Success Story

Edsembli Accelerates Modernization and Business Growth with OpsGuru

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For software companies, business growth rides on innovation. This is why Edsembli, a software company based in Toronto, adopted a mandate to grow, modernize, and innovate. Specifically, it wanted to modernize its cornerstone application, Edsembli Ecosystem, which helps K-12 schools across Canada manage HR, payroll, and finances. Users include administrators, teachers, and more than 1 million students.

To round out its solution, Edsembli acquired a Student Information System (SIS). The plan was to integrate the SIS into its infrastructure, which was co-located at a telecommunications company, but unexpectedly, in 2021, Edsembli had to accelerate its plans to meet the needs of its customers as costs were escalating, and with waning confidence in its provider’s ability to align with its growth and modernization roadmap. Clearly, the company had some homework to do to align with its vision to grow, modernize, and innovate. And with only about 50 employees, it needed a partner to help.

The Challenge

Collaborating for a Fast Migration

Edsembli’s vision for modernization was to optimize cost and performance, have better control over scaling, and adopt DevOps to automate software development. Edsembli wanted more than just a cloud provider. The company needed a partner who could help it migrate to a new platform and modernize its product. Frank Ferlaino, Senior Director, Client Management Services, Edsembli, says, “We were looking for a partner that could walk us through and educate us on the process — a team with the skills and ability to navigate us through this change and collaborate with us as a partner in delivering to our customers.”

Following a comprehensive evaluation of cloud platforms, Edsembli selected AWS as the vendor with the best combination of tools and support, and OpsGuru as its migration partner.

Our Solution

MAP Assess

The OpsGuru team guided Edsembli through the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), which begins with the Assess Phase, a deep dive review of Edsembli's current technology and workloads to build a business case for cloud adoption and create a high-level migration plan geared toward reducing risk in the migration process.

The Assess Phase also helps organizations identify gaps using the six dimensions of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework: business, process, people, platform, operations, and security. OpsGuru helps organizations identify the capabilities required in the migration, along with the direct and indirect costs of migrating and using AWS. This helps customers get an accurate estimate of the costs of cloud computing and builds a TCO model for it.

Ferlaino says the analysis was crucial in helping Edsembli understand how the migration would strengthen its security policies, segment operational disciplines, and ensure that the company met best practices for the cloud. He also says that OpsGuru helped Edsembli identify skills gaps that, when filled, would help it achieve its DevOps and automation objectives.

MAP Mobilize

With a plan in place to support its migration, Edsembli embarked on the Mobilize Phase of the AWS MAP to build foundational cloud capabilities, establish governance and operating models, create a landing zone, and gain experience through migrating pilot workloads to the AWS cloud.

For Edsembli, the goal was acceleration — getting the company in the cloud as quickly as possible. Edsembli chose a rehost migration strategy, which involves moving an application to the cloud without making any changes, to control risk and take immediate advantage of cloud capabilities such as the flexibility to scale up or down as needed. The project team utilized OpsGuru’s Cloud Launchpad to bootstrap an AWS landing zone that’s fully managed by Terraform, providing Edsembli with best-practice infrastructure as code (IaC) as a baseline for future code development, rapidly upskilling its team.

Before going live, Edsembli beta-tested its product with customers and surfaced some performance issues. Thankfully, AWS tools came to the rescue. The company was able to easily increase the throughput for its storage, which helped it manage spikes in traffic, something it couldn’t do with its former cloud provider. “That was especially important in going live because we didn’t know what to expect from a 100% production load,” says Ferlaino.

With guidance from OpsGuru, Edsembli was able to migrate all workloads to AWS, not just the pilot identified in the Assess Phase. This enabled Edsembli to completely decommission its data centre at the conclusion of the Mobilize Phase. “We achieved our goals in a record time,” says Ferlaino. “The migration was very smooth, pragmatic, and well formulated because we identified everything up front in the Assess Phase, and with the help of the OpsGuru engagement team, we stayed on track.”

A Clear Path Forward for Modernization

Edsembli's modernization strategy included optimizing for cost and performance, expanding scalability, and automating software development using DevOps practices. Edsembli recognized that OpsGuru was also the partner that would support its growth, modernization, and innovation mandate, and entered a Clear Path Forward engagement to conduct an assessment focused on application performance.

The assessment surfaced several issues, including bottlenecks and performance issues around its database, where components were out of support with third-party vendors. The assessment also showed Edsembli a clear path forward to modernize its monolithic application to take advantage of microservices, where the company can selectively scale pieces of the application to give its customers better performance.

The result of OpsGuru’s Clear Path Forward assessment was a customized roadmap and a conceptual solution architecture to provide Edsembli with a starting point for long-term modernization and a cloud-native solution architecture. “The assessment was an opportunity to identify what our tech stack gaps were and where we can improve efficiencies,” says Ferlaino.

“Having that partnership with OpsGuru really guided our plans for moving forward so that we could make sure that we're delivering on our customer needs." says Ferlaino.

“It gave us a path to incrementally modernize,” says Ferlaino. “It's not a ‘big bang theory,’ where we do everything at once. We can grow into it one module at a time and then add to it. That way we can gradually manifest our future as opposed to taking on a lot of risk.”

Incremental Modernization

The final phase of MAP, Migrate & Modernize, driven by the Clear Path Forward assessment, enabled Edsembli to adopt additional AWS services such as its API Gateway and database server tools. OpsGuru helped Edsembli start the process of modernizing its application in the cloud by transforming its monolithic code into microservices.

OpsGuru Director of Engineering Jonathan Coe, who led the modernization phase, says, “Care should be taken to find the right balance between modernizing and accelerating cloud adoption.” Ferlaino says, “I admire the MAP process, and I admire OpsGuru’s effort to ensure no cost or schedule overruns. The migration was very smooth, pragmatic, and well formulated.”

The Result

A Smooth Migration in Record Time

Edsembli is still working with OpsGuru through the execution of its Clear Path Forward modernization strategy, which is helping the company build confidence with its customers that it has a roadmap for the future and a list of items to address moving forward.

Edsembli teams are also taking the ball and running with the next step, which is application development. The company is building out a proof of concept for new attendance modules using microservices and the AWS API Gateway. Ferlaino says, “That will be proof that we can do it elsewhere and lead us into growing and evolving our product.” And, he says, it’s also helping Edsembli clearly align with its mandate to grow, modernize, and innovate.

The company has also adopted DevOps for agility. “DevOps practices help us manage our clusters and availability in a more pragmatic, automated way so that we can focus our resources on things that are more important to the business,” says Ferlaino. Most importantly, Edsembli can now focus on business growth by incrementally evolving its products, which Ferlaino says, “gives us a bigger bang, more opportunities to grow, and a framework to start planning for the future — and we have a lot of growth strategies moving forward,” including plans to expand into the United States.

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