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AWS Case Study: The eAr

About the Client

The eAr Academy is a fully digital, online music school offering curriculum-based courses, embodying the practical, theoretical and philosophical elements of learning music.

The Challenge

When The eAr first approached Silicon Overdrive, all they had was the concept to disrupt the Music Education Industry in South Africa, and a design of what they wanted the platform to look like. What The eAr needed, more than anything else, was a company to partner with who would understand the nuances of what they were trying to achieve.

After a few business development meetings, it was decided that Silicon Overdrive would custom build The eAr a new LMS (Learning Management System) platform that would meet their specific requirements and subscription model.

During the design phase it was decided that since The eAr needed to be highly available and resilient, as well as secure, compliant, and scalable, it was clear that AWS would be the best hosting option.

That meant that the development team could custom build the platform to leverage AWS native services like Amazon Elastic Transcoder as part of the core solution, while also ensuring that student data (such as personal info and payment details) and course content would be safeguarded and stored in a compliant environment.

Since The eAr is a video education platform, it is imperative that they deliver the best quality video for the right device. It was therefore decided that The eAr would need to transcode the course video files from their source format into versions able to meet students’ device and quality preferences.

The Solution

As an AWS Well-Architected Framework Review (WAFR) Partner, our team architected a best-practice, secure and compliant, highly available, and scalable solution to host The eAr’s custom-developed LMS on AWS.

Following a DevOps methodology, AWS CodePipeline was used to automate continuous delivery to rapidly and reliably deliver features and updates.

To deliver on the video requirements, Amazon Elastic Transcoder was selected. Amazon Elastic Transcoder is media transcoding in the cloud. It is designed to be a highly scalable, easy to use and a cost-effective way for developers and businesses to convert (or “transcode”) media files from their source format into versions that will playback on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.

Using Amazon Elastic Transcoder, Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront, The eAr can store, transcode and deliver their content. By setting the S3 permissions of the Amazon CloudFront distribution in Amazon Elastic Transcoder, it is a one step process to transcode content with Amazon Elastic Transcoder and deliver the multiple output videos via progressive download or adaptive bitrate streaming with CloudFront.

The eAr is also using Amazon Transcribe as part of their solution. Amazon Transcribe converts sounds from the instructors’ instruments as they play into accessible files. That means that as the instructor plays their instrument, it transcribes the audio into data, and then that data is used to populate digital sheet music. That means that the student is able to listen to the instructor play, while also being able to follow the sheet music at the same time.

Amazon CloudFront is used to deliver content with low latency and high transfer speeds to students. Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network (CDN) service built for high performance, security, and developer convenience. By using CloudFront, students can start streams quickly, play them with consistency, while the platform delivers high-quality video to any device.

The Outcome

By utilizing AWS managed services like Amazon Elastic Transcoder and Amazon Transcribe, the Silicon Overdrive development team was able to complete the development of the custom LMS platform faster than what would have been traditionally possible.

Using CodePipeline, application enhancements can be rapidly deployed, risk free, and ensure the availability of the service for the students. The eAr can ensure faster delivery and roll back to a previous version, should something go wrong, without incident.

AWS CodePipeline

Thanks to Amazon CloudFront, students can load and stream videos faster, and because CloudFront serves the ideal video format for the device the student is using; data usage is kept to a minimum.

Very high POPIA and GDPR compliance scores were achieved, ensuring the security of the students Personal Identifiable Information.

By leveraging the best-practice architectures and AWS managed services, The eAr is able to seamlessly scale to meet the rapid uptake of new students on the platform.

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