Helping Harley Academy Unleash their Cloud Potential with AWS

About Harley Academy

Training more than 3000 practitioners, and raising standards with more than 12,500 hours of procedure training from two bespoke campuses, Harley Academy is the UK’s leading postgraduate training provider in aesthetic medicine for doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives. After experiencing the lack of poor training standards first-hand, Dr Tristan Mehta founded Harley Academy to drive up standards and innovate education in aesthetic medicine. Through initially creating the first ever curriculum mapped to Health Education England guidelines, Harley Academy has grown to meet surging demands for postgraduate training in aesthetics, alongside hosting the largest community of aesthetics professionals in the UK.

The Challenge

Harley Academy were working with a specialist IT consultancy firm on a broad review of their technology landscape. There was an urgent need to gain control over the production AWS environment within Harley Academy and the core application environments across patient management and logging as well as provide specialist AWS support for the core infrastructure and improved access and security.

The Solution

CirrusHQ were engaged to evaluate the Harley Academy AWS systems against the qualities of reference architecture design and best practice, and the remediation that would be required to achieve those qualities. CirrusHQ utilised AWS CloudTrail to monitor and record account activity across AWS Account, implemented AWS CloudWatch to observe and monitor the customer’s resources and applications on AWS, provided detailed cost optimisation reviews to tighten and reduce wasted spend and hardened access management controls using policy based controls and authentication from an AWS supported MFA mechanism. This helped Harley Academy identify cost savings, improve application performance and reduce security risks. All the while, using our skilled and accredited engineering, CirrusHQ have been providing Harley Academy with the peace of mind of 24×7 Managed Support for the Harley Academy AWS environment.

The Benefits

  • Identification and remediation of risks in the environment to improve customer service
  • A better understanding of how to fully harness, improve and optimise AWS services, boosted by CirrusHQ’s consultative support
  • A better understanding of how to fully harness, improve and optimise AWS services, boosted by CirrusHQ’s consultative support
  • Performance and security optimisation across the AWS environment
  • Improved architecture aligned to support Harley Academy’s goals
  • 24×7 support from CirrusHQ for AWS operations

“By using a skilled AWS partner in CirrusHQ we have been able to tap into their vast skills and expertise in AWS, things that we just didn’t have in house. By automating our AWS operations management, we can offer a better customer experience, lowering the time it takes to onboard whilst improving the experience for our trainers and students and also improving security and access management. Support for our platform was at risk but with CirrusHQ, we have a fully supported environment and access to AWS expertise 24×7. We achieve cost savings, accelerate the delivery of new services, and maintain agility to grab new opportunities, ultimately providing added value to our customers.”

Dr. Tristan Mehta, CEO and Founder, Harley Academy

About Penny Black

Penny Black, incubated in AGFA’s legendary innovation lab, helps ambitious brands in connecting with their customers in better, bolder and in radical new ways. Their platform integrates with retailers’ e-commerce platforms – like Shopify – to provide them with personalised packaging for each customer. The Penny Black platform allows e-commerce brands to print branded, dynamic, high-quality inserts that include personalised fields and trackable QR codes.

The Challenge

With the the rapid shift from face-to-face retail to ecommerce which was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Penny Black wanted to replicate the instore experience through packaging for online customers and built a solution in AWS. Penny Black wanted to make sure their infrastructure was built to best practice, fully optimised and secure by benchmarking their workloads against AWS best practices.

The Solution

CirrusHQ was engaged by Penny Black to look at the existing front end and order processing workloads in AWS to identify cost savings, improve application performance and reduce security risks. A reference AWS Landing Zone was provisioned for Penny Black with a multi-account, multi-organisational setup that included bespoke policies for governance and compliance across the entire AWS organisation in conjunction with service and continuous security monitoring. Security posture was improved via the implementation of MFA enforced sign-in, new custom security codes and vulnerability testing of serverless code in the environment.

With the architecture remediated Penny Black opted for a fully managed support service from CirrusHQ to provide 24×7 oversight, monitoring and management of the AWS environment.

