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About Workstar

Workstar is an Australian Company based in New South Wales (NSW) dedicated to assisting corporations in developing customised, digital learning solutions based on real-life, practical situations. Operating since 2002, Workstar remains deeply dedicated to a ‘hands-on’ approach, providing options based on first-hand experience. 

From scenario-based learning to the gamification of the workplace, Workstar professionally tailors each proposal to their clients’ needs on an ad hoc basis, offering both excellent service and professionalism.  Their clients include reputable organisations such as Telstra, Westfield and McDonald’s.

The Business Challenge

Workstar is a Microsoft-based company, and were manually delivering web application releases via RDP protocol, where the likelihood for human error is higher. The requirement for developers to manually use a maintenance window for safe operation extended an already lengthy lead time. 

DNX Solutions was consulted and engaged to design and implement a tailor-made approach to achieve an optimal outcome for Workstar. During the discovery phase, the team noticed the absence of Load Balancers and Auto Scaling aspects. Additionally, their application at the time did not benefit from either elasticity or high availability aspects in the cloud; areas of focus that would be directly addressed by the team’s project outcomes. 

After actively consulting the client to understand the challenges faced, and the key outcomes they hope to achieve, the team at DNX kickstarted the process to design a salient solution.

The Solution

The team at DNX started the project with a prerequisite DevOps test, measuring multiple factors of Workstar’s DevOps Maturity Levels. Key areas including lead time and the time taken if deployment had failed were duly considered. These leading indicators allowed the team to craft a substantive plan to satisfy both Workstar’s needs and wants. 

Involving the client in the process is at the core of DNX Solution’s philosophy. The DNX team, in active collaboration with Workstar, worked together as one team to achieve optimal results in the project’s conclusion. 

The solution starts with a solid AWS Foundation. Our team at DNX focused on fashioning a reliably strong platform called DNX.One which implements operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation using Infrastructure as Code (IaC), so applications can thrive while the business can remain focused on customer solutions. Once the framework had been implemented, this was quickly followed by the modernisation phase. The process involved migrating Workstar’s workloads to Elastic Beanstalk IIS, which runs on the Windows Platforms on spot instances using IaC. 

IaC is one of DevOps’ many important principles, as well as DNX Solution’s core deliverables.

It is crucial that Elastic Beanstalk was set up for zero-downtime deployments with monitoring and health checks for better telemetry and stronger control of environments. With the app platform built, we started to move the currently encrypted RDS database to its new home in a Secure Subnet, built during the AWS Foundation stage, which only the private subnet (where the application will run) has access to. Also, the SQL Server license was reduced from ‘Enterprise’ to ‘Express’, bringing cost-savings to the customer as the features utilised are available in the Express version.

Some of the AWS Services provisioned:

After the environments had been fully established, we started working on the application CI/CD. The CI/CD pipeline automates diagnostic testing, building, and deployment to nullify the risk of manual errors from occuring. Further complemented by Elastic Beanstalk’s blue-green deployments, Workstar now has the ideal environment to flourish financially. 

The client can now focus on business endeavours without being preoccupied with background operations, and the maintenance of their web infrastructure. Additionally, unnecessary costs have been significantly reduced to a minimum. 

Our CI/CD pipeline solutions are all original and independent of one another, relying on their proprietary stylings. Previously, Workstar’s resource content files had been updated manually during the maintenance phase. With active monitoring and alerts currently in place, releases are now easily deployed for testing, with automated production environments operating in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, resources and environments are now efficiently managed, operating at capacity. An improved developer experience is another crucial achievement for the development team.

Conclusion

The staff at Workstar are now able to experiment and test their deliverables in a safe and collaborative environment, encouraging both creativity and innovation. A production-like environment eliminates the likelihood of bugs and production hurdles. As a result, the final users can now enjoy a more stable solution. The costs associated with AWS and TCO were also substantially reduced, with spot instances being 70% cheaper than regular on-demand instances. The complete automation of the manual operand for deployments, releases or scaling on AWS has reduced lead times considerably

Overall, the project took 45 days to complete, and the team at DNX has managed to deliver on all fronts, satisfying their client’s needs in a timely and professional manner.

At DNX Solutions, we work to bring a better cloud and application experience for digital-native companies in Australia.

Our current focus areas are AWS, Well-Architected Solutions, Containers, ECS, Kubernetes, Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery, and Service Mesh and Data Solutions (movement, transformation, lakes, warehouses and analytics).

We are always hiring cloud engineers for our Sydney office, focusing on cloud-native concepts.

Check our open-source projects at https://github.com/DNXLabs and follow us on Linkedin or Facebook.

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