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TestWe Turns to AWS to Drive Global Expansion

2021

In 2014, colleagues Clément Régnier and Charles Zhu came across a study that indicated 95 percent of European students owned laptops. However, educational institutions continued to rely on paper-based exams. That’s when Régnier and Zhu decided to launch TestWe, a platform for administering in-class and remote computer-based assessments.  “Students were using their devices for taking notes, research, and sending emails,” says Régnier. “It only made sense for them to use their laptops to take exams as well.”

The TestWe solution gives students the ability to take exams securely, in the classroom or at home. Educational institutions can administer digital exams while eliminating the possibility of students getting help from online resources or other people since the tests are taken offline and recorded by a camera. The TestWe exam process runs in the cloud and can be fully integrated into a school’s learning management system. Additionally, the tests can run directly on any type of student devices.

Today, TestWe is available in seven different languages and used in countries throughout Western Europe as well as in North and South America. Every year, TestWe helps teachers create millions of test questions.
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Using AWS services enhances our credibility. Partners and customers know our tests will run reliably and scale easily.”

Clément Régnier
Cofounder and Chief Commercial Officer, TestWe

Global Expansion Requires Greater Firepower in the Cloud

In the early years of the company, TestWe relied on a regional cloud-platform provider to host its applications. The company then began to expand to markets throughout Western Europe and into Canada and South America. Régnier and Zhu soon realized they needed to migrate their testing applications to a provider with global capabilities—one that could deliver applications from local regional data centers.  “We wanted to ensure students, teachers, and administrators continued to experience fast performance when interacting with the tests, no matter where they are located,” says Régnier. “And with a larger customer base, we needed to make sure our cloud infrastructure could handle spikes in activity.”
 
Régnier and Zhu found that Amazon Web Services (AWS) could provide the scalability and speed to drive TestWe’s global expansion. “With cloud data centers across the globe, a flexible IT architecture, and the range of on-demand services provided by AWS, we can go from a few hundred simultaneous users to several thousand across multiple continents—without experiencing any degradation to test performance,” Régnier points out.

Scalability Proves Its Worth During Stay-at-Home Mandates

To enable teachers to build test questions and administer tests to students, TestWe relies primarily on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) server instances while Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) are used to store test questions and answers. TestWe also uses AWS Elemental MediaConvert, which processes video files while students are taking tests remotely so teachers can verify if they took the tests on their own.
 
These AWS services played a key role when stay-at-home mandates went into effect across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We went from perhaps 2,000 students at a time taking exams in classrooms to nearly 20,000 being tested simultaneously from their homes—a tenfold increase,” says Régnier. “Remote testing requires cameras to record the students taking the tests, which meant we needed more server capacity and network bandwidth. The AWS environment scaled automatically so we could handle the elevated workload without any performance issues.”

A Technology Provider That Also Helps Network

For TestWe, another key benefit of migrating to AWS has been AWS EdStart. The program provides benefits such as financial support, technical training, and free trials of AWS services. “With assistance from AWS, our internal IT team was able to set up and organize our environment’s infrastructure to ensure a smooth transition from our previous cloud provider,” Régnier says.
 
AWS EdStart also provides the opportunity for TestWe to meet other businesses in the educational ecosystem to discuss the possibility of offering joint solutions to K–12 schools, colleges, certification programs, adult educational programs, and even corporate human resources departments that test job candidates.
 
With AWS EdStart, TestWe has formed partnerships with other technology companies that offer services to the education sector. In addition to formulating joint go-to-market strategies, the TestWe technical team works closely with technical teams from other firms to integrate the joint solutions. For example, TestWe has integrated its platform with a virtual proctoring service offered by another firm in the AWS EdStart program.  “Using AWS services enhances our credibility. Partners and customers know our tests will run reliably and scale easily,” adds Régnier.

Benefitting Administrators, Teachers, and Students

School administrators and teachers also appreciate how TestWe applications running on AWS streamline the testing process. With tests set up online, schools don’t have to worry about monitoring registration and attendance, printing hard copies of tests, booking classrooms for students, or assigning proctors to oversee tests. As an example, one of TestWe’s customers—a university in France—reduced the number of personnel required to administer final exams from 40 people down to two.
 
Students also value the flexibility of taking tests remotely, particularly when stay-at-home mandates required distance learning. Students can still take valid tests to measure their knowledge and prove they have passed their courses—while having a sense of normalcy in the stay-at-home environment.

Trust, Confidence, and Reliability

For TestWe, building on AWS has helped the small internal IT team develop software that is resilient, scalable, and easy to maintain. “Developing software with these attributes is vital because our business is all about handling peak loads during exams,” Régnier emphasizes. “The ability of AWS to scale quickly and efficiently enables us to handle peaks easily while only paying for the compute resources we actually need.”
 
Régnier adds that the first words that come to mind when he thinks of AWS are trust, confidence, and reliability: “There’s always one person we can go to for answers. When we call, we feel there’s someone who is listening and ready to address our issues. That’s an important benefit for a small company like ours. AWS always demonstrates just how much they value having us as one of their customers.”

About TestWe

TestWe provides a secure, offline interface for both classroom and remote exams—for an entire class or a single student. TestWe is used daily in over 12 countries by over 100 institutions and administers more than five million tests each year.

Benefits of AWS

  • Scales testing services tenfold globally with no performance degradation
  • Enables customers to reduce personnel for administering exams as much as 95%
  • Streamlines migration to AWS with access to technical training
  • Develops resilient and scalable software
  • Forms partnerships with other education technology providers
  • Strengthens brand credibility among customers and partners in the education ecosystem

AWS Services Used

AWS EdStart

AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) startup accelerator, is designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions on the AWS Cloud.

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Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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Amazon Simple Storage Service

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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Amazon Relational Database Service

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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