The Benefits

  • Identification and remediation of risks in the environment to improve customer service
  • A better understanding of how to fully harness, improve and optimise AWS services, boosted by CirrusHQ’s consultative support
  • Performance increases across the AWS environment
  • Hardened security and an increased security posture for the cloud workloads
  • Peace of mind with a fully managed 24×7 monitoring and incident management service for the entire AWS environment

“The investments we make in our people and technology are bringing increased value to our customers as we grow. CirrusHQ are the AWS experts we have partnered with to help sharpen our AWS environment, improve our cyber security posture and make sure our workloads are running optimally 24 hours a day to continue to improve our customer experiences.”

Pete Ward, CTO, Penny Black

 

About City of Glasgow College

Originally founded in 1956, City of Glasgow College was formed with the merger of three established city colleges and is the largest and most diverse tertiary education establishment in Scotland, catering for 25,000 students and 1,200 staff across two campuses as the single largest college development in Europe. The College offers up to 2,000 professional and technical courses annually from access level to masters level both on campus and online.

The Challenge

With the College purpose to “Let Learning Flourish”, leveraging technology to further enhance the student experience requires innovative solutions to be developed, to meet the needs of both students and staff, whilst also providing value for money.

With terabytes of data stored on premises, the College wanted to explore opportunities to move some existing backup data to the cloud in an affordable way, as a pathfinder for future services to be deployed securely, in  a controlled way, from or into the cloud.

The Solution

CirrusHQ were engaged by AWS to design and implement a proof of concept cloud environment on AWS to allow City of Glasgow College to test modern data protection from on premises to cloud, using existing software already invested in by the College. A reference architecture cloud Landing Zone was built to secure and implement governance across all of City of Glasgow College’s AWS Accounts with centralised dashboards and logging and a cloud storage layer was configured within the Landing Zone to allow the College to test use of the backup as a backup target for their existing backup implementation on premises.

The Benefits

  • Successful proof of concept solution delivered by CirrusHQ to prove the use case for the College
  • The College now has the ability to reduce or remove on-premises hardware provisioning for backup and remove manual intervention for tasks such as changing tape drives, replacing faulty hardware, scaling storage space, etc.
  • Cloud target layer now provides the College with guaranteed availability and durability for data protection
  • Reference architecture landing zone layer allows the College to implement further use cases on AWS within a securely controlled, monitored and managed cloud architecture

 

“CirrusHQ’s deep and expert knowledge of AWS made it easy and efficient for us to test and implement immutable backup in the cloud. Combining with native integration of our existing investments gave us peace of mind that we kept our data safe and had a future footprint to consider other cloud services.” 

Barry Ashcroft, Director of IT, City of Glasgow College

 

 

About Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck is one of the world’s top research universities and part of the prestigious University of London. At 200 years old, and with over 10,000 current students, Birkbeck counts five nobel laureates and numerous political leaders amongst its alumni. Birkbeck offers something unique, it is London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education. Different to other higher education institutions, Birkbeck’s full and part-time courses mostly run in the evenings between 6 and 9pm, allowing students to balance work or other commitments with their studies. 

The Challenge

Birkbeck wanted to repurpose their existing server rooms and modernise their campus, reduce operational headache and ultimately cut operational costs. Without the technical skills or expertise in house, Birkbeck approached CirrusHQ to help them assess the migration of their on-premise servers to AWS. 

The Solution

Birkbeck engaged with CirrusHQ to complete the Migration Acceleration Program in order to obtain insights into their on-premise estate and create a migration plan of what and how to migrate to AWS. The AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) can help customers accelerate their cloud migration and modernisation journey with an outcome-driven methodology. Through MAP, customers are able to build strong AWS cloud foundations, accelerate and reduce risk, and offset the initial cost of migrations. Leveraging the performance, security, and reliability of the cloud, the Migration Acceleration Program also uses a proven three-phased framework – Assess, Mobilise, and Migrate and Modernise – to help customers achieve their migration goals. 

CirrusHQ conducted the intial discovery and analysis to inform Birkbeck of the estimated potential costs of migration and modernisation from on premises to the AWS cloud. The initial analysis carried out by CirrusHQ resulted in a business case being presented to Birkbeck to provide the data required to allow the University to make a decision on their cloud migration and modernisation journey and how best to proceed with future steps. 

