How the CirrusHQ and AWS proof-of-concept service has transformed organisations

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The proof-of-concept service (now replaced with ‘CirrusHQ FastStart’) helps jumpstart an organisation’s journey to the AWS cloud.

It has been hugely beneficial to many companies either wishing to understand the requirements to move to the AWS cloud or expanding their existing Cloud presence.

AWS-funded and available for education and non-profit organisations, the proof-of-concept (PoC) service provides workshops and consultancy leading to the design and build of a preferred workload to help accelerate AWS adoption.

Organisations from education, humanitarian, finance, and community associations approached CirrusHQ to deliver proof-of-concepts, as a low-risk platform to test concepts and services and ultimately help their organisations.


Distance & Hybrid Learning.

Many universities and colleges utilised the PoC service to test new scenarios as the need to provide distance learning became essential over recent months. As part of adapting to challenges surfacing from the COVID pandemic, the Information Systems and Support (ISS) Department of the University of Westminster undertook a small PoC service to test and validate the Amazon AppStream 2.0 service. During this review they were able to realise the benefits of delivering key applications, to any computer regardless of its specification, without the need for provisioning and operating the hardware.

As a result of the PoC service that CirrusHQ provided to the University of Westminster, they now have an integrated AppStream joined seamlessly and securely to their network. They shared this knowledge further within the University and the benefits of AppStream as a result.


Critical Application access.

This successful solution proves how end-users can now gain access to critical applications, with the right licenses, and not be bound by the hardware within the campus. The benefits of flexibility will ensure ongoing semesters can be completed, minimising any further impact from the global pandemic and provide greater options once a ‘new normal’ resumes.

Similar institutions including colleges used the PoC service to also provide remote access to AWS Workspaces, with Office, Python, Audacity, Unreal, Visual Studio, VLC installed for students to use, especially where they did not have access to labs.

“The proof of concept time was ample, which gave us time to experiment with the technology and even try out things we hadn’t thought of initially.”

During the lockdown, Edinburgh College was looking for a way for students to be able to access software from home as well as providing a consistent teaching environment where all students would be looking at the same desktop and programs while the lecturer was teaching. The proof of concept was an excellent way for the teachers and the students of Edinburgh College to be able to experience what AWS could offer in terms of a remote desktop without needing to buy straight away. The proof of concept allowed Edinburgh College to set up a list of common issues they thought they may encounter with using remote desktop; things such as ‘would they get audio passthrough?’, ‘what rights would students have for installing software?’, and whether certain programs would run given the level of compute power.

Sam Blyth Curriculum Manager for Computing at Edinburgh College said “We approached CirrusHQ given they’ve been involved across the education sector and it’s one of their passions to support education. We met them at an educational event several years ago and so they seemed like the obvious people to reach out to, given their expertise in cloud and the fact that we were needing a solution quickly but also sensitively to the fact that they would be working within the constraints of an educational framework.”

Sam continued “Our experience of working with CirrusHQ during the proof of concept was excellent. CirrusHQ excelled in making sure that they had all the right people on the call, so that when we had questions, the right people were there on the call to answer or give advice or take the issue away and find a solution. There was a good amount of contact during the proof of concept. They checked in with us weekly to make sure we were OK, as well as being on call via email and phone should we have needed them ahead of our next meeting. The staff members at CirrusHQ were supportive, attentive, constructive and personable, easy to work with, and we looked forward to meeting them each week and working with them. “

“The proof of concept time was ample, which gave us time to experiment with the technology and even try out things we hadn’t thought of initially.”

So for many institutions the proof-of-concept program helped them test within their unique parameters and environments, staff and students access to admin and student tools remotely without having to have these specific tools set up and installed locally.


Open Source Learning platforms

Staying in the learning sector, education technology companies also benefited from the PoC service by deploying Moodle Learning Systems to provide ways to support their Training Programs to businesses. These training programs covered on-site training for health and safety, workplace learning and more, using traditional and Virtual Reality delivery methods.

One company ‘STARK Learning’ also used the service to review how they could better support their clients and innovate faster. STARK Learning develops challenging, interactive learning solutions for organizations and training institutes in the technical sector.

Niek Jonker Digital Producer at STARK Learning said, “The program gave us an insight in how AWS technology can speed up our DevOps and deployment processes for all our client projects. The expertise ensured we were able to quickly address the issues we thought of, instead of having to completely onboard one of our own developers with all the AWS systems. This saved a lot of time researching and brought us right to the added value of AWS.”

Niek continued  “I was also happy with the knowledge of the (CirrusHQ) technical staff, but also of their very personal approach. In programs like these sometimes you can feel that there is a rigid process, but all the staff at CirrusHQ were very helpful and approachable. Also they easily came up with an approach that fitted our schedule / experience level and it felt as if this giant AWS process was nicely broken down in a step by step approach.”


Cloud Infrastructure, Storage and Security solutions

We were also pleased to see the PoC service support many non profit humanitarian and support groups. The service supported a first responder and disaster relief agency to help them provide updates to infrastructure and feedback on their current setup. Another charity wanted to test workspace solutions to collaborate with each other on furthering missions in providing relief of financial hardship among people living overseas by providing food, water, shelter or other assistance which they could not otherwise afford through lack of means. A similar charity used the PoC service to test a new S3/CloudFront hosted website to help track their activities and promote donation drives. And the PoC service was incredibly useful for a non profit agency working to help prosecute criminals who have evaded justice. They required and tested a hardened WordPress setup to protect them from malicious actor attack.

The Daparian Foundation CIC also benefited from the PoC service. They manage research into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the veteran and blue light communities. The Daparian Foundation focuses on the lived experience of PTSD from the sufferers perspective, as part of their research work in managing many different levels of data from PII to medical-in-confidence.

Andy Cunnington Director, The Daparian Foundation said “The AWS functionality has allowed us to securely segregate the data and handle it correctly under GDPR and to give our fellow research institutes and research subjects confidence that their most personal of information is managed, protected and safely processed by our research team.”

Andy continued “CirrusHQ delivered a straight talking approach to the GO Program explaining the benefits from the outset, the team engaged on a personal level and developed the solution to support the needs of the Daparian Foundation CIC. The user experience was explained and detailed at each stage with step to step guidance and training to utilise the benefits from the solutions provided.”

So hopefully you can envision how the PoC service and AWS funding can really transform businesses, charities and NPO’s – from startups to corporate research divisions and any organisation who is already in the cloud but wish to test a new business idea or simply upgrade their current infrastructure. As an outsourced and low cost-low risk service, the lack of internal resources or funds should not be a reason to hold back innovation.

To find out more about how CirrusHQ PoC service (now renamed FastStart) and AWS can help your organisation, contact us today.