ReadyTech modernizes to boost automation with all-in migration to AWS


People-Centric Approach to Digital Transformation

Businesses wanting to enact true digital transformation realize that technology is only half the battle. Supporting and leveraging human resources is also vital, yet in a recent survey, only one in five employees felt that their employer provided access to the technology necessary to perform well at their job.

ReadyTech is an Australian software as a Service (SaaS) company with a people-centric approach to creating management systems that help its customers navigate complexity and deliver meaningful outcomes. The company offers SaaS in areas such as education, workforce solutions, government, and justice systems. ReadyTech software is at the heart of its customers’ daily operations. Founded more than 20 years ago, the company now serves more than 4,000 customers globally.


"On AWS, we can develop solutions that meet the dynamic requirements of our business and have the flexibility to make changes along the way.” 

Sam Giffney
Chief Information Security Officer


Security and Scalability: Key Tech Strategies

ReadyTech began migrating to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud in 2015, when the Australian government required all its SaaS providers to attain accreditation according to the Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP). At the time, AWS was one of the few cloud providers offering IRAP-accredited services. Additionally, when choosing a cloud provider that could support the business over the long term, ReadyTech found the automation capabilities for security on the AWS Cloud appealing.

To reinforce security, the SaaS provider uses services such as Amazon GuardDuty for intelligent threat protection and AWS CloudTrail for enhanced governance. “The three core elements of our tech strategy are security, simplicity, and scalability. AWS ticks every box with a strong catalog of security certifications like IRAP accreditation, APIs that remove the complexity of infrastructure, and effectively limitless capacity,” says Sam Giffney, Chief Information Security Officer of ReadyTech.


High Availability During Migration

ReadyTech has adopted a measured approach to its AWS Cloud migration by gradually moving workloads over several years to ensure high availability for its systems at every step. ReadyTech solutions average 99.98 percent uptime or higher, and the company continues to improve the availability of its systems as they are modernized over time.

Using AWS, the company’s engineers have adopted infrastructure as code for most systems and have improved system visibility by using tools such as consolidated logs in Amazon CloudWatch. “Having the right tools and information at our fingertips gives us the ability to innovate and improve. On AWS, we can see how complex systems behave during and after cloud migration,” Giffney says.


Containers and Serverless Speed Up Deployment

To address its need for simplicity in the cloud, ReadyTech began containerizing workloads in 2018 with the help of CMD Solutions, an AWS Partner. Currently, 150 single-tenant customer applications are containerized in production and managed using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) with AWS Fargate for serverless deployment.

Amazon ECS and AWS Fargate are used in combination throughout ReadyTech’s software development lifecycle for nearly all internal and external applications. The main benefit of this serverless container approach in the dev/test environment is a higher velocity to market for new ideas, thanks to automated deployment in the development pipeline.

“With deployment automation, developers can deploy features in dev/test environments without stepping on each other’s toes,” Giffney says. Development and engineering teams are happier with the automation levers now available to them and are glad to have the chance to work with modern tools on the AWS Cloud, which helps ReadyTech retain IT talent.


The Agility to Adapt Solutions to Dynamic Business Needs

One of the latest solutions to undergo modernization is JR Plus, ReadyTech’s flagship student management system for education. The initial vision was to modify JR Plus to better fulfill the bespoke needs of large customers such as universities. But ReadyTech experienced a series of mergers and acquisitions during the multi-year migration that altered its business needs.

In addition to higher education institutions, ReadyTech began serving more registered training institutions, such as vocational education entities often run by one or two people. To better serve these customers—and while still upholding service quality for its enterprise customers—ReadyTech pivoted JR Plus to a multi-tenant environment on AWS, with each customer retaining a dedicated database for data security.

“On AWS, we can develop solutions that meet the dynamic requirements of our business and have the flexibility to make changes along the way,” Giffney says. “The automated infrastructure we’ve built on AWS gave us the confidence to deploy the multi-tenancy application layer change without disrupting the customer experience.”


Increased Automation with Reduced Costs

ReadyTech leverages managed services such as Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon ElastiCache to boost automation in the JR Plus app. By doing so, the company can focus on its specialization—building people-driven SaaS that simplifies back-office processes. As part of its modernization journey, the company has also started using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances. Intermittent use of Spot Instances in production provides extra compute capacity and are heavily used in the dev/test environment to reduce costs.

The average daily running costs of the JR Plus application have dropped by 46 percent since ReadyTech migrated to and modernized on AWS. This is mostly due to ReadyTech being able to leverage AWS Savings Plans and Spot Instances, and the re-architecture of JR Plus to support multi-tenancy capabilities, which facilitated resource consolidation.

As it continues to grow, ReadyTech is working closely with AWS to build an analytics strategy and introduce further automation to its onboarding process. Chris Smith, Head of Strategy and Innovation at ReadyTech, explains, “The JR Plus consolidation project is really just the start. This is a platform for continued innovation. The higher levels of automation allow us to scale faster while delivering greater value for our customers such as introducing new self-service options. Thanks to the work we’ve done with AWS, we’re now in a position to grow with greater confidence.”


Originally published on AWS.