The Benefits

  • Birkbeck were able to gain a better understanding of how their existing estate could be migrated to the cloud 
  • Reduce Costs – Birkbeck can identify a potential 58% cost saving over 3 years by moving from on-premise to the AWS cloud 
  • Improve operational resilience – Customers who move to AWS from on premises achieve a reduction of 69% in unplanned downtime* 
  • Increased business agility – Birkbeck will be able to accelerate innovation at scale by retiring technical debt

“AWS Technology is vast and CirrusHQ have engaged with us to understand our requirements, propose a sensible way forward, and help us to execute that. All without recourse to AWS tech speak, smoothing the path for our projects.” 

Andre Zelenka, Head of IT InfrastructureBirkbeck, University of London

 

MAP is a potentially funded program which allows customers to reap the rewards of the cloud in the most cost effective way. Talk to CirrusHQ today and start your migration to the cloud! 

 

 

Next Steps
To learn more about how  CirrusHQ can help your organisation, get in touch.

*Nucleus Research – Guidebook Understanding the Value of Migrating from On-premises to AWS for Application Security and Performance; June 2020 

 

 

About White Rose Education

Influenced, inspired and informed by the work of leading educational researchers and practitioners worldwide, White Rose Education brings together a team of highly experienced and passionate teaching experts to train, guide, help and support schools with a vast bank of clear and practical learning resources. Serving around 3 million visits per day to their website, White Rose Education creates and distributes resources to 80% of primary schools and 40% of secondary schools across England.

The Challenge

White Rose Education utilised a traditional architecture consisting of an autoscaled application and a large database to deliver their varied schemes of learning for pupils, teachers and practitioners. Due to the unprecedented growth the organisation experienced throughout the pandemic and beyond, they experienced severe limitations in usability and capacity as well as high running costs.

The Solution

CirrusHQ worked with White Rose Education to develop and transform the existing setup into three separate bespoke applications to allow each component to scale as required. CirrusHQ designed, architected and developed infrastructure for each component of the new applications. End to end serverless architecture was implemented to allow developers to focus on code rather than infrastructure and new low-latency content delivery was delpoyed. Provisioning of systems was moved to infrastructure as code using DevOps to provide reusable, version-controlled environments to minimise deployment risk along side fully automated deployment to provision new temporary environments where unit and validation testing is executed before going live into the production environment.

The Benefits

  • White Rose Education identified a 70% cost saving against their old environment
  • White Rose Education was able to increase performance to double previous metrics
  • CirrusHQ were able to reduce White Rose Education’s deployment risk to near zero
  • White Rose Education’s capacity capability increased on a vast scale
  • CirrusHQ’s DevOps capability has provided White Rose Education automation and faster and better product delivery

“CirrusHQ are an incredibly valued partner of White Rose Education, always there to help us when needed. The team are 100% supportive and we cannot fault their service or advice. With their help we have been able to increase performance and capacity with the added benefit of cost saving.”

Tony Staneff, Head of External Initiatives,  White Rose Education

 

 

Next Steps
To learn more about how  CirrusHQ can help your organisation, get in touch.

About National Biodiversity Network Trust

For more than twenty years the National Biodiversity Network Trust (NBN Trust) has been making the UK’s biodiversity data accessible, to support better decisions about the natural world and to connect people with nature. The charity’s data portal, the NBN Atlas, is one of the world’s largest repositories of publicly available biodiversity data. With more than 200 million records of over 46,000 UK species, the NBN Atlas is at the heart of the data flow for nature’s recovery and is a vital resource for those who wish to understand and protect nature.

The Challenge

The NBN Atlas development team had just embarked on a major project to upgrade the NBN Atlas platform. The project included optimising the management of the AWS infrastructure and modernising DevOps practices.

With only a small development team, NBN Trust was spending too much time manually managing the platform and knew that they were not making full use of the available AWS services. Also, as a non-profit organisation with controlled budgets, they were keen to make sure instances across the platform were the right size and cost-optimised.

The Solution

AWS recommended CirrusHQ to perform a Well Architected Review. For the review, two application stacks were chosen. A frontend web portal and a biodiversity data web service that included a Cassandra cluster and a Solr cloud.

