L3Harris Geospatial develops products for the visualization, analysis, and management of geospatial imagery and scientific data with customers including the US Defense Department.
Providing training to users is vital to their business, but finding a way to efficiently offer training via training days, seminars or webinars proved to be a tremendous drain on resources. L3Harris came to Cloud303 seeking to optimize and modernize how they provided training for ENVI to both their customers and their employees.
Prior to the engagement, Harris provided training for their ENVI software, they were paying exorbitant fees to host this application in a web browser on a managed platform. They needed to integrate their software into their Learning Management System (LMS) but were spending thousands of dollars per day whether the software was used or not.
Cloud303 proposed and implemented ENVI running in AWS AppStream 2.0 in order to provide a single-tenant, fully scalable and dynamically provisioned environment for end users going through the training process. Cloud303 also integrated the AppStream implementation of ENVI with L3Harris’s LMS using Serverless APIs on AWS.
The final product was a seamless training experience that allowed users to finish a lesson in L3Harris’s LMS, immediately put their new knowledge to practical use in ENVI right in the browser and then go back to the LMS to move onto the next lesson. This was a more dynamic and flexible solution and was achieved at a fraction of the cost of their previous solution.
Harris Geospatial found itself ensnared in a web of inefficiencies, financial burdens, and operational constraints, all centered around its choice of training delivery platform: Frame. Despite its utility in providing practical, hands-on ENVI training, Frame was far from an ideal solution for a variety of reasons.
The company’s reliance on Frame meant that they had little flexibility to scale their operations up or down based on real-time needs. This created a mismatch between capacity and actual usage, resulting in idle resources that were nonetheless billed. To stay prepared for peak demand, Harris Geospatial had to maintain maximum possible capacity at all times, a situation that proved to be financially draining and inefficient.
The cost structure of Frame was a significant pain point for Harris Geospatial. Frame’s billing model included monthly licensing fees, which were incurred whether the ENVI software was actively used for training or not. This led to a fixed, recurring financial outflow that proved to be unsustainable. The company found itself spending thousands of dollars every single day just to maintain readiness for training sessions that might or might not happen.
One of the less obvious but equally pressing issues was the amount of time it took to deploy and provision resources for training on Frame. Setting up a single training session entailed extensive preparatory work, delaying time-sensitive education initiatives and disrupting schedules for both Harris Geospatial and its clients.
Lack of Integration
The Frame platform was a standalone solution that didn’t easily integrate with Harris Geospatial’s existing Learning Management System (LMS). This lack of integration made it challenging to offer a seamless learning experience that combined theoretical lessons with hands-on ENVI application use. It forced the company to employ manual, time-consuming workarounds to bridge the disconnect between the two platforms.
Harris Geospatial was caught in a cycle of inefficiency and expense. They needed a comprehensive solution that would resolve these complex challenges without compromising the quality of their ENVI training programs.
Cloud303's engagements follow a streamlined five-phase lifecycle: Requirements, Design, Implementation, Testing, and Maintenance. Initially, a comprehensive assessment is conducted through a Well-Architected Review to identify client needs. This is followed by a scoping call to fine-tune the architectural design, upon which a Statement of Work (SoW) is agreed and signed.
The implementation phase kicks in next, closely adhering to the approved designs. Rigorous testing ensures that all components meet the client's specifications and industry standards. Finally, clients have the option to either manage the deployed solutions themselves or to enroll in Cloud303's Managed Services for ongoing maintenance, an option many choose due to their high satisfaction with the services provided.
Faced with Harris Geospatial's specific challenges, Cloud303 initiated a custom, multi-faceted solution that combined AWS AppStream 2.0 and Serverless Application Model (SAM) to not only overcome the limitations but also introduce significant cost savings and operational efficiencies.
Proving the Concept
Recognizing that ENVI required heavy computing and throughput capabilities, Cloud303 started with a proof-of-concept that used AWS's high-powered Graphics G4dn instance type. The successful execution demonstrated that AppStream could accommodate ENVI's demanding resource needs.
Persistent Storage Solutions
For persistent and high-performance storage, FSx for Windows was brought into play. Group policies were judiciously configured to map the necessary folders, ensuring seamless integration and optimal data storage solutions for ENVI.
Building a Robust API Backend
Cloud303 utilized AWS's Serverless Application Model to construct an API backend, successfully integrating Harris Geospatial's existing Learning Management System (LMS) with the new training platform. This integration allows users to transition smoothly from theoretical content to hands-on lab work using ENVI. Through the API, Harris can specify the number of AppStream 2.0 nodes, create user accounts, and manage streaming URLs for each training session.
To tackle the issue of time-consuming setup and deployment, a custom calendaring system was created. Harris Geospatial can now easily send out invites, schedule demos, and provide streaming URLs to participants, all automated and integrated within their existing processes.
Implementing AWS AppStream 2.0 and Serverless Application Model to revamp Harris Geospatial's ENVI training was a landmark achievement. The project showcased how cloud technologies can solve complex problems, leading to both immediate cost savings and long-term operational efficiency.
By partnering with Cloud303, Harris Geospatial was able to realize substantial cost savings, moving from a daily expense of thousands of dollars to a more sustainable monthly spend of less than $1,000. Beyond cost-saving, the solution enabled a more flexible, scalable, and efficient training process. The success of the project was so impactful that the calendaring system was further replicated for other clients needing similar AppStream orchestration.
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