Cengage Digital Learning on AWS

Cengage Learning is a leading educational content, technology, and services company for the higher education and K-12, professional and library markets worldwide. The company provides superior content, personalized services and course-driven digital solutions that accelerate student engagement and transform the learning experience. Cengage Learning is headquartered in Boston, MA with operations in more than 20 countries around the world.

As part of Cengage’s corporate strategy to continue to expand its digital platform, it is making a significant technology investment to migrate a portfolio of applications and tools from on premise data centers to an enterprise-scale public cloud service provider to achieve a lower total cost of ownership, improved capabilities, and ultimately, a better overall learning experience for its customers. To successfully accomplish these business and technology goals, Cengage partnered with smartShift Technologies due to smartShift’s knowledge and experience in implementing and managing scalable and efficient cloud computing environments.

Cengage’s digital learning solutions portfolio consists of 100s of applications built on dozens of diverse technology platforms with petabytes of content. In order to meet aggressive cost saving objectives and enable the agility and scalability required to support their customers, Cengage made a strategic business decision to move their applications, platforms, and content onto Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In 2014 Cengage selected smartShift for AWS migration and cloud managed services. smartShift migrated 15 mission-critical customer-facing digital-revenue platforms in <1 yr. smartShift’s relationship continues to the present day, providing Cengage with:

  • System architecture & migration from on-prem to dynamic cloud
  • Cloud Managed Services & monitoring of dozens of stacks & technologies
  • Automated provisioning & system configuration
  • Tier-1 application support & incident management
  • Patch management, server maintenance, & ongoing optimization

Cengage is continuing to shift its business model from a course material publisher to a digital content and learning solutions provider. Building and transforming the digital assets for functionality on a public cloud infrastructure has several key benefits for Cengage, including:

  1. Allowing Cengage to easily scale computing environments up and down to meet day-to-day as well as seasonal demands without significant capital or labor investments
  2. Allowing Cengage to focus its technology resource on strategic applications and contentversus platforms, infrastructure, and support services
  3. A significantly less capital-intensive growth model

Over the past two years smartShift has assisted Cengage in transforming 14 existing digital applications to run on AWS. Through this experience, Cengage and smartShift have identified the opportunity to continue to utilize smartShift services to develop products faster, drive down costs and run a more efficient services operation.

More specifically, smartShift was able to:

  • Established the roadmap for cloud transformation at Cengage
  • Defined cloud architectures for all customer facing systems
  • Migrated all customer facing systems to AWS
  • Provided fully managed cloud services via the smartShift NOC
  • Enabled and automating Cengage’s entire SDLC in the cloud
  • Fully automated infrastructure provisioning and control, providing unprecedented speed and agility for development teams while maintaining the controls required for enterprise IT
  • Conducted multi-point hardening for all systems and moving them to 24/7 SLA-driven management
  • Delivered all primary support stacks for on premise and cloud systems, in addition to other services

Cengage successfully transformed from a traditional publisher to a leader at the forefront of new digital education and content delivery modes.  In 2014 Cengage revenues from digital sources were a small fraction of their traditional print model. The legacy business was eroding as the market changed.  Today the majority of Cengage revenues are derived from digital sources. 

Highlights of smartShift and Cengage partnership are:

  • 15 core apps to cloud in less than 1 year
  • Successful business transformation
  • Cloud infrastructure key to business model
  • smartShift has been there from the beginning of cloud journey through present day

smartShift is the leader in bringing agility and predictability to enterprise technology using a patented automation suite to update software systems to perform optimally in a cloud and big data world. The huge changes in cost and delivery models of computing capability, software and storage are forcing enterprise IT organizations to choose between the expensive and risky proposition of maintaining legacy technologies or the expensive and risky proposition of replacing those systems with new technologies.