The scope of the review was to implement Security Defence in Depth, increase operational visibility and streamline operational methods to a fully automated solution. This included the implementation of security best practices from the ground up including enforcing encryption at rest and in transit. We also included scope to implement a centralised logging solution with actionable security events.

Operational health, performance, and cost optimisation reviews were carried out to stabilise the workload, reduce downtime, and adapt a performance vs cost balance approach. Monitoring was implemented to notify when essential workload resource Key Performance Indicators are at risk and the CI/CD process to build, test, and deploy application releases was also reviewed.

 

The Benefits

  1. Reduced scaling requirements
    Trade-off analysis to adapt a highly scalable, performant, and cost optimised architecture
  2. Greater platform security and Disaster Recovery reliability
    Secure and regularly scheduled AWS Backup for AWS EBS Volumes to significantly improve RPO
  3. Optimised platform performance and increased supportability
    CloudWatch monitoring and alerts for at-risk performance and service metrics
  4. Enhanced awareness of how to cut costs and monitor spend
    New ability to track workload spend and identify cost savings

 

“CirrusHQ were helpful, friendly, and happy to pass on knowledge which we’re now using to drive further cost savings. They identified and optimised two workstreams with new logging, monitoring, and security capabilities, and we now feel more confident with automated backups that were previously manual. CirrusHQ also right-sized our instances to ensure we’re not paying too much and have adequate capacity, setting budget alarms so we no longer get any unexpected surprises.”

Helen Manders-Jones
Lead Developer
National Biodiversity Network Trust

 

About APN Partner CirrusHQ and Amazon Web Services

National Biodiversity Network Trust were introduced to CirrusHQ by AWS as an Advanced Consulting Partner with the correct certifications and accreditations to assist them via the Well-Architected Framework.

This framework was used to deliver an evaluation of their architecture’s key concepts and design principles and to implement architectural best practices for running workloads in the AWS Cloud. A Review is designed to help organisations find opportunities for significant cost savings, improved application performance and reduced security risks.

Next Steps
To learn more about how AWS and APN Partner CirrusHQ can help your organisation, get in touch.

 

About the Great Run Company

For over 40 years The Great Run Company has been creating mass participation sport events. Inspiring over 250,000 people each year to get and stay active, the business delivers £35m
of positive economic impact to the North East. As well as their own events, The Great Run Company works with corporates, charities, Local Authorities and Sports Governing Bodies, to consult on and deliver high quality event experiences.

 

The Challenge

As the UK’s biggest mass participation sports events company with 1.3m participants to date, The Great Run Company needed to better manage customer details and interactions for their ever-growing customer base.

Since the last new service update in 2018, The Great Run Company was aware the AWS landscape had grown significantly and along with it, the need
to ensure its two websites and CMS system were secure and performing at best. Keeping pace with new AWS services and security features would also allow the business to better inform customers and allow for new event registrations.

 

The Solution

CirrusHQ performed a Well-Architected Review on its websites, each hosted within a separate EC2 instance with different accounts for login, security, and various parts of the business. A second review was completed for their customer management system (CMS) to determine how it was performing, how to improve, and any best practice that could be applied.

The scope of the workload infrastructure review included enhancing the highly scalable architecture to provision capacity and meet demand faster. This was achieved by migrating non-production environments to a standalone AWS Account, reducing the blast radius, and strengthening security with zero-downtime deployment mechanisms that utilised immutable infrastructure. The project also included log offloading, and provisioning of CloudWatch Dashboards to accelerate operational investigations with tagging policy enforcement to track workload components and lifecycle management. Additionally, the review focused on rooting core fundamental account level security via a CirrusHQ Landing Zone, to automatically deploy a security baseline which now helps protect the organisation from the ground up.

 

The Benefits

  1. Better customer experience with reduced operational and downtime risk
    Single pane view of environment health and at-risk KPI alerts
  2. Peace of mind with increased security and performance
    Greater security controls with centralised account access management
  3. Bolstered AWS capabilities and consultative support
    In house skills boosted with CirrusHQ AWS expertise

 

“The review helped to implement best practices for governance and security while providing detailed support and guidance.”

