Bulgarian EdTech Shkolo uses Amazon Web Services to reduce bureaucracy for administrators

by Dawid Dybuk | on

Shkolo is an education technology company (EdTech) based in Bulgaria that was founded to reduce school bureaucracy and provide an efficient communication channel between teachers and parents. Established in 2016, Shkolo offers software solutions for schools to optimize back-end administrative processes, allow parents to track their students’ achievements and make appointments with teachers, gamify how students can rate their teachers and assignments to promote engagement in school, and more. To power their digital services and help schools transform in the cloud during an integral time for online education, Shkolo turned to Amazon Web Services (Amazon Web Services).

Shkolo’s journey from early infrastructure to Amazon Web Services

Originally, Shkolo started with a simple infrastructure that consisted of a few dedicated virtual machines for each service-web platform, database, and cache. In the beginning, the company planned to scale vertically by adding more resources to a single server instead of adding more servers. This approach was supported by their first infrastructure vendor, and was more manageable in Shkolo’s early days.

By 2020, 50% of schools in Bulgaria were using Shkolo, which had almost 600K users. All this traffic was managed with a single database machine. At the time, they used another cloud hosting vendor and their IT team consisted only of developers—no DevOps or system administrators (SysAdmins) personnel.

But in March 2020, the Government of Bulgaria announced that all schools in Bulgaria had to move to teaching online. Suddenly, Shkolo experienced immense traffic spikes. Shkolo’s team received hundreds of thousands of messages from schools and teachers regarding problems due to the surge in traffic. The technical team discovered that the database was the bottleneck. Over the next three days, Shkolo attempted migrating their database a few times, but each time resulted in the whole system going down. The last thing they noticed before the system crashed was a tenfold spike in traffic.

At this time, Shkolo decided to migrate their infrastructure to Amazon Web Services, so that they could more simply scale, innovate faster, and expand to new markets. This project was challenging, as the company had to migrate all the existing infrastructure and data that they had built for the past four years. With the help of two external DevOps engineers and five senior developers, Shkolo started the migration—which completed successfully in less than one day.

“That time was both the most exciting and most stressful in my life. When we migrated to Amazon Web Services and traffic started to flood in, the machines were scaling automatically, and everything was working fine. At that moment, I realized that thanks to Amazon Web Services, we solved the company-threatening issue,” said Shkolo’s chief executive officer (CEO) Lyubomir Vanyov.

From migration to innovation with Amazon Web Services

Soon after, Shkolo started working with the dedicated Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) team at Amazon Web Services, which helped Shkolo develop innovative ideas to pre-emptively handle issues that could hinder Shkolo in the future. One of these was mitigating the bottleneck in the database and their large-scale cluster, which Shkolo used for their analytical needs like calculating students’ grades’ statistics on various levels. Shkolo worked with Amazon Web Services to move the statistical data to Amazon Redshift , a data warehousing service, using Amazon Web Services Glue , a serverless data integration service. The Amazon Web Services team also helped to optimize the cluster, and offload analytical queries to the Amazon Redshift cluster—resulting in faster load times for Shkolo’s customers for the data they needed.

Using Amazon Web Services, Shkolo is also innovating on behalf of their customers. They developed a pilot for a class schedule optimizer solution based on OR-tools that runs on Amazon Web Services, helping school administrators to quickly and efficiently build and adapt schedules for students, teachers, and classrooms.

Since migrating to Amazon Web Services, Shkolo has onboarded many more customers—made possible because of the scalability that using the cloud provides. As of November 2022, more than 80% of the Bulgarian educational system uses Shkolo —and the Shkolo platform has seen more than a million users over the last six years. According to a Shkolo-commissioned survey of 10,000 teachers , 70% of them report that Shkolo saves them over two hours a week. Teachers now use this saved time to invest in supporting struggling students, checking assignments, and more.

“Using Amazon Web Services helped us automate most of our infrastructure tasks, so we still don’t have full-time DevOps. Instead of thinking about how to replicate the database, doing backups, and similar non-trivial, time-consuming tasks, we are now focusing on how to add value to the end user, and innovate for children, parents, and teachers,” said Vanyov.

Learn more about Amazon Web Services for EdTechs

 EdTechs around the world use Amazon Web Services to develop scalable and secure solutions that support students and educators in achieving academic success. Discover how EdTechs use Amazon Web Services to grow their businesses, innovate faster, reduce costs, and more at the Amazon Web Services Cloud for EdTechs hub .

Are you curious about how to get started using Amazon Web Services to accelerate your mission? Contact the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Team to start a conversation today.

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