We sat down with Brian Park from Real Time Cases to talk to him about his company, how he uses AWS, and AWS free credits. We found out that the AWS startup package is a crucial part of making his business run.
Can you start by telling us about Real Time Cases and what you guys do?
So Real Time Cases is an education tech startup that is a new generation experiential learning platform. The new form of learning for today’s student is “learning by doing” and not just learning by reading antiquated textbooks. So Real Time Cases, through our partners, approach high level executives and say: “if you can hire 70-80 students to solve any problem in your department, then what would it be?” This forms the foundation for a “Real Time Case”. We film and document the issue, and professors can use that to drive concepts, theories and frameworks that they are trying to teach in the classroom, and use current, real life examples. Our cases are ongoing and happen “in real time” so they are like mini projects. This also opens the door for students to pitch some of these ideas to local business executives, which is exciting.
What is your role in the company?
I am the Director of Product. We have a platform that hosts the cases, videos are the primary content, due to the fact that most students would prefer to watch, rather than to read – think YouTube and Netflix. I am responsible for overseeing the technical team, both developers and designers. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is our cloud provider of choice and our entire infrastructure is hosted there
Why AWS over others?
We chose AWS because of the startup package, we get $10,000 of AWS free credits to use as we wish – compute, databases, and storage all for free! As with any startups, we have to bootstrap operations by keeping costs as low as possible and in addition AWS services are easy to use and access. If we had launched this company 10 years ago, we couldn’t operate at this cost point. So the credits and service offerings were very important to getting us successfully off the the ground and to market quickly and in a cost effective way. We have both domestic and international customers, and we can host and publish content for any university in the cloud at negligible cost which translates into affordable price points for students, and at our current cloud burn we can further sustain our operations for many months to come.
What technologies do you use in AWS?
We don’t have an official DevOps team, but we use Github for our code repository, Jira for agile processes, and Slack for communication . These low cost, SaaS tools plus AWS have been very productive for us. We are able to push code out in either 1 or 2 week cycles depending on the size of our stories. Our output used to be a 2 week sprint, but is now a 1 week sprint due to improved tools and processes. We follow agile development practices, participate in scrums and try to utilize the latest DevOps tools. As we have a distributed development and QA team. It’s best to use a tool like Jira to coordinate over time zones and accomplish the harder logistical tasks. We don’t have an overly complex architecture in AWS and use EC2, RDS and S3. S3 is used to store and host the video content we create for the professors and students.
Do you have any cost control measures in place for AWS?
Right now, no. When our AWS free credits expire we don’t expect our costs to be very high, but as a startup being able to leverage cost control tools like ParkMyCloud, to save 20-30% will be important – every dollar counts in a startup. We have been using AWS since our inception and haven’t had to move into the paid area yet – Bezos has created a truly disruptive business model that enables the startup community to rapidly prototype and test their thesis by quickly and inexpensively getting to market.