Neil Gregory
Infrastructure Manager
The Great Run Company

 

About APN Partner CirrusHQ and Amazon Web Services

The Great Run Company were introduced to CirrusHQ by AWS as an Advanced Consulting Partner with the correct certifications and accreditations to assist them via the Well-Architected Framework. This framework was used to deliver an evaluation of their architecture’s key concepts and design principles and to implement architectural best practices for running workloads in the AWS Cloud.

A Review is designed to help organisations find opportunities for significant cost savings, improved application performance and reduced security risks.

 

Next Steps
To learn more about how AWS and APN Partner CirrusHQ can help your organisation, get in touch.

 

About VR Hive

Technology startup The VR Hive offer VR learning from the comfort of their customer’s home or workspace. With a keen focus on developing accessible and affordable VR training, the company aims to improve course completion rates, increase knowledge retention and skill transfer, and help people obtain internationally recognised qualifications through their range of innovative learning services.

 

The Challenge

Due to upcoming company expansion plans, The VR Hive expected a large userbase increase for their Hive360 Application – an Augmented Reality (AR) application that allows consumers to create life-like narratives, tours, demonstrations and situations for training and entertainment. New cloud infrastructure was required, with the scalability to support multiple customised application deployments for new clients.

Alongside this, the startup needed a highly available platform that could supply demand and enhance performance of Planet Pollinate, a multi-user virtual reality game that develops team working, problem solving and communication skills.

 

The Solution

With an in-house team of capable but inexperienced graduates, The VR Hive needed the right expertise to help architect the infrastructure for their AWS services. The company chose CirrusHQ to perform two AWS Well- Architected Reviews which helped define their development plan.

As a result, VRHive’s Hive360 application was moved to AWS Amplify to provide a scalable full-stack application, with Amazon CloudFront providing a Content Delivery Network for low-latency delivery of Hive360 static assets. The Planet Pollinate application was moved to a highly-scalable, resilient architecture using Infrastructure as Code to provide a more agile deployment process for VRHive and increased reliability for the Planet Pollinate Application.

 

The Benefits

  1. A Cloud platform that supports business expansion
    A highly scalable architecture to supply demand with enhanced security and protection
  2. Greater control over AWS spending
    Costs saved with greater spend visibility and alerts for when limits will be exceeded
  3. AWS skills transfer for future updates
    New in-house capabilities through mentoring and coaching to deploy application updates

 

“CirrusHQ are a highly responsive, knowledgeable team. In addition to that they are genuinely a great team to work with, friendly and supportive and they are happy to go above and beyond to assist.”

Anne Widdop
CEO
The VR Hive

 

About APN Partner CirrusHQ and Amazon Web Services

VR Hive were introduced to CirrusHQ by AWS as an Advanced Consulting Partner with the correct certifications and accreditations to assist them via the Well-Architected Framework. This framework was used to deliver an evaluation of their architecture’s key concepts and design principles and to implement architectural best practices for running workloads in the AWS Cloud.

A Review is designed to help organisations find opportunities for significant cost savings, improved application performance and reduced security risks.

Next Steps
To learn more about how AWS and APN Partner CirrusHQ can help your organisation, get in touch.

 

About Glasgow Credit Union

Glasgow Credit Union has grown substantially during the past four decades, and is today the largest most successful UK credit union. Offering loans, savings, and mortgages to people who live or work within greater Glasgow, the member-owned financial mutual maintains a strong focus on providing bespoke products and strong sense of service.

 

The Challenge

With customers spread across greater Glasgow, providing an efficient and secure self-serve experience is an integral part of Glasgow Credit Union’s business offering. The company delivers this through their GCU Public Application, a bespoke platform hosting their website and mobile applications, where customers can manage their savings and loan accounts and payments.

Responsible for large amounts of sensitive customer and financial data, the union recognises the importance of ensuring it’s AWS-based environment is as secure as possible, especially against a backdrop of ever-increasing cyber crime.

 

The Solution

Glasgow Credit Union engaged with CirrusHQ, calling upon our expertise to ensure their platform architecture was well constructed, secure, and optimised for best use and value.

