were back online. Trek10’s Team Support was there when CBP most needed it.
Going hand in hand with Team Support is 24/7 Monitoring, another service in which Trek10 provides an expert to manage critical workloads. For CBP, this support provides peace of mind, knowing that they have an expert who is constantly watching their application and can help whenever problems inevitably arise.
The third major factor driving CBP to seek expert assistance was to have a partner supporting their security needs which, as a company delivering intellectual property to educational institutions, are many. Trek10’s improvement of the structure and systems of the digital course program have addressed security related issues, such as people attempting to copy intellectual property content and distribute it as their own.
CBP works with many state government owned universities and must share information regarding student progress. This shared information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). CBP is also required and committed to complying with cybersecurity best practices through multiple security frameworks, and has recently become a member of StateRAMP. In addition to abiding by these protocols, CBP needs a manageable process to show compliance.
Trek10’s advice to utilize AquaSecurity, a program that scans for vulnerabilities and provides compliance information, has assisted CBP in streamlining the arduous process of ensuring security and providing compliance information to university IT auditing teams. This allows the development team time to focus on designing improvements for the mBC program.
With the support of Trek10’s AWS experts immediately available, the development team can spend less time worrying about outages and server infrastructure, and spend more time focused on delivering improvements to the customer-facing side of the myBusinessCourse.
As Cambridge Business Publishers continues to grow and scale its infrastructure, Trek10 will be right by their side. Smith describes the working relationship with Trek10 as “seamless,” and admits that he sleeps easier at night since beginning the partnership with Trek10. “We made the right choice by partnering with Trek10,” Smith says.