Tech Solutions Library > University of Louisiana at Monroe Powers Future Growth with AWS and CDW
Case Study

University of Louisiana at Monroe Powers Future Growth with AWS and CDW

CDW and AWS helped the University of Louisiana at Monroe position FlightPath, its online academic advising suite, for future SaaS opportunities.
  • March 20, 2019
The Challenge

ULM's mission is to "seek students who find value in our programs and prepare them to compete, succeed and contribute in an ever-changing global society through a transformative education." One way that ULM supports their students is through FlightPath, a ULM-developed academic advising application.

With FlightPath, students can see their degree plans, grades and credits. FlightPath also has a “what if” feature that allows students to see how their current class credits might apply to other degree paths. FlightPath is an important tool for both ULM students and their advisors.

ULM historically hosted FlightPath in an on-premises data center for their own use. However, other institutions expressed interest in leveraging intellectual property, so ULM decided to release FlightPath as a SaaS offering.

Two key challenges of launching FlightPath to other learning institutions were forecasting demand and controlling costs. The “bursty” nature of the application further complicated demand forecasting. That is, usage was expected to be extremely high at certain times of the year (e.g., the beginning and end of an academic term) with a lower level of usage at other times. This pattern of usage required an infrastructure that could rapidly scale to match peak demand while scaling back to control costs during periods of low demand. In addition, ULM needed precise cost visibility and governance to allow and provide accurate charges back for their customers’ FlightPath usage. 
  

The ability to automate the customer infrastructure provisioning with AWS CloudFormation allows ULM to rapidly scale our FlightPath environment to support increased demand while also ensuring consistency and security.

Richard Peacock, Web Application Developer at ULM

The Solution

A key first step in launching FlightPath to their customers was re-architecting FlightPath in AWS. FlightPath was delivered via a classic LAMP Stack (i.e., Linux, Apache HTTP Serve, MySQL and PHP) and CDW provided architectural guidance as ULM re-architected the solution in AWS. CDW also helped ULM manage the dependencies of applications and databases in which student credentials and user data were stored.

In addition to supporting the creation of ULM’s FlightPath environment, CDW provided ULM with our Essential AWS Managed Services support, which met key customer requirements including:


Technical Account Management

CDW assigned a CDW Technical Account Manager (TAM) to ensure continuity and a high level of customer experience. ULM’s TAM performed regular technical reviews, fostered change- and incident-management best practices and enabled architecture development services.


AWS Technical Support Services:

CDW provided 24/7 technical support including Level 1-3 and senior engineering support depending on the severity of the incident.


Technical Account Management

CDW assigned a CDW Technical Account Manager (TAM) to ensure continuity and a high level of customer experience. ULM’s TAM performed regular technical reviews, fostered change- and incident-management best practices and enabled architecture development services.


AWS Technical Support Services:

CDW provided 24/7 technical support including Level 1-3 and senior engineering support depending on the severity of the incident.

The Benefits
 
Reduced Capital Expense:

ULM was able to avoid a costly refresh of on-premises equipment while positioning their organization for the rapid deployment of the FlightPath SaaS offering.

Consistent, Scalable Infrastructure:

Leveraging AWS CloudFormation enabled ULM to leverage Infrastructure as Code best practices, allowing ULM to rapidly deploy and scale their FlightPath environment for its customers. 

Increased Speed-to-Market:

Partnering with CDW enabled ULM to fast-track the development of FlightPath environment.



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