A Well-Architected Review was carried out by CirrusHQ on both the GCU Public Application, and the GCU Staff Application. The latter allows staff to process customer applications made by phone or by other channels, and interact with customers to assist in securing Glasgow Credit Union services.

The review scope included recommendations on implementing DevOps practices for the deployment of the Glasgow Credit Union applications, such as a fully integrated CI/CD pipeline deployed with Infrastructure as Code to speed up application deployment time. Integrating Runbooks and Playbooks for operational staff was also included, with additional testing added to the deployment process. A review of people and machine access enabled us to determine new restriction levels and authorise only those requiring access for operation. The applications are now able to be deployed in a more agile manner, with monitoring and security that has been significantly transformed and future-proofed.

 

The Benefits

    1. Performance & security optimisation across the AWS environment
      Enhanced reporting, auditability, traceability, and logging capabilities
    2. Better understanding of how to fully harness the AWS toolset
      AWS knowledge share to support ongoing architecture maintenance
    3. Ability to drive maximum value from existing technology investment
      Cost-neutral improvements recommended by CirrusHQ AWS expertise

“CirrusHQ are a highly responsive, knowledgeable team. In addition to that they are genuinely a great team to work with, friendly and supportive and they are happy to go above and beyond to assist.”

Paul Mcfarlane
Chief Technology Officer
Glasgow Credit Union

 

About APN Partner CirrusHQ and Amazon Web Services

Glasgow Credit Union were introduced to CirrusHQ by AWS as an Advanced Consulting Partner with the correct certifications and accreditations to assist them via the Well-Architected Framework. This framework was used to deliver an evaluation of their architecture’s key concepts and design principles and to implement architectural best practices for running workloads in the AWS Cloud.

A Review is designed to help organisations find opportunities for significant cost savings, improved application performance and reduced security risks.

 

Next Steps
To learn more about how AWS and APN Partner CirrusHQ can help your organisation, get in touch.

About Stream Digital

Stream Digital deliver global streaming services, tailor-made for clients and their audiences. Specialising in sports and media they offer a fully secured video product for live streaming, with control and management of content. Having already been deployed in over one hundred live events, this single point software platform can control every aspect of web activity and gives unparalleled control over your TV website and its content.

 

The Challenge

Stream Digital wanted to make sure their infrastructure was optimised and secure by benchmarking their workloads against AWS best practices. This was to ensure they maintained the highest customer service with a cost effective platform, optimised to support their business objectives.

 

The Solution

CirrusHQ utilised the AWS Well-Architected Framework to benchmark their workloads against AWS best practice. As part of the engagement, CirrusHQ identified and remediated a number of the highest priority risks in the Stream Digital AWS workloads, resulting in greater performance of streamed content, increased security and cost reduction.

The remediation included deploying CloudFormation to streamline customer setup and a revision of DynamoDB configuration with the implementation of DynamoDB Accelerator to improve content delivery, by reducing response times and latency of content delivery. Multi-factor authentication was also implemented to improve security, and a review of identified highest cost resources was undertaken to ensure optimisation of spend.

 

The Benefits

  1. Increased streaming performance
    Streaming response times and latency improvements.
  2. More robust security posture
    User Multi-factor authentication applied and updated password security policy.
  3. Reduced cloud cost and resources
    Streamlined customer setup and improved cloud spend.

 

“We appointed CirrusHQ to oversee our implementation of AWS services and recommended improvements. The whole process was painless and helped streamline and improve our offering with the added benefit of cost saving. We would highly recommend CirrusHQ.”

Paul Aniello
Managing Director
Stream Digital Ltd

 

About APN Partner CirrusHQ and Amazon Web Services

Stream Digital were introduced to CirrusHQ by AWS as an Advanced Consulting Partner with the correct certifications and accreditations to assist them via the Well-Architected Framework. This framework was used to deliver an evaluation of their architecture’s key concepts and design principles and to implement architectural best practices for running workloads in the AWS Cloud. A Review is designed to help organisations find opportunities for significant cost savings, improved application performance and reduced security risks.

 

Next Steps
To learn more about how AWS and APN Partner CirrusHQ can help your organisation, then get in touch.